I'm talking about the skill position guys today.
Spring Football Question Number Two:
Who steps up at the skill positions on offense?
We need to find one new starter at the following positions: QB, RB, FB, WR & TE. Oy!
That is a heck of a lot of turnover on offense. Lets take a look at the candidates.
Our coaches want to run a lot of two TE sets. That was clear last year, but we will only have 4 guys on the roster at the position this spring, and only two of them are on scholarship. We have a number of talented freshmen due on campus this summer and there is a very good chance that one or more of them will get serious playing time in the fall. But for now, we're looking at the guys we have.
Nick Kasa will finally prove to folks why he was such a highly regarded recruit. He has all the physical ability to be a top-flight tight end, and he looked the part in limited playing time after switching positions late last year. I expect him to be that big, blocking TE that the coaches want on the field for at least 200 snaps, and I could see him catching a good number of passes as well. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see Kasa get himself drafted as a TE next year.
Though if I'm wrong about Alex Lewis starting at left tackle, he will get a lot of playing time here at TE.
Kyle Slavin is my bet to be the #1 receiving target at the TE position, at least in the spring. He will have some stiff competition when the new recruits join the team, but until then this is his job to lose. He's a good athlete and he is up to 245 lbs. He saw the field a bit last season, but doesn't have much experience. Yet I believe he's going to be a starter coming out of the spring.
Alex Wood and Scott Fernandez are the two walkon TEs on the roster. Fernandez is a former offensive lineman, and Wood seems to profile better as a FB, but they both will have their shots to earn some playing time here. I think they both could find roles as blockers in heavier offensive sets (though the Fernandez-as-a-fullback experiment that Hawkins ran was definitely a bust).
Follow the jump for a boogie-woogie time!
His spot isn't in question. When healthy, he is a special talent. But opposite him, we're replacing a guy that turned out to be pretty productive. Toney Clemons turned in a solid season as the year wore on and he will be sorely missed in 2012. Again, there's a chance that some of the talent vacuum could be filled by the freshmen this summer, but for now we focus on the kids in camp this spring. Tyler McCulloch was a guy that looked pretty good when the ball was thrown his way. He has good size and knows how to use his body to shield defenders away from the ball, and I could see him being a pretty solid contributor. Keenan Canty also got some playing time last year and could see time as part of a platoon. The guy I'm excited to see, though, is Nelson Spruce. He redshirted last year, but I know he was a great receiver in High School and I think he will make a good one in college as well.
This spring we only have two options: Tony Jones and Josh Ford. Malcom Creer is still out while recovering from the knee injury that derailed his freshman season. I expect Jones to get a majority of carries this spring, but that won't be the end of it. Spring isn't terribly important for the RBs. It's summer to watch, when Creer returns and the three incoming freshman start to practice. Jones has a chance to earn the trust of the coaches now, though, and that can't be overlooked. He has shown flashes, both as a runner and a receiver.
This spring, Clay Norgard has a chance to solidify himself as the teams fullback. He is an early enrollee, and that gives him an advantage over Christian Powell, who will be here in the summer. If Norgard really takes to the position, then he may give Powell a run for his money. I hope they both push each other, because a really punishing fullback would do wonders for this offense. One thing to watch will be how Norgard performs as a receiver coming out of the backfield.
I know you all really only cared about this one. As much as I try to fight it, QB really is the most important position on the team and therefore the most newsworthy. But I still made you work for it. The Buffs will be led by a redshirt sophomore next season, that much isn't hard to guess. The question is which one? Nick Hirschman, the "incumbent", and Connor Wood, the transfer. Hirschman got one start last season, though he was pulled halfway through, and got some garbage time minutes in a few other games. He didn't really show us anything, which may or may not have been because of a foot injury he suffered before the season began. Either way, he's the only guy on the roster with college football game experience, which is something. How big a something? We don't know. Wood was the more sought after recruit coming out of HS, but that means bubkes now. Spring will be a time to sift through coaches interviews and reports about who might have an advantage. I'm excited to see how this competition plays out.