The first inter-squad scrimmage of the season is rarely anything spectacular. Quarterbacks wear their red jerseys signifying they cannot be touched. Plays make clumsy mistakes as they learn the playbook, or work out at a new position. Sometimes it is just plain rust.
Either way, I never expect much from inter squad scrimmages, although there are a few items worth noting from to time.
THINGS I LIKED
Anyone who watched the scrimmage can throw out the numbers. Yes, Edelman had two interceptions and no touchdowns, but the picks weren’t his fault. The first one was a actually a pretty good throw before safety Brian Lainhart made a spectacular play jumping the route. More on that later.
The second interception was a result of the receiver running the wrong route. The one thing I have noticed this year is that Edelman does a great job of putting the ball into a spot this year and expecting his receivers to be there. Something only he does on the team.
Another great example of this is when the first team offense were starting from their own two. Edelman fired the ball downfield and to the left. About 15 yards away, a receiver turned around and got hit right in the breadbasket with the ball. The receiver wasn’t ready for the ball to be there. Edelman expected him to be at that spot, at that time. That is experience and that is why Edelman, if healthy, could have a great year.
Kent State coach Doug Martin said that this summer is the best he has ever seen Julian throwing the ball. I couldn’t agree more.
Edelman also showed his competitive side after the interceptions. On the Lainhart pick Edelman ran over and took Lainhart’s legs out, sending the safety flying through the air.
Lainhart, his off-campus roommate, said he should have known better than to think Edelman would not make the tackle while wearing the red jersey. No matter what they are doing, whether its basketball or video games or anything else, Lainhart said Edelman never stops competing.
On the second interception, by Dan Hartman; Edelman met Hartman on the sideline with a hit that probably made the linebackers proud.
Perhaps the brightest spot of Tuesday’s scrimmage was the play of true freshman Josh Pleasant. He may have sealed up his position as a punt returner already.
With the offense pinned on the two-yard line, Pleasant fielded a 44-yard punt from Freshman Matt Rinehart.
He caught the ball on the right side of the field and spun out of a tackle by starting middle linebacker Cobrani Mixon. Pleasant then cut left and found a wall beginning to form. His plus speed and some nifty moves at the five got him past the punter Rinehart and into the end zone.
The Punting game
You did read correctly. It was a 44-yard punt by Rinehart. Martin referred to the punting game this summer as “A blessing straight from the heavens.” Hopefully the punting woes of the last two seasons can finally disappear this year.
At this point in the season the defense is definitely ahead of the offense. Then again, it’s hard to gage what the offense can do really do when Eugene Jarvis and Andre Flowers both get just a handful of snaps. Edelman cannot take off and run being his usual self either. Why get those guys hurt or tired at this time of the year?
Never the less, Coach Martin raved about the defensive front seven and rightfully so. Lineman Monte Simmons is a player who has been great in both spring and summer practices and looks to make a big impact on the defensive line.
Kevin Hogan, a holdover from last year’s defensive line, has also looked good in spurts. One person who grabbed my attention in Tuesday’s scrimmage was Lee Stalker. Stalker teamed with Darrius Carter for a sack against the second team offense. He also forced freshman Jacquise “Speedy” Terry to fumble.
Sophomore Dorian Wood, who is coming off a knee injury, recovered the fumble and ran 36 yards for a touchdown. Stalker is expected to supply depth on the line.
My first instincts told me that his interception was a little bit of Lainhart knowing his own team all too well, Then Lainhart told us (the media) that the play was the exact same play Iowa State ran last year when he had an interception against them. Lainhart made a great play.
I liked Lainhart’s ability to recognize and react to the play. If he can read offenses like that on a consistent basis he will be on the field even more than he already is.