Friday, September 2, 2011

Is Josh Grady really redshirting? And what does this mean for Lafonte Thourogood?

Our pals over at Anchor of Gold noticed that Josh Grady told his legion of Twitter followers today that he's redshirting — or 'redshirtin" — but don't mock this kid's grammar because he'll probably be a brain surgeon one day.

Anyway, does this mean Grady is really redshirting? What it means, I think, is that Grady won't play against Elon — in hopes that he'll be able to redshirt and become a four-year starter — but he'll also travel with the team as the No. 3 quarterback and will be available if Smith and Rodgers go down.

Vandy does this every year. In the Music City Bowl season, true freshmen Rob Lohr and Colt Nichter were the fourth and fifth defensive tackles on the team. That's not fourth and fifth string, that's second team for Lohr and third team for Nichter. In other words, if just one person in the three man rotation — of Greg Billinger, Adam Smotherman and T.J. Greenstone — had gone down with injury, then Lohr would have burned his redshirt. And if another guy had been injured or unavailable to play, then Nichter would have burned his.

Remarkably, we won our first bowl game in 53 years with a team that played only three defensive tackles all year, and Lohr and Nichter were redshirted after all.

But last season, we planned to redshirt Logan Stewart and James Kittredge. Then Joey Bailey was injured and Kittredge took his place and burned his redshirt, but we needed another option at center so Logan Stewart burned his redshirt too and held down the position for the second half of the season.

No, Josh Grady won't be taking meaningless snaps in mop-up duty tomorrow night. If we're taking Elon to the woodshed late in the fourth quarter and Jordan Rodgers has already seen a good bit of action, you may see walk-on John Townsley get some snaps.

But you never know. Remember Tennessee's No. 3 quarterback in the Vols' season opener with UCLA in 1994? The starter was fifth-year senior Jerry Colquitt, the backup was a junior by the name of Todd Helton, and the third stringer was a true freshman named...

...Yes, Peyton Manning. And the No. 4 QB was another blue-chip true freshman named Branndon Stewart.

In that game, Colquitt went down early with a career-ending injury and was replaced by Helton, who quickly demonstrated why he was wise to concentrate on baseball. Then Coach Phil Fulmer burned the redshirt off Manning, which was no huge surprise, but then he also burned the redshirt off Stewart.

So by halftime of the season opener, Fulmer had played four quarterbacks and burned the redshirts off two of them.

Off course, Manning quickly emerged as the starter, Helton quit to hone his skills for the MLB draft, and Stewart transferred to Texas A&M, where he quarterbacked the Aggies to an upset over undefeated Kansas State in the 1998 Big 12 Championship Game, which paved the way for Tee Martin and the Vols (Peyton had graduated and was playing for the Colts) to face a lame-duck Florida State team in the national championship game.

But we digress. Grady will redshirt for now. He's the most game-ready of our three freshmen quarterbacks. Kris Kentera, a project who needs at least another year learning to be a passing quarterback, will almost certainly redshirt.

But what about Lafonte Thourogood? I noticed a Tweet from a Virginia Tech fan saying he wanted the Hokies to join the SEC just so they could make Vandy pay for stealing Thourogood from them on signing day.

To become an SEC quarterback, Thourogood needs a redshirt year more than Grady does. But by most accounts Thourogood would have a bigger impact as a true freshman playing wide receiver or running the wildcat than Grady would.

Franklin has made it clear that the ball's in Thourogood's court when it comes to playing other positions. He gave him his word that Lafonte would have a legitimate shot at quarterback, which is going to take longer than a preseason camp and will require his total concentration. But Franklin's also said that Lafonte's too good an athlete to keep off the field.

Which leaves us these options:

1. Thourogood redshirts. He's missed most of preseason camp and hasn't had time to learn the ropes at quarterback. You let him and Grady redshirt and compete against each other in practice, Grady getting some reps with the second and third teams and Thourogood running the scout team. Then in spring practice you have a showdown to determine who sticks at QB and who moves to another position.

2. Thourogood multi-tasks. He's getting healthy and getting adjusted to college life, but you go ahead and start working him into the game plan and figuring out how to get him some touches. If Rodgers and Smith are both injured, you preserve Grady's redshirt and play Thourogood, especially if it's late in the season and nothing's on the line.

3. Thourogood moves. Is there any doubt that Thourogood, a four-star receiver, would be playing against Elon if he weren't a quarterback? Everybody's fallen in love with the idea of Josh Grady as the future leader of the team, and he's surprised everybody with his arm strength, so who's to say Thourogood hasn't seen the writing on the wall and has already pulled the plug on his little experiment at quarterback?

I don't think we'll know for a while which option will be employed. Even if we see Thourogood enter the game at receiver tomorrow, we still won't know his future plans. Unfortunately, Thourogood isn't quite as transparent as Grady — or as chatty on the Internet.


Anonymous said...

the transfer from Wyoming will be the scout team QB


That's set in stone, huh? I bet young Lafonte would get some work somewhere.

Anonymous said...

red-shirting is not a bad idea. Playing QB at this level is so much more complicated than high school. The timing and speed is unlike any high school qb is use to. A red-shirt will really help him.

Dimon K-H said...

I absolutely agree.