Monday, March 27, 2006

Football - Hope "Springs" Eternal

Ah, spring........... a time of hope........... a time of possibility .......... a time for FFOOOTTTTBALLL!!!!! yeah baby, it's gridiron time again. Here's the spring outlook............

SPRING PRACTICE DATES (Subject to change):
Wednesday, Mar. 29, 4 p.m.
Friday, Mar. 31, 4 p.m.
Saturday, Apr. 1, 11 a.m.
Monday, Apr. 3, 7:45 p.m.
Wednesday, Apr. 5, 4 p.m.
Friday, Apr. 7, 4 p.m.
Saturday, Apr. 8, 11 a.m. (Scrimmage)
Monday, Apr. 10, 7:45 p.m.
Wednesday, Apr. 12, 4 p.m.
Friday, Apr. 14, 4 p.m.
Saturday, Apr. 15, 11 a.m. (Scrimmage/Spring Sports Day)
Monday, Apr. 17, 7:45 p.m.
Wednesday, Apr. 19, 4 p.m.
Friday, Apr. 21, 4 p.m.
Saturday, Apr. 22, 11 a.m. (Scrimmage)

The most encouraging thing about this team is that the strength appears to be in the trenches on both sides of the ball, with 7 starters retuning. Lots of returning starters, lots of experience and throw in a returning Daryl Richard, and watch out. The D-Line is unquestionably the most talented area of this club.

The biggest question mark - defensive backfield. Only one returning starter - Kenny Scott, and the rest is up for grabs.

In addition to this, Chan Gailey attended a "lunch bunch" meeting this week. Some notes from that and other notes include:
- Joe Anaoi, Mike Cox and KaMichael Hall will practice but not full contact.
- Jacob Lonowski will miss the entire spring practice regimine with an injury.
- We will look at the audible more often as a possibility this year. However, it will depend on the O-Line's ability to handle it. As Coach says, using an audible means 11 guys have to get it right.
- N.McManus is 300 lb, Gardner 295lb
- Team leaders are really in question. This is the biggest question mark for Coach since he has been coach. Tashard Choice is the unquestioned leader of the offense. Defense is a question. Joe Anaoi and Djay Jones are strong leadership possibilities.
- Looking a P.Wheeler at MLB
- CB's are Lewis and Scott right now. DJay Jones and J.Gaston will get the initial nods at safety. P.Clark to get the starting nod at nickel back.
- Wrotto is going to test his stamina, playing 70 snaps a game instead of 20-25
- Special teams is a strong focus with our new coach. They are discecting game film from Travis Bell's first and second season to find irregularites in his kicking motion.
- Coach thinks Matt Rhodes goes to weight watchers at night because he has a hard time gaining weight.
- TE is going to be very competitive this year with Cooper getting the early lead.
- Mike Cox - expect his role to expand - particularly if he performs.
- the offense - yes there will be some new elements in the offense - but don't expect an Urban Meyer special here.
- Patrick Nix will play a stronger role in calling plays, but coach has not decided how big a role yet.
- On the D-Line, all of our defensive ends "look the part" - D.Robertson, M.Johnson, A.Oliver.
- R.Grant could have a breakout season and has gained weight / strength
- WR's G.Smith and M.Frierson are identical size - Smith has better hands and is a better route runner - Frierson is a harder worker.
- T.Chambers needs to have a breakout season. He's been in the system long enough.
- we are likely to get back into zone blocking running schemes to the strong side since we have size and strength with Wrotto and McManus. We started messing with the weak side zone blocking running game late in the season but didn't have the strength on the strong side to knock people off the ball.
- of course Reggie Ball will get snaps in the spring, particulary when implementing the new offensive wrinkles, but they want to use spring practice to sort out who is the real #2 guy.
- impact players coming in as freshman, Coach names LB's Tongo, Griffen, Corey Earls and L.Marius. D.Thomas, J.Evans, to name a few.
- Shane Bowen will start out practing at LB.
- Coach hoping they shorten game times (another way to play ball-control?).
- David Brown seems to be struggling making the jump to the next level.
- Coach wants Calvin Johnson to understand more effectively what to do when plays break down so we can get him the ball more.
- Anthony Barnes and his academic issue was pretty minor and a mixup in an English class.
- special teams - Durant Brooks has a strong punting leg, but we no longer have the luxury of the 1.5 step drop like Ben Arndt. Durant is a more traditional 2.5 steps, which means higher risk of blocks this season. Don't forget we have a new long snapper as well.
- Coach is really impressed with the new assistant coaches abilities. He particularly was impressed with Geoff Collins and what he is bringing to the recruiting efforts. Also mentioned Jeep Hunter and Charles Kelly.
- Coach has talked to new AD D-Rad two times so far

Enough for now.