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A few weeks ago I put forth my predictions of who will be filling the shoes of departing seniors on the roster. This week's write up will discuss who will be key contributors to the team this year. The persons of interest should not come as a shock to anyone.
We lost some guys, no need to beat a dead horse here, but I have some ideas of who we will lean on in the upcoming season. What is also interesting to see this next season, is how our offense will shake out after our playbook is gutted. I can see where the coaching staff is coming from, it happens in alot of facets of life, it could be the same thing in business, family life, religious meetings, school work etc. Sometimes we just keep adding things for the sake of adding them, and then we realize that we need to lighten the load a little bit. Hopefully the playbook lost some of the runs up the middle out of various formations. That seemed to be a play that dominated some games. How many times can we call 20 midline, 22 zone, 22 lead, and 23 counter in one game? Okay, enough of my soap box. With the changes of the offense, who can we expect to be our producer, week in and week out?
Sr Quarterback Joe Southwick. Some may disagree with this because his name isn't Kellen Moore. Lets look at the obvious. Southwick had some growing pains this year as he started on the road in a tough environment, faced a tough BYU defense a few weeks later, and had some head scratching play calling courtesy of Coach Prince this year. But, Southwick clearly progressed the 2nd half of the season, and finished the season very strong. Remember, its not where you start, but where you finish. UW brought a tough physical defense to the Vegas Bowl and Southwick responded with what I thought was his best game all year, by far.
Jr. Wide receiver Matt Miller. He has been a staple on the outside the last two years. This year Miller did have a few drops, but I am not too worried about his production this coming year. In most offenses, Miller would be a 9 catches for a touch under or over 100 yards each game, but in an offense that spreads the ball to numerous people, Miller doesn't have eye popping stats, but that does not diminish his effect on a game or his ability to shield defenders on a 3rd and 6 slant route.
So Tight End Holden Huff. He came on late, due to the fact we have 17 tight ends that get time and contribute in their own way. But Huff has proven that he can get open and catch passes. If Huff gets a bit more size he could develop in to an all conference tight end.
So Running Back Jack Fields. The anticipation is very high for this young man from El Paso, TX. With Harper gone, I see Fields splitting time with Jay Ajayi who will make great contributions in the backfield. The one thing that Ajayi didn't have last year was break away speed. Enter Jack Fields. He could be the guy who hits level two then is handing the ball to the official in the end zone.
The Winner is: Joe Southwick. It all starts with our signal caller. Now that he has one year of experience under him, especially against some good defenses, he will have the experience to read defenses and make good throws.
Jr. Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence. If we can keep him out of the doghouse, he can be a game changer. His speed and tenacity are noticeable, and he proves a tough match up for offensive tackles.
Jr. Linebacker Blake Renaud. He has starred in special teams and has gotten great time in the rotation of linebackers. Renaud is very physical and can be a huge run stopper in the middle, which is good considering we play three option teams this year.
Jr. Safety Jeremy Ioane. He showed great improvements this year. It is clear that he has a much better understanding of the defense and the complex schemes.
The winner is: Jeremy Ioane. I like what he has done. He got his feet wet his freshman year, he made some mistakes, and came to play as a sophomore and reduced those mistakes. He continues to make some mistakes, but he has improved dramatically and I am excited to see what 2013 brings for hims.
Who are your guys that we can lean on? Leave them in the comments.