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Roundtable Discussion: spring camp recap

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The public-facing part of spring camp came to a close on Saturday evening with the annual spring game. Damien and Casey were roaming the sidelines and manning the press box (not simultaneously) and got a good look at the rag-tag Broncos (the roster will be a bit more "robust" come August). The previous weekend, I watched the Broncos scrimmage from the sidelines, and therefore feel I can intelligently contribute to this conversation even though I was watching a 5 year-old soccer game on Saturday instead of Bronco football. Who won the soccer game, you ask? I'm not sure...but my son did skip aimlessly around the pitch for 20 minutes, so that's improvement. Without further ado, here is the spring recap through the sun-squinting eyes of the OBNUG staff.

Damien

Who was the breakout star of spring ball?

Sean Wale. Dude had some great punts at the game. His one coffin kick at the two, that did not bounce in the endzone, was a work of art. He’ll be able to get the Broncos out of some jams. Now hopefully they won’t have to use him often (read: at all). Runner up: Gabe Perez’s man-bun. Twas a thing of beauty. Second runner up: Jeff Pitman. Are we sure he doesn’t have some eligibility left somewhere?

Which player benefited most from absence of some of the spring hold-outs?

Sean Modster. Getting two touchdowns and showing that he is going to be a nice option was refreshing. Runner up: Darreon Jackson. Chanceller James wasn’t a "hold-out" per se, but Jackson getting more reps at safety was a good thing.

What was the biggest storyline to come out of spring camp?

Probably will be: why Chanceller James was not at the spring game, or why Drew Berger has left the program. What it should be: controversial defensive time out that wasn’t taken at the end of the spring game. They got jobbed!!!

Which defensive player made the biggest strides?

Darren Lee. I hope he is able to get a lot of reps next season. After they rename the hammer after him, he will probably assume his final form: a giant hammer.

Which offensive player made the biggest strides?

Alec Dhaenens. Heard his name a lot at the spring game and sounds like he should be making some moves. I don’t remember the number of targets he did have, but he did catch two for 39 yards total and a long of 26. The dream of an offensive play with nothing but tight ends on the field is coming together nicely.

Did spring camp leave you feeling more optimistic about 2016 or less?

More. The offense is going to be fine, as we all expected, but the defense and all that was lost last year can be questionable. They were able to do some good things against the offense.

Casey

Who was the breakout star of spring ball?

I'd say Sean Modster. He had two TDs in the game, basically coming out of nowhere. He is definitely feeling more comfortable and asserting himself on the field. Frazier and Perez were talked about A LOT, so I expect big things from them. They have big shoes to fill, but based on what I'm hearing, the shoes will fit just fine.

Which player benefited most from absence of some of the spring hold-outs?

Devan Demas. He had some solid runs in the game, one for a touchdown. While McNichols was not held out, he didn't play much, and i appreciate the coaches thinking of me for that. As a side note here, Jake Shaddox, while a walk-on who probably won't play much during games, made a solid contribution.

What was the biggest storyline to come out of spring camp?

Damien's points were great, and I agree with both of them. I'll say, though, the story will be the play of the lines. I feel like the OL stepped up a lot after a semi-disappointing 2015. (Disappointing in that we expected them to be the highlight for the team and they weren't quite that.) The DL will probably be the bigger question simply to see if we can replace who we lost.We have solid talent coming back and some young guys looking to step up. Will they?

Which defensive player made the biggest strides?

Austin Silsby. Kid had two sacks in the game and was just a problem to deal with. I felt like Ray Ford had a solid game, but wasn't mentioned hardly at all. He had a few key pass breakups on some long plays that could have gone the distance. He didn't try and intercept, he just batted the ball down. The young guys in the secondary played very physical (Tyler and Jackson), so I am very much looking forward to seeing what they can do this year.

Which offensive player made the biggest strides?

I mentioned Modster earlier, but he made great strides. Also mentioned Demas. Young had a solid game as well. Richardson got a lot of looks. Pistone, Knight and Dhaenens all got in on the action at TE. We have weapons on offense. Sperbeck and Anderson are known guys, so is McNichols. Last season, though, there weren't a lot behind them. What I'm seeing is young guys stepping up, taking the bull by the horns, and making plays. The offense should have a lot of targets to go to this fall.

Did spring camp leave you feeling more optimistic about 2016 or less?

I like to keep a healthy level of optimism as well as realism. I think I have the same level as last year. I feel more excited about 2016 though. As far as winning the conference or bowl, my brain hasn't gone there yet. I feel like I'll have a better idea of how this team will perform when the freshman get on campus, but I think this team will be fun to watch this year.

Drew

Who was the breakout star of spring ball?

From my standpoint—and I'm a healthy 5'8", so I see a lot, unless someone steps in front of me—the breakout star of Spring ball was STUD Jabril Frazier. Coaches liked to drop his name throughout camp and offensive tackles did their best to keep him at arms' length. I know I'm going to put a TON of undue pressure on the RS sophomore, but I saw flashes in Frazier that echoed what I saw from then-sophomore Kamalei Correa in 2014 Fall Camp. He should be in the backfield a lot this year (and not because he forgot where to line up).

Which player benefited most from absence of some of the spring hold-outs?

Joe Martarano and Leighton Vander Esch both got a ton of playing time this spring because of Ben Weaver's limited action and Tanner Vallejo sliding to nickel—a spot he may or may not stay in this Fall. Both LBs are more in the Colt Brooks/Aaron Tevis mold, bodywise...and I think both could be rather disruptive come Fall. Furthermore, Martarano has vowed to give football his sole focus this summer, rather than chasing his baseball dream, and Vander Esch is up to a not-so-giraffe-like 240 lbs. Point these two at the triple option.

What was the biggest storyline to come out of spring camp?

Speaking of triple-option...
To me, the biggest storyline to come out of camp was the fact that new-DC Andy Avalos admitted that the team is working on defending the triple-option...in March and April. This is a pretty big admission that, a) the triple-option HAS been a problem for this Bronco defense, and b) we'd like for that to not continue. Bob Davie and Troy Calhoun are the last guys I thought would be "in our heads", but Avalos is taking the correct stand here: tear it off like a band-aid now or suffer the consequences in the fall.

Which defensive player made the biggest strides?

Frazier got some good pub, but I think an underrated choice here might be DT David Moa. He's not a brickhouse like Armand Nance or Mike Atkinson, but he's got some solid athleticism and versatility. With the unfortunate dismissal of Dereck Boles, we need someone to step up and I think Moa is a great candidate there. Fall camp will bring a bevy of true freshman suitors for the interior two-deep as well, thankfully.

Which offensive player made the biggest strides?

WR Cedrick Wilson seems to have caught on quickly to the Broncos' scheme and will likely be a top target for Brett Rypien in 2016. Coaches praised Wilson's play and the fact that he's put weight on his lanky frame so quickly. On a related note; if gaining weight is praiseworthy, I'm expecting some sort of plaque this winter.

Did spring camp leave you feeling more optimistic about 2016 or less?

Hope always springs eternal in Bronco Nation, but I'm heartened by the play of the defensive secondary and defensive line this spring. Both units looked like they took painful hits to graduation, but both units performed admirably during camp—finding hidden playmakers and depth. The fact that Brett Rypien has continued his progression has to lend a lot of credibility to the Bronco offense too, especially since the Broncos have found some more playmakers at WR and TE to step up.

Your turn

How would you have answered these burning spring camp questions? Will we be rebuilding this fall or reloading? What flavor of Blizzard did you consume after the game?