The importance of G-Day is overrated and overblown. That doesn't stop me from analyzing it:
- The offense had the better day, especially in the first half. Mike Bobo's first-team offense racked up 261 yards in the first half on Jeremy Pruitt's first-team defense, and had a 17-7 lead, which could have been worse if not for a fumble for a touchback, and Marshall Morgan missing a 53-yard field goal as the half ended.
- But it does come with an asterisk: Pruitt was true to his word to sub liberally. Walk-ons Aaron Davis, Lucas Redd and Kosta Vavlas all saw action on the first-team defense. (Davis seemed to have a good day.) The offense, on the other hand, was largely using its best available players, including Todd Gurley.
- That doesn't mean the defense doesn't have a ways to go. It does, and Pruitt will express that afterwards. The secondary in particular had a rough day, racking up a number of pass interference calls - and legitimate ones, by the way. At times the defense was inhibited by the rules preventing the quarterback from being hit. But the coverage by the secondary was very hit-and-miss.
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Basically, the takeaway for the defense was this: The pass rush is in good shape. The pass coverage is not.
- Overall, the game just seemed clunky. Not great, not bad. Work to do on both sides, but the offense will be helped by getting injured players back. The defense looked a lot like last year.
- Hutson Mason will be helped a lot by his receivers this year. Michael Bennett - Mason's good friend and roommate - has a history of tough catches, and made a nice one over the middle that would have been a touchdown if Mason had put better touch on it. One play later Reggie Davis had a nice catch near the pylon for a touchdown - and it was a good throw by Mason as well. Chris Conley is also adept at the tough catch. And it's always nice to have Todd Gurley to dump it off too, and watch run.
Then when you add the injured Malcolm Mitchell, Justin Scott-Wesley and Jay Rome into the mix this fall, you can see the offense putting up good numbers once again.
- But it was a much rougher day - until the end - for the backup quarterbacks, particularly Brice Ramsey and Jacob Park. There were a total of 34 points scored over the first three quarters, and 24 of them came on drives led by Mason. Faton Bauta accounted for the only touchdown drive of a backup, during the first half. That's not to say Bauta took a big lead on Ramsey today in the race for the No. 2 job. It was more than Ramsey didn't look comfortable, and Bauta was able to use his legs more to his advantage.
Bauta finished strongly, completing consecutive passes of 40-plus yards, to Kenneth Towns and then Uriah LeMay, the latter for a touchdown. Then Ramsey came on and hit Reggie Davis for a long completion. But Ramsey's drive stalled, and then Bauta came on and led another touchdown-drive.
This game alone isn't going to decide the No. 2 quarterback job. That competition will last until preseason, at least. But Bauta clearly had a better G-Day than Ramsey.
- Gurley is still one of the best tailbacks you'll see, when close to full strength. His workload was normal, at least in the first half.
- Leonard Floyd did nothing to diminish the expectations that he'll be a force. He got into the backfield a lot, and knocked down a Mason pass at the line.
- Davin Bellamy, playing for the second-team defense, also looked pretty good from the outside linebacker spot. That backs up what teammates and coaches had been saying about Bellamy this spring. Look for him to be a candidate to sub in occasionally this fall.
- The offensive line had its good and bad moments, which in the first half may have had to do with its different personnel groupings. Mark Beard actually started at left tackle, then was also there for the third drive as John Theus shifted back to right tackle. That was contrary to the pregame depth chart and all expectations for the season, which may have been just for Beard's benefit.
- A.J. Turman looked pretty good, granted against the defensive backups.
- Quayvon Hicks seemed to do well, especially with his route-running. He got open a couple times downfield, and hauled in a catch of 20-plus yards on the second drive.
- The best catch of the day was from walk-on receiver Clay Johnson, who hauled in a 32-yard pass from Faton Bauta, while safety Quincy Mauger was committing a facemask penalty. Johnson, a redshirt sophomomore from Calhoun - the same town as Rhett McGowan, another walk-on who made his mark as a receiver.
- For all the attention Jonathon Rumph receives from fans (and occasionally we media types), at this point if I had to guess who would get more snaps this season, I'd say Kenneth Towns. Sorry, but Rumph is still prone to drops.