(Written by Ken Crawford)
What do you want first, the good news or the bad news?
That wasn’t really a question, but just a way to do introduce that this is the first of a pair of posts, the first about our issues going into this year, and the second being the reasons to be optimistic. Since I’d like to finish on a positive note, let’s start with the bad:
- True Freshman QB: The history of true freshmen quarterbacks is littered with highly touted, highly ranked recruits who’s last moment looking good is when trotting onto the field before the first snap. After that, it’s all downhill, the young man often permanently scarred going through such a painful season, never to recover, never to be heard from again except in cautionary tales by bloggers who’ve been around for a while. And while I’ve got some reason for optimism (for another post), there’s no denying that Jared Goff is battling odds that are stacked heavily against him.
- The injuries seems to be piling up early: Every team sustains injuries during fall practice, but it feels like the body count is a bit high at this point. The result is that you’re going to see a lot of new and young faces on Saturday. RS Freshmen Steven Moore starting at Right Tackle (Ouch!) with Bill Tyndall out, Hardy Nickerson at middle linebacker with Nick Forbes not healthy yet, and Damariay Drew at strong safety if Avery Sabastian can’t play on Saturday. And that doesn’t cover the lesser player injuries.
- Young offensive line: As mentioned above, there will be a RS Freshman offensive linemen starting on Saturday who we didn’t expect, but in addition to that, we’ve got another RS Freshman on the right side (guard Matt Cochran). While the left side looks stronger with Tagaloa and Rigsbee, they’re both only sophomores and our lone upper-classman, Adcock at center, hasn’t exactly impressed me (yet). If there’s good news, 2014, and 2015 in particular, look very strong with a lot of experience. But this year there’s going to be a lot of growing pains.
- New systems don’t take hold over night: I’ve been doing my best to understand the pros and cons of Dykes’ offensive system and I’ve still got a lot to learn. But one thing I know for sure is that this system is about as different as one can get from Tedford’s system. There’s just no way they’re going to be operating at 100% efficiency, particularly in the 1st game. To pile on top of that, while I was pretty soft on the defensive change to the 4-3 in my earlier post, it would have been nice if the defense wasn’t going through an overhaul as well, at least for 2013.
- The worst possible schedule for a young team: A young team does best when they ease into their schedule. If I could have dictated the schedule for this year, I would have played Colorado State to open the season, then our FCS team, then Maryland or Rutgers (or similar). After that I would want to see Colorado, then Arizona, then moving up to a tougher team like Oregon State and Washington, then a bit of relief with a game like WSU, then USC and Oregon, then the other one of UW and OSU, before wrapping up with Stanford. Or in way of summary, back-load, but don’t OVER back-load. Instead we get a ‘returning just about everyone from a 10-3 team’ Northwestern, #2 Ohio State and #3 Oregon in the 1st 4 games. After that, things look a lot better, but it sure would be nice to have gotten some easier games early.
That’s what on the top of my list anyway.