DEPTH CHART ANALYSIS: Week 3

Farmageddon Week is here!

The depth chart for this week is unchanged from last week, so I instead will discuss who actually started Saturday and what I saw from the backups who reached the field in the second half.

Also, it's time to discuss a certain rumor that, if true, could have a large impact on a defense that underwhelmed many — including myself — last week.

All that and more after the jump.

Quarterbacks

Carson Coffman has complete control of this position and until he throws his first interception of the season, it's not even conceivable that he will relinquish it. In fact, by strange circumstances, he leads the conference in passing efficiency. Crazy talk.

Collin Klein showed even less in limited action against Missouri State than he did against UCLA. Let's hope Coffman stays healthy, because I think there's a huge drop-off at this position right now.

Sammuel Lamur's most notable play in his first action of the season was tripping over William Powell's foot on a first-down handoff. Not an auspicious start. He did hand off for a TD to Powell on the next play, though, so I guess that's something. One thing's for sure: Lamur truly will be a secret weapon if we ever unleash him in the Wildcat.

 

Running Backs

Ho-hum — another day, another 100 yards and two TDs for Daniel Thomas, and another ridiculous, double-digit YPC average and long TD for his backup Powell. All in a day's work, right?

John Hubert received one carry that I saw, but the offensive line gave him no help and he was swallowed up quickly.

 

Fullbacks and Tight Ends

Andre McDonald made his glorious debut in the passing game — only it was totally inglorious. He started to run before he had completed the catch the first time his number was called, and ended up dropping the pass entirely. On the next play, the pass was harder to corral and he failed at that, as well. Not quite what I was hoping for.

Looks like Travis Tannahill is our main man at tight end for the conceivable future. In fullback action, Braden Wilson also was unleashed in the passing attack and rumbled 30-something yards for a large gain on our second touchdown drive. Linebackers hate that. But he more than offset it with two holding calls — two more than the O-line received.

 

Wide Receivers

Not much to report here. Brodrick Smith is a confirmed badass who totally bailed Coffman's underthrowing butt out of the fire on the first TD catch. The fade to the corner for the second score was much nicer, however.

Meanwhile, Tramaine Thompson — who's actually starting over Aubrey Quarles, for what it's worth — had a few looks, but wasn't able to break anything for a huge gain. He slowed down in the middle of the long pass and screwed up what could have been a beautiful touchdown from Coffman. It's only a matter of time, though.

Quarles remains our best first-down conversion weapon thanks to his consistency. Chris Harper had one great play when Coffman scrambled and turned down open field in front of him for an across-the-body pass to Harper resulting in a big gain. Other than that, not much. You have to think they're saving this kid for Nebraska...

 

Offensive Line

No holding calls and no false starts that I can remember equals dramatic week-to-week improvement for a unit that's starting to come together. I distinctly noticed improved pass protection in the second half — Coffman had some nice pockets from which to throw.

Run blocking could have been better, but we've seen what they can do when they put their minds to it (and so has UCLA), so I'm not going to nitpick.

 

Defensive Line

Same rotation as the UCLA game, same drop-off when Brandon Harold isn't on the field. We just don't have the quality depth we need here and it really worries me going forward. Raphael Guidry started instead of Ray Kibble, but I don't think it made that much difference. Kadero Terrell made a few nice plays, though, including a pass deflection.

We were credited for one sack, but don't be fooled — the quarterback basically ran out of bounds just behind the line of scrimmage. That's hardly what I'd call a "sack." Just like last season, pass rush looks like it's going to torture us in September.

 

Linebackers

No real changes here.

Alex Hrebec had what I would call a career-defining play in the fourth quarter. On the final score  Missouri State had Saturday, he came free on a blitz and flushed Cody Kirby from the pocket. Hrebec proceeded to chase Kirby from one side of the field to the other. He finally dove for him and just barely missed with outstretched fingers.

Kirby then proceeded to throw a touchdown pass over Terrance Sweeney to the back of the end zone.

Hrebec is just too damn slow to play Division I linebacker, but I appreciate his tenacity and persistence — and he's at least an adequate run stuffer, which we sorely need thanks to the deficiencies of the defensive line. Jarell Childs was OK, but didn't really do anything impressive. Blake Slaughter is promising, but still very inexperienced.

We need help.

Enter Arthur Brown. There's a rumor going around that his parents are pursuing an NCAA hardship waiver that would make him eligible to play this season, perhaps as soon as the Iowa State game. (Bryce, too, perhaps.) If it works out, he would provide an immediate and much-needed upgrade to our weakest position. Here's hoping...

 

Defensive Backs

I watched the positional alignments in the secondary very closely Saturday night and contrary to what the depth chart might say, David Garrett is starting at Cat safety — not backing up Stephen Harrison at cornerback — while Troy Butler is starting at cornerback opposite Terrance Sweeney and no longer playing a safety position.

It's probably all semantics, though. What isn't semantics is the play of the two "true" safeties — Emmanuel Lamur and Tysyn Hartman. Lamur apparently lost his starting job to Ty Zimmerman, who was the only safety I didn't see give up a big passing play to Missouri State.

When Lamur finally came in, he was burned on a 30-yard pass, then face-masked the guy on the tackle for an additional 15 yard penalty. That came one play after Garrett roughed the passer on a late blitz. And Hartman again was burned over the top for a long touchdown play. Are you kidding me, guys?

The best play of the night — almost — was when Garrett nearly took down a Bears runner for a 10-yard loss just outside the end zone with a shoestring tackle. Unfortunately, all he got was the shoestring and the shoe to which it was attached, and the now single-cleated back scrambled forward to near the first-down marker. Yuck.

Oh, and no interceptions in the game at all (although Lamur nearly pulled one in off a tip that would have been pretty sick). The secondary did not bring its "A" game last week. Hell, they didn't bring their "D" game.

 

Special Teams

It was the best of times and the worst of times for Anthony Cantele. He missed his first field goal of the season, then scored a nifty touchdown on an option pitch from Ryan Doerr on a fake field goal, then missed the ensuing extra point and lost his place-kicking duties to Josh Cherry for the next two quarters. (He kicked the final two PATs, however.)

Cantele retained his kickoff duties, though, with Cherry lining up as a gunner both on the kickoff and punt coverage teams. Two kickers on the field at the same time? Does this portend a few trick plays in our near future...?

Nothing much in the return game, although Powell had a nice 50-yard runback late in the game. The coverage units still are struggling more than they should. And still no sign that we're even close to blocking a kick or a punt.

There remains a lot of work to do on special teams, because they aren't that special yet.

 

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