Though it wasn't a very competitive game, the 2016 spring game definitely didn't lack excitement. Lamar Jackson and his starting receivers put on a big play clinic against an overwhelmed second team defense. The first team defense also dominated the line of scrimmage against the second team offense as well as locking down receivers outside.
The main thing I was looking for was the play of the offensive line. The running game wasn't able to get too much going but the passing game was lights out. Jackson had extremely clean pockets and the line looked to be communicating very well. There were no free rushers getting through because a linemen took the wrong guy. The second team blitzed plenty, also. This wasn't a 3-4 man rush. If the line can stick with a set group of guys and they continue to gel, good things can happen with the offense.
Jackson pretty much turned the game into Tecmo Bowl in the second quarter and sat in the pocket and launched the ball down the field. It's hard to learn a lot from spring games but the separation between the first and second teams made it nearly impossible today. Jamari Staples and Jaylen Smith both beat Ronald Walker on deep posts and Jaylen Smith smoked Shaq Wiggins on the same route. Those plays stood out to me because those corners should be in the rotation if not potentially starting. The first team receivers were the real standouts in my opinion.
Drew Bailey and Stacy Thomas are the obvious focal points on the defense with the great players they are replacing and they both looked the part today. Thomas was in on a bunch of tackles and Bailey was extremely disruptive on the strong side of the line. Bailey doesn't have to replace the production of Sheldon Rankins but he does have to be the guy to blow up plays and take up blockers. I could already see flashes of that ability and that understanding which will be needed in the fall.
Dee Smith was the top rated high school recruit in last year's class and he stepped right into Jermaine Reve's spot and looked like a guy that we be there for a few years. Smith has great range for a guy his size and he made a play today getting to a receiver at the numbers 40 yards down the field. Louisville plays aggressive and they need a deep safety that can play the ball as well as support against the run. Smith is definitely that guy and he was finally able to show that today.
The special teams shouldn't be overlooked with a new kicker and punter. Mason King dropped a 40 or so yard punt inside the five yard line today. That obviously bodes well for him getting the job. It looks like the kicking spot is still up for grabs so it will be interesting to see how that progresses through the fall.