sethjungman: Alright, let’s get this party started. We’ll start with the offense and then go from there. Coming out of spring practice, what’s been the biggest problems with the offense thus far?
briandc: The offensive line/RB tandem is already giving me the vapors. Felton looks like the best option in the backfield right now, but even then, is that enough? Is he good enough to cover up the mistakes of a still pretty inexperienced OL? If not, can the line step up and give enough holes to an RB by committee? Can the line even pass protect? If either one of these pieces are sub-par, everything falls on Shimonek. Everything. Pat was an amazing panacea to weaknesses at almost every offensive position, but the training wheels are off now.
michael: In Lubbock, there were at least 3 false starts in the first half amidst the quietest environment these guys will see this season (since they don’t play at Amon G. Carter). I know that there’s a lot more that goes into this than noise. Spencer pointed out to me the new clap method of snapping the ball. Somehow, I hadn’t even noticed it, but that could be a factor and the OL is just trying to adjust or the defense is doing a good job of getting to them. This offense needs to do their best to avoid penalties as I don’t see as many improbable 3rd & longs converted in 2017.
meestahrogers: The offensive line by far. I think the running game and current running backs would look so much better if the offensive line wasn’t the biggest weakness in this team. I noted to Michael that the second team defense looks SIGNIFICANTLY better than the second team offense, and I believe that to fall primarily on the offensive line depth. Shimonek has shown he can work with the line in front of him, he’s been accurate (until this Lubbock scrimmage) and mobile enough.
kyle4073: I’ve got to agree with everyone else. The offensive line and running back play was questionable through the three spring games. My biggest concern is the pass protection, Pat finished the last two seasons with injuries that might have ended a lesser quarterbacks season. After Shim the depth at QB presents a bit of question mark so the pass protection has to be on point as much as possible this season. I’d be willing to struggle in the run game again if it meant a good blocking back was in to protect the quarterback.
sethjungman: So, do you guys see any solutions? Is this a situation where if Aaron Cohen commits to Texas Tech, the Cal graduate transfer, and Jett Duffey comes back, then you feel a bit better about the situation?
meestahrogers: The Cal transfer could help, but this isn’t a one man fix, I don’t think. I also doubt Duffey comes back after being away for a year and simply takes the QB2 spot.
michael: I’m still hoping Nisby can make an impact once he’s on campus and be a welcomed addition to the RB rotation.
briandc: I honestly think time may be our best fix, as terrible as that sounds. They still have a summer & preseason practices, so maybe it will start to come together. But our OOC schedule isn’t doing them any favors this year. That UH defensive line. . .
kyle4073: Cohen committing would be a huge help in my opinion. Your adding a starter with Power 5 experience which is a huge upgrade over whatever we’re looking at now. I don’t think it solves the entire line but it does represent a nice improvement. If Duffey is what Kliff says he is, even with the break he is our best bet for QB2. All of the other QB2 candidates showed they weren’t up to it or were too raw to take the position.
sethjungman: It’s funny because it seems like Kingsbury has talked about Duffey, in round-about ways, and somewhat opined that he can’t wait to get him back. After seeing how rough McLane Carter is, I get that. It takes at least a year to probably get everything down that they need to get down.
What about some positives on offense from the spring? I love Shimonek and Xavier Martin has ridiculous talent.
Oh, and Michael, I’m right there with you on Nisby. They’ll need someone that can create yards between the tackles. I hope that he’s that guy.
michael: Shimonek is solid, especially when the line holds up. Martin has been impressive. If I remember correctly, he had a long drive in the 2nd half of the Lubbock scrimmage resulting in a touchdown that involved a 3rd down conversion and a 4th down conversion in the red zone.
The positives have to be the receivers. It’s hard to even narrow it down to which one could have the most impact as they all bring something to the table. Coutee broke for about a 60 yard TD on Saturday and juked his way out of at least 3 sure-tackles.
meestahrogers: Positives for me have to include the inside receivers. That group is LOADED and it’s going to be hard to pull any of them off the field. I like the move of Tony Brown inside, but Coutee, Giles and Batson are going to be salty.
sethjungman: How do you guys feel about the outside guys? Cantrell looks like a tank out there and I’m hoping that Derrick Willies can really push through in year two and have a significant impact. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised by Vasher and Wesley. They’re both a year away, but I think they’ll add something next year for sure.
briandc: I’m incredibly excited for these receivers. We should have strength across the board, and I think KeKe is going to go ham this year. I saw a tweet of him one-handing a ball full extension over the middle the other day, and it made me forget about the other offensive woes for just a little bit. In terms of looking to the future, I’m with everybody else. Xavier is going to be ridiculously fun when he gets his sea legs
It’s kind of now or never for the outside position. If we can keep Cantrell healthy, that will be a huge help. Year 2 Willies is also looking like a sight to behold, and I hope he & Shim are putting in overtime practicing in the corner of the end zone. I think Vasher will be great, and I’m hoping Antoine Cox Wesley turns the corner. Last season he made quite a few drops/mistakes, but he was definitely learning on the job as a true freshman
kyle4073: The receivers in general have been extremely impressive, it might be the best group from top to bottom that I’ve seen. Willies and Vasher both looked good in the three spring games and Cantrell is a known commodity. Anything you can get out of Cox Wesley would be great at this point but I think the first three will dominate the production on the outside.
sethjungman: And as we work on this, Cochran chooses Oklahoma State, so Brian, you win the big prize because there really aren’t any other options other than time.