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I've always felt the Spring two-deep was a bit of a goof. There's a fair amount of politicking going on with the chart... you don't want to name an outright starter and create any dissent or discord with those in competition for spots. Thus the preponderance of OR's.
This is especially true at the QB and RB spots. I believe Kessler clearly took hold of the QB spot this Spring, but it serves no useful purpose for Kiffin to name him the starter over Wittek at this point. Tre Madden being named a co-starter doesn't make a lot of sense, given he didn't have any true first-speed carries in camp and is recovering from a serious knee injury. But why not put an OR in front of his name and keep him energized and eager going into the Fall? It's a no-lose situation.
Keeping all of the above in mind, and having seen a number of practices the past month (including two full-contact scrimmages), here are my thoughts on things.
A general comment: a lot has been said about all the injuries. But I will take those 20+ Spring injuries in a heartbeat as a tradeoff for improved physical play in 2013. The only guy we lost for the season was Farmer (and now it's not looking so bad that we didn't redshirt him as a freshman, is it?) The rest of these players will be back at full strength in time for the Fall. In the interim, the players played full-speed football with live tackling, and that's invaluable preparation for all of them. I would hope that the result is no more horrible goal-line offensive performances as we saw at the close of the Notre Dame game, when we couldn't block anyone off the ball or execute the simplest of plays. Great decision IMHO to go back to full-contact practices.
QB - Kessler is the leader going into the clubhouse. I wouldn't discount Wittek yet, though... not just because Lane wants him to feel encouraged, either. The Sun Bowl was a nightmare of a game for Max, but I don't see that as being his Waterloo moment or anything like that. He's still a kid, and should he have the opportunity to get into a scrimmage or an actual game and complete a big pass to someone in a crucial situation, the Sun Bowl will be a distant memory. Wittek is a few "confidence-throws" away from being right back in this thing. I prefer Kessler at this point in time, but don't write Max W off.
By the way, I would hope none of these kids truly has the word "transfer" in the back (or front) of his mind. Imagine departing the team and, a week or so later, hearing that one of the remaining two QB's broke his thumb banging in on a helmet. You are always one hard sack away from being the starting QB at USC when you're on that depth chart. Moving to another school as a snap reaction to not being named a starter is myopic and a little dangerous IMO.
RB - Three guys (Redd, Madden, Davis) named co-starters. Talent in reserve with Morgan, Allen, and Ty Isaac. Good depth here. Not particularly concerned with the order of the depth-chart. I do think we lack a gamebreaker. Maybe DJ steps up to be that guy in certain situations.
TE - Great depth with three prototypical blocking/receiving guys in Grimble, Telfer, and JCF.
WR - Again, good depth. Losing Farmer hurts, but Lee and Agholor may be the best combo in the nation, and Flournoy, Rogers, and Blackwell both got a ton of work in this Spring. We may redshirt Steven Mitchell, or maybe he becomes that explosive slot guy that we lack?
OL - I felt like making Graf a co-starter (with Wheeler) was a bit of gamesmanship on Lane's part. Seems to be a message to Graf to pick it up. When I attended practices, I noticed Mike Summers getting on Graf pretty hard about being physical, kicking people out, etc. This is a new OL coach so perhaps he's looking for more from his RT spot than Graf was giving him. The move seems to have had its desired effect, however: Graf went on Twitter right after the depth chart was released and remarked that it was time to "prove everyone wrong". Put a checkmark next to the box labeled, "Motivation".
Martinez at RG and Martin at C are not surprises. There's a lot of semi-panic about Aundray Walker remaining at LT while Tuerk kicks over to LG. Personally, I always though Max T looked like a great tackle prospect and Walker more of an interior guy... but Mike Summers is someone I'm giving the benefit of the doubt to. What does he see? He doesn't have an agenda here except to improve the OL as a whole. So let's see what happens in Fall camp. Either Walker takes strong hold of that position or maybe another move is in the works. (I will go on the record now saying that I don't believe Chad Wheeler starts anywhere on the OL this season.)
DL - No problem at all with the starters here. I was surprised seeing Temple listed as a co-starter at NT with Woods-- Antawn looked pretty darn good to me this Spring, both powerful and agile chasing things down. But Cody looked good, too, and he's a big boy out there. The other four spots are engraved in stone, and depth isn't bad (Tavai, Townsend, Bigelow).
LB - We had three LB's play very well in camp for the two available spots. Not so sure about our depth beyond those three. Michael Hutchings is a good-looking prospect but he is a redshirt candidate to me.
DB - I definitely think the CB spot will be a problem until all the kids get healthy and truly get Clancy P's defense down. The keys here are Seymour and CHawk IMHO. I think we have what we have in Torin Harris. Anthony Brown looks improved to me but still can struggle making plays on the ball. Devian Shelton is a great-looking prospect but I have no idea where he is in his development. Ryan Dillard, to me, has a chance to be a piece of the puzzle here: great instincts and good quicks.
I'm not convinced Josh Shaw is the answer to our prayers at CB, by the way. He looks like a safety to me. He doesn't have the super quickness, the ability to turn his hips in an instant, that make for consistent cornerback play. I see him as more of a face-the-QB centerfielder type. So if Shaw is moved to CB, he will be a stopgap, but probably not a long-term answer.
The safety situation looks pretty good once Fall rolls around. I expect Dion Bailey to take a starting spot for sure. The other will be a battle between Wright, Su'a Cravens (who will see plenty of time in the nickel in any event), and perhaps Shaw if he stays put. I honestly don't think Leon McQuay will be a big-impact freshman, but we'll see. He has all the attributes but he's still a couple of steps slow due to his lack of experience knowing what he's looking at out there.
I may have skipped a name or two so forgive any omissions from the above.
Final Thoughts: The challenge for our offense will be running the football as that will be the key to everything (including the passing game, thanks to play-action). The challenge for our defense will be covering WR's if and when our pass rush doesn't get to the QB. Both big question marks, but I'm optimistic on the former, and in wait-and-see mode on the latter.
Follow Me on Twitter: @OriginalRichSC
About to plow through this beast of a post, thanks in advance rich!
RICHSC: I've always felt the Spring two-deep was a bit of a goof. There's a fair amount of politicking going on with the chart... you don't want to name an outright starter and create any dissent or discord with those in competition for spots. Thus the preponderance of OR's.
I tend to see it the opposite. I dont think Saban and Meyer care if there is dissent or discord by the players who are 2nd on the depth chart. Just like Urban said at his spring game, players who grab the opportunity and make the plays are the ones who start. Those who were not named starters, will either push themselves to get better to get on the field, or they will remain in a reserve roll. That is life.
But Alabama and Ohio state players dont have to worry about a player who has done NOTHING on the field like Madden being named anywhere on the depth chart let alone a starter. That is where dissent comes into play.
You dont think the other players see that and say WTF?? Not just Buck Allen, everyone on that team.
This post was edited by 2SIDELINE2 15 months ago
Urban and Saban over sign every year they could care less about transfers. Sc can't afford guys leaving, simple as that.
You cant talk about SC not being able to afford transfers, when Kiffin undersigns with limited scholarships already! Thats Kiffin's fault. And transfers have nothing to do with it.
There is a difference between a coach who has players compete and then picks a winner and loser based on their performance on the field vs a coach who has players compete and then picks a kid that has yet to compete.
Facts are facts, Urban and Saban have a PROVEN winning method.
Thanks Rich for your efforts in posting thoughts and observations. I look forward to your comprehensive posts.
Cody IMO is the starter at QB not even close. I found myself waiting for Cody to get in there and move the chains which he did consistently regardless of the 1st or 2nd OL in front of him. With Max in I did not feel the same energy and confidence. The chains were moved inconsistently and he is more of the home run hitter as compared to Cody who is more like a Pete Rose moving around the bases and making things happen.
Buck Allen has had a good spring, surprised he got the Cody treatment.
Aundrey Walker to guard and Max Tuerk to tackle on the left side seems to make the most sense to me. At guard Aundrey could go with his strength run blocking (he fires out with intensity) while getting help inside and outside pass blocking.
I thought Kevon Seymour and Chris Hawkins were the most consistent CBs in the scrimmage.
Again, thanks Rich for the time you take to put these reports together.
The OR use was surprising to me. Not sure it was used wisely.
I haven't finished reading, but this is what i focused on so far...
p.s. thanks as always Rich
What is happiness? The feeling that power is growing, that resistance is overcome.--Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
Thanks for the write-up Rich. Always look forward to your thorough analyses.
Hey, you created me. I didn't create some loser alter-ego to make myself feel better. Take some responsibility!
Ok so this past year guys decided to leave last minute. Would you rather kiffin get plan b guys just for the sake of filling spots? Kids who aren't rated very high on the coaches big board and may not even see the field and transfer anyway? Great thinking.
I wish Summers would get on Walker as much as he does Graf.
Well stated. I couldn't agree more.
Kiffin is playing a lot of head games. Just don't understand why. Seems very childish in some ways, reminiscent of things that happened last year.
Is this really the kind of motivation that is required?
Treat the players like grown men. If they've earned the right to be called the "starter" in spring, name them the starter. It's only spring, but how about releasing a depth chart based on merit.
As far as Audrey Walker at tackle, I've got a strong hunch that he was promised the position during his recruitment. This is based on his on-the-field performance, and the fact that his job seems seldom in jeopardy.
Your first sentence is exactly how I feel.
You mean it should say, the spring depth chart under Kiffin is GOOFY!! LOL
Just like, the video of him whistling to Barkley right as the ball is being snapped on Grudens QB camp. haha
And so it goes.
i didn't see the clip of kiffin whistling at barkley and barely remember it. but if i was barkley and the ball was about to be snapped, i look away from the play for nothing at that point. that play is on barkley IMO, or the center if he snapped it before he should have
Watch the play first and then respond, not the other way around. Dont shoot the messenger. Gruden obviously thinks Kiffin is a Joke by his comments. Not mine.
I do think Kiffin is a Joke for the record!!!
nice deflection. your deflection indicates to me that you agree that barkley is to blame for looking away as the ball was about to be snapped to him.
don't deflect, it makes you look like an idiot
WTF is he supposed to do when his HC is on the sideline whistling like you, an idiot!
Like I said, watch then post. Not the other way around.
Wow, sorry I didnt mean to make sense to you!! LOL
Yes you moron, when the ball is coming at you, you don't look at the coach . Does that make any sense to you or no?
Nevermind Bruh, Lol Go coach your girls softball team. Wow
Wouldn't this be like a pitcher getting distracted by a whistle while in their windup?
I am trying to be fair to Matt in this situation.
If the coach whistles to get your attention ... you look to see what he is trying to communicate.
I side with Matt in this case ... Lane is a $4 million dollar salaried, adult head coach.
I think Lane should know better.
It is just one more example of over-management.
I have come to expect it.
wasnt LK trying to get MB's attention to change the play or something to that affect? not very unusual, or over-management. how many times a game do you see the QB look over at the sideline or see the coach waving his arms trying to get the QBs attention. if LK saw something and DIDNT try to get MBs attention i think that would be worse...
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