We reported last week on some of the developments from the early preseason camp schedule, and the news that WR T.J. Thorpe will miss extended time with a collarbone injury. While practices are no longer open to the public and we can't bring you film from inside Thorpe's rehab sessions, Virginia Sports TV does have highlights to share from the Hoos' intra-squad scrimmages.
Here are some things we liked (and didn't) from these film clips.
The first thing I see here is Taquan Mizzell playing as a one-cut-and-go back instead of dancing in the backfield. This is consistent with the reports that Smoke has really put things together in the offseason and is starting to look like the highly touted recruit he was coming out of high school. If the offensive line shows more unit cohesion and can open some better running lanes for Mizzell and his backfield mates, Virginia fans could see major improvement from last year's anemic run game.
(The other big positive: playing football in Lambeth Field. Takes me back to second year.)
It's tough to nitpick given that so many different players cycle through this clip, but if there's one negative that stands out it's the way the ball looks coming out of the quarterbacks' hands. Neither the tightest spirals nor the best accuracy are we seeing from the Virginia signalcallers here. But...
...That changes in a hurry from the first scrimmage to the second. The biggest positive I see in this video is Matt Johns' accuracy and improvisational ability. He hits receivers in stride across the middle, both from the pocket and on the move, AND from some unconventional arm angles. When the pocket breaks down but the pass rush breaks contain, Johns bounces it outside for a solid pickup on the ground. Those abilities, especially creativity and mobility, were what Johns always had over Greyson Lambert. Hopefully in 2015, Johns deploys those talents with some improved decision-making to keep the ball in Cavalier hands and moving toward the (correct) end zone.
My biggest negative, however, is also the flip side of something from Scrimmage 1: the running game. But instead of individual execution, my gripe is with the philosophy/scheme/designs. Early in the clip, one of the backs gets swarmed under in the backfield because of a "read-option" play with neither a read nor an option. My fear is that the offense will squander Mizzell's improved north-south movement with plays designed to get him the ball moving east-west.
Let us know in the comments below what you see in the videos above.