Monday, December 15, 2008


Was watching an ESPN bowl preview last night and the guys were pretty overwhelmingly pro-Florida State in their prognostications. In their view, FSU's defense is going to be way too much for us to handle, and their offensive line is like nothing we've seen. The viewers agreed, with 81% calling a Seminole win.

Underdogs baby!

Rich from Chant Rant asked me to give him an overview of our offense with key players, and the below is what I came up with. What do you think, am I close in my assessment?

For a long time we were run, run, run, but offensive coordinator Paul Chryst has done a nice job of balancing us out. This year, that didn't turn out so hot because of limitations at quarterback.

We're still at our best when we pound the rock behind our large offensive line and keep the passing to unpredictable downs and distances. The run game still functions best between the tackles, although this year converting on third-and-short has been a struggle.

The passing game relies heavily on the tight end, even with injuries to top guys there. The wide receivers are young and developing, but several came up with big performances late in the season. We don't run any Spread, and little if any shotgun.

Most passing plays are at least seven-step drops. We still use a fullback a lot, and have two seniors there. You'll see a lot of two-tight end sets, even with our injuries. At times we'll play a third tackle in obvious running situations.

Dustin Sherer took over midseason for turnover machine Allan Evridge. He struggled a lot at first, showing the rust of not starting for four years. He has a funny throwing motion and low release point, and sometimes tries to force throws into impossible spots or make plays when throwing the ball away would be more prudent. Other times he makes plays with his feet and his throws get exactly where they need to be. He makes me nervous as hell every time he drops back, but he's the best we've got at the moment.

Running back
Junior P.J. Hill ran for 1,000 yards for the third straight season, but for the third straight season was injury-prone. He's a solid back who has improved the shape of his body from really doughy to just kind of doughy, but he finishes runs well, can catch out of the backfield, and pass block. Sometimes he dances too much rather than hitting holes hard.

Redshirt freshman John Clay is the guy many Badger fans want to see get the lion's share of the carries. He's 6-2, 230 and fast, and at times has had troubles with ball security and running too high. But he hits the hole with authority and seems to make more things happen than Hill. Either way, a good 1-2 punch. Florida native Zach Brown is #3 on the depth chart and sees time on third downs. With Clay's emergence he hasn't seen as much time as anticipated, but had some great moments last year as a freshman.

Chris Pressley and Bill Rentmeester are the fullbacks, and are pretty much just extra guards.

Tight end Travis Beckum was an All-American candidate coming into the season but suffered through an injury-plagued season before breaking his leg against Illinois. The next week against Michigan State promising tight end Lance Kendricks also broke his leg. This leaves tight end Garrett Graham, an all-conference pick, as our top remaining threat. As you can see, we were as deep at tight end as anyone, and even with the injuries to Beckum and Kendricks, we're still solid there. Mickey Turner is the blocking tight end.

Wide receiver was a question mark coming into the season, and only late in the season did they start making plays consistently. David Gilreath is small but quick. We run a lot of end-arounds to him, and he had over 100 yards rushing against Indiana. Nick Toon is Al Toon's son, and has the prototype build. Isaac Anderson's dad played collegiately at Minnesota, and he's starting to show consistency. My sense is they'll have trouble getting open against the Florida State secondary.

Offensive line
Long a strong point in our program, our line was good again this year, but not as good as billed. Again, injuries played a part, but they were probably slightly overrated to begin with. At left tackle, sophomore Gabe Carimi is an up-and-comer, an athletic 6-8 kid with good feet. They try to get him out blocking little guys on the perimeter like Joe Thomas did. Left guard Andy Kemp is solid, he pulls a lot, even in short-yardage situations. Center John Moffitt is a charismatic, emerging emotional leader who has taken some costly holding penalties this season. He also pulls.

Right guard Kraig Urbik was probably the most consistent lineman, he's a four-year starter. Right tackle Eric Vanden Heuvel is huge, more of a run blocker than anything. None of them are All-Americans, and when one or two of them were hurt this season the offense sputtered, but when they were all together they run- and pass-blocked effectively. Josh Oglesby is the third tackle, he was the top-rated recruit at the position coming out of high school two years ago, but struggled pass blocking at times this year replacing Carimi and Vanden Heuvel when they were injured.

Freshman Philip Welch is our kicker, and has done a great job replacing standout Taylor Mehlhaff. His kickoffs are on the short side, but he's been steady on field goals and extra points.

1 comment:

Montverde Nole said...

Speaking as a big Nole fan, the Badgers offense plays well into the Noles defense. We were week on runs between the tackles and we just seem to never cover the tight-end. The tight end thing is kind of a running joke here. Its like the defense sometimes forgets that the TE exists for anything other than blocking.

Best of luck Badger fans. We're glad your here in Florida and I hope your trip is enjoyable. I can