Tuesday, April 21, 2009

spring wrapup

Spring practice is over, which means no football for you, young man, until August. Prior to the beginning of practice I offered up a look at what position battles and such that we might see; let's see what transpired between then and now to make me look foolish. Or if I'm lucky, prescient. Also, a stab at what the depth chart looks like heading into the summer.

Offensive line

Nothing's changed here. Hardly anything was ever even mentioned about the offensive line. This is fantastic. With so many returning starters, no news is the best news possible. The line appears set with a first unit of Barker, Cabbell, Shields, Pasztor, and Bradley, though I still think if Morgan Moses qualifies, he'll give Bradley some tough competition in fall camp.

Running back

We hardly have any of these left any more. Raynard Horne is now a wide receiver pretty much officially, which leaves only three non-fullback types on the roster. Rashawn Jackson still looks like the first-string fullback, by the way, but it remains to be seen just how much usage he'll get. Mikell Simpson is the tailback, and his skills are tailor-made for this offense, but if he falters, the coaches won't hesitate to find carries for Torrey Mack and Max Milien. Pencil in Simpson as the starter, but by no means the workhorse.

Wide receiver

This was very much an audition camp, and the ravest of rave reviews were for Javaris Brown and walk-on Matt Snyder. The addition of Horne from the RB corps and of Snyder as a legitimate option beefs up the depth chart somewhat. I'm still making no pretense at an attempt to predict what this'll look like in the fall.

Ah hell, screw it, I'm a blogger. I think the top four guys in the coaches' minds, in no particular order, are Brown, Snyder, Jared Green, and Kris Burd. There will be a ton of interchangeability here, though. Dontrelle Inman still has the most experience, and we're getting a huge influx of talent at this position in the fall, which is fortuitous. Tim Smith in particular will be a real threat to jump right onto the field as a true freshman. The really nice thing here is that wide receivers aren't like quarterbacks. You know, if you have two (or three, like we've got) you really don't have any. The picture might be really muddy right now, but there is a ton of talent in this bunch and the really interesting and exciting thing about it is that we don't really know exactly who's got the most of it. Finding out is going to be fun.

Tight end

Barely a peep here. I think Joe Torchia's playing time is going to depend on how much he can mimic a wide receiver.


If the William & Mary game were tomorrow I think the depth chart would look like this: 1, Jameel Sewell; 2, Vic Hall; and 3, Marc Verica. Groh's expressed minor annoyance at Verica's tendency to throw complete passes to the wrong color jersey; the fact that that tendency hasn't yet disappeared and that Sewell and Hall are clearly the more athletic players is going to work against Verica this season. Sewell may end up being "the quarterback" but there's no way he keeps Vic Hall off the field all season. Al Groh is a big Vic Hall fan; Hall will get his reps.

Riko Smalls is beginning to insert himself into the conversation but there's just too much going on in front of him right now. You probably won't hear much from Smalls this season and if you do, we're in trouble because injuries have apparently decimated the quarterbacks.

Defensive line

Still a little bit on the unsettled side. Actually it's probably less settled than it seemed going into camp. The coaches are still trying to find the best fit for J-K Dolce, and trying to find who the best ends are. About the only thing that's for sure is Matt Conrath is one DE starter, and Nick Jenkins is the nose tackle; the other end is not really in stone yet and neither are the backups. The door is cracked open for a freshman to come to fall camp and make some noise, and Will Hill has already started to do a little of that.


OK, so on the outside, it's Aaron Clark and Denzel Burrell. Except when it's a dime package, then it's Billy Schautz, about whom the coaches have said a lot of nice things about and about whom I said absolutely zero things in the pre-spring primer. Or except when a pass rusher is needed, then it's Cam Johnson, at least once he "learns to play the position." Got all that? Messed up in the head yet? Linebacker's another one of those spots like wide receiver where there's all kinds of openings and no shortage of players to fill them. Even more so than wide receiver, really. On the inside, I'm sticking with Darren Childs and Steve Greer. Getting Childs, Clark, and Burrell on the field as starters actually means that just like last year, there are three seniors. Except those guys last year were all like, ten-year starters, so they glommed up all the plays. There's more room this year in the different play packages, nickel and dime and pass-rush and all that, for other guys to play. In particular, I see Cam Johnson as an up-and-coming Darryl Blackstock, with pass-rushing as a specialty, while Clark gets the first- and second- down plays as the experienced run-stopper.


We're in great shape here. With the return of Chris Cook, there are three interchangeable cornerbacks that can be rotated in and out, or put out there all at once in a nickel package. Ras-I Dowling is still the best of the bunch, but there is no weak link.


Rodney McLeod got moved here early in the spring and proceeded to completely explode. Every time there was an update of some kind out of spring practice, invariably McLeod would be mentioned. Yesterday he blocked eight punts, today he intercepted twelve passes, tomorrow he will probably do both AND IT LOOKS LIKE HE SAVED A LITTLE PUPPY!!!!! Al Groh said great things about Rodney McLeod the way ESPN commentators say nice things about Tim Tebow, only without the creepy Jesus complex.

So basically the two starting positions are set between McLeod and Corey Mosley. That's kind of bad news for Ausar Walcott, because he's another the coaches have been talking up, and he's stuck behind two sophomores. He'll get on the field this year, though, again, in pass-coverage packages and whatnot.

Not to over-hype things, but there's little doubt in my mind that the defensive secondary is going to be easily the best unit on the team this year, and maybe the best secondary in the ACC. They're good.




Yannick Reyering's football career is over, so what used to be a three-way competition (four in the fall) is now a two-way competition (three in the fall.) Robert Randolph probably has the edge for placekicking, but Chris Hinkebein is still gonna be the kickoff guy. There's nothing stopping Drew Jarrett from stealing the job this fall, though.

No comments: