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Spring Storylines: What to watch for

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Posted: 2/21/2013 8:13 PM

Spring Storylines: What to watch for 


Five key storylines to follow as Northwestern gets set for its spring practice. http://northwestern.scout.com/2/1268602.html
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Posted: 2/21/2013 9:00 PM

Re: Spring Storylines: What to watch for 


Not really sure to start with this one Chris...

1) Matt Frazier is a guard who has never taken a snap at tackle in his NU career.

2) CJ Robbins is a defensive tackle that has never taken a snap at defensive end in his NU career.

3) How does Dean Lowry not even get a mention when it comes to D-line depth?

4) How can DJ Jones not even get a mention after starting the second half of the season opposite VanHoose (and playing pretty darn well at that)?
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Posted: 2/22/2013 12:58 AM

Re: Spring Storylines: What to watch for 


1) We have played the best 5 offensive linemen for years now. We played 2 tackles(Porcelli and Dieters) at guard last season. We played an entire season with Desmond Taylor(6-3 285lb) at tackle. It certainly isn't far fetched to think that we can end up with either Frazier or Mogus at Tackle even though their natural position is guard.
I haven't even seen poor Mertz in fricken shoulder pads in 2 seasons. The kid probably won't be ready to start even if healthy unless you believe you get better by sitting.

2) Certainly not impossible that Robbins sees time at DE since I think we are deeper at DT. We have Lowry, Scott and Gibson at DE. Odenigbo was hurt, again hard to get better or stronger when you have shoulder surgery. Doubt he will even play in the spring. Chapman hasn't played even though he has been healthy compared to Robbins. Somebody said he was moved to DT although I don't believe it.

At tackle we have Sean Mc, Hampton, Kuhar, Mahoney, Chance Carter, Robbins, Possibly Chapman and have 2 incoming frosh who will probably be inside players. Good chance a true DT or 2 will be playing DE even if only to give a breather during practice.
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Posted: 2/22/2013 1:07 AM

Re: Spring Storylines: What to watch for 



gocatsgo2003 wrote: Not really sure to start with this one Chris...

1) Matt Frazier is a guard who has never taken a snap at tackle in his NU career.

2) CJ Robbins is a defensive tackle that has never taken a snap at defensive end in his NU career.

3) How does Dean Lowry not even get a mention when it comes to D-line depth?

4) How can DJ Jones not even get a mention after starting the second half of the season opposite VanHoose (and playing pretty darn well at that)?
This wasn't meant to map out the position battles. If you read the position capsules, you got a glimpse at that. This feature outlines some of the specific players to watch out for in the spring. We know what to expect of a Daniel Jones, for example, but haven't seen any Dwight White or Jarrell Williams. Also, we know Dean Lowry is good, but haven't gotten a full sampling of Deonte Gibson or Ifeadi Odenigbo.
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Posted: 2/22/2013 8:31 AM

Re: Spring Storylines: What to watch for 



mikero2 wrote: 1) We have played the best 5 offensive linemen for years now. We played 2 tackles(Porcelli and Dieters) at guard last season. We played an entire season with Desmond Taylor(6-3 285lb) at tackle. It certainly isn't far fetched to think that we can end up with either Frazier or Mogus at Tackle even though their natural position is guard.
I haven't even seen poor Mertz in fricken shoulder pads in 2 seasons. The kid probably won't be ready to start even if healthy unless you believe you get better by sitting.

2) Certainly not impossible that Robbins sees time at DE since I think we are deeper at DT. We have Lowry, Scott and Gibson at DE. Odenigbo was hurt, again hard to get better or stronger when you have shoulder surgery. Doubt he will even play in the spring. Chapman hasn't played even though he has been healthy compared to Robbins. Somebody said he was moved to DT although I don't believe it.

At tackle we have Sean Mc, Hampton, Kuhar, Mahoney, Chance Carter, Robbins, Possibly Chapman and have 2 incoming frosh who will probably be inside players. Good chance a true DT or 2 will be playing DE even if only to give a breather during practice.
I would actually argue that (i) Porcelli and Deiters were more suited to play guard from an athletic perspective (despite their height) and (ii) Taylor played tackle mostly out of necessity, but I digress.

While I agree with you that our depth at DE appears a bit short, the coaches seem to be a bit more worried about DT... which is odd to me.  Quite frankly, I just don't think Robbins has what it takes athletically to play at DE for extended periods.  We badly need to bring in more DEs in the next few classes (2-3 in each class).

The one who said Chapman had moved to DT was me... and that's the position from which he made his play for a safety against Illinois.  That could very well have just been Coach Long's attempt to get all of his guys on the field toward the end of a game, but I'm not so sure.
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Posted: 2/22/2013 11:32 PM

Re: Spring Storylines: What to watch for 


Some comments:

1) Kain Colter is a tremendous athletic talent, but it remains to be seen whether he is our best option at QB (no pun intended). We will never realize our full potential as an offense, until either Kain can demonstrate he has more of a passing game than the occasional dinks to make him an all around threat and become a distributor to ALL of the talent on our offense, OR Trevor Siemian develops and can become that distributor to get our entire offense engaged. Until then, we may have a serviceable offense, but we will never be all that we could be. I think the most likely scenario is that Trevor Siemian develops and ends up taking 80% of the snaps, with Colter playing Wildcat and WR, which is the position he is destined for if he has any hope of playing in the League, and where I think he can actually help us the most (at least on offense - I was always intrigued by comments made that when fooling around at practice, he looked like the most comfortable and natural cornerback on the team). Of course if Colter magically develops as a senior as Mike Kafka did, then we should be preparing the Colter Strong campaign this summer.

2) Mark was dinged a little bit, but I'd hardly call him fragile. He has been one of our more durable backs we have seen since Noah Herron and Jason Wright. I think Trumpy and Green will be passed, purely on the basis of talent, by Buckley and Jones. I already know what Trumpy and Green bring. Buckley and Jones are more intriguing to me, if only because there is great hope in the unknown.

3) I'm also perplexed by the omissions of both Lowry and Jones, both of whom are the best bets to start at DE and CB respectively opposite of Scott and Van Hoose, and not sure your explanations for their omission are compelling. I think Jones easily has the inside track to continue to start, though I agree it will be interesting to see what the redshirt frosh and even the true frosh coming in can do.
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Posted: 2/23/2013 11:39 AM

Re: Spring Storylines: What to watch for 



EvanstonCat wrote: Some comments:

1) Kain Colter is a tremendous athletic talent, but it remains to be seen whether he is our best option at QB (no pun intended). We will never realize our full potential as an offense, until either Kain can demonstrate he has more of a passing game than the occasional dinks to make him an all around threat and become a distributor to ALL of the talent on our offense, OR Trevor Siemian develops and can become that distributor to get our entire offense engaged. Until then, we may have a serviceable offense, but we will never be all that we could be. I think the most likely scenario is that Trevor Siemian develops and ends up taking 80% of the snaps, with Colter playing Wildcat and WR, which is the position he is destined for if he has any hope of playing in the League, and where I think he can actually help us the most (at least on offense - I was always intrigued by comments made that when fooling around at practice, he looked like the most comfortable and natural cornerback on the team). Of course if Colter magically develops as a senior as Mike Kafka did, then we should be preparing the Colter Strong campaign this summer.

2) Mark was dinged a little bit, but I'd hardly call him fragile. He has been one of our more durable backs we have seen since Noah Herron and Jason Wright. I think Trumpy and Green will be passed, purely on the basis of talent, by Buckley and Jones. I already know what Trumpy and Green bring. Buckley and Jones are more intriguing to me, if only because there is great hope in the unknown.

3) I'm also perplexed by the omissions of both Lowry and Jones, both of whom are the best bets to start at DE and CB respectively opposite of Scott and Van Hoose, and not sure your explanations for their omission are compelling. I think Jones easily has the inside track to continue to start, though I agree it will be interesting to see what the redshirt frosh and even the true frosh coming in can do.
1) The same old, tired Colter/Siemian argument, eh?  Kain can move the offense, it just bothers some people that it isn't the "traditional" spread offense.  Trevor can move the offense as well, but if he isn't on his game throwing the ball then there is no fallback option.  It's good to have both around.

2) Venric as "one of our more durable backs"?  Maybe only because we have had a ton of injuries at the RB spot over the past few seasons -- being slightly more durable than fragile backs is not exactly a commendation.

If I recall correctly, Venric missed periods of time against BC, Vandy, Penn State, Michigan, and Michigan State with injury.  He had 226 carries, but it would be a stretch to call him "durable" in the sense of being a workhorse back.

Fortunately, like you said, we appear to have more depth at RB than we are recently used to in order to spell Venric on occasion.  Some rotation of Trumpy/Jones/Buckley/Green should be able to lighten Mark's workload to ensure that he is explosive as possible as both a running back and a returner.
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Posted: 2/23/2013 11:52 AM

Re: Spring Storylines: What to watch for 


I hope our depth at RB is utilized early and often...imagine the impact a healthy and fresh Venric could have against a somewhat gassed defense in the 4th quarter?
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Posted: 2/23/2013 7:26 PM

Re: Spring Storylines: What to watch for 


Keenan was also another OL who was switched from his natural guard spot to Tackle.
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Posted: 2/26/2013 10:58 PM

Re: Spring Storylines: What to watch for 


Tired or not, the point is that is that Kain does NOT move the offense as effortlessly as we have come to expect from NU offenses, except in certain situations (i.e. playing with teams like IU or South Dakota who can't clamp down on the option read, red zone situations with a shortened field, short yardage pick up situations, etc...). It would be better if we had a QB who could distribute the ball to all of our playmakers and maximize the potential for the offense instead of relying on his sole, albeit remarkable, talents.

 

Perhaps, Venric isn't a Ron Dayne and no one's calling for 30 carries a game, but he isn't made of glass either. I'd like to see 20 carries a game for him minimum. People look at his dimunative nature, but I haven't seen him miss full games and he's taken some punishment. Joe Morris was tiny too. Tough kid - and I want to see him carry the ball MORE this year, because he is clearly our best talent in the RB unit.

 

The only argument I can go with to limit some of his carries is that we want him to be fresh in the return game.

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Posted: 2/27/2013 12:51 AM

Re: Spring Storylines: What to watch for 



EvanstonCat wrote:

Tired or not, the point is that is that Kain does NOT move the offense as effortlessly as we have come to expect from NU offenses, except in certain situations (i.e. playing with teams like IU or South Dakota who can't clamp down on the option read, red zone situations with a shortened field, short yardage pick up situations, etc...). It would be better if we had a QB who could distribute the ball to all of our playmakers and maximize the potential for the offense instead of relying on his sole, albeit remarkable, talents.

 

Perhaps, Venric isn't a Ron Dayne and no one's calling for 30 carries a game, but he isn't made of glass either. I'd like to see 20 carries a game for him minimum. People look at his dimunative nature, but I haven't seen him miss full games and he's taken some punishment. Joe Morris was tiny too. Tough kid - and I want to see him carry the ball MORE this year, because he is clearly our best talent in the RB unit.

 

The only argument I can go with to limit some of his carries is that we want him to be fresh in the return game.


You should pop in the PSU, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska games and watch your fave QB move the ball all over the field as we have come to expect for NU offenses.  Maybe it would be nice to have a QB with other options available to him when your fave QB plays like a deer in traffic and cannot complete a pass to save his ass.
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Posted: 2/27/2013 1:11 AM

Re: Spring Storylines: What to watch for 


This has turned into a nature-nurture debate. Pretty much everyone has a good point when it comes to the Siemian-Colter battle, but that doesn't change the reality: neither one has been good enough to emerge as the best option.

They were both iffy in the bowl win. Siemian had more highs (Cuse, Michigan) but some awful lows... even considering the weather at Minnesota, it was one of the worst  games from a QB I'd seen in quite some time. He tried to hit outside receivers, but each time, the defenders would just step in. 

If I had to choose one to take every snap, I'd go with Kain.

But realistically, this team is trending towards Siemian. If the coaching staff is comfortable with him moving forward, they have an offseason to figure out Kain's involvement in the passing game/zone read attack. I've always been partial to Colter and think Siemian is average (but clutch), though there's really no elite option à la Persa, Kafka, Bacher. That's simply not happening with next year's offense. To me, Alviti has one of the more promising futures, but he'll redshirt and we'll wait to see him excel.

As for the Venric comment a couple posts above: I'm terrified of injuries. Wrote about that earlier, and think Trumpy can be used more effectively to spell him. Tired of that third-and-one Trumpy garbage, when he really can wear down defenses. That's not to take away from Mark. The offense relies – and will rely – on him to succeed.
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Posted: 2/27/2013 2:10 AM

Re: Spring Storylines: What to watch for 


I like the 'nature-nurture' comparison.  Don't forget the biological versus environmental constraints debate on what regulates species population size.  

My point in addressing ECat's comments is that we were clearly better off running a two QB system last year rather than choosing and staying with one QB.  It's remarkable to me that ECat whines about this now after admitting the shortcomings of TS after his poor QB outings during the middle of the season.  I personally hope TS can improve his reads, ability to avoid the rush, and his running skills so that we can get the best players on the field, including Colter in a WR/slash role more often.  

I also feel the staff has to work on using Trumpy better than they did at times last year.  With his career rushing average, solid hands, good blocking, and overall physical play, he is the best "serviceable" RB we've had since Herron in 2003.  Former pros like Chris Spielman and Bob Griese don't gush praise for players easily.  Trumpy is a solid RB.  If guys like Buckley play well, that's great, but we still need the physicality of Trumpy to wear down opponents.
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Posted: 2/27/2013 2:25 AM

Re: Spring Storylines: What to watch for 


Maybe you should read what I said.

Kain is not the answer. But, neither has Siemian been. Not yet. The best outcome for this year and for our offensive productivity, as I believe you agree with me, is for Siemian to develop to the point where he can be that QB that can distribute the ball efficiently and effectively.
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Posted: 2/27/2013 6:16 AM

Re: Spring Storylines: What to watch for 


The likelihood of Siemian developing is greater than Colter developing, but if Colter developed he'd be a much better total threat.

Ni bhionn an rath ach mar a mbionn an smacht.

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Posted: 2/27/2013 6:18 AM

Re: Spring Storylines: What to watch for 


How to you define effortlessly? Fewest calories spent? I could give a hoot about effortless as long as the plays work.

Ni bhionn an rath ach mar a mbionn an smacht.

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Posted: 2/27/2013 9:46 AM

Re: Spring Storylines: What to watch for 


NT
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Posted: 2/27/2013 10:07 AM

Re: Spring Storylines: What to watch for 


That I'll agree. If Colter develops as a senior the way Kafka did, then we should be starting the Colter strong campaign now.

But, I think the intrinsics are not there for that to happen. Then again, I didn't think Kafka would develop the way he did, so what do I know.
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Posted: 2/27/2013 11:30 AM

Re: Spring Storylines: What to watch for 



EvanstonCat wrote: That I'll agree. If Colter develops as a senior the way Kafka did, then we should be starting the Colter strong campaign now.

But, I think the intrinsics are not there for that to happen. Then again, I didn't think Kafka would develop the way he did, so what do I know.
+1
Follow @NMedlineFOX - Purplewildcats.com Publisher
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