Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Offense Preview....

So, we begin our football preview by looking at what we might be able to expect from the offense this season.  Let's start by looking back and acknowledging that last year was a pretty special year on the offensive side of the ball.  Freddie Barnes set the NCAA record for catches in a season with 155, which is downright mind boggling, and Tyler Sheehan finished his career as BG's all-time leader in completions, attempts and completion percentage.

That's pretty good.  And you don't just rebuild it again for the next season.

In addition, our #2 rusher (Bullock) and #2 WR (Chris Wright) also graduated, along with TE Jimmy Scheidler.  On the line, Brady Minturn, Scott Albert, and Shane Steffy all graduated.

In all, that's seven starters gone and a huge portion of our offensive production.  We scored 28.5 points a game last season, and the question is, what are the odds we could get to that level again.

The first thing everyone looks at is the QB, and this is for good reason.  It is very difficult to win without a good QB, and QB is a very difficult for a new player to play.  We entered camp with four players competing for the starting position, and at this point, Matt Schilz, a redshirt freshman, appears to have a lock on the job.

I have only seen him play in the spring game, so this will generally fall into the category of uninformed speculation.  He certainly came to BG as a highly decorated QB.  He is from California, and was one of the top players in his conference and region.  He was recruited to Kansas State, and then committed to BG when K-State brought Snyder back.  The common element is Warren Ruggerio, who was the QB coach at K-State and is our OC.

So, Schilz clearly has the credentials to be a very good MAC QB.  The question is, will he be this this year?  He has not taken even one D-1 snap in anger, and it can be a tough adjustment.  Coach says one of the things that sets him apart is that he doesn't make mistakes...he keeps the team in the game.  This is pretty important.  We got used to it, but Sheehan threw only 7 INTs in 575 attempts last year.

So, question #1 is how good Matt Schilz will be this year....

He will not lack for support at the skilled positions.  Willie Geter is back at RB, and I think you can expect him to get the ball a bunch of different ways, either from a hand-off or a number of pass patterns. We will do what we can to get the ball to Willie in space.  BG simply has to run the ball better than it did last year, because we don't have Sheehan and Barnes to carry the team on its shoulders.  We need to be able to run enough to take some pressure off the running game.

So question #2 is whether BG can run the ball well enough to draw men into the box and open up passing lanes.

At back up RB, John Pettigrew--last year's backup--has been passed by Erique Geiger and converted WR Jordan Hopgood, who are battling for the number 2 slot and may get some reps in different situations.  Given Geter's size and injury issues, this is not an unimportant decision.

At WR, BG actually returns pretty good players.  Ty Pronty and Calvin Wiley are back, after missing last season due to injuries.  JUCO transfer Kamar Jordan is also expected to start, while Justus Jones, Ray Hutson and Adrian Hodges will be back ups---each of them has played significantly in past years.  The WRs are deep this year and should be able to hold up their end of the bargain.

At TE, we have 5-SR Nick Rieke, who played last year, and talented R-FR Alex Bayer.  Watch for them both to get action....and for BG to run more 2 TE sets than in the past.

Finally, the O-line.   This, I believe, is the biggest key to our offense.  If we can run block and give Schilz time, things get a lot better.  We return only 41 career starts on this line, and that is 12th in the MAC and one of the lowest in the country.  We were so worried about depth here that Nick Torresso moved from D-line to O-line as a reserve, and then he dropped in as starting guard when Scott Lewis broke his foot.  (Lewis made 3 starts, so the real number is actually 38).

It is not as if the line is without ability.  C Ben Bojicic (r-jr) is a very effective player, RT Tyler Donahue is a 5-SR.  In addition, Chip Robinson, who has been highly touted for a while, is starting at RG.  The LT (blind side dude) is Blaec Walker, who has not started but did see some playing time.

So Question #3 is whether the young offensive line can effectively control the line of scrimmage and give the offense options.  To me, it is the biggest question of the 3.

In the final analysis, it would be a great year if we scored 28 points a game, as we did last year.  In fact, I think 25 points a game would be a nice accomplishment.  Again, I am talking this year.  I believe we have the building blocks (including the Coach) for a juggernaut offense.  But, this year, everything has to be right for it to be as good as it was last season.

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