Just like any spring fling, it was fun while it lasted, but it was only meant to last a couple of weeks.
Going into spring ball there were plenty of questions after a five-win 2013 campaign. Were any of those questions answered after 15-practices, including the annual Red/White Spring game?
Yes, but not many.
First up at Quarterback, it was nice to see Travis Wilson back on the field taking first team reps. It was very apparent, especially the first couple of practices, that Wilson had some rust and wasn't exactly comfortable on the field. He did get stronger as the spring went along, but there was some consistency issues. This was best illustrated in the spring game, where Wilson struggled early, but eventually got into a grove and settled in to play well in the second quarter.
So going into fall Wilson is number one on the depth chart, but behind him Conner Manning is making a strong push. Manning showed his trademark passing skills, after a shaky start in the spring game, and had a great pocket presence plus a very quick release. Adam Schulz showed his typical flashes, but appears to be sliding down the depth chart, possibly falling behind Brandon Cox. Schulz showed that he still struggles with the speed of the game, and makes a lot of poor throws almost out of desperation to just make a play. The thing with Cox is that he makes a jaw dropping play one play, followed by a head scratching one. Cox can be electrifying, but can he be consistent enough to be a number one QB? Not yet.
With the incoming Kendal Thompson and Donovon Isom arriving in the fall, this will be a very interesting race to watch come August.
The real stars of the spring game were the running backs, especially Devontae Booker. Booker is my pick to be the starting running back going into week one. Poole will still see a ton of touches, especially since I believe we'll see a lot of two-back sets. Troy McCormick should see the field a ton as well, whether running the ball or in the slot. He just has too much big play potential.
Wide receiver wise it was all Dominique Hatfield, with some Brian Allen mixed in, during the spring game. However, the number three spot behind Dres Anderson and Kenneth Scott may be reserved for Kaelin Clay, a speedy JC transfer with only one year to play, who will show up in the fall.
There now seems to be an offensive identity, at least one is coming into focus. This is going to be a fast, no huddle, get off a ton of plays, type of offense. This will be a running focused offense primarily, especially with the apparent depth in the back field, as well as the possible concern at quarterback.
Defensively, there were some nice plays made in the spring game, with Jason Faniaka and Sharrief Shah Jr. But overall, with all the injuries to the linebacking corps and with everyone sitting out, there was not a lot to be learned. With the additions of Tevin Carter, as well as the return of Brian Blechen, there appears to be talent on the defensive side of the ball, it just needs to get healthy and come together in the fall. The key is Gionni Paul. If he gets back quickly, he will be the lynch pin in this defense and will solidify so many other pieces.
We discuss all of those points, and so many more in this weeks episode of The U Fan Cast.
Don't want to watch, just listen? Here is the audio version: