Garry , would you please describe how competitive and game like, or not, the field goal periods are in spring and fall practices? 8 of 8 for any kicker is outstanding.
Usually they feature a pass rush with half of the line (left side or right side) but occasionally they will feature the entire unit in a competitive setting, as was the case last Saturday when Helton put the onus on Michael Brown to make a 30-yard field goal to end practice early. The kick was good, much to the delight of the players. And you are correct, 8-8 is good in any setting, especially for Brown who was a little shaky at the beginning but who has been improving on his consistency.
Garry, we read that Sam has thrown many more practice picks this spring than ever before…..yet I just can’t imagine the young man is going to be anything other than fantastic next season. Any real cause for concern?
I don’t think it’s a cause for concern. There are a lot of moving pieces around Sam this spring that need to be set, and I think we’re seeing real progress from the young receivers because they will have as much to do with the interceptions as anything. As the timing continues to improve with the receivers around him I think you will naturally see the interceptions decrease.
Of the freshmen arriving this fall, who is most likely to have an instant impact?
I’ll put Jay Tufele at the top of the list because I think he can get in the mix right away for the interior d-line. Stephen Carr, Joseph Lewis and Josh Falo all have the skills to contribute right away on offense but they all face deep depth charts at their respective positions as well.
Your thoughts on the potential position switch for Nico Falah (is it a good thing or cause for concern)?
My initial thought is that either Toa or Nico will need to find another spot than center, so if Nico can take a look at RT that would make sense. Obviously there is the possibility of his back being enough of an issue that it would cause problems but I get the sense the coaches are being precautionary right now with Nico and that he will be fine by the fall.
Garry, I am concerned about the ILB position. It looks like we are extremely thin there with an untested and somewhat injury prone J. Houston manning one spot. Having now lost T. Katoa for the year, it looks like an untested Jordan Iosefa is the primary backup on the inside. Who else is taking reps on the inside? We are an injury away from being depleted at that spot. Who is serving the role of Plan B?
Yes, the reality is beyond Cameron Smith there is a lot of inexperience at the ILB spots. For Houston it’s an incredible opportunity but he will also need to show that he can stay healthy and be a steady contributor. The one thing John offers is increased athleticism in the middle, it’s the physical demands of the position that will be key for him. I still think Iosefa has a bright future so I like him being solidly in that rotation. We’ve seen Olajuwon Tucker moved inside after seeing time at OLB recently, and walk-on Grant Moore has also been taking reps behind Houston.
Garry, based on what you’ve seen from the running backs, do you think S. Carr will redshirt or come in and play right away? FWIW, my first inclination is that he will make an impact right away!
I don’t think there’s any question he’s good enough to play right away, and I think he will. I just don’t know how big the role will be. You’ve got RoJo set as the #1, and I think he can be a lead back capable of 20 carries a week. The remaining touches will be divided between Aca’Cedric Ware, Vavae Malepeai and Carr, with Dominic Davis also in the mix. That’s a really good group and I’m not going to automatically leapfrog Carr ahead of them in the rotation just yet, but I also can’t wait to see how it plays out.
Marlon has been as good or better than advertised, do you think he earns the starting spot at NT by the end of Fall camp?
I think it’s possible. He’s so physically mature for a freshman and the coaches are raving about his football IQ, He’s also going to be competing with a couple seniors in Josh Fatu and Kenny Bigelow so it’s not like it’s a wide-open position, but Marlon is good enough to not rule it out.
Why Pie on offense?
Spring is a good time to take a look at moves like this. To be honest, Pie wasn’t making much noise at corner, so I’ve got no problem taking a look on offense for a few weeks to see if he can have an impact there, unfortunately he’s been hurt and we haven’t been able to see him there much either. In the brief time he lined up on offense, Helton praised his natural routes and pass catching, hopefully that translates into something when healthy.
Garry — I like to think we will win all the PAC games this year but even good Trojan teams in the past have struggled to accomplish that. In your opinion, who’s the bigger trap game for us this year: @ WASH ST on a short week or @ COLORADO in mid-November?
That trip to Pullman on a short week stands out to me, particularly with Mike Leach and an experienced Luke Falk waiting.
Can Fink hold off Sears for 2nd string going into the season?
I think he can. Matt has shown some nice progress this spring, and it’s really been a continuation of the progress he’s made ever since he got here. But part of the reason Fink has separation from Jack right now is that Sears is still so new on the learning curve, let’s see where he’s at by the time fall camp rolls around.