The final score in the Spring Game said the White team won 10-0, but in the court of public opinion it was hard to argue that the Purple lost the game.
The defense wore the purple jerseys and overcame a slow first half to show what they were capable of in the third and fourth quarters.
The White team traded out quarterbacks with each series, with junior Andy Dalton, senior Marcus Jackson, redshirt freshman Yogi Gallegos and highly touted freshman Casey Pachall all getting time. Dalton seemed out of sync with his receivers in the first half, and more than one pass missed its mark badly. It was unclear whether the receivers had run the wrong route or Dalton had mistimed his throw.
The offense did tighten up as the game progressed, and the Frogs worked out the kinks. Jackson showed his quickness numerous times from under center, and he ran a smooth offense.
If he is used in the same role as last year, Jackson has a lot of promise as a change-of-pace quarterback and will be a great option if the new offensive coordinators bring back the “wildfrog” offense.
Gallegos showed he definitely has the arm of a Division I quarterback, but it remains to be seen whether he will get a chance to contribute this year. The redshirt freshman might have suffered another setback in that department as he was injured in the second half.
Gallegos fell after a botched snap, gripping his knee and writhing in pain. He was helped off the field by trainers and could not put weight on the injured leg. He spent the rest of the game on the trainer’s table before he was carted off the field at its conclusion.
Pachall looked solid in his debut. He avoided mistakes and on one second-half play escaped a heavy rush with his foot speed before making a good decision to throw the ball away. It’s far too early to judge the freshman quarterback, but in limited time he showed the potential for a bright future.
The Frogs lone touchdown came in the second quarter on a short pass from Dalton to sophomore tight end Logan Brock in the end zone. It was set up by two big runs from senior tailback Chris Smith.
Smith was very impressive running between the tackles and the 5-foot-11-inch, 231-pound back showed he can take a hit and give one right back. He could be a devastating red zone back.
The only other points came off a first-quarter field goal from sophomore Ross Evans. Evans was just short on a later attempt from 58 yards out.
Other notes from the game:
Junior safety Tejay Johnson had his name called more than anyone else on defense. He made tackles all over the field and picked off a bobbled pass, returning it about 40 yards. After starting 12 of 13 games last year and finishing sixth on the team in tackles, he might be poised for a breakout year on defense.
The linebacking corps hasn’t lost a step. Sophomore Tank Carder’s play was outstanding from the get-go and newcomer Tanner Brock looks like he will get plenty of minutes during his freshman campaign. Tanner Brock has a nose for the ball and very good instincts, but he will need some game experience before those skills are fully developed. In the second half he put himself in the perfect position to shut down a run, but overcommitted, allowing the back a nice gain.
Redshirt freshman running back Ed Wesley ran tough every time he touched the ball.
Junior wide receiver Jeremy Kerley is going to give opposing defensive coordinators nightmares. He seemed like the go-to receiver no matter who was under center. While the run game was most impressive Saturday, Kerley got to shine on a few plays.
On the special teams front, Evans looked good but would have looked great had he pushed the 58-yarder another four feet. Redshirt freshman punter Cale Patterson did a great job pinning the ball on the three yard line in the first half, but had a later punt blocked as the defender came through untouched.