The 2014 spring game gave fans a very small picture of what to expect next season. Several new players in different roles and different schemes had impressive performances.
Many of the biggest plays came from Korliss Marshall and the defense. Marshall lived up to Bret Bielema's continuous description of him as "freakish". Cody Hollister, and Eric Hawkins on offense made some big plays. On the defense Alan Turner, Deatrich Wise Jr. , and Darius Philon made several tackles for loss and harassed the 2nd team quarterbacks.
The 1st team offense struggled to start the game but put together some good drives that will hopefully establish momentum into the fall. There were too many sacks by the younger QBs in situations where the defensive lineman was just simply better than the guy on the other side. In those situations in the future, hopefully we see them check down quicker and get the ball out or just throw it away. Sacks and negative yardage are too destructive for Arkansas' offense to overcome.
Just how fast is Korliss Marshall?
Well on this 59 yd run on an inside power play he covers the last 40 in about 4.4 seconds. His speed will really be another weapon that teams must take into account.
Defensive Secondary Technique
Very rarely were the corners in a true press technique. They made several plays on the ball and looked sound, but the majority of the time they were lined up in a press look and used a bail technique at the snap. This puts them in a deep 1/4 or deep 1/3 depending on the coverage. It is a change in look from the previous defensive coordinator but the responsibilities are very much similiar. A couple of routes that are difficult to cover in press bail are the deep comeback and the back shoulder fade route. Here is a little more info on the use o f"bail technique" by Nick Saban.
Here are comparison of the cornerback technique from last year to this year.
Watch #9 Will Hines lines up 5 yards off the receiver and uses a backpedal last season
Last season the corners used a square stance and played off coverage most of the time.
Then look at the use of the shuffle technique by both the field and boundary corners in the Spring Game.
There is a split in coaching philosophies on whether to use backpedal or bail, both have strengths and weaknesses, lets hope this team can use it to develop some consistency in the secondary. Nick Saban prefers the shuffle technique.
Offense implodes, then redeems itself.
Here is a breakdown of the first INT.
This is a "Snag" concept ran out of a bunch formation. It is a staple of many NFL offenses. In every scrimmage that was open to the public this spring Jim Chaney called a version to start the drive. It may sound a little weak but in my opinion this one was on both the QB and WR. Keon Hatcher is open, but he floats into the coverage instead of settling down in the open space on his route. BA puts the ball high, but makes the correct read and gets the ball out on time.
Hatcher at the top of the screen is the primary reciever with a quick look to Henry in the middle. His route is designed to pull the LBs to the middle of the field and does that successfully. Derby runs a quick flat route that brings the OLB toward the sideline.
Here Hatcher is open, and the corner who is responsible for the deep 1/3 must plant and recover. Allen has started his motion with proper mechanics but needs to place the ball low. It also makes it a more difficult throw if the WR does not meet the ball and continues inside the hash. As the ball is in the air Hatcher drifts closer to the defender making it easier to make a play on the ball. (Which has improved under new coaches)
The end result is a tipped pass and an INT. How they are able to improve minor details like this will determine a lot about the 2014 season.
After a poor start and this interception the offense was able to get back on track thanks to some big plays from the trio of RBs. For the QB in this offense it is an equal balance of mental and physical performance. Not making costly mistakes will be the biggest factor for Brandon Allen.
Spring Practice is complete, what now?
This Spring Game to me was not evidence for a change at the QB position nor proof that the defense will shut down every team they play. There will be mountains of quarterback debate over the next few months as well as what to expect against Auburn. If this defense continues to make improvement they can take a lot of pressure off of the offensive side of the ball. The big question will be when teams spread out Robb Smith's defense and force them to cover and tackle in the open field. The spring game and scrimmages have shown he is able to turn players like Alan Turner loose to defend the run and the pass rush up front will be dependable.
In general the fans get more out of the Spring Game than the coaches. It really does not tell us much about a true gameplan on either side of the ball. What are your biggest positive take aways from the spring regarding play calling and overall scheme?