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Some Thoughts On The Spring Game

Nathan Scheelhaase's Blue team beat Reilly O'Toole's Orange team 35-28 on Friday night in Champaign.

Donovonn Young scored three touchdowns for the Blue team.
Donovonn Young scored three touchdowns for the Blue team.

I'm not going to go very in depth on the spring game because it was just that: a spring game. It was nice to see some football being played, but it was just a scrimmage and we probably shouldn't take anything we saw in it too seriously.

So with that being said, let's take some shit seriously.

-- Nathan Scheelhaase is going to be your starting quarterback. Reilly O'Toole played much better in the second half, I cannot stress enough how much better he looked, but he still threw four interceptions in the game and overall Scheelhaase just looked a lot better in the offense. Plus Nate's mobility gives him another edge over Reilly.

-- Speaking of the offense, I liked what I saw. It's hard to gauge how good the offense actually was considering it was going against the Illinois defense, but what you could gauge was the tempo and the plan. And I like both. Things look a lot quicker and the Illini offense is getting off a lot more plays. I also like the way the offense is set up with shorter to medium routes for our quarterbacks because neither of them really have huge arms. I also enjoy the way this offense utilizes the running backs.

-- Did you know that you can run plays on offense from formations other than the shotgun? I don't think our centers even remembered what it was like to feel another man's hands tickling their taint.

-- And I'm sure Donovonn Young does as well. Instead of running east and west like he did a lot in last year's spread out of the shotgun, he's lining up behind the quarterback and running straight ahead. One cut and go. And he looked very good doing it. He's not the kind of back that's going to run away from people, but being physical is more his style, and that's what we're doing now. It's not a coincidence he finished with three touchdowns tonight.

-- Another running back I really liked was LaKeith Walls. He started the spring at safety but has switched to running back, and while he didn't get a lot of carries he impressed on the ones he did. He's a big kid and he's also a north-south runner.

-- Dami Ayoola looked good when he had help from his offensive line. Overall I enjoyed our running backs tonight.

-- Playmakers need to emerge amongst the wide receivers. The biggest playmaker tonight was Justin Hardee, and he had a very nice night. We didn't get to see as much of Martize Barr as I'd have liked, but while Hardee had a good night and Barr looked good when we saw him, somebody needs to make plays happen.

-- Miles Osei sure looked like a quarterback who just transitioned to a wide receiver. Dropped a few passes that hit him right in the hands.

-- The tight ends looked good, though. Jon Davis didn't play but Evan Wilson and Tim Clary looked good. I was particularly fond of the way Clary turned upfield and picked up extra yards after the catch.

-- The offensive line looked like the offensive line. There's still a long way to go before the season starts and that leaves time for improvement, but there's improvement that needs to be made. One bright spot for me was Joseph Spencer at guard for the Blue team. He sure as hell didn't look like a redshirt freshman out there to me.

-- The defensive line looked good rushing the passer, but was also being opened up for some big gains against the run. Guys who stood out for good reasons were Tim Kynard and Robbie Bain. Bain is strong. Like Batman Bane strong.

-- Linebackers looked great. They're going to be the strength. Mason Monheim played very well and also ended the game with an interception. I have no worries here.

-- The secondary left me feeling optimistic. It may have been the most pleasant surprise. Taylor Barton was fantastic at safety and I wouldn't be surprised at all if the redshirt freshman is starting this fall. He just seems to have a good knack for the ball in pass coverage.

-- I had no idea who Clayton Fejedelem was before tonight's game, but I know the corner now. The junior walk-on had an interception and a couple other pass break ups. It'll be interesting to see how he performs in the summer.

Only five months until the season starts.

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