I wanted to put together something of an evaluation on how I thought the team was doing at various positions. Granted it's only three games in, and we've only faced one BCS opponent, but I think I've seen enough to start formulating opinions.
I'll format this as Grade, Evaluation, Area for Improvement.
For reference, all of the grades are curved based on what I would have (realistically) LIKED to have seen out of the unit/position.Offense
Jeff Tuel's shown the tendency to lock onto a receiver, and also to flush out of, or at least be distracted by pressure. His timing is sometimes off, creating an incompletion where there might have been a catch because of a half-second hesitation. That said, he's only thrown one interception, and when he has 3-4 seconds, makes good decisions. He looks downfield rather than immediately checking down, and he often doesn't have much time.
I'd like to see Tuel not look off opposing defenses. I'd also like to see him go through his progression better, and ideally come back to a matchup he thinks he has an advantage on. It seems like the handful of times he's audibled at the line, he's made the right call, even when the play wasn't ultimately executed well, so I'd like to see him get more comfortable doing that. Finally, I'd like to see him sail fewer passes.
I place a lot of the lack of production here on the line, rather than on the backs. James Montgomery and Chantz Staden have both shown bits of the play we'd like to see, but neither have seen a whole lot of touches. Staden gives us something as a receiving option that the others don't. Both have fumbles, though. After three games, Logwone Mitz has hardly been used, despite our penchant for wanting to run the ball up the gut, and Carl Winston seems to struggle using his blockers (but again, much of this is probably on the blockers, more than Winston).
I'd like to see Staden get more touches. He seems to possess a better combination of strength, speed and quickness than, Winston, for example, and shows the experience to let your blocking develop a half-second longer. Beyond that, not much to comment on here, until the line does a consistently better job of opening holes.
Jared Karstetter and Gino Simone have been slowed down with injuries, which doesn't help. Marques Wilson has been an absolute revelation. Isiah Barton has been decent. There have definitely been route issues with the newer players, and possibly even line-up issues (splits?) but overall, the somewhat small group has been okay. Wilson's playmaking ability keeps this grade from being a C.
I'd like to see the youngsters/newbies continue to develop as route-runners, and despite Karstetter being our number 2 (in terms of catches) receiver, I'd like to see him produce more. If Gino is feeling better, he needs to start producing as well.
This should almost be in incomplete. They're lined up in almost every play, but seem to be used almost exclusively for blocking. There has been *one* solitary reception by this group, a 4 yd TD to Andre Lintz.
They may not be world-beaters in the passing game, but they need to show they can be an outlet/safety valve for our passing game. At this rate the whole group will get 4 receptions this season.
The pass protection has been markedly improved over the last three games, but there hasn't been ANY regular improvement in running game. They've also given up a conference leading 10 sacks in the first three games. There are snap issues at center, and someone seems to miss their assignment or flat get beat every other play. There's been high praise for Fullington, but any time you have a true freshman pushing for playing time on the OL, you've got issues.
First I'd like to see the snap issues fixed, asap. Then for a set line-up emerge and gel, with an increase in production (per carry) on the ground. I'd also like them to further tighten up the pass protection, as we're looking at 40 sacks given if this continues at the same rate.
Overall Offense: C-
I think I'm being generous here. The playcalling has been commented on ad nauseum, so I'll just simply say that I hope they incorporate more quick passing game and stop being so predictable. I think changing our run/pass ratio a bit will *help* the running game overall. In particular, the offensive line needs to tighten up, quickly, and the TEs need to step it up and get open/involved. For some perspective on the dearth of yards being generated, CJ Mizell has more yards per game played from his one interception return, than all but 6 players including special teams. More than Winston, Daniel Blackledge, Mitz, Leon Brooks, Simone, Marcus Richmond, and Lintz.
The team has a lot of youth/inexperience, and so you expect them to struggle early. You also hope that they improve quickly, as they get playing time.