[Note by Mad.Mike, 03/08/09 8:03 PM CDT ]
Hey everybody, I'd like to introduce a new author for this site: NIU1981. You may know him by the tremendous posting that he does on the Dog Pound Message board. He's now part of the Red and Black crew and specializes in Huskie Football.
Spring Football Preview: Offense
Spring football is right around the corner and it's fun to think about what the new starting lineup will be and how the newer players (redshirt freshman and new JC guys) will perform. I try to predict the new lineup every year and I'm usually about 60 to 70% correct as there are always surprises. This year? Who the heck knows. Given the number of open spots I'll be lucky to hit 50%. Let's go position by position on offense and I'll give you my thoughts, and please remember the title of this column. "Talkin' Out My (Hat)" means I'm sharing opinions unencumbered by facts.
This one's tough because the big group of seniors just left and they play so many guys each game I'm not sure there's a huge distinction between the starters and backups. I am guessing the starters will be Landon Cox, Nathan Palmer and Willie Clark and key backups will be one or more of the redshirt freshmen (Tommy Davis, Ron Walker, Matt Ng) and one of the true freshmen (pick one). Wild cards are Tyler Clasey and the two seniors, Preston Williams and Marcus Lewis. I have no idea what to expect from them. The super wild card would be DeMarcus Grady, who I would love to see on the field if he does not win the quarterback competition. He is too gifted an offensive player to keep on the bench and they can't continue to bring him in three times a game to run from the QB position. Imagine the end-around to Grady with the run-pass option. It would be an absolute nightmare for defenses.
I would be surprised if the three returning starters (Trevor Olson, Jason Onyebuagu and Eddie Adamski) don't continue to start. That leaves one guard and one tackle position open. My favorites are Kevin Skatrud and Tony Holmes because they're seniors, they've both played or spent a lot of time on the two deep and they're both HUGE. Imagine the right side of the line with 6'7", 315 pound Kevin Skatrud next to 6'6", 330 pound Tony Holmes. YOOOGE, Dude! Other guard prospects would probably be Panan Tense and Charvo Lampton and tackle prospects would be Joe Pawlak, another walkon made good, and Adam Kiel.
Reed Cunningham should be the starter, backed up by Jason Schepler as in '08. Others in the mix would be Bryan Beckner, who played a lot in '07 but not '08, and possibly redshirt freshman Dan Edem. Wild cards would be Jack Marks and JCer Kyle Weber if he appears on the roster this fall.
This is another tough one. Hopefully Chandler Harnish continues his development and puts this one to rest. I was highly impressed with his play early in the '08 season but he tailed off a bit at the end with rough outings against Navy and Louisiana Tech. Other possibilities at QB are DeMarcus Grady and Brandon Rogers. Grady played some in '08 and the coaches gave Rogers a long look in last year's fall camp so they seem to be high on him. The wild card at this position would be if JCer Garrett Barnas shows up in the fall. If that happens it could be a wide-open competition. If not I would expect Harnish to retain the job.
Kyle Skarb and Connor Flahive did a nice job in '08 and both are back so I would expect them to be the frontrunners. It will be interesting to see if redshirt freshmen Victor Jacques and Connor Krisch get in the mix.
I'll have another column devoted to the tailback position so I'll keep it short here. I expect Chad Spann to be the starter, backed up by the committee of Justin Anderson, Ricky Crider and Meco Brown. Hopefully the coaching staff figures out a way to get Justin Anderson on the field. It seems like a proven 225 pound back would come in handy now and again.