The Dawgs have some holes to fill on the offensive side of the ball. Officially the Dawgs have six returning starters from last year, but many of the players expected to start saw significant playing time or started a couple games last year. So here’s a list of the position battles to watch, and they’re happening in almost every position group:
While Hudson Mason is basically guaranteed the starting job, the rest of the pecking order is far from being decided. This year’s backup will almost certainly be the favorite going into next year to start, and could very well end up filling in as the starter this year, if anything happens to Mason. Currently, the Dawgs have three other quarterbacks on the roster -- Brice Ramsey (RFr), Faton Bauta (rSo), and Jacob Park (Fr).
Faton Bauta may be the favorite as he surprised everyone during the G-Day game with his mobility and poise. He took the vast majority of the snaps for the Black squad. And the difference in playing time playing time alone has to mean that he’s currently the number two guy. During the game, he completed 16 of his 28 passes for 232 yards. He also threw two touchdowns to his one pick, and ran for 35 yards on 6 attempts. Not bad for the underestimated three star recruit from West Palm Beach.
The highly touted Brice Ramsey looked like...well a freshman during the G-Day game. He took snaps for both the Red and the Black teams, and went 2/13 for 78 yards. It might have just been the nerves, and I could be off, but it looks like he’ll be the third string guy this year. He could make a push during fall camp since he's got the talent, but there's some serious ground to make up.
True Freshman Jacob Park saw minimal playing time during the G-Day game, and he will most likely redshirt. He completed two of his five passes for 27 yards.
The Dawgs usually have two tight ends that see playing solid time. Arthur Lynch is gone, and while Jay Rome (Jr) is expected to play, there is still a need for another TE. Junior Quayvon Hicks, who was a full back last year, is now listed as an H-back (a newly created position is said to be a hybrid position that would include stints as full back and tight end), which means that he should see a good bit of playing time as a blocker.
Jeb Blazevich (codename: Blaze) was rated by most as the number one tight end in this year’s recruiting class, and will immediately compete for solid playing time. Blaze is a monstrous 6-5 and 240 pounds, and could very well be the next great tight end that wears silver britches. I’m so excited about this kid that I squealed like a girl that just saw Robert Patterson when I saw his tape.
The Dawgs are deep at the tight end position, which means that we could see other make a push. Currently on the roster: Jordan Davis (RFr), Jack Loonam (Jr), Jared Chapple (RSo), Aulden Bynum (RFr), and there’s another monster freshman coming in, Hunter Atkinson (6-5; 250).
Only two spots seemed to be solidified on the line with John Theus (Jr) taking on the blind side at left tackle, and David Andrews (Sr) playing center. That leaves the right side of the line up for grabs, along with the left guard.
Kolton Houston (Sr) has been getting snaps at both right tackle and left guard. It looked like he had the right tackle position in his hands before Coach Will Friend moved him to left guard. Houston will be starting, the only question is where.
Greg Pyke (RSo) looks to be the early favorite for the right guard position, as he has seen the most time with the first string. If Pyke is declared the starter, then there’s only one other spot to fill on the line; either the left guard position or the right tackle. And currently it is near impossible to guess who could be filling in the opening, or if anyone would beat out Pyke. There is currently eleven offensive linemen on the roster and three incoming freshmen that could all compete for the final spots on the line.
Good God Almighty. The Dawgs are deep at the receiver position, as well as talented and experienced. There will be a solid rotation of receivers during the games, but it’ll be interesting to see who gets the nod as a starter. At Split End, there’s Justin Scott-Wesley (Jr) and Michael Bennett (Sr) and both of them have proven themselves as very reliable targets. At Flanker, Malcolm Mitchell (Jr.) should be back to his former self, and Chris Conley (Sr.) has more than proven himself as great receiver.
There’s also a nice group of younger and less experienced group of receivers. Reggie Davis (So) and Clay Johnson (RSo) are solid flankers, and both performed wonderfully during the G-Day game. Uriah LeMay (RFr) Kenneth Towns (RSo) have both proven themselves as solid options as split ends.
I wouldn’t expect the incoming freshmen to compete this year for playing time, just because of the talent and depth ahead of them. But we have Isiah McKenzie, who’s another American Heritage kid, coming in, along with Gilbert Johnson and Shakenneth Williams.
There’s not much of a competition expected here. Todd Gurley II is going to be the starter, obviously, and Keith Marshall should be the second guy. I fully expect a full reemergence of Gurshall. It’ll be interesting to see if Nick Chubb and Sony Michel (American Heritage) can see some playing time, or maybe even push Marshall as the second guy. If the freshmen redshirt, then expect some hard nose running from one of my favorite Dawgs, Brendan Douglas.
Even during last year’s injury ridden season, the Dawgs’ offense finished with the 17th in the NCAA in Total Offense, and 21st in Scoring Offense. So even though there’s several positions to fill, Dawg Nation shouldn’t worry much about offensive production. Worse case… the offensive playbook goes down to three plays: Gurly Right, Gurly Middle, and Gurly Left.