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What you need to know ...
Expect more of the same from an offense that led the MAC in just
about everything except passing offense, but it was the league's
second most efficient attack. The ground game should be just as
dominant as long as backs Jalen Parmele and Scooter McDougle can
get and stay healthy. Four starters return to the league's best
offensive line and should have few problems opening up huge
holes. The big question is at quarterback where Clint Cochran
replaces Bruce Gradkowski, but he appears to have the offense
down. The passing game will be more than fine with three
fantastic tight ends and a number one receiver in Steve Odom to
carry a young corps.
Passing: Clint Cochran
32-43, 262 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Jalen Parmele
64 carries, 294 yds, 3 TD
Receiving: Steve Odom
55 catches, 690 yds, 6 TD
Star of the offense: Junior OT John Greco
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore
QB Clint Cochran
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Trumaine Smith
Best pro prospect: Greco
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Greco, 2) TE Chris Hopkins, 3)
WR Steve Odom
Strength of the offense: Offensive line, running back
Weakness of the offense:
Bruce Gradkowski was a three year starter. who amassed 10,243 yards or total offense with 85
touchdown passes and only 27 interceptions. He's not going to be
easily replaced. Clint Cochran isn't going to run the ball as
much as the spread offense might like, but he's an effective
passer and should grow into a solid leader. Brandon Summers
might be the best overall fit for the attack because of his
running skills. At the moment, he's the number two man with big
passer John Goolsby the third option. True freshman Aaron Opelt
will get a shot to see playing time when he gets on campus.
The key to the unit: Clint Cochran has to be
efficient and can't make mistakes. As long as he doesn't throw
interceptions and is effective on third downs, everything else
should fall into place.
Quarterback Rating: 6
- Clint Cochran, Soph. - 32-43, 74%, 262 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT,
1 rushing touchdown
Cochran isn't nearly the runner Bruce Gradkowski was, but he's a
bigger passer with a live arm and a solid knowledge of the
offense. He saw a little bit of time last season starting in the
blowout loss against Fresno State with 163 passing yards and a
touchdown with an interception. He's a very smart, very tough
player who should do more than fine in the starting role.
- Brandon Summers, RFr.
Summers got enough work in during the bowl practices to give a
little bit of hope that he can step in and be a starter if
needed. He's the best runner of the quarterback options, but
he's not all that big at 6-0 and 187 pounds.
- John Goolsby, Soph.
The clear number three man in the quarterback mix, Goolsby needs
more time to learn what he's doing. He's a pre passer with great
size at 6-5 and 215 pounds with a live arm.
The Rockets lost their top two runners in 1,294-yard back
Trinity Dawson and 7.2-yard-per-carry back Quinton Broussard,
but they'll be more than fine with the return of Scooter
McDougle from a major knee injury and junior Jalen Parmele after
an injury-plagued 2005. Richard Davis and DaJuane Collins would
start for most MAC teams.
The key to the unit: Jalen Parmele and Scooter
McDougle have to get healthy and stay 100% while Richard Davis
and DaJuane Collins need to be worked into the mix.
Running Back Rating: 7
- Jalen Parmele, Jr. - 65 carries, 294 yds, 4.6 ypc, 3
TD, 4 catches, 41 yds
Parmele is a big, 220-pound back with speed. He appeared to be
all set to start at the beginning of last year, or at least be a
major factor, but he was never healthy and finished third on the
team in rushing after being used as a complementary back. While
he won't have to be a workhorse, he needs to be the first option
and a steady producer until new starting quarterback Clint
Cochran gets his feet wet.
- Scooter McDougle, Jr.
McDougle is a 245-pound cannonball who led the team in rushing
in 2004 before suffering a major knee injury that cost him all
of last season. While he's known for being a between-the-tackles
runner, he's also a fantastic receiver. He appears to be
healthy, but he has to get his wind back. Expect him to ease
into the season slowly and then soon take over the starting job.
- Richard Davis, Soph. - 36 carries, 256 yds, 7.1 ypc,
2 TD, 6 catches 57 yds
Davis has the potential to be a special back once he gets a
little more work. He didn't see much action in the offense after
the first two games of last year when he rushed for 111 yards
against Western Illinois and 69 yards against Western Michigan,
but he saw plenty of work as a kickoff returner. He's a fast
back with good power.
- DaJuane Collins, RFr.
A star high school defensive back as well as a runner, Collins
is tremendously quick and physical at 200 pounds. He'll see a
few carries here and there even though he could be the odd man
out with a logjam of runner.
The potential is there for the Rockets to be really, really good
here. Steve Odom is a rock-solid number one receiver who'll make
all the big catches and be the consistent player the rest of the
corps can work around. Nick Moore and David Washington are
rising stars, while lightning fast Trumaine Smith and veteran
Andrew Hawkins will each see starting time at some point. The
tight end situation is even better with Chris Hopkins, John
Allen and Josh Powell forming a three-headed monster that'll
likely combine for around 70 catches.
The key to the unit: Several good prospects have to step
up their games and become threats. Nick Moore, Trumaine Smith
and David Washington are too good not to make more of an impact.
Steve Odom has to be as good as he was over the last three
Receiver Rating: 6.5
- Steve Odom, Sr. - 55 catches, 690 yds, 12.5 ypc, 6 TD
Odom has been one of the team's main targets for the last three
seasons upping his game from a number two receiver to the go-to
guy. He's not the biggest receiver at 5-10 and 170 pounds, but
he has sure hands and is as reliable as they come with a
nation-leading 37 straight games with at least one catch.
- Nick Moore, Soph. - 24 catches, 335 yds, 14 ypc, 4 TD
Brother of UT's all-time leading receiver Lance Moore, Nick is a
6-4 athlete who turned into a solid deep threat. He caught nine
passes for 101 yards and a touchdown against Central Michigan,
but he only made one other grab over the final three games of
the regular season. Now he'll be expected to be a reliable
number two man taking heat off Steve Odom.
- David Washington, Jr. - 9 catches, 126 yds, 14 ypc, 1
It's time for Washington to become a top playmaker. He's 6-5,
219 pounds, and fast enough to be used on the outside. He
started to come on over the second half of last year and now
should grow into a deep threat.
- Tight end Chris Hopkins, Sr. - 31 catches, 355 yds,
11.5 ypc, 4 TD
Hopkins turned in a second-team All-MAC season despite
only starting in three games and being used as a blocker. He's a
great sized 6-5, 255-pound receiver who can stretch the field
turning into one of the team's most consistent receivers with
two or more grabs in each of the final seven games.
- Trumaine Smith, Soph.
Expect Smith to finally grow into a star. He's 6-4 and 211
pounds with warp 4.3 speed. He was a big recruit for the Rockets
and is just now going to get in the mix as the fourth receiver
and possible starter on the outside.
- Andrew Hawkins, Jr. - 28 catches, 283 yds, 10.1 ypc, 3
Consider Hawkins a returning starter after he getting the nod in
11 games last season. He relies on his quickness, toughness and
hands at only 5-8 and 165 pounds. He can be used as a runner on
end arounds and isn't afraid to go inside.
- Andre Redd, Soph. - 8 catches, 83 yds, 10.4 ypc
A quick target behind Nick Moore, he's a little bit bigger than
the team's number one receiver and should be a physical presence
across the middle and with the ball in his hands.
- Tight end John Allen, Soph. - 20 catches, 209 yds, 10.4
ypc, 5 TD
Allen turned out to be one of the most pleasant surprises of
last year turning into a solid receiver finishing sixth on the
team in his freshman year. He's only 215 pounds and isn't a big
blocker, but he's physical. He's a big target with great hands
and a way of making plays around the goal line.
- Tight end Josh Powell, Sr. - 16 catches, 191 yds, 11.9
ypc, 2 TD
While liisted third on the depth chart, Powell is hardly a
number three tight end. At 6-5 and 263 pounds he's by far the
biggest blocker of the lot with great hands and surprising speed
down the middle. He's a fantastic midrange threat.
The line was the best in the MAC last season allowing a mere
13 sacks while paving the way 2,602 rushing yards and a 5.3 yard per
carry average. Most of the reason was continuity with all five starters
playing in the same spot in every game. Four starters return with the
only opening at right guard where Jesse Anderson will fill in for Chris
Wakeman. John Greco is an All-MAC performer at left tackle while guard
David Perkins isn't far behind.
The key to the unit: Hope for the same luck with
injuries and develop more young players to be ready to roll next year.
Offensive Line Rating: 7.5
- OT John Greco, Jr.
One of the best blockers in the conference, the All-MAC star made the
successful conversion from right tackle to left and should be even
better this season. He's 6-5, 318 pounds and very athletic.
- OG David Perkins, Jr.
Perkins has next-level potential at left guard. He's a bruising run
blocker and was night-and-day better in pass protection than he was as a
freshman. He's a very strong 308 pounds.
- C Hassan Abedesin, Sr.
The 300-pound senior stepped into the starting role and had a solid
season in the middle. He's a mauler of a run blocker who could be used
at guard if needed.
- OG Jesse Anderson, Sr.
The only question mark on the line, the 300-pound senior is a career
reserve at both guard spots and will have to shine right away on the
right side. He has seen more than enough time to fit in fine.
- OT Jerry Aguwa, Sr.
Aguwa went from being a decent backup to a strong right tackle who
turned out to be solid when John Greco moved over to the left side. He
has the talent to be a force, mostly as a pass blocker, after his year
of starting experience.
- G Chad Diggs, Sr.
Diggs is a huge option at left guard with a little bit experience. At
313 pounds he has the size to be a solid fill-in for the running game.
- T Greg Luna, Sr.
6-8 and 330 pounds, Luna is the biggest lineman on the
team with a large frame and good reach for pass blocking. He'll start
out on the right side behind Jerry Aguwa.
- G Tyree Pollard, Jr.
The 312-pound defensive lineman will move over to guard after making 11
tackles and three tackles for loss last season. He'll get every shot to
start on the right side.