Monday, May 02, 2005

Barnhart on Spring Practice

Nothing too interesting here, mainly because Barnhart tends to be pretty positive to maintain his relationships with coaches in the South, as well as the fact that spring practice news is mostly meaningless. Still, a few thoughts are triggered by his solid article:

Florida - Yes, Chris Leak will be a better quarterback, but it will be more because of his offense than his mechanics. If Alex Smith can become the #1 pick in the NFL Draft in Meyer's offense, then imagine what the #1 recruit in the country from three years ago will accomplish. Tony holds up the '96 wide receiver corps as the gold standard at Florida, but I have a hard time seeing the current crop equaling Florida's 2001 corps: Jabar Gaffney, Reche Caldwell, and Taylor Jacobs. I love the comment about Florida's defense being more "aggressive," further illustrating the truism that no new regime is ever described as bringing more "read and react." And if the defense is going to be more aggressive, then why is Charlie Strong still co-defensive coordinator? A more accurate statement is that Florida will have better defensive line play because Greg Mattison does a very good job in that area.

Georgia - I'm sorry, but I can't get Leonard Pope's disastrous performance against Tennessee out of my head. Maybe I shouldn't fixate like that. Georgia's offense could be very interesting. If they do focus more on running the ball, then using the tight end could be a great complement with play-action getting the safeties and linebackers out of position. The question is whether Mark Richt can coach that sort of offense. The Florida State offense has usually struggled in the I-formation, running iteration and done far better in the four-wide, shotgun form. As far as the defensive line is concerned, Barnhart misses the bigger question: who's going to be the defensive end opposite Quentin Moses. And the biggest Georgia question of all is whether Brian VanGorder can be adequately replaced.

South Carolina - Steve Spurrier hasn't settled on a quarterback yet? There's a shocker. Does it even matter if he names a starter, since he'll have no hesitance to yank that guy when he doesn't play well?

Tennessee - The 900-pound gorilla in Tennessee is their defense and Barnhart skirts the edge of this issue. I know he has limited space, but if I was a Vol fan, I'd be highly interested in what has been done on defense so the Vols don't finish 76th in pass efficiency defense again. Is moving Jason Allen to corner the only solution?

Alabama - For some reason, I'm skeptical about the defense being that good again. They were very good last year, but opposing offenses knew that they could be conservative because of Alabama's non-existent passing game. Next year, with Bama's passing game presumably being more of a threat, aren't opponents going to try harder to score? The same is true for Penn State; it can't be an accident that their defense was so good against opponents who knew that 14 points were enough to win?

Arkansas - Is De'Arrius Howard ever healthy for more than two weeks?

Auburn - This is refreshing: "[Brandon Cox] didn't have a great spring because he's learning how to be No. 1," coach Tommy Tuberville said. Finally, a coach who doesn't make it sound as if every one of his players has a good spring. Next year is going to be an interesting test as to resolving the question of whether Auburn's offensive success last year was the result of Al Borges or Jason Campbell's maturation as a passer. Redskins fans might want to hang themselves if Brandon Cox re-creates Campbell's performance as a redshirt sophomore.

LSU - Speaking of interesting new faces in new places, Les Miles' teams at Oklahoma State were consistently successful at running the ball, whereas LSU's running game was inconsistent throughout Nick Saban's career. Was Les Miles, a Bo Schembechler protege, the reason for Oklahoma State's running success? If so, how good can LSU be when they pair their talent with Miles' scheme, along with a Bo Pelini defense? On the other hand, what if Miles' weak defenses come with him? What if Big XII ideas don't export nicely to the SEC?


Anonymous said...

What is your opinion of Leak's mobility? I have seen many sources that question Leak in Urban's system because he doesnt move like Harris or Smith.

peacedog said...

I think Leak has decent mobility all things considered. OTOH, maybe that's just us so poorly overpursuing/playing Florida last year talking. And he wasn't fast, he just had star-destroyer sized holes to scramble to.

I'm looking for Charles Johnson to get big minutes this year at DE. I wonder if may be able to take over the starting spot for Will Thompson at some point (the same way Moses did this past year). Thompson just isn't the same player he was pre-injury. Perhaps he can recapture that form, or more of it, by the fall. Too often last year he looked slow and incapable of making plays. Not really explosive at all.

It's too bad, because he was borderline fantastic a few years back, during Pollock's breakout season.

Michael said...

Leak is fairly mobile, or at least he was in high school. He wasn't asked to run in Florida's old offensive system, so the only running he did was backpeddling as the play collapsed around him. He'll have to end that "throw off the back foot" habit that he developed at Florida, although I suspect that better coaching will do wonders for him.

Peace, I agree on Will Thompson. He was dominant in that Sugar Bowl against FSU and then dislocated his ankle and hasn't been the same ever since. Because a player often plays a lot better in his second year back, I'm holding out some hope.

peacedog said...

At least Charles Johnson showed some promise. I'm hoping that between he and Thompson we can get production.

I was not crazy about the move of Gant to DE. He was pretty quick for aDT but I don't know how his speed is. It seems to indicate that we have Freshman who will be in the mix at DT, recent suspensions notwithstanding. I worry about it.

If the secondary doesn't improve, then Thompson will have to mostly return to form and CJ will have to break out, or we could be in trouble. The LBs should be terrific, though I don't have a full read on Miller yet.