Rather, a series of plays from Saturday’s scrimmage still drew the first-year defensive coordinators’ ire.
“First drive I was hot because of the three penalties,” Spencer said. “We got off the field with no points, but here’s what that does. The first drive of the game we were on the field for 13 snaps. So, yes, it’s great we kept them out of the end zone, but that right there has a big toll on the rest of the day.”
Linebacker Rashad Smith drew a flag for targeting on the scrimmage’s first series, a call that would have prompted his ejection had it happened during a game. An offside penalty and a Da’Von Brown pass interference call also helped extend the opening drive.
Brown ultimately made up for his mistake with an interception of a Justin Agner pass deflected in the end zone by safety Zyon Gilbert.
“First drive momentums are big,” Spencer said. “First drive of the game. First drive of the third quarter. I think if you broke it down statistically, if you have success on those first two, you then have a good chance of winning the game.”
On the offensive side of the ball, two decisions by quarterback Chris Robison drew praise from offensive coordinator Charlie Weis.
Piloting the third string offense, Robison saw a mismatch and sent wide receiver Chris Herring on a post that connected for the first touchdown of the afternoon.
“That was a really good job by Chris of making the check and making the throw,” Weis said.
Robison also impressed with a similar, albeit less successful, check to slot receiver Willie Wright.
“There was a play in the scrimmage that Chris saw man-to-man coverage,” Weis said. “He saw Willie had press by [safety Armani Adams] and thought that was a good match-up. He checked to throw a go ball to him and he just under-threw the ball a little bit. Willie could have made the play.”
Weis echoed coach Lane Kiffin’s comments from earlier in camp regarding the increased maturity of Robison, who started 11 games and played in all 12 as a redshirt freshman last season.
“He’s got a much better grasp of the offense – especially in the protection game and knowing how to fix protections and alert receivers to when they are hot,” Weis said. “That’s where Chris has really impressed me the most is making those adjustments and seeing the defense and doing all the things that you want a quarterback to do. I think that’s the biggest jump from being a freshman to a sophomore.”
HARD KNOCKS AT THE OX: Monday’s Practice Report
Position Spotlight: Four of the eight Owls working as kick returners are running backs. BJ Emmons is among that group, as he was in the spring, though Kiffin said before camp he didn’t think Emmons would ultimately be relied upon for that duty. Fellow ball carriers Tyrek Tisdale, Malcolm Davidson and Chauncey Mason joined Emmons in the kickoff return drill. Two defensive players, corners Meiko Dotson and James Pierre, returned kicks on Monday. The other two returners come from the wide receiver unit. DeAngelo Antoine’s shown good hands this fall, but a player to watch here is true freshman Xavier Roberts-Donaldson, who flashed good speed and quick cutting ability during his return.
Trending Topic: The Owls entered fall camp thin at linebacker and are suddenly even thinner. Second-teamer Caliph Brice, who’s proving to be one of the few JUCO finds, didn’t practice on Monday after suffering an undisclosed issue on Saturday. Chase Lasater, third on the depth chart behind Brice and Rashad Smith, spent Saturday’s scrimmage on the sidelines. As a result, true freshman Antarrius Moultrie spent nearly the entire day with the second string. He made some plays – notably laying out James Charles on a screen. But he also missed an assignment on a swing pass, failing to cover the running back who easily strolled to the end zone.
“We had a couple injuries Saturday, a couple of guys were sitting, so today you move the depth chart around and it’s actually, it will benefit you in two or three weeks because those guys that you haven’t seen play much that are going to play for you in the fall, they had to get reps today,” Spencer said. “They weren’t perfect by far, it was far off the guy that got hurt, but it’s a great learning tool for those guys.”
QB Battle: Justin Agner apparently still hasn’t fully recovered from the illness he’s battling. Agner watched practice in shorts, seeing Robison and Nick Tronti take turns with the first team. Both quarterbacks struggled with the deep ball on Monday, frequently overthrowing open receivers.
Playmakers: Tronti did connect with John Mitchell on one deep ball in the seven-on-seven portion of practice, a well thrown ball and a nice sliding catch for a touchdown. …Tight end Harrison Bryant made a fine leaping catch in the end zone during the same period on a Chris Robison pass. On the next play, Robison flew through his read progression, scanning the field from right to left to find Rasaan Lewis in the back of the end zone. … Second-string linebacker Hosea Barnwell continued his strong fall camp, batting down a Tronti pass at the line of scrimmage. …Defensive tackle Noah Jefferson nearly repeated his acrobatic interception from Saturday. Jefferson once again leaped to bat a Tronti pass in the air, but this time he couldn’t come down with the ball.