Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Football 2009 In Review: Top Surprises

This was an annual feature until last January got thrown upside down by the coaching chaos. I will look back on the season in four parts. Let's begin with the positive: top surprises.

1. Mike Morrissey
Everyone loves a walk-on story, but rarely does a walk-on work his way into the starting lineup. Morrissey isn’t exactly our “Rudy” though. He was a “recruited walk-on” meaning TOB and company liked him enough to give him a shot to earn a scholarship but offered no guarantees. Having contributed occasionally in his first few seasons, Morrissey broke out this year – just when the depleted LB corp needed him most. Since his father was in the NFL and walk-ons have to work extra hard, Morrissey showed good instincts in coverage and reading Ds. What surprised was his speed. He was good in coverage and outside or some bad tackles in the Emerald Bowl, was pretty reliable all season. Morrissey is not a game changer or have the upside of LeGrande (the guy he split snaps with) but he was a crucial part of the season and did more than expected.

2. Chris Pantale
Pantale was a well regarded recruit and we heard good things coming out of his redshirt year, but he exceeded most expectations. The team's third leading receiver was also a capable blocker. I guess what most impressed me about Pantale, was his toughness and hands. It seemed like he pulled in a bunch of passes with someone drapped all over him. If anything we didn't get him the ball enough -- especially in the redzone. It will be nice to see him mature in the offense and add a little more size.
3. Ryan Quigley
Punters are rarely appreciated, but Quigley was very good this year. 30% of his punts went pinned the other team into the redzone with only 5% rolling for touchbacks. He got 77 punts off without getting blocked once. It wasn't all controlled either. He could boom them when he had to. In an ideal world, he would never punt, but watching Quigley punt this year was a pleasure.


Dan said...

Good call on Morissey. It'd be great for him or LeGrande to really step up and finish out the trifecta of Keuchly and hopefully Herzlich. There's a rookie coming in who's first name is Steele. How awesome of a complement would that be to Herzlich and Keuchly?

LeGrande has nice speed. Hopefully next year the DLine can bring a little more pressure and we can slide him into the old Kevin Akins blitz package which was always money.

Erik said...

4 days ago we were playing the USC Trojans. Next time we suit up, we're playing Weber State. What a letdown.

We had such big expectations for Will Thompson this year. After some injuries, it's incredible how guys like Morrissey and guys DiSanzo & Clancey stepped up, beyond the obvious Kuechley.

neenan said...

How is Kuechly not the BIGGEST SURPRISE?

Although ATL, you did have some notion that Kueckly or Disanzo wouild be good, but you did not know who.

[ATL 8/30/09]

"The best "chatter" of the summer has been the play of the young LBs. Everyone is raving about Kuechly and DiSanzo. ...."

"My Bold Prediction: At least two LBs will make All ACC Freshman teams. I don't know who but given the playing time ahead and the positive buzz, I think it is safe to say that two will crack the list."

Erik said...

Vote for Herzy on boston.com as Sportsman of the Year:


Eagle in Brighton said...

In a general sense, I'd agree the all-conference caliber Keuchly's played at was the most pleasant surpise of the season, but he wasn't a darkhorse contributor like others on the list.

It just comes down to what standard of review you apply to "suprising": Keuchly's been phenomenal, but he also was our top rated recruit (according to ESPN) in the 2009 class (for whatever that's worth).

Also on a LB note: Rivals, Scout, et al. think highly of incoming LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, so will be interesting to see how our depth plays into the redshirting decision.

ATL_eagle said...

Keuchly will be in another category.

BCNorCal07 said...

So Mike Leach got fired this morning? Spaz, I think we need a new offensive coordinator. Hint. Who knows if Leach will take an OC position anywhere, but I'm pretty certain that Spaz will make a change at that position. Who that will be, I have no idea. I don't think it will be Leach, though.

ATL_eagle said...

Norcal, I don't see Spaz changing anything unless Tranq decides to hang it up. Then we would go with a current staffer.