This past Saturday, August 15th, the Cyclones had their first scrimmage of the season. From the reactions of the coaches, it sounded like the team has a lot of work to do.
DC Wally Burnham sounded encouraged with the results. He mentioned that the defense is vulnerable in the redzone, but he was pleased with the turnovers the defense forced.
OC Tom Herman did not sound pleased with the quarterback play. Apparently there were quite a few turnovers. Herman said "An interception is always the fault of the quarterback".
So what do I make of all of this?
Well, I think that building two new systems is difficult for players. Take Austen Arnaud for example. This is his third new offensive system he's had to learn while in college (remember, he did redshirt under McCarney). That's asking a lot out of these guys. It does not suprise me much that so many mistakes were made, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Going back and reading through some reports of when Herman first came to Rice, the offense didn't really get going until mid-October of his first year. It is my hope the players can catch on as the season gets rolling, but at this point, I'd expect there to be a lot of mistakes.
Regarding the defense, it's difficult to really know what to make of them, especially since I hadn't attended the scrimmage. Did the defense make amazing interceptions, or did the Quarterbacks just throw it right to the secondary? If I were to guess based on the coaches reactions, I would say probably the latter, but I honestly do not know and perhaps someone who's reading does.
If you think about it, the defense probably should be looking better than the offense right now. With defense, even though there is a new scheme and new terminology, the job is still to react off of the offense. On the offensive side, there are new formations, completely new plays, etc. Maybe I am biased, but I think there is a lot more to learn for the offense.
I also think the consequences of making a mistake are different as well. On offense, if you make a mistake, you are going to give the ball to the other team. On defense, as long as you don't give up the big play, you just have to wipe it off and start over on the next first down. On offense you have to be as close to perfect as possible, while on defense you need to shake it off and hope to make something happen the next play.
What I am looking forward to the most, is an updated two deep. With Blankenship, I expected him to redshirt, but I guess you never know. From all accounts, it sounds like Arnuad is firmly the #1 QB, so even though mistakes were made, don't expect any kind of a change there. If it really was that bad on the offensive side of the ball, I am wondering if there will be a lot of changes there.
Hopefully the Cyclones can learn from this scrimmage and use that to get better over the next two weeks. I don't think we'll need to be perfect to beat NDSU, but you can't make mistakes and give the game away either.
With each passing day, I look forward to another season of college football! Just a little over two weeks away!