Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Vandy depth chart highlights troubles with offense

There are only a few changes to the depth chart for the Ole Miss game. You know how our main concerns going into this season were quarterback, receivers and offensive line? We felt good about all three of these after the opener against Elon, and now... not so good, huh? And these concerns are apparent from the latest depth chart.

Of course, not many concerns about the defense, where the same guys have started every game, and we've got former starters like Greenstone and Ladler providing depth. The biggest weakness on the D was supposedly outside linebacker (i.e. anybody not named Marve) but Chase Garnham and Tristan Strong are really flying around and looking sharp, and so is Archibald Barnes.

In our regular rotation, we're playing 10 defensive linemen (starters Lohr, Nichter, Greenstone, Fugger and Thomas, and reserves Morse, Taylor, Woestmann, May, McHaney), five linebackers (Marve, Garnham, Strong, Barnes and Jones) and 11 defensive backs (starters Hayward, Wilson, Richardson and Marshall, and reserves Ladler (listed as a co-starter), Butler, Clarke, Foster, Hal, Samuels and Simmons).

Not quite as set in stone on offense, where five wide receivers (Boyd, Cole, Krause, Matthews and Umoh) have started so far this season. Matthews, supposedly one of our best overall players, has struggled a bit. Maybe that's because he's been the target of opposing defenses or Larry can't get him the ball because he doesn't have protection from his offensive line or he just can't hit the broad side of a barn or he doesn't have the mental fortitude to perform under pressure or see any Vanderbilt chat board for more reasons. (By the way, you may notice that we at MV! don't spend a lot of time whining about Larry Smith and calling for his ouster. We like Larry, right now he's the best quarterback we've got, we've been pulling for him since he committed out of Prattville, Ala., and we'll continue to pull for him.)

But any way you look at it, the offense is a huge concern. Larry's still the starter and Rodgers the backup, so no changes to the QB depth chart at this time, but Franklin's got to be concerned about (1) the line's ability to protect the quarterback and (2) the quarterback's ability to make plays when everything breaks down and especially (3) the quarterback's ability to stay alive after taking such a beating game after game. I think we're gonna see Josh Grady before the SEC season is very old.

We've had six starters so far on the offensive line, with redshirt freshman Chase White replacing redshirt junior Jabo Burrow, whose career ended with an injury sustained in the Elon game. Franklin said in yesterday's press conference that he was pleased with Chase as a human being for accepting the challenge and playing his best, but that he's not satisfied with the way he played. In other words, Chase is going to continue to get better — and fast — or somebody else is going to be playing in his place. Other candidates include:

• Redshirt junior Caleb Welchans, who's been playing and starting occasionally for three years now
• Redshirt freshman Andrew Bridges, who's being groomed to play tackle
• Redshirt junior Josh Jelesky, a recent convert from the defensive line who hasn't played yet this season but is the newest addition to the depth chart at backup right guard
• True freshmen Spencer Pulley and Joe Townsend, who both played against Elon. Other possibilities include redshirt freshman Grant Ramsay and true freshmen Jake Bernstein, James Lewis and Jose Valedon.

In other depth chart news, Akeem Dunham remains listed at second team though he didn't play against UConn; Warren Norman continues to be listed at second team and Franklin insists he's ready to play when we need him; Mason Johnston is now listed at both fullback and tight end as a backup.

Speaking of tight end, we'll be seeing more of Dillon van der Wal, who got his first action on Saturday against UConn, especially if Barden can't return right away from injury. Also, Vince Taylor was the other player who saw his first action against UConn; I think Vince will be a real standout by the end of the season.


Anonymous said...

I agree with most of your comments. I would add that the emphasis should be on the offensive line for depth and development. Does not matter wether LS or Rogers was at QB the 1st 2 games; the O-line was not protecting very well and LS did as good a job as could be expected with the pass rush that he was facing. Up to now, I am very pleased with the WR core to date. CJF even expressed some mild conmcern with 4-5 drops in the Elon game; but overall this WR core looks to be solid. Mathews will be fine; but I am more please to see what appears to be Krause, Mathews, Boyd, and Cole a solid WR core. They all need more development at WR but will be a very sold group; Mathews will get better, however he is not a "star" yet as some have said, but Franklin and staff will develop the WR rotation into a very reliable group. The defense is clearly ahead of the offense but the qb play will be a function of how well the O-line plays. I expect against Ole Miss that Franklin will hold in the rb's on deep pass routes to help on pass blocking until he can get the O-line to protect LS better. Go Dores !.

vandyman said...

Any word on Logan Stewart's injury and if he is coming back to the O-line. When thrown in last year as a true freshman, he did well the last 6 games.

Jayden said...

Jones has not played any meaningful snaps at LB this season, and same goes for DBs Butler, Clarke, Foster, and Simmons. They might be on special teams, and even playing well there, but they havent been in a position to contribute on D yet this season.

The only real candidates (IMO) to take over for Chase White if the coaches decide he cant get it done would be Pulley, Jelesky, and Bernstein. Bridges and Welchans have put in too much time at T for a mid-season switch. Other guys just arent good enough right now.

Jayden said...

the WR core is still a cause for concern, but like has been mentioned, pass protection is still the weakest link right now. Cole has a troublesome history of getting injured...

Anonymous said...

Looks like our best wr's are the young guys Krause, Mathews, and Boyd (no surprise there) . Cole has been very reliable but expect him to be in the back-up rotation as we hit our stride of SEC games. Biggest concern, which is no surprise , is lack of strong O-line play. It's very important that we beat Ole Miss with the games that we have coming up later this season. CJF is doing an excellent job with the overall direction of the program. Go Dores.

Anonymous said...

The only real candidates (IMO) to take over for Chase White if the coaches decide he cant get it done would be Pulley, Jelesky, and Bernstein. Bridges and Welchans have put in too much time at T for a mid-season switch. Other guys just arent good enough right now.

Jelesky & Bernstien haven't been on the field, so the other RS freshmen and true freshman may do just as well. I wouln't call 2 games into the season a "mid-season" switch.


Good comments, guys.

Yeah, you're right Jayden that guys like Jones and Butler aren't getting as many defensive snaps as the other guys, and probably don't qualify for meaningful playing time but they did see some non-special teams action against UConn.

Come to think of it, everybody I'd mentioned as regular players played in both games and for some guys the majority of that was on special teams.