Spring Primer: Big 12 Pt 2
Replacing Von Miller is just one of many big questions in the Big 12 this spring.
By: Braden Gall | 3/15/11, 3:12 PM EDT
-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden)
1. This offense has a chance to be special if two things can happen in 2011. The Bears can find a replacement for Jay Finley and Art Briles can keep Robert Griffin healthy. Finley's skill will be missed, but there are some talented options returning in the form of Terrance Ganaway and Jarred Salubi. With a solid offensive line and loads of talent ready to catch passes, keeping Griffin out of the infirmary might be the biggest concern on offense. Briles better have a large stack of red No. 10's ready to go. Filling Danny Watkins' shoes on Griffin's blindside will be imperative to keeping RGIII upright.
1. Paul Rhoads was one overtime point against Nebraska away from two straight bowl games at Iowa State. Once, he did it with loads of senior leadership on defense, and then he almost did it again with senior explosiveness on offense. Filling massive voids at quarterback, running back, tight end, receiver and a couple of offensive line spots will be tough to do. The signal caller will be the key. Jerome Tiller and incoming junior college trasnfer Steele Jantz look to be the favorites early on. Sophomore tailback Shontrelle Robinson will look to build on his 6.2 yards-per-carry average from a year ago.
2. Tight ends do not technically count towards offensive line "returning starters" but losing Collin Franklin, as well as blockers Alex Alvarez and Ben Lamaak, means the front line needs to be addressed. It won't matter how talented the Robinsons and Tillers of the world are if there are no running lanes or time to throw. Rhoads does have three solid players returning on the line, so finding a threat at the tight end position would help the development of all of the offensive skill players.
2. A really easy way to help whoever plays quarterback will be finding a consistent running game. Jamaal Charles, who isn't the typical between-the-tackles back, has been the only productive running back to wear Burnt Orange since Cedric Benson. There are loads of names on the roster, but Brown has to find a consistent performer. However, names like Shead, Johnson, Whittaker and Monroe could all be simply keeping the seat warm until freshman star Malcolm Brown shows up this summer. Of course, running the football is much easier when the offensive line is actually blocking defenders. Finding suitable replacement for Michael Huey, Kyle Hix and Britt Mitchell (and their combined 30-plus starts from a year ago) will be extremely important. Luckily for Horns fans, they got some good players down on the 40 Acres.
2. Dramatic shift in offensive scheme or not, running the football has always been a big part of Tuberville's coaching strategy. Tech was ninth in the Big 12 and 75th nationally — which was actually a dramatic improvement over the 115's and 94's of the Leach era, but probably not where Tuberville wants it. Additionally, gone is leading rusher Baron Batch. Eric Stephens and Aaron Crawford lead a deep running back corps that will play behind an offensive line that returns largely intact. Keep an eye on true freshman Ronnie Daniels, whose big frame offers a different style to the backfield — at both running back and wildcat QB. A great ground attack would make breaking in a new man under center much easier.
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