After noticing a tepid response to my post on the NBA playoffs and reading a dissatisfying thread on hornfans for this topic I figured why not make a post-spring depth chart with some space for where I think freshmen might fit in.
X Receiver: It's Malcolm Williams unless his unsteadiness drives the coaches to the point of using Timmons, a freshman or Kirkendoll here.
Sub B: Chiles, Hales
Flanker: Goodwin, Kirkendoll, freshmen x
Left Tackle: Kyle Hix, Paden Kelly. No more mulleted Poehlmann here and while Walters is the great hope at the money position Kelly is your main backup for 2010.
Left Guard: Michael Huey, Thomas Ashcraft. I can't feign any great insight on the backups at guard but I gather that the vision for the left side is usually size and power so Ash fits best here.
Center: David Snow, Garrett Porter, Dominic Espinosa: They say Porter is a great fit at Center. I know he's tall and mobile so I guess if not tackle Center fits better than guard. Snow and Espinosa I have real excitement for at this position.
Right Guard: Tray Allen, Buchanon. Tray Allen broke his foot but should be fine for the fall...just like Mason was I suppose. Big guys don't heal in the foot very quickly so say some prayers for the right side this season. Also because:
Right Tackle: Britt Mitchell, Mason Walters. I think Walters takes over here at some point if he can stay healthy. Tackle depth could be a problem next season even with all the incoming players as playing OL in college takes an adjustment.
Quarterback: Gilbert, Wood, Harris. This is more about how little I think of Harris then it is how much I like Connor (see what I avoided there?). Also, I think in the under-center offense of the future Connor is the better fit than Harris. As a side note, Greg Davis has never really received the credit he deserves for producing quarterbacks here at Texas. Does anyone doubt that over the summer and fall Connor could be caught up with Harris and a plausible Big 12 starter?
Runningback: Newton/Whittaker/Johnson they all have situational value, Shead. That's right, I think Shead is the closest to a complete, or at least 1st and 2nd, down back as will be present on campus for 2010.
Tight End: Smith, Matthews, Grant. I prefer Matthews over Smith either as a Tight End or out of the backfield as a halfback/fullback. Since we plan to use both some and motion either out from TE to HB I'll put Smith here and Matthews:
Fullback/Halfback: Here, Smith, Whaley. After Scipio mangled the body of Whaley in a live dissection it effectively ended any classification for the new whale other than full/half or humpback. He'll need to show he can block and receive from the backfield but his athleticism and high school film suggests that's reasonable. The better question is will he be moved there and can he adjust in time to unseat Smith?
KR: Monroe/Goodwin, Malcolm Williams. The first two are no-brainers but anyone who has seen Malcolm accelerate up close knows he has potential here. Also he can block very effectively for the deeper returner which I have projected as the more sober/healthy/available of Monroe and Goodwin.
PR: Aaron Williams, Desean Hales. Their lateral, open field quickness is better than that of the above 3 I believe.
P: Gold K: Tucker
Defensive End: Acho ocho uno, Eddie Jones. Muschamp's non-buck defensive end has been asked to play blindside and strongside 5-tech, occasional 4-tech in the true 3-4 look, and even move inside for passing downs. Acho is a perfect fit but he might move to tackle. Eddie Jones is the next best suited player for handling the run responsibilities while still offering the necessary pass-rushing threat to play on the weakside. You won't find him on Trent William's highlight reel.
3-tech Tackle: Sacho, Calvin Howell, freshman. It's up to Howell really, or it might be up to Sam, Eddie, and Okafor. If all 3 are dominating then why make room for Howell in 2010? As a side note, my intention is to mix up nicknames to the point of creating total confusion around the Acho and helping to foster an impression of mystery and wonderment about their play.
Nose Tackle: Kheeston Randall, Derek Johnson. Let's hope Randall is healthy and consequently as amazing as I've been predicting. Johnson looks the part at least. Dorsey is the future here.
Buck: Alex Okafor, Eddie Jones, Jackson Jeffcoat. The mysterious "buck" who has powers and responsibilities unclear to many on the internet. Really this is the guy who Muschamp puts into space wherever he's best suited to create havoc in the opposing team's backfield. For Orakpo that was usually as a standard 4-3 weakside defensive end but for Kindle that was more often as a 9-tech End/Linebacker in a 4-3 Over look. Not sure what Okafor's strengths will be yet but Muschamp has already shown a few strategies for using such players.
Strongside Linebacker: Emmanuel Acho, Roberson/Allen, Freshman. We don't really use this position that much unless Muschamp absolutely refuses to keep Acho uno ocho off the field or the other team uses non-spread sets.
Middle Linebacker: Dustin Earnest, Acho uno ocho? Norton? Tariq Allen, Tevin Jackson. I don't think Jackson or one of the freshmen will jump ahead here at the linebacker spot that requires the most physicality and headiness. If you aren't comfortable with watching Earnest goes to Camp on repeat this season then hope for #18 to get some looks here.
Weakside Linebacker: Keenan Robinson, God-with-us, Jordan Hicks. If Texas was weak here I think Hicks could start immediately. Instead Muschamp has a seasoned Keenan Robinson to fill in this spot for probably the next 2 seasons. You might consider it high praise for Robinson that he earned the linebacker spot that sees the field more over Acho uno ocho who has been a turnover machine in limited snaps. Or Muschamp is making a mistake, which virtually no one has suggested yet in 2 years.
Nickel: Aaron Williams, A.J. White, Vaccaro. As we've discussed heavily already, I think the new Duke of Intercepshire fills in here again. I think White is the backup if Aaron is hurt and Vaccaro is the option in the "big nickel" package since Ben Wells has sought greener turf.
Strong Safety: Christian Scott, Kenny Vaccaro. It's a Mack tradition to take the most tantalizing young player and put him on the depth chart behind the player that the masses are not looking to replace with the more exciting talent.
Free Safety: Blake Gideon, Nolan Brewster. I don't really think Brewster is a fit at free safety but this is where I expect to see him on the chart, certainly he isn't a better SS than Scott or Vaccaro.
Corner: Aaron Williams, Chykie Brown, Eryon Barnett. Consider this the spot that Aaron vacates to assume nickel responsibilities.
Corner: Curtis Brown, Chykie Brown, White, Barnett. I don't know how to differentiate between White and Barnett as I haven't watched either for any sustained period of time. White is a fearless tackler at least and Barnett is tall. That's about the extent of my knowledge.
In other news, Roddrick Muckelroy is the newest Longhorn to join the Cincinnati Bengals. I think he can fit in the pros as an inside linebacker for his heavy hitting, mental acuity, and the space left on his frame to add block-stuffing weight. I couldn't tell you what kind of defense the Bengals run but ILB is where I think he fits best in the pros. His non-elite speed and lack of ball-stripping technique make the weakside a longer shot for him in the pros. He has the ability and his smarts and passion for football suggest a free agent steal for Cincinnati.
I believe I underestimated the Suns in yesterday's rankings although I had a decent feel for the team. In addition to the 3 pt. shooting and overall personnel fit that matches their style better than any team they've had since the Joe Johnson broken face-season, this Suns team also has a much stronger bench than I realized and than they had in the D'Antoni era.
Phoenix beat San Antonio in game 2 largely because their 2nd line outplayed their San Antonio counterparts by a good margin besting them 31-24 in points (20 of those SA bench points came from Parker) and 24-8 in rebounds.
In particular Jared Dudley and Channing Frye are difference makers. Dudley gives them a perimeter stopper (hi Kobe!) and energy guy off the bench who outhustled the Spurs for 6 rebounds and can shoot an open 3 while Frye is another good fit for the team that presents everyone with terrible defensive options.
Contesting the 3 pt. shot from a fellow forward looked more foreign to Matt Bonner than a post-pubescent shooting form and he left Frye alone for several of his 5 threes he hit in 6 chances. If Robin Lopez comes back to provide even 10-15 minutes of good interior D and rebounding this team is going to keep making trouble in the west.
I'm sure we'll hear an idiotic opinion about how these Suns are playing for something more, the "rights" of people living in Arizona illegally or something like that but while that may louden their crowd (although it sure didn't in game 2) the real story is Nash keeping himself in fantastic shape through a very sacrificial diet long enough to play with his best team yet.
By winning the first 2 home games they've made a San Antonio series victory a very unlikely event but I now believe they may be an even worse matchup for the Lakers than the old champs. Nash vs. Fisher is a massacre waiting to happen that Richardson prevents Kobe from preventing. The Lakers interior D might be problematic but I don't see Gasol or Bynum doing a great job of defending Amare on a roll or Frye from the perimeter. As my friend Ryan put it, "the Suns are designed to be the smaller team and are used to exploiting the larger players on the opposing team." That Gasol and Bynum are 7 feet apiece may not be so big an obstacle to The Steve Nash Experience as it is for other teams. I may like this team all the way to the Finals.