Just finished watching the Kay Yow Spring Game on ESPN3. Not sure why Duke gets an HD broadcast on ESPNU and we Pack fans have to watch blocky streaming video, but we will have to wait for the ACC Network to correct that one.
This was definitely a game of two halves. Both the Red (first string) and White (everybody else) looked sluggish through thirty minutes, with only Nick Sade scoring as the teams were tied 3-3 at the break.
In the second, though, the switch to a running clock brought out the no-huddle and this is definitely the way for the Pack to go. Both squads had their moments on both sides of the ball with the Red ending up winning 20-10.
The QB battle wasn’t really very close. Don’t have official stats, but Pete Thomas looked much more comfortable than Manny Stocker. Thomas reminded me of Erik Kramer; not fiery like Phillip Rivers, but cool and calm in the pocket. Stocker, however, was handicapped as he is more of a mobile guy in a game of touch where quarterbacks are concerned, so it may yet turn out to be a horse race.
The best of the batch was Florida transfer Jacoby Brissett. Even with the no-tackle restriction, his speed allowed him to get outside once and get a few yards, and he was the most accurate of the group. Of course, he cannot play this season and will have to wait until 2014 to be a factor.
In this kind of game, you look for the unexpected player. In this one, it was Jr running back Milton Hall. The White squad went down the field in the second half largely on his shoulders. It was Hall up the middle and Hall up the middle again until they moved inside the Red five yard line. There Stocker rushed a throw into the end zone and the drive ended in a pick. One more handoff and the White team would likely have scored.
The coaches must have felt the same way. When the Red team moved downfield deep into White territory on the ensuing drive, they were joined by Hall in a red mesh covering the white jersey and he got his TD after all. He has a strong ability to find the holes combined with speed and should give Shadrach Thornton and Tony Creecy a run for their money once the season starts.
On defense Freshman CB Cole Burroughs was impressive. Every time Thomas tried to throw the deep ball to Quintin Payton, Burroughs was there, as he was on several other occasions. The defense as a whole looked good, but Burroughs was the bright spot.
Another thing that impressed me was the sideline interviews with several members of the new staff, particularly DCoordinator Dave Huxtable. They were energetic and enthusiastic, and not in a Chuck Amato kind of way. Of course we will need to see them in adverse situations before we can really judge, but frankly, first impressions were…wow.
So that’s it. This correspondent has gone from cautious optimism about the 2013 season to the feeling that if this team does manage to claw their way up the Atlantic Division standings, they might not fall back down like other recent Pack teams.