We have talent, but it’s concentrated in certain places, while we lack talent in certain areas.
QB, behind King was badly mismanaged. Herman brought in one QB who retired after one season of not playing. He then brought in a transfer that is currently 4-0 in the NFL only to leave and put him in the hands of a coach who didn’t run a system to utilize his talents (man, could you imagine Allen in the Briles offense? That might have been fun to watch). After losing him, Applewhite brought in a grad transfer to compete with King the following season, but allowed him to redshirt in order to transfer, allowed a true freshman to get murdered in a bowl game while wasting his redshirt, and took another athletically talented kid, who he basically begged to not go to UT because he wanted him to be a QB…and promptly made him a WR that only played QB in gimmick plays. This also doesn’t say anything about the fact that King was brought here to play QB…only to spend his 1st year playing WR/RB and getting hurt because of it, missing the beginning of his 2nd season and a chance at being the QB from the beginning as a sophomore because of that injury even though the coaches loved him, before getting his shot and then sitting out his senior year after 4 games and being on his 4th OC. The position has been badly mismanaged for years and I actually commend CDH for trying to get another year out of King and Tune and trying to get the position stabilized.
WR has lacked any sort of development for a long while now. Drops have plagued us for going on 3 years now, guys can’t run proper routes or get separation, and so many passes go uncaught because of it. Stevenson is the only one we can count on, but even he can only do so much. Sad thing is that this is the deepest and most talented (according to rankings) part of the team. Probably shouldn’t have had a former QB who had no idea how to be a WR and working on his 1st position coach job coaching these guys for two years. Carrier has his work cut out for him getting these guys to unlearn bad habits and figure things out. By the way, didn’t see Lark out there today.
OL wasn’t taken care of at all under Applewhite and Herman leaving killed that first Applewhite class. 2 OL coaches in 2 years, playing guys in garbage time that hadn’t redshirted as freshmen, not really focusing recruiting efforts on the position even though we were behind after Herman left…to have decent success, you need a solid line; we are far from that. I’ll give credit to Josh Jones though…guy is a stud…just need 4 other guys that can play consistently.
LB, like WR, was another position mismanaged badly under the previous two coaches. Our depth chart at ILB was a grad transfer, who got hurt, and a couple of walk-ons (Again, Herman ignored recruiting LBs). No offense to the two walk-ons, but why a guy like Parrish didn’t see more time at the position is confounding, especially when he performed well when he did see the field in garbage time. Maybe it’s due to having another first time position coach trying to spin some of those guys up. Still, we recruited a bunch of 3-4 rush LBs which have had to move to the DL in the new 4-2-5 set. But, then we also wasted a redshirt year on guys like Kirven who now sits as a sophomore instead of a redshirt freshman even though he wasn’t playing all the time.
And then there’s DB which was neglected under Herman and Applewhite. After the famed Jackboyz, Herman sort of ran off Howard Wilson when Herman left, didn’t develop Jeremy Winchester at all, and recruited a total of 2 2* CBs to the program. Applewhite followed that up by recruiting a total of 2 more CBs to the program, 1 left before his 1st year was up and the other got hurt and hasn’t really seen the field since. We started a converted WR and a walk-on for two years (granted, they are both on NFL rosters now) and are now starting a JUCO CB recruited by the current regime and a transfer safety that transferred under the current staff because on eod those 2*’s that Herman recruited was completely lost out there while the other is constantly injured. Those two never come off the field because we have zero depth behind them basically. Herman screwed us at safety as the highly ranked safeties he recruited all chose elsewhere when he bailed. Applewhite did a good job patching up the position and got some talented guys in there (Anderson, Sprewell, Vaughn).
So basically, we’re good at RB and DL and our special teams positions.
That’s tough to fix in year one. Yes, there’s talent on this team, but how do you fix having your starting nickel back not being able to cover or a converted safety as one of your starting CBs? How do you fix 2 or 3 of your OL being inconsistent every game? How do you fix WRs that have talent, but can’t run routes or make catches consistently outside of one guy? How do you fix a LB corp, that was already short on experience, getting decimated by injuries? How do you fix your backup QB situation when you’re choices are a kid who should be a redshirt frehsman, a true freshman, and a kid with amazing athletic talent, but got stuck in the WR room which was a waste considering the lack of coaching he received at that position for two years. There are a bunch of fatal flaws on this team that are constantly exposed every game this season that the coaching staff did not inflict on itself.
However, I will say that there are some troubling things so far with CDH and staff. The clock management issues so far are troubling as today wasn’t the only time we’ve had issues. Conditioning, especially during the Tulane game, has been worrisome (Been a problem since the IPF opened). Guys aren’t playing that probably should (Chambers especially). Discipline has been an issue at times…both on and off the field apparently. There have also been things stated, most notably the grad transfer quip, that haven’t been practiced (we ended up bringing a few grad transfers…one who then caused problems). We’ve recruited 8 guys for next year’s class which seems abnormally low right now. I know we were limited in slots, but I figured we’d be at least in double figures by now. These are issues that bare watching as they could cause more fatal flaws down the line,
But, I’m not going to kill him about redshirting guys this season. He’s right, we need to build this program and it isn’t going to do us any good if we’re 6-6 or 7-5 next season because we’re starting a whole bunch of young kids on offense. Punting on this year and loading up for next season is the smart move…if it works out. If we get back to 10+ wins and a conference championship game, it’ll all be worth it. If not, yikes. Still, good on him for using the system and getting kids (so far) to buy into this.
Should we make a bowl game this season…yep. Will we…I don’t know. If we don’t, barring significant injuries, that’s a failure in my book, even with the flaws on this team.
Still, I believe in the process right now because that’s all I can do at this point.