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    Pre Spring Game Grades

    One thing that we have all become accustomed to is having a player or two make a big splash in the Spring game, but never stand out in the Fall. That said, taking the coaches comments throughout the spring, I thought I'd toss together a tentative grade by unit, especially as compared to last season. Just an evaluation not influenced by any Spring "Random Acts of Brilliance". Of course, I'll revisit before the season. Sure, there's plenty of wiggle room, but at least it's a talking point!

    '12 Spring


    Offensive Line
    In case you hadn’t guessed, I’ll keep on beating the drum that effectiveness at this position is crucial to the performance of the whole team—no matter how many people ignore line performance in their equations. Brayden Burris will miss the Spring game, which presumably means that Kyle Lichtenberg will simply flip sides…as he is likely to all season. That still gives Coach Bleil five guys with starting experience under their belts—plus some eager youngsters. Injuries dragged things down last season, but the added experience should help this Fall. Pass protection should be improved, and there is better depth available.
    Final Grade ’11: 4.5 Tentative Spring ’12 Grade: 6.5

    Wide Receivers
    It is going to take more to replace Money Reynolds that some people care to admit. Fortunately, this should prove to be a team effort—including improved play from both the offensive line and quarterback position. The newcomers, especially redshirts, will take up some of the slack, but the upperclassmen (Lenz, Horne and Young) should be poised for big seasons. The best is yet to come.
    Final Grade ’11: 6.0 Tentative Spring ’12 Grade: 7.0

    Tight Ends
    Aside from blocking, this position was practically invisible last season. Fortunately Ricky Howard returns from a redshirt due to injury, and Ernst Brun comes off a “What Am I Doing Here?” redshirt. Oh, and Kurt Hammerschmidt is even bigger than ever. Brun looks to add a huge dash of athleticism as a downfield receiving threat, which at the very least is exciting to think about as a further receiving option.
    Final Grade ’11: 4.5 Tentative Spring ’12 Grade: 7.0

    Running Backs
    All that I know is that these guys might not be as talented as the stables at places like Texas or Oklahoma, but they sure played their hearts out last season. With Shontrelle Johnson the only question mark among returnees, and the offensive line looking better, these guys could do some interesting things.
    Final Grade ’11: 7.0 Tentative Spring ’12 Grade: 7.5 (Pending Johnson’s return)

    Quarterback
    Boy, is this a minefield! The one advantage is that all three candidates have plenty of time to work on refining their skills—and two of them have game experience aplenty. Oh—and there’s that whole “improved offensive line” thing, too!”
    Final Grade ’11: 5.0 Tentative Spring ’12 Grade: 6.5

    Defensive Line
    An interesting mixture of experience, talent and depth. One odd note is that the interior is about as experienced as the ends are inexperienced, but it all balances out. Plus, a fully healthy Maggitt would equate to any of the tackles. Oh yeah—and even Dan McCarney’s best defenses didn’t have this much depth. On the line, or anywhere else.
    Final Grade ’11: 5.0 Tentative Spring ’12 Grade: Tackles 8 + Ends 6= 7.0

    Linebackers
    Let’s see. The light didn’t come on for A.J. Klein until about the Baylor game. Other than that, we’re basically trading Matt Tau’fo’ou, an injured Jake Knott, and an inexperienced Deon Broomfield and C.J. Morgan for Jevohn Miller, a healthy Jake Knott, and a seasoned Broomfield and Morgan. Oh—and toss in Jeremiah George as well. Sound like a deal? These guys have swagger.
    Final Grade ’11: 8.0 Tentative Spring ’12 Grade: 9.0

    Defensive Backfield
    It’s a good thing that no one was hurt in the secondary last year, because they made it through the season on a wing and a prayer. The good thing being that these guys were reasonably efficient—and oh yeah, they have help added to the mix. Washington is good, Givens is used to playing next to him, Brackins, Broomfield, Mutcherson and Cotton should work into the safety mix, with the corners looking just as deep. Watson and Lynn bring a lot of speed, Stokes is a ball hawk, Richardson could be another Reeves. Improved depth is a huge asset. Now the help that they need is simply a better pass rush.
    Final Grade ’11: 7.5 Tentative Spring ’12 Grade: 8.0

    Special Teams
    The one fly in the ointment last season was placekicking, which even affected the punting game. While field goals somewhat solidified late, everything else was solid to good. One question this Fall will be whether someone has the leg to reach the end zone on kickoffs. Otherwise, I expect the return game to even be improved, with youngsters like Jarvis West seeing more action.
    Final Grade ’11: 6.5 Tentative Spring ’12 Grade: 7.0




    Paul Rhoads' players never quit.
    (They just disappear offseason)


  2. #2
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    Re: Pre Spring Game Grades

    You sure are optimistic, which is nice.

    No way can you rate the defensive backfield higher now than the final grade in 2011. I know Rhoads and staff have said some nice things but we are losing two studs in the backfield. You have to rate that lower.

    Also the O-Line may be better but you have it much better. Hard to say that when you lose 1 guy who will be drafted relatively high and another player who has a shot to make a camp.



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    Re: Pre Spring Game Grades

    Nice analysis Aclone. I might even go higher on the linebackers. Probably the best group in the conference, possibly the country.


    "Just remember, what you choose to do with each day is very important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it" -ET

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    Re: Pre Spring Game Grades

    Probably just high enough to ensure post-spring game disappointment.



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    Re: Pre Spring Game Grades

    It's nice to have more depth all across the board that at any time in the past 15 years at least.



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    Re: Pre Spring Game Grades

    Quote Originally Posted by Clones85' View Post
    You sure are optimistic.


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    Re: Pre Spring Game Grades

    Thanks Aclone, I enjoy reading these.

    I would call WR, OL and Special teams even par for right now with the promise of more depth and talent but unproven youngsters littering the depth charts and key loses. I may even throw DL in as even here due to improvement on the interior but losing starters on the outside. I think DBs take a step back due to losing "Johnson Island" and jack-of-all-trades TB.

    Good analysis though, thanks again.



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    Re: Pre Spring Game Grades

    Quote Originally Posted by Clones85' View Post
    You sure are optimistic, which is nice.

    No way can you rate the defensive backfield higher now than the final grade in 2011. I know Rhoads and staff have said some nice things but we are losing two studs in the backfield. You have to rate that lower.

    Also the O-Line may be better but you have it much better. Hard to say that when you lose 1 guy who will be drafted relatively high and another player who has a shot to make a camp.
    I agree if we are just taking the top four. Grading the top 6 or eight, though, I don't know. Washington will be better. Reeves will be better. Watson has set himself apart and Lynn, Richardsen and Stokes provide a lot we didn't have last year not to mention Rogers and Lawry coming in. I feel like the back field will perform just as well next year as they did last year and injuries don't scare me as much. I would also say that though I loved Johnson, Reeves is inch for inch a better cover corner. Flame away.

    On the Oline-I agree. We will probably be better all around but we will be worse at LT IMO, which is a big deal. I hope for a push at RG but I don't know if that will be happening. That said, RG will not have to "protect" Farniok a lot so perhaps we won't need a Hicks there. I look for some more explosive runs but I also look for some busted protections that cost us.


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    Re: Pre Spring Game Grades

    Quote Originally Posted by Tre4ISU View Post
    I agree if we are just taking the top four. Grading the top 6 or eight, though, I don't know. Washington will be better. Reeves will be better. Watson has set himself apart and Lynn, Richardsen and Stokes provide a lot we didn't have last year not to mention Rogers and Lawry coming in. I feel like the back field will perform just as well next year as they did last year and injuries don't scare me as much. I would also say that though I loved Johnson, Reeves is inch for inch a better cover corner. Flame away.

    On the Oline-I agree. We will probably be better all around but we will be worse at LT IMO, which is a big deal. I hope for a push at RG but I don't know if that will be happening. That said, RG will not have to "protect" Farniok a lot so perhaps we won't need a Hicks there. I look for some more explosive runs but I also look for some busted protections that cost us.
    Bobby Elliot said the same thing. He thought Reeves was the best cover corner in the B12. If he was 2 inches taller he'd probably be in talks of all B12 and an upper NFL draftee. But then he probably wouldn't be playing for ISU either.



  10. #10
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    Re: Pre Spring Game Grades

    Quote Originally Posted by Clones85' View Post
    You sure are optimistic, which is nice.

    No way can you rate the defensive backfield higher now than the final grade in 2011. I know Rhoads and staff have said some nice things but we are losing two studs in the backfield. You have to rate that lower.

    Also the O-Line may be better but you have it much better. Hard to say that when you lose 1 guy who will be drafted relatively high and another player who has a shot to make a camp.
    Well, part of the reason that the offensive line rated so low in the first place was solely because of injuries, which knocked the '11 grade down. If it otherwise might have been, say, 5.5 or 6.0, then they're not kicking that much up because of depth.

    The defensive backs are a something of a mystery. If Givens and Watson alone are as good as thought, they add more pure speed than a year ago. The improved speed is what keeps it even to me (trading speed for savvy), the added depth kicks it up the half point. I have to admit that I am hoping that Watson does the same thing as a new starter that Washington did a year ago. I think these guys could possibly end up rating an 8 or 8.5 before all is said and done.




    Paul Rhoads' players never quit.
    (They just disappear offseason)


  11. #11
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    Re: Pre Spring Game Grades

    I hope you're right



  12. #12
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    Re: Pre Spring Game Grades

    Quote Originally Posted by bosco View Post
    Bobby Elliot said the same thing. He thought Reeves was the best cover corner in the B12. If he was 2 inches taller he'd probably be in talks of all B12 and an upper NFL draftee. But then he probably wouldn't be playing for ISU either.
    Yea but he isn't. He's gotten burned by his height several times. Jansen is short too. These guys have to play above their size.



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    Re: Pre Spring Game Grades

    A typical short man thinks he would be all world if he were only a few inches taller, completely ignoring the physics and limb lever mechanics they have in to their advantage.

    If you couldn't tell, I'm not short.



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    Re: Pre Spring Game Grades

    Quote Originally Posted by dualthreat View Post
    A typical short man thinks he would be all world if he were only a few inches taller, completely ignoring the physics and limb lever mechanics they have in to their advantage.

    If you couldn't tell, I'm not short.



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    Re: Pre Spring Game Grades

    Quote Originally Posted by Tre4ISU View Post
    I agree if we are just taking the top four. Grading the top 6 or eight, though, I don't know. Washington will be better. Reeves will be better. Watson has set himself apart and Lynn, Richardsen and Stokes provide a lot we didn't have last year not to mention Rogers and Lawry coming in. I feel like the back field will perform just as well next year as they did last year and injuries don't scare me as much. I would also say that though I loved Johnson, Reeves is inch for inch a better cover corner. Flame away.

    On the Oline-I agree. We will probably be better all around but we will be worse at LT IMO, which is a big deal. I hope for a push at RG but I don't know if that will be happening. That said, RG will not have to "protect" Farniok a lot so perhaps we won't need a Hicks there. I look for some more explosive runs but I also look for some busted protections that cost us.
    Only 4 can play at the field at once. Depth is great/huge but there is still no way you can rate the defensive backfield higher than last year at this point. We have no size at CB and we lost two guys that started 3 to 4 years back there. With that said, they may play just as well if we can get some additional pressure from our front 4 or on some LB blitzes.

    Reeves may be a better corner if size wasn't an issue but it is so he's not a better cover corner than Leonard. That's like saying I'm pound for pound a better OL than Ethan Tuftee b/c I move my feet better than him. Well unfortunately he has 80 lbs on me and thus he's better.



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