Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Offense - revisited

For those of you who may have stopped paying attention to this blog in the offseason due to the heavy GeekTV/Idol content, you may have missed an actual football post that I did back in March. A couple of them, actually, in which I went position-by-position with my thoughts as the Dawgs were going through spring practice.

I thought I would resurrect those posts and see if my feelings have changed based on what we have now seen in the spring game and heard from fall practice reports.

In case you forgot:

Bold=starter (these are my predictions as to who will be the starters come Opening Day, and may not reflect the current depth chart)

italics=incoming freshmen

italics*=incoming freshmen whom I believe will redshirt in '09.



Joe Cox, Logan Gray, Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger*

OUTLOOK: I know that we are going to miss Matt Stafford's talents, and there is certainly no one on this list who can match Staff's arm strength. However, I am excited to see what Joe Cox can do with this offense. From all accounts, he is extremely knowledgeable of the offense, and he has always been very accurate as a passer. I do have a little concern regarding how well he can throw the deep ball, because that is something that we have to be able to do to run our offense effectively. He obviously won't be able to throw it like Stafford does, but it has to be an option in order to keep defenses honest, and also to fully utilize guys like A.J. Green and Marlon Brown. But there is no doubt that this guy is a leader, and is relishing that part of his role, which I love to see.

At backup, I fully expect to see Logan Gray on the field quite a bit as a "change-up" style quarterback. I don't think it will be anything similar to what we did with Shockley/Greene in that I don't expect to see a set timetable to get him in a game (every third series, etc). But I think you have to get him on the field quite a bit, for a couple of reasons. First, I think he's too talented athletically to leave him sitting on the bench, and I think he could be very effective in spot duty with his ability to both run and throw. Second, Joe C is a senior...this guy needs to be ready to take the reins next year, which means we need to get him some looks in real-game situations (not just mop-up duty).

Then you have the two freshmen...I think there is the possibility that they might BOTH redshirt, but if one of them is going to see the field I think it's Murray. Mettenberger is still pretty raw right now, and I think the redshirt year will do him some good. Both of these guys will get a chance to compete with Gray for the starting job next year.


Pretty much the same thing. Joe has apparently had a great fall camp as far as knowing the offense and moving the ball, and he is the unquestioned leader on this team. I’m just really ready to see what he does when the live bullets start flying.

Logan Gray will play this year, in what capacity we don’t yet know, and I still say Mettenberger redshirts and Murray plays. We actually need to get Murray some playing time along the way if at all possible, otherwise we will be going into next year with Logan as the only QB who has seen any live action.

Running Back:


Caleb King, Richard Samuel, Dontavious Jackson, Carlton Thomas, Washaun Ealy*

OUTLOOK: Unfortunately, I think this is a position where we have "quantity over quality." I was not at all impressed with King's performance last year, either as a runner or (especially) as a blocker. Also, reading between the lines of some of the coaches' comments about him, I don't think they have been really happy with the attitude or the effort he has displayed. We know he has talent...hopefully, the chance to be the #1 guy will be motivation enough for him to work to become the guy who was one of the more highly recruited tailbacks in the country.

Behind King, you have several guys looking for playing time. Richard Samuel was somewhat impressive last year as a true freshman, but he needs to work on holding on to the ball. D-Jax put up MONSTER numbers in high school, but was sidetracked by the injury bug last year (and won't be available in spring practice, either). Carlton Thomas is an undersized guy who has coaches raving about his speed and quickness...look for the coaches to try to find ways to get the ball into his hands, maybe at punt returner.

With this much personnel at the position, I think it's almost a lock that Ealy redshirts...and that's assuming he actually makes it to campus this year (academics may be an issue, although the latest reports have been positive).


Well, obviously Richard Samuel is now the starter over Caleb, due at least in part to the fact that Caleb has been sidetracked since the first fall scrimmage with a hamstring injury. Until the injury, all reports regarding the work that Caleb was putting in were positive, so hopefully that part will continue into the season.

Richard has supposedly put his fumbleitis behind him and is running very well, and Carlton Thomas looks like the playmaker we were hoping he would be. Ealy did make it on campus, but may be headed for a redshirt anyway. Dontavious Jackson has not had a good camp, and was actually passed by Kalvin Daniels on the depth chart.

I would still give the same grade…B-, with hopes that Richard Samuel breaks out a la Robert Edwards in ’97.



Shaun Chapas, Fred Munzenmaier

Outlook: I listed Chapas as the starter, but these guys are really interchangeable. We'll miss Southerland, but Southerland missed quite a bit of time last year and there wasn't much dropoff as these guys filled in admirably. Both of these guys can run, catch, and block...no game-changer here or anything, but definitely solid football players.


Exactly the same thing as I said then.


A.J. Green, Michael Moore, Kris Durham, Tony Wilson, Israel Troupe, Tavarres King, Marlon Brown, Rontavious Wooten*

OUTLOOK: There are some nice weapons here. A.J. Green certainly lived up to the hype last year, and gets a chance to prove that he can be the #1 guy. I love what we are hearing about this guy's desire and work ethic...let's just hope he can stay healthy. He was hampered by a groin strain last year, and he is still taking it pretty slow to keep from re-aggravating it in the spring.

On the other side of Green is most likely Michael Moore, although I think there will be some competition for that spot. Moore is one of those guys who seems like he has been on campus forever...he is a 5th year senior who has shown flashes of playmaking ability in somewhat limited time. He had 29 catches for 451 yards and two touchdowns last year.

Moore will be pushed by: Kris Durham (great hands, better than expected speed), Tony Wilson (tough receiver...always seems to pick up extra yards), Israel Troupe (????...lot of talent coming out of high school, has not gotten many chances so far), and Tavarres King (super-quick slot-type guy who showed some potential before going down with an early-season injury last year).

And then there is Marlon Brown...this guy is a physical specimen (6-5, 200 LB, 40 time probably in the 4.55 range) who really came on strong this past year and became one of the most sought after WR in the nation. He will push for playing time, and if he develops as expected he sets up an unbelievable WR tandem with A.J. Green.


Well, we have a lot more question marks here now than we did in March after losing Kris Durham to injury and Tony Wilson to injury/stupidity. We now only have 6 scholarship WR, and two of those are true freshmen. We REALLY, REALLY can’t afford any more injuries to this position, especially to either of the top two. Based on numbers, I would probably bump the grade down to a B…only reason it’s not lower is because AJ Green is apparently even more of a freak than we thought he was.

Tight End:


Bruce Figgins, Aron White, Bryce Ros, Orson Charles, Arthur Lynch*

OUTLOOK: This is a strange bunch...normally, I can get a good idea of what style offense a team runs by what kind of TEs they have on the roster, but this is a mix-and-match group. Figgins is the old-school tight end, who is probably 65% blocker, 35% pass catcher. White is a hybrid type, built more like a big WR than a TE (6-4, 228) who has shown an early ability to stretch the field. Ros is an enigma...he played FB and DL in high school, but certainly has the build (6-4, 242) and the pedigree (his dad Frank was a captain on the 1980 MNC squad).

The trend continues in the 2009 signees: Arthur Lynch is a big blocking TE who has shown some ability to catch (like the white version of Figgins), while Orson Charles is an athletic freak who was actually moved to WR in the Rivals.com recruiting rankings.

So what does it all mean? Versatility, baby. There is a lot of talent in this group, and I'm very interested to see how Coach Bobo goes about getting them involved.


Just like the WR group, this group has been decimated by injury and stupidity. Ros is done with football due to a lingering shoulder injury, and Figgins is out until the Vandy game due to violation of team rules.

So I no longer expect Lynch to redshirt…in fact, he may see as much playing time as White and Charles due to his blocking skills that would have otherwise been provided by Figgins. By all accounts, Orson Charles is a beast, and I expect him to be very involved in the passing game. Aron White is currently listed as the starter…I just hope that the problems he had holding on to the ball in the spring game were an aberration.

I would probably change the grade on this one to an Incomplete…there is just not enough history with any of these guys to really know what to expect.

Offensive line:


Clint Boling, Cordy Glenn, Ben Jones, Chris Davis, Trinton Sturdivant, Vince Vance,
Josh Davis, Justin Anderson, Tanner Strickland, Ben Harden, AJ Harmon, Jonathan Owens, Kevin Perez, Dallas Lee, Chris Burnette*, Austin Long*

OUTLOOK: Yeah, that's right. SIXTEEN offensive linemen on the Opening Day roster. Kudos to the coaching staff for taking a position that seemed to be a liability a couple of years ago and changing it into what I think may be the strength of the team this year. If we can ever keep this group even relatively healthy, then the possible question marks at QB and running back all of a sudden look a lot more promising.

Boling is the MVP of this group, in my opinion. He has been a do-everything guy...he's played every position except center (at least I don't THINK he's played center), and has played admirably everywhere we've put him. If we can ever put him somewhere and leave him (RT is my guess as to where he ends up), there is no telling what his potential can be.

The rest are an impressive mix of size, athleticism, and nastiness.


Well, I nailed the starting 5…after that, things have changed a bit. The good news is that both Sturdivant and Vance appear to be 100% recovered from the injuries that ended their seasons last year. Tanner Strickland is out for the year, Josh Davis has still not recovered from offseason surgery. I don’t think I’ve heard ANYTHING about Harden, Owens, or Harmon…I can only assume they are still on the team.

I’m still very fired up about our starters, and Vince Vance and Justin Anderson are quality backups who provide tons of versatility. We just have to really hope we stay healthy, which we learned last year is certainly no guarantee. Because of the versatility of several of the guys, we can probably withstand one or two major injuries before we see a noticeable dropoff in production…and you know those injuries are most likely going to come, just due to the nature of the position.

Due to some reduction in the depth, especially at the guard positions, I would probably downgrade the position grade from an A to an A-…if we actually stay healthy all year, this is probably an A+ group.

Overall, I would say I feel slightly worse about the offense now than I did six months ago...injuries and suspensions have robbed us of a lot of our quality depth. I think an awful lot depends on how effective Cox can be (duh...that's some hard-hitting analysis right there) and avoiding injuries in the OL and WR positions. If we can stay relatively healthy and Joe C can avoid the bad plays, I think this offense can be more effective than a lot of people are expecting.

Be back tomorrow with the defense!!


No comments: