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Preseason Week 1: Bucs-Dolphins - Recap/Postgame Thoughts

In a low-scoring and sloppy game, as is proper for a first pre-season game, the Dolphins beat the Bucs 10-7. The Bucs walked onto a field to face a real opponent for the first time in many months.With rain pouring down in the first minutes and the mud from the baseball game on the field the field was pretty bad. Luckily, the rain cleared up fairly quickly and it got better after that.  

Freeman opened the scoring on a 13-yard strike to a wide-open Stroughter, after driving the team down the field on a drive featuring some good runs by Cadillac and a beautiful strike to rookie Mike Williams for 30 yards. Before that, the Dolphins offense looked bad and out of sync, but the Bucs defense looked good and was quick to the ball, including a spectacular pass break-up by Geno Hayes behind the line. However, the pass rush was still lacking and Roy Miller was underwhelming, with McCoy facing constant double teams and not making much of an impact. EJ Biggers looked good in nickel duty and 2nd team defense, both in coverage and on tackles. The downside there was that Maurice Stovall was carted off the field with an ankle injury. Michael Clayton got a few looks when Stovall went down, but stood out by dropping the ball. 

After that, the second string came in on offense and defense, though Gerald McCoy was in for most of the first half. The second-team offense looked really bad, with Josh Johnson looking his usual skittish self and Derrick Ward looking a lot worse than expected. Ward gained only 20 yards on 12 carries, and while his blocking was pretty bad, he missed holes and gained no yardage when hit and even fumbled the ball twice. Josh Johnson looked bad with a lost fumble where he just dropped the ball out of his hand and a bad pick on an underthrow to Reggie Brown, But showed he still had the ability to make some good plays with his legs and even threw a good 18-yard pass to Sammie Stroughter, who made a great catch. Arrelious Benn got two looks here - one deep overthrow by Josh Johnson where he had beaten the corner and an end-around that got sniffed out so quickly that he had 5 guys on him almost immediately after crossing the line of scrimmage. Aside from 2 kick-off returns that went nowhere, Benn got no other looks. TE Ryan Purvis got a couple passes, and had a decent performance.

The second string defense played well against the 2nd string Dolphins offense, with Michael Bennett getting a sack and a near-sack later on in the game making a good impression. EJ Biggers jumped on a bad Dolphins snap to get the ball back, but after a 3-and-out by the offense Brent Bowden hit a short punt (his only bad punt of the evening, he looked really good on other punts especially in directional punting). The Dolphins got a field goal off that good field position because Sabby gave them a first down on a late hit. 

The second half saw Kareem Huggins coming in. Kareem Huggins stood out by grabbing a few great runs, including a 35-yarder and gaining some good yardage on a screen. He looked faster than the other RBs, and had some real burst. He really made a statement this game. On the same drive Josh Johnson got a ball off to Spurlock at the last moment, who made a spectacular catch along the sideline. When Rudy Carpenter came in, they managed to drive down field a bit into field goal range, but Hunter Lawrence missed a 49-yarder.

After that, Tyler Thigpen managed to shred our 3rd-team defense to get into the red zone, where Hilliard scored the TD. Cody Grimm and Corey Lynch, who blocked a punt later on, looked decent as safeties, but the 3rd-string defense as a whole looked bad and no one stood out. That more or less meant the end of the game, as neither side could get anything done. One play stood out where rookie WR Chris Brooks got wide open 30 yards down ball and caught the pass, but was hit and immediately fumbled the ball too, and after Corey Lynch's blocked punt the Bucs didn't turn that field position into points after going for it on 4th down.

The Good:

First team offense is looking sharp, Cadillac Williams looking good and Josh Freeman seemed comfortable, making no mistakes and not trying to fit the ball into spots it doesn't fit. Mike Williams looks like the real deal.

The first team defense looked quick, swarmed to the ball and was not burned for any plays.

Sabby Piscitelli made no real mistakes, except for his penalty.

Preston Parker looked good returning punts. 

Brent Bowden looked good punting the ball, directional punting is a real strong point. 

Kareem Huggins looked spectacular, although he was playing against a 3rd string team.

Michael Bennett made some good pass-rushing plays.

Our Special Teams are still really really good. 


The Bad:

Maurice Stovall injured his ankle early in the game and did not return.

Josh Johnson and Rudy Carpenter look bad.

Derrick Ward had a horrible game.

Roy Miller was disappointing - did not get much done even against single blocking.

No real pass rush from our starting front 4.

Depth is atrocious at a lot of positions. We can't afford to lose anyone to injury if these players are going to be coming in for them, with a few exceptions.

Bunch of sloppy, needless penalties.

The Ugly:

The field.

Arrelious Benn not getting any good looks.