There's no question that the rumor mill is alive and well coming out of Fort Schembechler right now with spring ball in full-swing. We're hearing a lot of interesting tidbits, so let's dive right in. First, the offense.
|Tony Ding, AP|
There seems to be little change in how Denard will be handled in the Al Borges offense - year two. Denard is Denard, and no one seems to want to change anything about how he plays the QB position. There's no doubt he'll spend his senior season doing what he does best. If he's getting looks at WR, they must be doing a good job keeping it a secret, because we're not hearing anything.
Devin Gardner is splitting time at practice between taking snaps at the backup QB spot, and also at WR. Word on the street is that he's looking as good as anyone they have catching the ball right now. I can't say he's going to be seeing any extended time in games at the receiver spot, but it seems as if the coaches want to at least explore this option in the spring and he how he looks. It will be really interesting to see how much they show us at the spring game.
Third-string QB Russell Bellomy has been looking solid. He must be, otherwise the coaches would not be so willing to test Gardner at WR. To be so haphazard with your backup QB is foolish unless you have a decent and competent third-stringer. And from what we're hearing, Bellomy is just that.
The areas of concern, center and left guard, are looking a little clearer. Ricky Barnum is said to be looking good at center. His snaps are good and clean. But as we all know from watching Molk the last two seasons, the center does much more than just snap the ball. It will be interesting to see how Barnum is able to lead the OL. Also getting a look at center is Jack Miller.
Holding down the other question mark on the OL is senior Elliot Mealer at the left guard spot. Behind him...walk-on Graham Glasgow! Word is he's solid. At right guard is Patrick Omameh, no surprise there. And the tackles are on lock down with Lewan and Schofield at left and right, respectively.
All that said, I still think incoming freshman Kyle Kalis competes for a starting gig somehow. Probably at a guard spot. Maybe not for the opener, but at some point.
Fitz is the obvious favorite right now at RB as the returning starter. Backing him up, however, it's a little less obvious. There's no doubt Vincent Smith is still very much in the mix, but his size is a huge limitation. The coaches have made it clear that they need/want bruisers at RB. Smith will be relegated to a third down option, or maybe a slot in some four or five-wide looks. Smith can catch and run with the ball, so he's dangerous in that regard.
Red-shirt freshman Justice Hayes has been said to have gotten bigger, and he's getting some looks this spring. As is Thomas Rawls at FB. There's also some hype for incoming freshman Dennis Norfleet, but he doesn't enroll until the fall.
Roundtree is moving to flanker, as we all know. He and Gallon will be vital to the success of this offense in 2012. Getting some attention this spring is sophomore Jerald Robinson, who has had some nice catches in scrimmages. I also like what Dileo adds to this offense, but guys his size are not what what we really need.
It seems as if this position is maybe the biggest area of concern on offense. Is Gardner the answer? Can incoming freshman Amara Darboh compete? There's a lot we just don't know right now.
Another trouble spot for the offense, no question. Senior Brandon Moore has been said to be doing well, but he's got a ways to go. Ricardo Miller is also in the mix, but is said to be struggling a bit. Moore is a better blocker than catcher, and Miller is struggling getting used to having his hand down.
I think a freshman is going to have to step up and make a splash. We'll see what newcomer Devin Fuchess can do when he steps on campus this summer.
We'll post some defensive rumors shortly.