Posted: 5:35 pm Saturday, April 12th, 2014
By Ken Sugiura
A brief review of the morning scrimmage.
Offensive MVP (in my opinion): Tim Byerly. The quarterback had four possessions and led the offense to two touchdowns and a field goal. He made good reads on the option and made some plays with his feet and arm.
It wasn’t perfect – the fourth possession was a turnover on a poor mesh with B-back Donovan Wilson – but he caught the right person’s notice.
“I thought he played well,” coach Paul Johnson said. “I thought he played better than any of the other quarterbacks.”
One particular skill he showed was being able to run up the middle for tough yards.
In his transfer year and then as a third-stringer last year, Byerly received limited practice reps. “But every day I’m getting more and more reps, and that’s the best thing with this offense, is to see it quicker,” he said. “That way my decisions on giving it or keeping it happens a lot more quicker, so the more film I watch, the more reps, the better.
That’s two weeks in a row Johnson has made a comment along those lines after the Saturday scrimmage. Justin Thomas had a rough morning, having a hand in a number of turnovers, though some were likely due to quarterbacks, B-backs and centers rotating in and out.
“It’s a problem,” Johnson said of the ball-security problems. “You can’t play if you’re going to have the ball out.”
Defensive MVP – Quayshawn Nealy. The linebacker was in on multiple tackles for losses, including a 10-yard sack of Byerly. Nealy is playing at around 232 pounds after playing last year around 240.
“I’m feeling great,” Nealy said.
“He’s been getting better,” defensive coordinator Ted Roof said.
Notable: The offense ran two possessions of no-huddle. One led to the first touchdown of the day, after the offense had produced one field goal – a 34-yarder by Harrison Butker – on the first eight series. It was standard no-huddle, running to the line after the play and quickly signaling the play. It’s something the offense has worked on throughout the spring.
Quarterbacks and B-backs coach Bryan Cook called it “a change of pace.”
Also, B-backs Zach Laskey and Travis Custis played well, the mesh issues and a stripped fumble by Custis excluded. Custis played more with the first string than he has previously. Byerly called Laskey the “most reliable guy” and said of Custis, “as long as he’s taking care of the ball, he’s going to be a great asset to us.”
A lot of players out – 13 players were in red jerseys, meaning they were held out. The first-string receivers were Corey Dennis and Summers were first string as Darren Waller, DeAndre Smelter and Ricky Jeune were among the many players out.