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Ok, here we go! I’ve had a chance to be at two practices. I’ll first start by saying what I see is basically just from those two occasions with some of what i’ve heard sprinkled in. But i’m not in film, I don’t know what guys’ grades are, there’s so many more factors than just two practices going into who plays. Especially with learning a new offense. Someone can look awesome in drills and be head and shoulders above the rest, but if he has no clue what he’s doing when a play is called, well he ain’t playing. Let’s get into it.
As I said in my Spring QB preview, my money is still on Sims and I quite honestly would say i’d put more money on that now seeing how spring is going. The one knock on him was his arm and the accuracy, but he’s looked very sharp in 7 v 7 situations and his running is the best on the team from that spot. As I talked about in my preview, the only way Thompson was going to make up ground here was if Sims was erratic in the spring with his throws and Satterfield/Rhule were worried and thought they needed a more pinpoint passer. If anything I would label them pleasantly surprised with what they’ve seen so far in Sims and his throwing. I think Sims can do enough with his arm, and his legs for a QB run game blow away Thompsons.
So now we get into second string, which this will be Thompson if he stays (I think). But as of right now with who’s available, I can tell you Haarberg is our #2. I almost think Rhule laughed with him when he saw this:
“Don’t worry son… not gonna change positions of my top backup at the most important spot.” Haarberg has all the tools and he is built similarly to Sims. I think they like the foundation that he can build upon.
Smothers is out, so that really leaves us with Purdy and Torres. Purdy continues to do the things we saw in games, and i’m just not impressed. If i’m him i’m looking for a new home (again only seen 2 practices) but he’s 3rd string at best if Thompson comes back and i’d tell you he’s 4th behind HH. Torres arguably has the best arm of anyone in the room, but can’t move as well as guys like Sims and Haarberg. Will be interesting to see what happens here. Wouldn’t shock me to see him head to a place like Rice.
This one is starting to become the Gabe Ervin Jr show. That dude is just massive and can move. He was running with the 1s, and Ajay Allen was with the second group. Allen got stuck pretty good on one of the plays I saw, but his burst is definitely still there. Grant still does Grant things, but then he will have a time where he screws up. He’s with the lower groups but remember he’s just crawling out of the doghouse.
Rahmir Johnson is the interesting one to me. The kid has talent. He’s fast and can do a lot of different things. In fact he’s kind of a swiss army knife, but his ceiling is lower than these other 3 in my opinion. So i’m curious how this goes. And Johnson needs a lot of work yet.
I can also tell you that EJ Barthel is an up and comer. He demands excellence from these guys. He reminds me a little bit of Ron Brown, he doesn’t let the small things become forgotten. He will pull a RB back to do something over again if the smallest detail isn’t there.
Your starting WRs in spring camp are Kemp at the slot, Washington out wide, and Garcia-Castenada. That’s a pretty formidable first 3 guys. Kemp is an absolute beast, and Washington now that Palmer is out of the way should be able to showcase some things. I think those first two have starting spots locked up, and it will be interesting to see if IGC can hang on.
Fleeks has been out so I don’t have a ton of info on him, and Betts is shaking off some rust. But I can tell you he is still physically imposing out there. I wasn’t good with their number, but I can tell you that Jones or Hardy has also looked good, I just don’t know which one it was. I couldn’t get the number but knew it wasn’t one of the earlier guys i’ve mentioned.
Coleman is like a gazelle and been at both the practices watching that i’ve been at. I wonder if they groom him to take over for Washington next year or try to get him to play right away. If numbers stay the same as they are now, we may need him sooner than later.
So… I wrote in my preview that I was actually worried about this spot despite all the star power. The more practices I see, the less worried I am. Thomas Fidone is an absolute freak out there. He’s massive and he’s your starter. He is a matchup nightmare for any linebacker trying to guard him.
The next two are interesting… I get all of the Gilbert love, but i’m not sure he’s in front of walk-on Boerkircher. That guy has been consistent and had a solid scrimmage. While Gilbert certainly has the higher ceiling, I believe the coaches are comfortable if Gilbert gets a little flaky.
Appleget has also impressed me with his position switch to this side of the ball and he gives us an athletic option if need be. Bonner is really going to have to figure out if he wants to bulk up, or I need to figure out how they are going to use him. Rollins I believe will fully be moved to DE/Hybrid. Androff is a good depth piece I suppose.
Your starters for the scrimmage were as follows:
LT – Corcoran
LG – Piper
C – Jenkins
RG – Lutovsky
RT – Benhart
Keep in mind Prochazka was held out but i’ve been impressed with him while they do one on one drills that he’s able to do.
Which brings us to Ben Scott being out for a bit. With Scott out, Jenkins handled the center duties. The other two centers are Menning and Mancino. I’ll just put it to you this way, Scott needs to be healthy. While Jenkins is serviceable at the moment, he can’t be an answer if there’s an injury. We gotta roll someone else out there or shuffle some things around. After seeing a couple practices, I expect Scott to be our starting center (I didn’t know where we were going to need him).
Lutovsky has actually impressed me the most out of the guards. I expect him to start this fall if his trajectory stays the same. And I believe Prochazka will start at LT leaving Corcoran, Piper, and Nouilli to battle it out for the remaining starting guard spot/backup center. I’m not sure what Nouillis deal is but he was getting pulled out of drills for screwing up and Raiola was all over him BOTH practices he was at. Maybe he’s like Lattimer after getting off the juice? But I was actually shocked as I expected him to lock up a starting guard spot. Raiola was even yelling at him when he was just the guy who was supposed to be blocked by the guy getting the rep. Maybe they are trying to make an example of him? Piper is probably the most athletic of these 3 which makes me believe he could be our backup center if need be. Remember, he was 300 pounds dunking basketballs in high school. I am probably going to give the edge to Corcoran once Prochazka is back though. But I do think we have options.
Benhart has looked much better in my opinion at RT, and quite frankly he’s tough to recognize now. Trim and athletic looking. I think he flat out told Coach Campbell he couldn’t move and needed to slim down. I think it’s working. Don’t get me wrong, he has things he needs to work on but he’s much different than I saw from him last year. Behind Benhart is Hood, who actually shows some flashes. He’s just out of shape right now which is tough, I don’t think we could get through a game right now with him as a starting tackle.
Gunnar Gottula is working at LT a bit as well, and I believe he is their long term plan there after Prochazka leaves. You can tell he moves well and just needs some time putting on weight. It was interesting watching one on ones where Gottula went up against fellow true-freshman Noonan quite a bit. Noonan got the better of him.
Satterfield is doing a lot of running the ball and pushing it down field with play-action passes. And they actually were under center running power at the goalline leaving many people:
As i’ve been saying all along… We have the QBs, RBs, WRs, and TEs… it’s going to all be up to Rhule and Raiola to coach up our OL. If we can we should be in a pretty good spot here. Sims is looking very good while he has a clean space to throw, once things break down or he has some heat in his face it gets a little dicey. I almost think if i’m Rhule and Satterfield that you tell him if it breaks down you need to run it.
Tomorrow we will have our LB preview, but don’t forget we had two posts this morning and it goes over the differences in coaching styles from Rhule to Frost.
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Feel free to check out our other post today about the differences we’ve seen with this staff compared to the previous one!