Let's move on to OL, which has the depth of a Louis L'amour novel, and to TE/H-Back, a position we've decided to feature on offense because it's our weakest. I kid. I kid.
No, I don't.
Everyone is being cross-trained at both. Barrett Matthews is the only complete high potential TE/H-Back (blocking, receiving, can split out wide, athletic ability, hands) on the roster...
...out of 9.
Barrett Matthews has been out with a hamstring, but scrimmaged recently and looked good. He's much more important to this offense than people think. Almost Kheeston Randall on D important.
Can't find out anything definitive on DJ Grant. He's still less than a year out from his knee. Healthy DJ would be a real passing game asset.
Trey Graham is done for the year with his injury and it's 12-18 month + recovery.
Greg Smith is the most athletic he has ever been and no volleyball sets seen. He has raised his game a lot. True receiving threat? If left uncovered. He's not going to be splitting safeties anytime soon.
The coaches like Ahmard Howard as the third guy (along with Smith/Matthews) at TE/H-back. Ahmard no longer satisfied with being an Eater & a Rider.
Dominique Jones will block the hell out of you, but this probably isn't his natural position and he's a
true redshirt freshman.
Darius Terrell is too weak to play TE, too slow to play WR. Redshirt. He needs three years in the program to get stronger. He longs for the David McWilliams failed Flex End position.
We're now trying Ryan Roberson at FB. Good times. Jamison Berryhill, you are on notice, sir!
Joe Bergeron can't get here fast enough.
The coaches think we're taking to our new identity. I think it will take some time. We've recruited a combination of spread guys and maulers with little coherence between the two and establishing a physical identity springs from the schemes and low pad levels as much as big talk and bench presses.
Mason Walters is a vicious animal. His injuries may have prevented us from coaching his natural aggression out. Everyone thinks he's special and I can't disagree. NFL guy.
Luke Poehlmann is our #3 OT and 25 pounds from being a starter. High effort, good technically, just too light. Still just a sophomore, remember. Needs to regrow his glorious mullet.
I raved about Trey Hopkins in the open practices and now the coaches are too (in public). He'll play at Rice and can back up as many as three positions. Bright, aggressive, athletic.
Dominic Espinosa needs a redshirt and three years in the weight room.
Huey and Hix are finally in a scheme designed for their skill set. Hix is not an elite pass blocker though. The threat of a running game will help him. Huey needs to work on his pad level and maintaining his feet after the initial punch.
Britt Mitchell gets worked over by our DEs. We need him to improve.
David Snow is going to be a solid center. 6-6 Garrett Porter will back him up. Kind of interesting. Garrett looked OK there, but I'd like to see how he'd fare against a 3-4 NG compact body like Colby Whitlock at Tech.
Steve Moore. Still on scholarship.
Lack of vocal assertiveness from the offense in general.
Tray Allen may be back earlier than was first believed. If he's not ready by UCLA, we need to redshirt him. Hard to believe he's a senior.
I can't get program opinions on Ashcraft. I like him in the run game. Thick-legged and immobile though.
Mark Buchanan a bit of a ghost. Hopkins' ascent can't be good news for him.
Paden Kelly has gotten compliments but in a "he's coming along" way. He's a RS Freshman. Dr. Scipio prescribes 18-24 more months in the weight room.
It's incredibly unfair to criticize freshman and sophomore OL as if their failure to play older than they are is their fault, but that's where our OL recruiting finds us. Ideally, we'd be taking guys, redshirting all of them, and then not speaking about them until they're 3rd year sophomores.
On the positive side, this starting five is athletically superior to last year's OL and they're now in schemes that offer a fighting chance in the running game. How we staff WR and RB may dictate their success more than is perceived.
I'm also a huge fan of the return of the draw play (we run it more like a lead draw than sprint draw) for this particular group. This OL that may be more adept at screening, occupying, and then trying to turn a shoulder than firing out and putting people on their backs. It also slows pass rushers and feeds play action. The delay action works well with a methodical guy like Cody Johnson who will give the hole time to develop rather than Fozzy, who believes all play calls are sweeps.
Our current best 5:
Our ideal 5:
3rd OT: Poehlmann
4th OT: Kelly
Health X factor: Allen
Pending More Info: Ashcraft