My Preseason Ratings--The Offense
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    My Preseason Ratings--The Offense

    *Ten days until the first game. I had written my "Hosses" post a week ago, and was planning to post this in a few days, after working on it over the weekend. However, with the KC newspaper's "Unit Rankings" post up today, I think this makes a decent complementary piece.

    Fair warning--it's long enough that you're getting it in two parts. I'll plan on updating this as the season progresses. For reference's sake, I think it takes at least, say, a 7.5 or 8.0 rating to be consistently competetive in the Big XII. For the start of the season, I think I'm being cautiously optimistic.

    08 Preseason Ratings

    Offensive Line
    It all begins here, because not only does the entire offense feed off the line’s success, a powerful offense only helps the defense. People have noted that this line has more quality depth than any of Mac’s recent lines. I’ll take that a step further. I’m going to take a chance and say that this line has not only more depth, but more talent than any going back at least through the Donnie Duncan years. Think about it. In all that time, I can’t remember more than one or two NFL prospects on the line at the same time. Keith Sims and the guard from Omaha who had a decent, lengthy NFL career. Karl Nelson and uhh…Karl Nelson. Oliver Ross and ditto. I’m not going to say how many I think might have NFL potential, suffice it to say that it’s more than two—and please forgive me for not listing the ten or more who will see playing time this season (see my Hosses post).

    That said, on to the rating. I’d say that by the end of the year last season, this group rated a six on a scale of one to ten. Yep, a hair above average. I’ll call the influx of newcomers to be worth half another point as depth not available last season, and the cumulative starting experience throughout the two deep to be worth another. Onfield performance might forseeably raise this another point and a half as the season progresses, but right now I’m giving them a baseline “seven”.
    OL: 7.0

    Tight End/Fullback

    Last season Ben Barkema and Derrick Catlett were solid. Let’s make that dead solid, a 5.0 rating, and nothing more. Especially since the two of them were pretty much it at the two positions. Now, this year we add Collin Franklin to the mix—and lose Barkema. Equate Franklin’s speed to Barkema’s experience, and we’re dead even once more. However, Taylor Mansfield and Brian Ekwelundu look like they’re ready to help out in the backfield, so slightly improved depth is worth half a point. Franklin’s contribution is the biggest wild card right now, if he catches a lot of balls (let alone touchdowns) this rating could jump substantially. As well if, say, Mansfield is used a great deal in short yardage situations. However, right now I’m sticking with what we got.
    TE/FB: 5.5

    Wide Receiver

    Lots of you wouldn’t rate the wide receivers high at all the past few seasons. Personally, I think that reflects more upon the dismal state of the offensive line than anything else. And despite Todd Blythe’s graduation, the return of R.J. Sumrall and Marquis Hamilton offers a quite respectable framework to build around. Senior Euseph Messiah has proven every spring that he just catches the ball consistently, and junior Houston Jones, after flashes the last two springs, should be ready to contribute. That upperclass foursome starts us off with a 6.0 rating I should also mention that if another senior, Wallace Franklin, were playing, it would be worth another half point.

    Then we come to the newbies. The guys we’re all drooling about—and no, I’m not talking Alex Sandvig. Sedrick Johnson has had everyone excited since his signing day dramatics, ad I can only hope his contributions this season prove as enthralling. At 6-4 188 it looks to be the not-so-little things that he must master before being a major contributor—like blocking, and reads, let alone knowing the playbook. Darius Darks has also been a pleasant surprise thus far, especially for those of us who were envisioning him as a safety. He’s just been catching the ball all over the place. Hopefully he can keep up those contributions as the season progresses—and at a listed 6-1 167, doesn’t break once he faces some of the hard hitting secondaries on the schedule. Jason Carlson also seems ready to make an impact. This trio, let alone Lonzie Range, who seems likely to redshirt, represent a considerable amount of upside. However, even if combined they only equal Phillip Bates’ ’07 contribution as a wideout, that’s still worth the half point I’m going to start them out at.
    WR: 6.5

    Quarterback

    I know some of you are just going to love this, but here is where I make another unqualified, unreserved statement. This is the best collection of talent at quarterback that I have seen in a Cyclone uniform, again, back to at least Donnie Duncan days. I say that meaning Austen Arnaud, Phillip Bates and Jerome Tiller. Certainly Seneca was good, but he had no competition, let alone depth. While a good passer, Seneca’s best (and quite remarkable) passing skill (aside from his running abilities) was throwing on the run, and he certainly didn’t have the height of this trio.

    And before any of you misunderstand my words, no, I’m not saying that any of them will be better than Seneca (though that’s not impossible), but it’s distinctly likely whoever starts will be more successful. After all, the current quarterback will be far less likely to be wasting productive time running for his life.

    Yes, whoever starts will be inexperienced. On the other hand, I don’t expect that to be a big factor as the season progresses. In either case, whichever player starts, given both the gifted athletes available as well as a quite reasonably talented supporting cast, I start this unit off with a 6.5, with another half point for depth and competition. Indeed, I don’t know about “costarters”, but the styles of the current top two contrast enough that I’d expect at least once the when the offense is stalled, the reserve comes off the bench to lead a rally with a look the defense isn’t prepared for. Lots of room for this mark to move up, as well.
    QB: 7.0

    Running Back

    Ahhh…here’s the beef. The one spot on the offense where the talent is both known, experienced, and indisputable—well, for those of us who recognize J.J. Bass as the player he is, anyway. We all know that J.J., Jason Scales, and Alexander Robinson all return after each posting at least one hundred yard game last season. Three disparate talents, each has his own individual style, whose complementary flexibility isn’t the only reason I start this batch off with a 7.0 rating. A-Rob is a jitterbug, Jason a plugger, and J.J. a slasher with better speed than most people realize. I’m looking forward to seeing all of them behind an improved line.

    J.J.’s healthy shoulders, as well as the flickering specter of fellow senior Jason Harris in the background, not to mention Bo Williams pushing them all in practice, is cumulatively worth another half point. After all, I’ve seen some of Harris’ breakaway runs. Of course, one key will be J.J. keeping his nose to the academic grindstone, because I’m sure that Coach Chizik would sit him on the bench again if it appeared he needed to get his attention.
    RB: 7.5

    Given how many question marks there are preseason, I'm not going to offer "Rushing Game", "Passing Game" or "Overall Offense" ratings right now. Besides, we all know that sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts.


    Last edited by Aclone; 08-18-2008 at 06:08 PM.

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    Re: My Preseason Ratings--The Offense

    Not nitpicking but you forgot NFL lineman Bruce Reimers who played under Duncan and actually started in the OL for the Bengals in the Super Bowl. He wasn't too shabby.



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    Re: My Preseason Ratings--The Offense

    How can you judge if a guy is NFL caliber if they haven't played a down of college football?


    Why would adding Wallace Franklin improve the group?



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    Re: My Preseason Ratings--The Offense

    Quote Originally Posted by Stormin View Post
    Not nitpicking but you forgot NFL lineman Bruce Reimers who played under Duncan and actually started in the OL for the Bengals in the Super Bowl. He wasn't too shabby.
    Yes, I forget about Bruce. Odd, since he's about my age. He really had a nice career.

    Quote Originally Posted by ajk4st8 View Post
    How can you judge if a guy is NFL caliber if they haven't played a down of college football?
    Is this a rhetorical question? Professional scouts who saw Adrian Peterson play in high school thought he had a chance to be one of the best running backs of all time. After only his freshman season at OU, some thought he had a chance to be the best running back of all time.

    If you want documentation, I'm sorry that I can't provide vid clips from ESPN's 2007 NFL Draft show.

    That's entirely aside from the fact that I didn't say they were NFL caliber, I said they had NFL potential--the same as we all saw in Keith Sims when he first stepped onto campus and started doing reverse dunks from a standing start--at 6-2 300.

    And NFL potential is only tapped through a combination of hard work, good coaching, and at least a little bit of luck avoiding injury. But in several cases, it seems apparent that the requisite base athleticism--strength, agility and quicks, is certainly present. I hope that answers your question.

    Why would adding Wallace Franklin improve the group?
    Speed and another body, most especially a senior, always improves a group. Even if he only made one catch or run that someone else didn't, that's still incremental improvement.

    Or, are you saying that last season's group of wideouts would have been equally as good had Phillip Bates spent it redshirting?



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    Re: My Preseason Ratings--The Offense

    Who cares if Wallace Franklin is fast and a senior when he was terrible last year?

    Just my opinion. I enjoy your posts!



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