With the start of the season right around the corner, I'm excited about a number of things heading into the season and I oftentimes think about what I'm most excited to see this year. These are the things I'm excited to see this year and absolutely will love to see what you're excited to see. The topics that I'll cover are the offense in general, the defense in general, the special teams, the newcomers and the veterans.
A Dominating Offensive Line
It's not even close for me and it's a cliche to even say, but it all starts up front and that's especially true for the 2011 team. A new quarterback and new outside receivers means that the offensive line has to carry the load. I'm excited to see how the offensive line has improved from last year, which looked awkward and inconsistent at times, has improved. I'm excited to see how Justin Keown, LG Lonnie Edwards and RT Mickey Okafor anchor a group that also includes players like LT LaAdrian Waddle, LT Terry McDaniel, RG Deveric Gallington, RG Beau Carpenter and LG James Polk.is able to improve this group. Moore has always been well thought of as a position coach and when he was retained last year, I thought that this was incredibly important. Offensive coordinator Neal Brown, in part, changed how the team blocked on certain plays, from a man blocking scheme to sometimes utilizing a zone blocking scheme made the offensive line look a little disjointed last year. Given the fact that Moore has had a year to work with the players to teach either method makes me think that you are about to see one of the more dominating offensive lines in the Big 12. Moore won't allow for anything else. And he's got a veteran line to start with, seniors C
Doege Stretching the Offense
Earlier in the spring, QB Seth Doege mentioned that he felt that the offense needed to attack the field more and that they need more explosive plays. I wish I could find the quote from QB Seth Doege, but his quote essentially mirrored offensive coordinator Neal Brown's thoughts on what he thinks is the most important statistic:
"Turnovers would be my first answer. But you also have to look at explosive plays and negative plays. Our goal is to minimize negative plays and get as many explosive plays as you can. An explosive run is anything over 12 yards. An explosive screen is 12 yards. An explosive pass is anything over 16. If I want to know if a team is well-coached, they have very few negative plays and a lot of explosive plays."
More after the jump.
I also wish I could find the number of plays that were over 12 or 16 yards or compare and contrast the passing plays from prior years to this past year, but at the very least, I appreciate Brown and Doege acknowledging that the offense needs to be more explosive and stretch the field. Unfortunately, seeing this year's version of the offense, it seemed to lack a bit of umph or pizzaz and I think a big part of this was the down the field passing. To acknowledge that the offense needs to work the edges and start breaking bigger chunks of yards is something I excited to see if Brown and Doege can and will do. The biggest question about Doege will be if he has the arm to get the ball down the field and personally, I'm not too concerned about that. This offense doesn't require that a quarterback absolutely chunk the ball down the field, but it does require the quarterback to utilize the sidelines and the outside receivers a bit better.
Skill Positions Stepping Up
Opportunity. The outside receivers have plenty of opportunity this year and I'm excited to see which players decide to step up their game and make something of their opportunity. WR Darrin Moore has received a ton of praise during the spring for possibly being the next big outside reciever for this team. Moore is a junior college commit that committed in August of last year after playing a couple of years at Blinn College (and played with Cam Newton) after starting his career with UTEP. Moore has great size, at 6-4/212, to be the outside receiver this team needs. Last year, Moore finished with 15 catches for 115 yards and 1 touchdown. The other receiving newcomer, relatively speaking, that I'm excited to see is Marcus Kennard, a 2011 commit from Butler County, CC. Kennard is another guy with good size, 6-4/205, who really stretched the field for his Butler CCC team where he caught 43 passes for 876 yards and 13 touchdowns. That's over 20 yards per catch and that's exactly what this team needs. A homerun threat that can open things up all over the field.
There are also guys that have been behind Leong and Lewis and now is their time to shine. This is a make-or-break season for WR Eric Ward. Ward was a legitimate 4-star receiver coming out of high school and it was thought that he would play early and often. It just hasn't clicked for Ward. He hasn't found a way onto the field, but during the spring he was listed as the starter at the x-receiver position with Kennard behind him. Also opening up are opportunities for Tramain Swindall (33 catches | 271 yards | 1 TD), Jacoby Franks (25 catches | 254 yards | 0 TD), Aaron Fisher (1 catch | 9 yards | 0 TD), Cornelius Douglas (20 catches | 215 yards | 1 TD) as none of these players are starting at their positions, with Swindall and Franks being seniors.
Now it's your turn. Tell me what you're excited to see on offense this year.