OXNARD, Calif. – Every day that these players step on the field, regardless if it's a veteran or rookie, they are discussed and evaluated by this front office and coaching staff.
With only two days remaining before the annual Blue and White scrimmage, a week's worth of work will come to an end. As we close out this first week, let's take a look back at some things we have learned.
- One of the biggest questions coming into the camp was how would this offense would find ways to successfully run the ball. Under Bill Callahan and Frank Pollack, we have mainly seen a zone scheme with the line reaching the front side and cutting off the backside. The backs have been taught to take the ball play side, then make a cut when they see daylight. During the periods where they have worked on team run, the backs and line along with the tight ends have managed to put some successful plays together that has allowed the ball to get either to the corner or breaking back inside. The coaches have also used a trap scheme that has pulled guards play side, bringing a tight end right behind to clear space that has worked well. They have worked out of single back looks but some college "Pistol" formations as well. The backs have done a nice job of showing patience when they run and taking advantage of the situation when the blocks have developed.
- Through the first week of camp, there have been some nice battles for spots not only on the roster but for starting positions as well. One of those battles that was supposed to take place was at right tackle between Doug Free and Jeremy Parnell, but this hasn't been the case at all. Parnell missed time during OTAs and minicamp with a knee injury and now he is out of the lineup with a hamstring, but as camp opened, the coaches decided not to split the reps with the two like they did toward the end of the 2012 season. It was surprising to me that even before the hamstring injury, Parnell wasn't playing that well and he was struggling unlike I had seen him before. Through week one of camp here in Oxnard, it's been Doug Free's job, but to his credit, he has played well enough to hold the spot. Free's technique has been solid and he has been much more aggressive in his set and punch. This zone scheme also better suits his game when he can play in space and work on the edge. There have been several reps where he has managed to set the edge working with the tight ends that has allowed the ball to get outside. There still is plenty work ahead but he is in a much better position than he was at this time last season. [embedded_ad]
- Before the squad arrived in Oxnard, there were questions about this defensive line and how it would respond going from a 3-4 to the 4-3 alignment, including the different responsibilities and assignments with coaches that have a great history in running it successfully. The last thing that this group needed was to have several key players missing when the camp started, and that happened to be the case. This defense took a huge hit when Jay Ratliff strained his hamstring in the conditioning test, Tyrone Crawford suffered his season ending Achilles injury and then Anthony Spencer developed knee soreness that needed to be cleaned out. With all these injuries, this group has managed to hold things together because DeMarcus Ware has been outstanding. Jason Hatcher has been active at the nose tackle and Ben Bass has moved over from the under tackle to the left end which has allowed Kyle Wilber to shift back to the right side which is a better fit for him. While the depth of this group has been tested early, we have seen players like Bass, Cameron Sheffield, Monte Taylor and new addition George Selvie get work on the outside. At tackle, Sean Lissemore has been steady working with the first defense but the nice addition to the group has been Nick Hayden. From what I have seen live and on tape, he has given them some nice work against the run, but he has also been good getting push on the pass. For a guy with some size inside, his technique is really good. All these injuries have created opportunity and some players are taking advantage of that.