Well we’ve talked defense in three posts so lets roll over to the other side of the ball and talk offense. I’ll probably lump the TEs in with the WRs I suppose so I’m not having to do as many posts on this side. Lets start off the discussion on offense with maybe one of the more talented positions top-to-bottom on this team, IMO, the running backs.
Peter Nguyen, (Sr) 5-8 182. Pete rebounded from a rough 2010 with a solid 2011. Fumbles were still a slight issue – he didn’t lose any as a running back but early in the season he did put a few on the ground. However as the season went on we saw more and more how well he fits in this team as a multi-use back. Pete led all of the main contributors of the running backs in total yards (835), yards per carry (5.5), he was 4th on the team in receiving yards (215), tied for 2nd in receiving TDs (3), and finished 2nd overall in all-purpose yards on the team (98.8/game). Pete’s role will presumably be the same, starter, scat back, 3rd down back. Hopefully he continues to work on ball security. I’ll address him in the returning game when I do the ST post next week sometime.
Dan Moore, (Sr) 5-11 235. Dan will also be in probably the same kind of role we saw in 2011. A change of pace back, a short-yardage back, and a goal-line guy. Before his injury he was leading the team in TDs and short-yardage opportunities. Obviously as talked about over and over on here the playcalling as the season went on better adapted to Dan’s strengths, north and south and not going laterally. Usually zone block left/right that went to the sidelines usually found Dan getting tracked down for a minimal gain overall or getting injured (PSU game). Dan is such an intense guy too, in years past there was constant reminders to him in certain situations to “dial it back” especially on kick returns, b/c that’s where he’d find himself quickly out of position and then making some awkward cut, and hurting his knee/ankle. Dan plays the role of this group as the vocal/emotional leader, that should continue, in fact I’d say based upon what I’ve seen in practice he’s one of THE main leaders of this team.
Jordan Canada, (So) 5-9 172. Jordan of course is the “long-term” back of this system. He took some time getting into a groove this last year but once he got rolling he showcased that he was probably the best runner of the current group, especially in terms of speed. Jordan also showed improvement over the season with his pass-catching, something that was not very pretty at the start of the year. I’m hoping to see more improvement from him with pass catching and blitz recognition/blocking when that’s his task. Additionally as rumored on egriz there’s the maturity factor and classroom aspect. If what’s been posted is true Jordan might be missing some games unless he really ramps it up in the classroom this semester. For now I’m going to chalk it up to his 1st year playing and the sharp curve that brings, I have faith that he’s hard after it and working towards a full academic recovery.
Gavin Hagfors, (Fr) 6-2 207. While 2012 will probably have Gavin grasping for playing time, I’m excited to see what he can bring as a future prospect to be a major contributor to this offense. He brings a solid blend of speed and power to his game, he can make guys miss and run others over. He’s a good pass-catcher as well. I know the coaching staff is excited about what he’ll be able to do, I’m thinking with spring ball we’ll see him a ton as Canada might miss some practices and they might only opt to Nguyen/Moore sparingly. Gavin like most freshman lacked as much strength and intuition in this system, that will come with time. Additionally I wasn’t seeing much of a “top gear” that guys like Canada have, something that he needs to work on as well.
Caleb Walden, (Sr) 5-9 195. Caleb’s kind of the forgotten guy but you’d never know it if you met him in person. At the great Griz encounter he was all smiles to just be a part of the group and to contribute where he can. He’s a beast on special teams as he’s got great speed and never shys away from a hard hit. Keep in mind he’s also a backup punter as well. Chances are Caleb will only get carries sparingly but he’s not a bad backup. In fall camp he’d usually have one or two plays per day where he’d take a draw/delayed handoff and go for a long TD.
Brett Kirschner, (So) 5-10 200. Brett’s a guy that got some good reps on the field in some situations thanks to either blowout leads or in other cases injuries, especially while Moore was out. Brett runs with power and authority, he’s another guy I’m thinking will get a lot of touches this spring so the coaches can see how he’s progressed. As a guy that’s a more balanced runner the area of improvement I’d like to see the best is just recognition of the right lanes to run through and hitting them with a better burst of speed, in some of his carries last year what could’ve been longer runs would get closed off as he couldn’t accelerate quick enough through them.
Nelo Butler, (Fr) 5-9 200. I have no clue if Nelo will be out there or what. He’s on the roster, he never suited up for fall camp, some on here have suggested that his knee has been giving him continued issues. I’d expect not to see him.
Caleb Statham, (Fr?) – Another guy I’m not sure of, he was on the team last spring but had the flu and missed a ton of practice. I didn’t see him in the fall, I’m not sure if he’d grey-shirted or what, or if he left the team.
And new to the team:
Joey Counts, 5-9 205. Wont be here til fall, “mini-Moore” will be a welcomed replacement in terms of size/skill for Dan. I’m assuming with the amount of RBs on this team he’s probably looking at a 1st year red-shirt.
Projecting the depth is a little difficult as with the many sets this team uses they sometimes go with a specific guy. It’s hard to just say that “this guy” is the starter. Based on what’s been circulating around here on the board I’d project the overall depth headed into spring camp would go Nguyen OR Canada, Moore, Kirschner, Hagfors OR Walden. Although at the goal-line or short yardage would probably go Moore/Canada/Ngueyn/Kirsh overall, and maybe Kirsh over Nguyen if they’re looking for power.
Also it’ll be refreshing to see, per what Pflu said this winter, that they’re going to work in plays with a QB under center, so especially for those short-yardage situations a bit more of a power situation could be seen out there where you’ve got Canada or Nguyen as the running back and Moore or Kirschner as the fullback.