1. Who starts at quarterback?
This is the biggest question that has to be answered in the spring/summer. I believe the staff is looking to the transfer market for an option, but the other options are relative unknowns including Maverick McIvor, Donovan Smith, Behren Morton, and Henry Colombi. I’ve mentioned that I think that someone like Smith maybe gives the staff the most options in terms of having the ability to move around, a year in the program, etc. I honestly don’t know what the issue with McIvor is, but the fact that he was essentially a healthy scratch all of last year says something. If Smith can chunk the ball down the field, the offense has receivers that can go and get it. That’s sort of the edge for me over Colombi. I’d also add that I don’t know that Morton will be ready to step in and play immediately, I think that’s a pretty difficult task for a freshman and for a coaching staff that needs to win now.
2. Who starts at right tackle?
The money line should be on Josh Burger, but I’m not convinced he’s the best option. I’ve mentioned that I think that T.J. Storment should likely start at left tackle and then it comes down to who among Burger, Ethan Carde, and Caleb Rogers should start at right tackle. I think one of the worst things that’s happened to the offensive line is that there’s been an absolute lack of aggression I can’t remember a time when the offensive line imposed their will on an opponent, and I’m definitely ready to see that happen. I don’t know that any of these guys are bullies and that’s what I really want on the line. Whoever is willing to be that guy is the guy I want. Smart money says Burger, but I’m willing for it to be
3. Who replaces KeSean Carter’s production?
Inside receiver went to one of those positions where there was an absolute glut of talent to me wondering who steps in next year and gets most of the snaps. We also have to wonder if it will be two inside receivers for a chunk of time or a receiver and a tight end. I’m not sure.
So I think there needs to be a 1A and 1B in terms of who will run out there and then a couple of back-ups. A couple of caveats, namely that Dalton Rigdon and McClane Mannix hardly played at all last year because of injury. I would suggest that they should be back and my other guess is one of them is going to be the 1B with 1A being Myles Price.
Another guy who has battled a ton of injuries his first two years is Sterling Galban. Galban essentially redshirted his freshman year and then was injured all of last year. The other guy that I don’t know where he will actually play is Cameron Cantrell. He doesn’t fit the prototypical inside receiver, but I don’t know that he fits outside.
4. Who steps up at tight end?
Man, I’m not sure. If you want to see the offense take a dramatic turn for the better then get the tight end to play better. And not just a little better, but significantly better. I’d even add that until the tight end is ready, I’d utilize an undersized offensive lineman if the team wants to a solid blocker and an inside receiver if they want to be a bit more wide open. The tight ends on the roster have to prove that they are ready and are capable.
I do not think that Travis Koontz is a net positive, and I really wish that he was. John Holcomb couldn’t hold a block, but is more fluid in passing situations. I don’t think that the two true freshmen are ready, Jed Castles and Mason Tharp.
I don’t know what Cumbie will do, but forcing an offense like Yost did last year when the players weren’t ready essentially took an entire player out of the offensive game plan in order to continue to run 11 personnel hell or high water.
5. What will the offense look like?
I’ve thought about this and my biggest gripe with David Yost’s offense wasn’t what it was, but what it wasn’t. Yost’s offense refused to adjust to what was on the roster and maybe that was Matt Wells as well, but it was infuriating that Yost failed to adjust for the pieces, instead insisting on an offense that didn’t work within the constructs of the pieces on hand.
In a lot of ways the Year 2 jump that Yost’s offenses enjoyed, the pieces were already in place. The parts of the offenses that made things work were already there because they had been recruited for years and so the players could excel.
I hope the offense that Cumbie brings with him is the opposite of that. it’s an analysis of what’s available and tailoring the offense to the strengths. And so much is dependent on the quarterback and without a quarterback that can throw the ball down the field with some idea to open things up, then I don’t how how well this will work. The great thing is that Cumbie is probably supremely confident in his ability to coordinate an offense and I hope that he is.