Sunday, August 13, 2006

Depth Chart Breakdown

The South Bend Tribune released the following depth chart coming out of the first week of practice. It is still early, and I am sure that there are still some positions that Coach Weis might change going forward, but this is where we stand after the first week of training camp:

OFFENSE
WIDE RECEIVER

83 Jeff Samardzija 6-5 218 Sr.
11 David Grimes 6-0 168 So.
LEFT TACKLE
74 Sam Young 6-7 292 Fr.
77 Michael Turkovich 6-6 292 So.
LEFT GUARD
50 Dan Santucci 6-4 296 Sr.
55 Eric Olsen 6-4 290 Fr.
CENTER
78 John Sullivan 6-4 290 Sr.
51 Dan Wenger 6-4 285 Fr.
RIGHT GUARD
76 Bob Morton 6-4 298 Sr.
73 Matt Carufel 6-5 288 Fr.
RIGHT TACKLE
79 Brian Mattes 6-6 287 Sr.
72 Paul Duncan 6-7 290 So.
TIGHT END
89 John Carlson 6-6 250 Sr.
87 Marcus Freeman 6-3 245 Sr.
WIDE RECEIVER
5 Rhema McKnight 6-2 212 Sr.
19 George West 5-8 179 Fr.
QUARTERBACK
10 Brady Quinn 6-4 227 Sr.
13 Evan Sharpley 6-2 204 So.
FULLBACK
44 Asaph Schwapp 6-0 250 So.
35 Ashley McConnell6-0 256 Sr.
HALFBACK
3 Darius Walker 5-10 207 Jr.
25 Munir Prince 5-10 175 Fr.

DEFENSE
LEFT END
95 Victor Abiamiri 6-4 270 Sr.
57 D. Stephenson 6-2 248 Sr.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE
98 Trevor Laws 6-1 283 Sr.
91 Travis Leitko 6-7 280 Sr.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE
66 Derek Landri 6-3 277 Sr.
96 Pat Kuntz 6-2 270 So.
RIGHT END
99 Ronald Talley 6-4 262 Jr.
75 Chris Frome 6-5 262 Sr.
WEAKSIDE LINEBACKER
26 Travis Thomas 6-0 209 Sr.
52 Joe Brockington 6-1 220 Sr.
MIDDLE LINEBACKER
40 Maurice Crum 6-0 220 Jr.
49 Toryan Smith 6-0 230 Fr.
STRONGSIDE LINEBACKER
47 Mitchell Thomas 6-3 232 Sr.
54 Anthony Vernaglia 6-3 230 Jr.
LEFT CORNERBACK
22 Ambrose Wooden 5-11 193 Sr.
2 Darrin Walls 6-1 175 Fr.
WEAKSIDE SAFETY
18 Chinedum Ndukwe 6-2 218 Sr.
27 David Bruton 6-2 192 So.
STRONGSIDE SAFETY
9 Tom Zbikowski 6-0 210 Sr.
6 Ray Herring 6-0 189 So.
RIGHT CORNERBACK
30 Mike Richardson 5-11 188 Sr.
20 Terrail Lambert 5-11 188 Jr.

KICKING SPECIALISTS
PLACE-KICKER
45 Carl Gioia 5-11 170 Sr.
39 Ryan Burkhart 5-11 185 Fr.
KICKOFFS
45 Carl Gioia 5-11 170 Sr.
39 Ryan Burkhart 5-11 185 Fr.
PUNTER
17 Geoff Price 6-3 197 Sr.
43 Eric Maust 6-3 180 Fr.
HOLDER
83 Jeff Samardzija 6-5 218 Sr.
13 Evan Sharpley 6-2 204 So.
LONG SNAPPER
61 J.J. Jansen 6-3 242 Jr.
72 Paul Duncan 6-7 290 So.

RETURN SPECIALISTS
KICKOFF RETURNS
11 David Grimes 6-0 168 So.
19 George West 5-8 179 Fr.
PUNT RETURNS
9 Tom Zbikowski 6-0 210 Sr.
19 George West 5-8 179 Fr.

Surprises at the starting positions:

Sam Young is penciled in at LEFT tackle. I am not surprised that Young has played his way into a starting position right out of the gates. I am surprised that Coach Weis has so much confidence in him that he is using him to protect Brady Quinn's blind side against the opposing defense's best pass rushers. This kid must really have impressed this week.

While at this point I am not surprised that Travis Thomas is starting at the weakside linebacker, I must say that I am impressed with how quickly he has been able to pick up the position. He is fast and he is not afraid to hit.

Surprises in the two deep:

George West is in the two deep at receiver. Maybe he impressed in the other days of practice, but I thought his hands were suspect during Wednesday's drills. As I said previously, this guy is shifty and can make people miss with the ball in his hands. However, I think that Richard Jackson has better physical skills for the receiver position. I am NOT surprised to see him penciled in at punt returner and kick returner. He will be fun to watch there.

Darrin Walls and Terrail Lambert passed Raeshon McNeil in the two deep at corner. I thought (from the drill I saw) that McNeil was one of the better corners we had during camp. If the coaching staff has such confidence in Walls and Lambert that McNeil is not in the two deep, we are in good shape at corner.

Disappointments in the starting positions:

Carl Gioia kept his place as starting placekicker. This guy just isn't that good. He's not horrible, but he's no D.J. Fitzpatrick. I really wasn't expecting Burkhart to come in as a true freshman and earn a starting nod, but I am disappointed. Our kicking game will likely be suspect all year. And, as Coach Weis said, if he doesn't have confidence in his kicker, he is far more likely to go for it on fourth down. Now, while I have great confidence in our offense, drives that stall at the opponent's thirty yard line with a turnover on downs are game-shifters. I am not an advocate of punting from inside the 35 like Boob and Ty, but football is often a game of field position, and a turnover on downs like that is a major shift in field position. If we get into another defensive struggle this year (like we did against Michigan last year), this problem has the potential to rob us of a championship.

Disappointments in the two deep:

Richard Jackson did not get a nod ahead of George West. This Jackson kid has gamebreaking speed. When he gets off the line clean, he can burn a cornerback like nobody I can remember since the Rocket.

Zach Frazer did not pass Sharpley on the depth chart. Sharpley understands the offense better, but Frazer has more of the physical tools to not just execute the offense, but excel at it. I think that Sharpley is good enough to not lose games. I think Frazer is good enough to win games.

Cautionary note:

Coach Weis is saying a lot of good things about our defense, but I'm still not sold on either Mitchell Thomas or Vernaglia in the strong side linebacker spot. I hope they prove me wrong, but I expect that Zbikowski will spend a lot of time and energy correcting their mistakes this year.

Some things to be excited about:

Munir Prince. This kid can MOVE. He accelerates all the way through the play, and can be the gamebreaking back that we haven't had in a long time. He needs to juke less and run more, but this kid will surprise some teams this year when he steps in to spell Darius.

Defensive line. This group has the two things that offensive line coaches hate: size and speed. Most of these guys are both bigger and faster than they were last year. Vic Abiamiri looks ready to break out this year, and Trevor Laws can really get penetration quickly. The depth here is actually far better than I expected it to be coming into the year. We are going to need some big time recruits in this year's recruiting class to overcome the depth problems for next year, but right now this will be the strength of the defense.

1 comment:

Domer4Life said...

Yeah. I agree, especially about the D-Line. Don't forget Leitko, of course. That guy is good.
Also, I was listening to Irish Power Hour on my MP3 player, and heard Mike Frank say that for some reason, the three positions that are difficult to recruit for ND are Def Tackle, Running Back, and Corner Back. Because kids from these positions usually have really bad academics, and thus can't pass the academic requirements to get into ND.