The best way to describe today's scrimmage was uneven. Offense dominated early (even with the second team offense scoring twice on the first team defense), then the defense dominated late.
Offense ran much more out of the I, two tight end one back, and the regular shotgun, but featured several new wrinkles out of each formation. It seams as if the offense is much more focused on running on the interior, with a variety of interior power plays and traps. There were only 3-4 plays of no huddle and pistol, and we saw two veer plays run (as described in yesterday's French on the Bench).
Logan Thomas didn't have an impressive day. He had several nice throws early, but as the scrimmage went on, he seemed to be staring down receivers and not going through his reads. After going 3-and-out on the last goal line series (and having nobody open) Logan threw his helmet on the sidelines.
Corey Fuller continues to be his favorite target, but Fuller was a non factor against the number one D. Marcus Davis had one catch, and got beat by Exum on a jump/fade on the goal line. Dyrell Roberts dropped a punt. Demitri Knowles and Kevin Asante both had several catches with the 1's against the 2's, but Asante missed a block on a screen, getting Roberts killed.
Ryan Malleck was targeted several times and caught a beautiful over the shoulder TD on a flag route from Thomas. However, Eric Martin got much more work with the ones as the scrimmage went on, while Malleck played on punt team. Dunn is out of this race, only getting time with the 2's. He made a nice catch, but was destroyed by Corey Marshall blocking twice in space on sweeps. With so much emphasis on the TE being a mobile blocker, Dunn is a liability they can't afford.
JC Coleman was used as both a back, and as a flanker and had several nice runs on jet sweeps. He also looks instinctive and sharp between the tackles, even if he isn't going to move the pile. He also has a dynamic element. On a 3rd-and-goal power run to the right, Coleman cut back sharply against the grain. Antone Exum was filling the backside contain gap, and Coleman left him grabbing air. It was nasty.
Holmes patience almost looked like indecisiveness, but he runs hard, and broke several tackles on a nice touchdown run early. Still, he doesn't look dynamic to me. Martin Scales was used mostly in goal line with the ones, and frankly was disappointing. He is powerful, but like Wilson, he ran play side and ignored a huge hole one gap inside repeatedly.
Trey Edmunds was used heavily with the 3's and the 2's, and had an up-and-down day. He had several electric runs, making some defenders miss, while steamrolling others. He also had three outstanding blitz pick ups, and recovered a fumbled snap to get a 15 yard run. However, on several plays he was blown up when he got no blocking and fumbled trying to get something out of nothing. Two fumbles are a killer. Nevertheless, he still looks like the guy who can be a true workhorse, with Coleman as a change up.
Offensive line did not play as well as Saturday. Brent Benedict struggled against the #1 D, playing too high and getting pushed into the backfield several times. Miller also had a bad bust on a mike dog blitz, where both he and Benedict blocked nobody and Logan was sacked. Benedict did have a wonderful kick out block on a goal line TD run for Holmes. Painter and David Wang looked outstanding, while Becton had one bust in pass pro but otherwise was solid.
The line mixed both man and zone blocking. If the tight end was flexed and there wasn't a 2nd tight end, we saw some zone blocking, but almost all the I and ace plays featured guys blocking down and kicking out or reach blocking play side.
Michael Via is stiff in pass pro, but when he was in, the #2 O scored 2 TD's vs the #1 D on power running (better than the 1's did running the power). With Benedict struggling, I'd say Via starts getting some snaps at guard. Caleb Farris had a ROUGH day with numerous poor snaps.
I focused mostly on the safeties as the number one D took on the number two O. I thought Jarrett and Bonner were both solid. Against 3-wide sets, the strong side safety came down and played man on the slot receiver, with JGW mostly staying inside and blitzing from linebacker frequently. Jarrett busted coverage once (resulting in a magnificent tirade from Torrian Gray and Eric Martin wide open deep) but Logan made a poor read and threw to a covered Joey Phillips.
Antone Exum and Kyle Fuller both struggled early. Fuller jumped offsides on a FG (it looked like a vet taking a shortcut) and the second team offense scored several plays later. Fuller also took a bad pass interference penalty on the goal line grabbing Davis. Exum whiffed on Coleman, had a thunderous hit on Scales but didn't wrap his arms, giving Scales 4 extra yards, and he was beaten on a deep inside curl by Corey Fuller. But Exum became much more aggressive as the scrimmage wore on, with tremendous coverage and a nice break up on a goal line fade route to Marcus Davis. Exum looked beaten, but got his head turned at the last possible second and ripped the ball away from Davis. Fuller was solid and wasn't beaten.
All in all, the first team secondary played a ton of man coverage with one deep safety. The safeties were solid in run support. I saw nothing that makes me think they will be bad. I am still worried about their coverage against a burner like Watkins, as they were not tested today deep.
JR Collins was the most impressive player on the field today. He played a nasty, nasty game. Against the first team offense, he was beating kick out blocks on traps (similar to the style of kick out blocks used by Clemson) and he had two sacks and was close to the ball often. The interior tackles jammed everything up (all the runs against the #1 D bounced wide), and Luther Maddy really gave Benedict a tough time on goal line. I didn't see much pass rush from anyone else (although on a zone blitz, Tyrel Wilson looked better than our #3 corners covering a flat route). Among the #2's, I think Kris Harley has surpassed Zach McCray as the next man up behind Maddy and the Hopkins brothers. Harley roughed up Farris and Gibson repeatedly.
Linebacker worries me. I wasn't focused on them, but Tyler and Taylor didn't seem to be in on many tackles against the run (although both had sacks blitzing). Runs were bouncing outside. JGW lined up on the slot in 4 wide, and when the Hokies used two deep safeties, but the offense seemed to run every time he was on the slot. He had 2 sacks blitzing, but he was roughed up a bit when the second team offense scored their first touchdown.
Ronnie Van Dyke again was impressive. He is bigger, stronger, and faster than JGW. He was again the leading tackler for the number two's and was excellent in coverage except for one bust, where Corey Fuller beat him handily to the post but Leal threw to the corner. They put Van Dyke in coverage far more often than JGW. He also is terrific in run support, but doesn't have quite as quick timing the snap on the blitz. Tweedy was with the 3's and was a non-factor.
By the end of the scrimmage, the defense definitely marked their territory and shut down the offense. They were much more vocal and communicative after having trouble with alignment early. The offense looked great early, with the first group scoring 4 TD's and a FG against the two's, but the old bugaboos of wide receivers not getting open and poor blitz pickups rose their ugly heads when the starters battled. More details coming in the comments as I have time to digest what I saw.