The Spring Game scrimmage is right around the corner and is being played on Saturday afternoon at North Hills High School’s Martorelli’s Stadium. There are a lot of questions unanswered, some questions answered they way we don’t necessarily want them to be and a lot of concern about our 2012 season under a new coaching staff.
After attending a practice, reading everything I can get my hands on, watching all the interviews and having some conversations with people in the program, here are the questions that I’m most looking forward to seeing answered out on the field Saturday.
Can Sunseri carry practice success onto the field against competition? We all know by now that Tino Sunseri is going to be the starting QB on Sept. 1st unless something drastic happens. Mark Myers didn’t rise to the challenge and Trey Anderson, while a good passer, isn’t going to overtake our incumbent QB starter. I want to see if what we are seeing and hearing about Sunseri’s calm demeanor and accurate deep throws in practice can translate into completions at game speed.
What will Mark Myers do when the spotlight is turned on for more than a play or two? If Sunseri has a rep of being a practice star then can’t the opposite happen and someone who has struggled in practice play well when there is less thinking and more doing? Myers has struggled with the short/intermediate passing game. I watched this happen in practice and I’ll be watching Saturday to see if that is still an albatross around his neck. If it isn’t then new life may be breathed into the competition for the fall.
Which WRs after Street and Shanahan are going to step up? Saddler has really been the highlight reel of practice so far so he’ll be the #3 guy I think. The format for the scrimmage is ones vs. ones and twos vs. twos so we should get a decent look at players like Jones, Brinson, Jackson, Salath Williams, Tinker, Ifill and Felder to see how well they can produce when the heat is on. I will especially be looking for Felder as I have heard really good things about his speed and ability. Keep an eye on Josh Brinson also, he’s been getting a lot of reps in practice.
Which brings us to this question – is Carswell a TE or a WR? He’s been playing, and doing well at WR in these latter practices. We have two established TEs ready in Graham and Carozzoni returning from 2011. Chryst and Rudolph love the TE position as an actual tool in moving the ball downfield. This position may get a lot of chances to do that this season so will a solid #3 TE be needed? Who knows where Gonzalez will end up after this camp but he won’t be at QB. Will we see Carswell split out more and getting passes thrown his way?
Who will be the third RB coming out of spring camp, Davis or Crockett? Saturday we’ll see a lot of Isaac Bennett of course since he’s the firm #2 RB. But we know injuries happen to RBs all the time and that we could easily have to dig down to #3 to help carry the load. This may be a moot point with Shell coming in but as much as we want to believe, he isn’t a lock to contribute and produce this season. So I’d like to see both the returning back up kids get a lot of carries this weekend.
Watch how well Mark Giubilato plays at FB. He’s not the crusher Hynoski was but he was getting the blocking done in practice plus he’s been effective as an offensive weapon in his wheel routes and receiving out of the backfield.
Is Ray Vinopal for real? As of today he’d probably start at one of the Safety positions. The PITT fans wanted a big hitter back there and they got him in this kid. He’s one of those players who has a ‘nose’ for the ball and is always around the crucial point. Chryst and Huxtable were recruiting him for Wisconsin before he chose Michigan so not only were they familiar with him they pretty much knew what he could do on the field. He may be the topic of a lot of conversations this fall.
Can Dan Mason really get back to form? Yes, he’s been running and jumping and hitting RBs out there. I’m not too worried about his straight ahead play in that regard. I want to see how well he does in pass coverage at game speed and whether he can backpedal and cut as a MLB needs to do. I wonder if our hearts aren’t getting in over our heads with this kid. Getting back on the field and playing is one thing, excelling at MLB is quite another. Let’s see if our fears are founded or not.
Just how fat is K. K. Mosley-Smith? He’s big folks and not in a good way. He was relegated to 2nd string because of his conditioning early on and that’s something we really can’t afford to have happen. Which squad he runs with on Saturday will tell us if he’s gotten back in to the good graces of Huxtable and the Big Kahuna.
Is Bryan Murphy the beast we all think he is? Yes. Wait until you see him with your own eyes. IMO he’ll be the 2013 defensive star for us – along with Aaron Donald of course, but Murphy has the talent to be an AA before the season ends.
Are we set at DB? K’Waun Williams is out of spring camp but he’ll be there in the fall. The question is how well do the other kids mesh as a unit? You have senior leadership in Holley and Tags with a returning lettermen in Hendricks. So, how about the new kids back there? Keep an eye on Lafayette Pitts as he’s played very well so far and is pushing for a starting job. The same holds with Cullen Christian. This is a deep unit but I think we’ll see some not so familiar faces getting the most reps in summer camp if they produce in this scrimmage.
How are the Center-QB exchanges? This may sound trivial but we have to remember that Ryan Turnley, as well as he played last season in the shotgun, will be doing something new and different in having the QB under center this year. Over the last two practices there were some fumbles for just this reason and nothing kills a drive faster than a botched snap.
Finally… will Tino Sunseri be booed after his first incompletion? Odds are that he won’t unless it is on a deep post pattern. Then we’ll see a lot of food stuffs being throw on the field in protest. Hopefully it will have been bought here to keep it in the family.
Hope to see all of you guys there. We’ll be tailgating in one of the Park-n-Ride lots. I’m a real tall guy with brown hair with a DW type mustache and I’ll be with a guy who has dreadlocks down to his ass. Beer’s on me.