The WSU football team held its first scrimmage of fall camp earlier today, and while I'll be the first to remind everyone that it's dumb to try and make sweeping conclusions from an intrasquad scrimmage (required reading on that subject here), I do have a few observations from the highlights.
Thanks to the fact that the coaching staff has a policy against wide-angle video of practices, there's only so much we can glean. But here are a few thoughts:
Every offensive snap is out of the shotgun. The casual fan who only paid attention to Pac-10 games last season will not find this significant. However, those of us who suffered through the SMU loss as the Cougars tried to move the ball repeatedly and unsuccessfully out of power formations couldn't shake the sneaking suspicion that Todd Sturdy might try to move back to that. It appears the Cougs will be winging it once again. Thank goodness.
Every snap hit the quarterback in the hands! I have no idea if this is representative of the entire scrimmage, but still ... progress!
Jeff Tuel looks like he's in midseason form already, delivering some nice balls into some small windows. I know we're all expecting that he'll take a huge step forward this year, and it's nice to see visual evidence that reinforces that belief.
Check out Jared Byers (37) at the 0:33 mark. I think the coaching staff might have been fibbing a little listing him at 232 pounds:
It looks like there were some real-deal zone read runs in there. Those were used sparingly last year in an effort to keep Tuel from any more contact than necessary. Well, given that A) Tuel looks like he has legitimately bulked up and B) The coaching staff is going to be trying desperately to keep their jobs, my guess is that the training wheels come all the way off on that one. Giving the defense one more thing to think about is never a bad thing.
There was one play action on a fly sweep that caught my eye. If that's in there, that means a fly sweep is in there. The fake was to Isaiah Barton; he seems like a good candidate to carry the ball in that situation if they ever do run a fly sweep. I like it. Again, keeps defenses honest, especially in 3- and 4-wide sets.
A few seconds after the aforementioned fake, Tuel completed a pass to tight end Andrei Lintz. A TOUCHDOWN pass. I am not making this up. I don't know if this means the tight ends are ready to actually be weapons this year, but this represents a substantial improvement over their basic nonexistence last year.
Freshman Dominique Williams makes a nice catch and run at the 1:35 mark, and I gotta be honest -- I had to do a double take, because he looks that much like Marquess Wilson on the field. Similar build, similar fluid motions ... I'm not saying he'll be as good, just saying the resemblance is striking.
Remember Chandler Jenkins, the last-minute walk-on from Liberty who was supposed to be heading to Air Force? He makes a nice catch where he shows a little burst to get up field. I liked it.
Of course, what would a scrimmage be if C.J. Mizell wasn't blowing someone up ... and getting penalized for it? Kristoff Williams came into his area on a little receiver inside screen, and Mizell blew him up with basically a forearm. Every time I see him make a play like that, I smile. We just have so few athletes like him on this team.
*Only those of you around here last year will understand this comment.
Mark will be along with his usual linkpost in the morning, but there's a little bonus -- one of our readers was at the scrimmage and will be offering some first-hand observations, so be on the lookout for that.