Preseason camp is finished and we’re less than two weeks from the first game of the season. Not much doing, but I had some leftover stuff from the scrimmage that didn’t make it into the notes.
1. Quarterback Tevin Washington made one of the highlight plays from Saturday morning, faking an option pitch to A-back Embry Peeples to create an open lane and score on a 36-yard touchdown run. To me, it shows a comfort with the option and that perhaps the speed of the game is slowing down for him.
Washington used an option term I was unaware of: “slow playing.” It refers to a linebacker assigned to the quarterback who overplays the pitch. In such a situation, a fake pitch is an ideal move. Washington said the defense had been slow playing the offense a lot.
“They’re trying to really play the pitch, but they’re trying to string it out, (and) give the inside linebacker time to run and make the play,” Washington said.
(A-back Tony Zenon used another term: “Pitch relationship,” meaning the proper distance and angle between quarterback and A-back on an option play.)
Washington’s most improved defensive players of fall camp: Safety Jemea Thomas, cornerback Louis Young, inside linebacker Daniel Drummond and defensive tackle Logan Walls. (More on Walls in a minute)
2. Defensive end Izaan Cross had a productive day, with one forced fumbles and other disruptive plays. He said he has been focused on playing each snap with effort. You might remember that he came into camp lighter than last season and was one of the team’s best-conditioned players.
“I struggled in [consistent effort] last year,” he said. “I’d do three or four good ones and then you wouldn’t see me for another quarter.”
Also, Cross said backup end Euclid Cummings has progressed “tremendously” and that end Emmanuel Dieke and tackle T.J. Barnes are getting better. I may have mentioned it before, but I think defensive line depth is one of the more important factors of the season.
“We’re definitely going to need them all to contribute,” he said.
I asked Cross who was the defensive line MVP of camp and he demurred, but acknowledged that “Logan’s our warrior in the middle” and the group’s leader.
Walls is a guy that likely won’t make a lot of tackles, but if he’s playing well, it’ll free up linebackers to get to the ball. I imagine if coaches made a list of players they’d least like to lose to injury – somehow I’m guessing such a list doesn’t exist – he’d be close to the top.
An interesting observation from Cross about the offense:
“They’re just clicking a little bit more, have more chemistry. I feel like Tevin’s a lot more comfortable in what he’s doing.”
3. Backup quarterback Synjyn Days ran well with the ball. His running, a lot of it on quarterback draws, fueled his only touchdown drive of the day. He had a few fumbles, though, some on center-quarterback exchanges, which has been his downfall in the past. In response to a question about where he needs to improve, he replied, “Ball control, just keeping control of the ball,” he said.
To his credit, he accepted all of the responsibility for fumbling the exchanges.
“We should know each other by now,” he said, “and that’s on me, me, me alone, really.”
By Ken Sugiura, AJC