Practice officially begins Monday. The staff has a million things they want to accomplish before the Kent State game. Here are three big issues that are on my mind.
Determine which freshmen can play this year.
Depth is an issue this year. At least six true freshmen should play, 10 are probably needed and you could see as many as 14 used depending on how they adjust and what injuries the team encounters. New punter and potential kicker Quigley is a definite. Haden is lock to play too. You’ll probably see four defensive backs play. At least one other running back will be needed…but all three true freshmen running backs could play. Defensive Line will also have some opportunity for the young guys.
Getting the offense to click.
Although the team installed a new offense, lacked a running game and was learning a new style of blocking, the 2007 offense clicked from the opener. Now they know the offense, but are replacing many critical pieces. As a group they looked decent in the Spring Game, but that wasn’t the finished product. Crane needs to mirror Ryan’s ability to hit the short routes and mix in the deep threat. Someone needs to step up in the running game to relieve pressure on Crane. And finally, the right side of the line will be untested. If they don’t step in successfully, it will not matter what Crane and the running backs do.
Deciding who’s who on special teams.
Ok, so Quigley is the punter…we think. Flutie was listed on the depth chart. Bennett and Aponavicius are the kickers...unless Quigley can do that too. Jeff Smith is the kick returner if he stays healthy. Who else will be back there with him? Gunnell? Robinson? Mulrooney? Haden? Who is returning punts? Mulrooney practiced the role last year. I assume he’ll be in the mix. Robinson will probably get a shot. They could use one of the young guys looking to prove himself (Lindsey? Fox? Gause?). Or maybe Smith could return punts too. Jags and Yanowsky will be busy guys the next four weeks.