It begins tomorrow, what we've been waiting for for what seems like an eternity. Our mornings will be filled with reports from practice and actual discussion, not speculation.
LAJ's Don Williams started off Saturday by providing some key position battles going into fall camp. There are a ton of interesting things to note from this article so please go read the whole thing if you haven't. I'd still like to touch on some of the items that jumped out at me:
Offensive Line: This made my jaw drop:
New line coach Matt Moore plans to flipflop the left-side starters with Louis Vasquez moving to tackle and Marlon Winn going inside to guard - the reverse of where they finished spring.
I don't know what to think here. When I watched the spring game I thought Winn did a decent job of protecting Harrell's backside, but apparently the coaching staff feels that the most experienced player at that position is of the utmost importance.
According to Don, who talked with offensive line coach Matt Moore, the coaches want to find 3 guys on the left side of the line and 3 on the right side of the line with 2 centers, with positions being assigned to the incoming freshman as well. Here's how the staff breaks down the line:
- Left Side: Vasquez at tackle and Winn at guard and making an appearance at tackle for Vasquez, with Chris Olson to find time at guard. Jerrod Gooch is projected as a left tackle and Lonnie Edwards is projected at left guard.
- Right Side: Rylan Reed is at tackle and Stephen Hamby at guard with Brandon Carter filling in both spots on the right side. JUCO Jake Johnson will work both right positions and Mickey Okafor and Dominique Delpeche both ar right tackle.
- Center: According to Don, this position is set with Shawn Byrnes and Justin Keown manning the center position.
Defensive Tackle: Clint Stoffels is your starting nose tackle. That's a real surprise, but let's crawl into the mind of Coach Leach and figure out why Stoffels is starting over Richard Jones and Brian Jones.
My first thought is that Leach loves high motor guys and Stoffels is certainly a high motor player. Stoffels loves kids who play hard and if the he believes the talent is fairly even, although we may scoff at the idea that Stoffels is as talented as Jones's, then he'll take the player with the higher motor. Starting Stoffels does give Leach some options on the second team defensive line with both Brian Jones and Richard Jones to spell Henley and Stoffels.
This doesn't even take into account the freshmen who may see some time, including Colby Whitlock and David Neill, who lined up inside as well in high school.
Defensive Ends: Don provides a little more clarity to the end positions. The coaches originally thought that Ratliff, Brandon Williams and Phillip Jones are at the strong end while Tyler Yenzer and Sandy Riley at the rush end. Don also mentions that both JUCO's Daniel Howard and Brandon Sharpe are both pass rushers:
"The thing that we're looking forward to is Daniel Howard and Brandon Sharpe, the two new kids, can run and they're athletic," Setencich said. "That makes up for a lot of problems."
That's pretty interesting, I thought that Williams and Ratliff would be the starters for sure. Although I have nothing to base this one, I'll put my money on Riley to start at the rush end with the Howard and Sharpe filling in as needed.
Don covers almost every position, this is definitely worth your time. Don's don an excellent job here breaking some news and giving us some insight as to where some of these players will be lined up this fall.