28.Aug.2011 Grading the Offense
Yesterday, I got some backlash for "over grading" the defense. What can I say, I think the defense is the strength of this year's team. I understand it's counter-intuitive given all the WRs and big-arm QB. I get it, but I just don't know if said WRs and QB will have time to connect. This offense has the potential to put up 40 points a game, and I'd write that they'd do just that had I seen the QB make strides this fall. Putting up big points requires converting 3rd downs and doing the little things to give the QB extra shots at making the big play. It doesn't require chucking the ball around the yard and hoping for the big play.
My grades below are a combination of what I've seen with my own eyes, and what I've gathered from camp. To be fair, the offensive line does sound improved, and they appear mentally refreshed as well (I don't think they liked blocking for Jacquizz Rodgers).
Obum Gwacham/Geno Munoz
Analysis: Wheaton is the best player on the team, and one of the best in the conference. Munoz is a player I admire. The guy has sure hands and runs good routes, but he never gets to play. That hasn't stopped him from working. Gwacham is raw material, a block of marble slowly being chiseled into something that looks like a work of art. Wheaton is the lone A+ on the Beav's roster, but the backups bring this particular unit down a hair.
Analysis: Bishop is inconsistent. You'll see him make a circus catch in the clutch (e.g. UNLV), but then drop an easy catch or break off a route. Cummings flies under the radar because he's not a dynamic WR, but his strength is in his steadiness. Look for Mitch Singler as a dark horse later in the year.
Analysis: I believe this is Remmers 4th year starting (correct?). He should be an exclamation point, not a question mark. Enger will be great by next year, and he might even be better than Remmers. Enger's plight reminds me of Alex Linnenkohl's. Back to Remmers: there are fans out there who actually believe he is an NFL talent. This after 3 years of mediocrity. Am I missing something?
Analysis: I'm comfortable with Andrews starting, but Lamb is a weak backup.
Analysis: Believe it or not, I've warmed up to Johnson at center. It's the position on the line that masks his weaknesses best. Garner is a quintessential backup. He can play any position on the line about as well as the starter.
Analysis: The weakest position on the line. A bad walk-on backed up by a bad walk-on. This is a disaster.
Analysis: Philipp has come on of late, but it looks like Kelly will start. It's hard to find any good coverage of Kelly. All the writers just mention he's overtaken Philipp because of the latter's nagging knee injury. That's not a ringing endorsement of Kelly. What I've seen of him, on film, is a thin and gangly player with poor balance. But, that was several years ago. I really don't know what we have here. My gut tells me it's below average.
Grade: C- (upside potential)
Analysis: Prince is just like Brady Camp. I was very down on Hamlett when he signed, but people are saying he's been one of the best players in camp. That is shocking. On film, he looked slower than whale shit. I'll be sold if I see production in games. Until then, I consider this combination weak.
Analysis: Halahuni is a B+, Perry is a B-, but both are injured. I assume Hamlett will play this position until they return.
Grade: N/A (B when healthy)
Cody Vaz/Sean Mannion
Analysis: Katz is serviceable, but I was expecting massive growth this fall. He's still missing receivers consistently. Maybe he has a Matt Moore moment and things click by game 3. Huge upside potential, but didn't show progress in camp so I'm knocking him down a peg. Vaz is savvy and could be good, but he needs game time to build confidence. He plays with (overwhelming) nerves right now. Mannion came out of HS with a long, slow delivery, but word is he's more compact now. That's good news. All of these guys are about the same talent wise. The only thing separating Katz from the backups is game experience.
Grade: B (with tremendous upside potential)
Ryan McCants/Terron Ward/Jordan Jenkins
Analysis: Top heavy position. As I wrote in the comment area yesterday, Agnew runs like a poor man's Marshall Faulk. McCants, Ward, and Jenkins aren't an answer, though all could find roles. McCants should get a look at short yardage and goal line, at least until he fumbles once. Ward is a prototypical scat back. Jenkins could be a Kevin McShane type player who carries the ball once per game to fire up the troops.
Analysis: Finally, a position well above mediocre! What can you say about Cooks and Rodgers? Not much, other than they're two fantastic players.
Analysis: Analyzing fullbacks. Now that sounds fun. "That Clayton York, he sure throws some evil blocks." I mean, sure. I like Anderson better because he could be an offensive weapon. He has a little Larry Centers in him.
Honestly before I graded out each position I was high on the offense. It surprised me a bit to realize they're not as good as I thought. I think all the dynamic WRs skew perception. This team will probably score 30+ vs Sac State, but then struggle to find points the next two games. At some point it will click ala '06, it's just a matter of when that happens.