[Disclaimer type stuff goes here.]
A few weeks back, Coach Dykes said that he would like to have a quarterback picked out by Day 10 of camp - Day 12 at the latest.
Well, yesterday's practice marked Day 10, and it still doesn't look like a decision is close.
Zach Kline saw almost all of the reps Thursday, the first time all camp that there was only one quarterback running the show. In the previous week, time had been split up in some sort of rotation or another, but today was almost exclusively Zach Kline.
At least twice on Thursday, Kline made throws that no one on the roster could make - one well-executed pass to James Grissom earned a fist bump from Coach Dykes, and one of Kline's touchdown passes was put where only a a leaping Richard Rodgers had a shot at it. Jason Gibson broke on the ball and came over to help Chad Whitener, but he was already too late; the pass was thrown hard enough to beat any helping defenders.
Then comes the other side of things, because at least once on Thursday, Kline made a decision no one else on the roster would make.
During 7-on-7, with the ball inside the 10 yard line, Kline took the snap and threw a bullet to the right corner of the end zone. His receiver was running what appeared to be a fade route, but because the ball had no air under it, Kline never gave him a chance to make the play - and worse, Adrian Lee was staring him down the entire time. The result was an easy interception that almost certainly would have gone back for six.
Really, though, those two statements sum up Thursday for the redshirt freshman - Kline completed most of the throws that should have been made, a few throws that shouldn't have been, but in making a couple of head-scratching mistakes, managed to blemish what was an otherwise pretty good day. [Another highlight not yet mentioned was a perfect post route to Bryce Treggs, who got behind Kam Jackson and scored a touchdown for his efforts.]
Other than what has already been written, the corner route seemed to be giving Kline a lot of trouble on Thursday afternoon - he misfired on those a couple of times, and even twice in succession. [Actually, thinking back to spring, I do not think this is one of Kline's stronger routes to throw.]
As for Goff? Well, his turn in 7-on-7 was more of what we have come to expect of him at this point. He nearly completed all his passes - although according to my notes, not one of the passes traveled particularly far through the air - and if it were not for a couple of drops, he probably would have completed all his passes. The true freshman made only one real mistake, when he threw a ball to Kam Jackson that hit him square in the numbers and was dropped.
Neither Kline or Goff looked much better than the other, to me - both were actually quite good, and I expect that whoever shows up behind center will be a dramatic upgrade from Maynard simply by existing. Depending on your point of view, Goff might get the edge simply because he didn't throw a pick. Or Kline might, because he had more highlights.
Tough to tell.
Notes and Observations
- Coach Dykes was pleased with the team's performance following a day off on Wednesday, saying that he thought the team "played fast".
- Chris McCain met with Tony Franklin and took fades and jump balls in the end zone after practice. Zach Kline was throwing.
- Ted Agu saw some time in the Bone formation, working as one of the two upbacks. This position has previously only been filled by Jacob Wark and Lucas Gingold, although Coach Dykes' post practice comments indicated that he would continue to use different people back there, just to see what other looks he could generate.
- Todd Barr joined Brennan Scarlett as a member of the red jersey wearing club, although he will be a full participant in practice beginning tomorrow. Defensive tackle Harrison Wilfley was not in pads today, as he is recovering from a shoulder bruise. And finally, your last defensive line update is for JUCO transfer Sione Sina, who is expected back sometime next week.
- Okay, I lied. There's one more defensive line update. Austin Clark had an ACL surgery done recently, which ends his season. He will apply for a sixth year of eligibility.
- Nick Forbes was absent due to a doctor's exam, but is expected to be just fine.
- Viliami Moala saw his first action of camp, lining up at times with the second unit - and got a sack. "It was good to see him out here," Coach Dykes said. "He feels a lot better. We thought today was a good time to get him back, to get him in the mix. That's what we want to see, that's what we expect out of him - for him to play, play physical and be explosive, like he was today." Dykes also said that Moala's academics should be fine, and that the big defensive tackle is now recovered from a shoulder injury, as well.
- The plan for Alex Logan is to eventually have him ready to play either safety position. He is gradually receiving more reps, and was spotted running with the second string, mostly.
- It was a horrendous day in pass protection, as the line gave up something around 9 sacks at Thursday's practice. A lot of the pressure came against the right side - particularly with the combination of Steven Moore and Matt Cochran - although Brian Farley didn't exactly have an easy day at left tackle [2nd string] either. Nearly all the sacks were due to offensive linemen being beat up front, and only one might have been classified as a coverage one. Among the players who recorded sacks, by my unofficial count: Viliami Moala, Chris McCain, Kyle Kragen (two), Dan Camporeale (two), Deandre Coleman, Ted Agu, and Mustafa Jalil.
- On the flip side, the line was very, very effective run blocking, opening up for several long carries, including one by Daniel Lasco to open the day. During an OL/DL drill I watched, the offense ended up winning about half the time - this was in addition to the success they had during the final team period, where Jonah Hodges broke off a touchdown run, Jeffrey Coprich had a 25 yard carry, and Daniel Lasco had a second touchdown.
- One other play of note came from Khalfani Muhammad, who looked very explosive and fluid in taking a seven yard carry up the middle. While he has demonstrated both of those qualities in spades returning, they haven't always translated to his actual ball-carrying, and this marked the second straight practice that he showed improvement taking the ball out of the backfield - an encouraging sign, to say the least.
- Richard Rodgers pulled down a pair impressive catches on Thursday - one where he had to use all of his 6'4" frame to dive - one handed - for a pass from Kyle Boehm, and another where he outjumped Jason Gibson and Chad Whitener to grab a touchdown pass. [I wrote about this latter play up top already.]
- Donovan Frazer has been snapping pre-practice, and seen a few times running at center - presumably because the backup center, Matt Cochran, is now the starter at right guard.
- Chad Whitener had a rough day in pass coverage - Kline and Goff abused the freshman linebacker for multiple completions during 7-on-7.
- Khalfani Muhammad, Johnny Ragin and Jacobi Hunter were confirmed after practice as freshman who would be playing this fall. No word yet on anyone else. Muhammad is expected to be the starting kickoff returner.
- Vince D'Amato was good from 52 yards during the practice period.