Spring games are a big deal in today’s college football climate even though they really are glorified vanilla scrimmages at most schools. Think of it like kindergarten graduation or your kid’s recital. It feels good to go to, but it’s not the real deal.
You can still find out some things that are telling moving forward to the fall, however, if you look closely enough. Here are five observations from FSU’s spring game that have also been consistent through the spring practice.
Don’t be deceived
The scrimmage didn’t show you how the team will look as a unit.
Traditionally, spring games are broken up into first team vs. second team or offense vs. defense format where the defense gets scores for stops and turnovers. FSU’s spring game saw players drafting each other with a good mix of skill players. This skewed what the product on the field looked like as quarterback James Blackman, the clear starter regardless of what folks are trying to say, had wide receivers who aren’t starters while Bailey Hockman, who looks much improved, was throwing to presumptive starters Tamorrion Terry and D.J. Matthews.
The most important thing in all of this is that you were able to see flashes. The big play capability is here on both sides.
I told you Matthews’ footwork was incredible. He was cooking ankles like stir fry.
One big play saw him running as the defender had a great angle on him. D.J. just hit the breaks and my man kept running out of bounds. You can definitely see his ability to play in space and he should be a weapon this season.
Watching him and a few others made me scratch my head as to why they weren’t utilized during last season. Especially with the offense stalling at times.
My new favorite running back is Khalan Laborn. He was the MVP of the spring game. He looked like the All-American, big-time prospect we all thought he was.
I love the energy he brought and most definitely his post game interview.
Billy Sexton was my running backs coach and he used to tell us to, “run where they ain’t!”
Laborn’s, “I saw a wide-ass open hole and I hit that bihh!” is the 2018 version of that.
He definitely caught ESPN slipping with it’s bad-language delay on the broadcast.
This backfield could be a problem for opponents and might be just what Taggart needs to lean on in the beginning in order to get things moving.
Secondary has talent
I can’t wait until we see the secondary together and operating as a complete unit. Actually, I want to see the entire defense, but I’m going to focus on the secondary.
No matter what gets clicks, there is no quarterback battle in my humble opinion. Hockman looked good and had some incredible throws and so did Blackman. The difference is “Slim Reaper” did more with less which I expected him to do.
He’s the leader and should make everyone around him better. He’s also very competitive and didn’t expect less of himself. I’m sure I’ll spend more time writing about the quarterbacks later and break down the competition in more detail, but based on what I’ve seen and the uncertainty around Deondre Francois between his injury rehab and drug offense, it seems like QB1 for FSU happens to wear No. 1.
Wrapping up other notable happenings this spring, I think Brian Burns and Demarcus Christmas are going to stand out this fall on the defensive line. The energy of the crowd was way better than I expected – it had the feel of a noon kickoff against a directional school, which is big for FSU as I don’t remember playing in front of 60,000 during spring games.
Willie Taggart really impressed me by going around the entire stadium and shaking hands with every fan who reached over the railing. Really, this is the most important part. Spring games are fun, but all the implementation and real work was done up to this point, like NFL preseason games.
The Taggart era is going in the right direction.
Article Originally Appeared on Gridiron Now: http://gridironnow.com/willie-taggart-provides-glimpse-into-future-during-fsu-spring-game