Longtime readers of BH probably know what I'm about to say, but I feel obliged to say it anyway.
Spring games are cool and all. It's the first live football anyone has seen in months. The games showcase players we've rarely – if ever – seen in action. Your favorite team can't lose.
Yet, aside from avoiding injuries, the goal for most teams is to show as little of their schemes as possible. If you're making hard-and-fast conclusions based on what happens at Owen Field on Saturday afternoon, you're doing it wrong.
In fact, as a harbinger of what's to come in the fall, the Red-White Game might be worth less than nothing under Bob Stoops. One year, Trey Franks looks like a starting safety. Another, Blake Bell locks up QB1.
So, how should you watch a spring game as an OU fan? Hell if I know. I can only tell you what I do:
*I usually try to zero in on situations that present one-on-one matchups: battles in the trenches, man pass coverage, etc.
*Obvious busts on either side of the ball are worth noting. Keep an eye out for coaches pulling players aside for one-on-one instruction after a play.
*Also, I make an effort to look for flash plays in this kind of setting. I get that it seems counterintuitive, but I'm mainly interested in the glimpses of what guys can do, not their stats from a day spent beating up on dudes at the end of the bench.
Of course, if those flash plays are mixed in with a lot of general incompetence, that's another story.
*And what if your favorite team is waging a quarterback derby? (This seems kinda important for Sooner Nation this year.)
I look to gauge the candidates' demeanor and the rhythm of the offense when they're on the field. That means receiving the calls from the sideline, communicating with the rest of the O and getting plays off efficiently. It means being on the same page with the receivers on routes. It means the little things get taken care of – clean handoffs, for example.
In the passing game, how quickly do they hit their first reads, and are they actually open? Do they stay in the pocket and work through progressions when necessary? Are they fidgety?
I get that this is a lot of eye of the beholder. Ultimately, the same rules apply as with everything else about a spring game: Keep it in perspective.