Preview 2007 - Offense
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What you need to know:
The offense was a major disappointment last season with
almost no production from a veteran offensive line and too much
of a reliance on the passing game. Now the running game, with a
good 1-2 punch of Dennis Kennedy and Andre Walker, should
provide more pop, but the line, with four new starters, has
to be far better. The quarterback situation will be unsettled
going into the fall with Carlton Jackson, Chris Jaquemain, and
Sean Hakes all in the race. The receiving corps is fast and
experienced, and now everyone has to play beyond their talent
level to help out whoever the new passer will be.
Passing: Dennis Kennedy
2-2, 56 yds
Rushing: Dennis Kennedy
226 carries, 914 yds, 9 TD
Receiving: Jabari Arthur
45 catches, 730 yds, 4 TD
Star of the offense: Junior OT Chris Kemme
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore
QB Carlton Jackson
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OT Keith Huebner
Best pro prospect: Kemme
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Kemme, 2) RB Dennis
Kennedy, 3) WR Jabari Arthur
Strength of the offense: Running back, receiver speed
Weakness of the offense: Offensive line
Projected Starter: If the season started right now. 6-2,
195-pound sophomore Carlton Jackson would be the starter.
A dual-threat quarterback who saw a wee bit of mop-up time last
year, he's a good passer with decent mobility. The left-hander
didn't firmly establish himself as the starter in spring ball,
but he has the experience and potential to be the main man for
the next few years. He might offer something different with his
running skills, but overall, he'll have to grow into the
Projected Top Reserves: The starting quarterback
situation is still up for debate. Sophomore Chris Jaquemain
was the third man in the mix last year, and like Jackson,
has a good blend of skills with good running ability and a
decent arm. He's not going to air it out all that much, so if
he's not effective on the move, he likely won't be in the mix
for the starting job.
6-3, 200-pound redshirt freshman Sean Hakes is the third
option going into the fall. The starter on two straight Texas
state high school championship teams, he knows how to lead a
Watch Out For ... a quarterback battle up until
the last moment. It's Jackson's job to lose, but Jaquemain and
Hakes can make things very interesting if they rock in fall
Strength: More running. Jackson, Jaquemain and Hakes are three
totally different quarterbacks than what the program has been
used to over the last few years. The Zips will be able to run a
variety of different plays they weren't able to with Luke Getsy
at the helm, and they should help out the MAC's 12th best
Weakness: Consistent passing. Getsy was a playmaker who threw
for close to 2,700 yards. No matter who's at quarterback, the
Zips will be happy to get 2,000 this year.
Outlook: The overall quarterback play didn't do
enough to inspire confidence this spring, and it's going to be
an interesting summer with the starting job effectively up for
grabs. All the coaching staff will be looking for is efficiency.
Be solid on third downs, make plays with the arms and legs, and
put points on the board ... that's the idea, even if the
production doesn't come with big passing numbers.
Projected Starters: It seemed like junior Dennis
Kennedy was on his way to a huge season after rushing for 59
yards and a score against Penn State and 117 yards and three
touchdowns against NC State to start the season, but he wasn't
consistent (and it wasn't necessarily his fault). While he was
the main man over a stretch with four straight 100-yard games,
but he wasn't consistent getting stuffed by of the better run
defenses. At 5-11 and 215 pounds, he has good power to go along
with excellent speed and tremendous hands. Along with running
for 914 yards and nine scores, he caught 39 passes for 193
Paving the way will be 5-11, 220-pound Joe McDaniel, who
only got one carry and caught three passes, but was a decent
all-around blocker. He might see the ball more as a powerful,
Projected Top Reserves: Behind Kennedy will be
5-10, 185-pound senior Andre Walker, a good number two
option who ran for 245 yards and four touchdowns in a limited
role, highlighted by a 80-yard, two touchdown performance in the
win over North Texas. He's a quick runner who could grow into
more of a role as the season goes on.
Also in the hunt for time will be junior Alex Allen, who
suffered a knee injury but was back in time for spring ball.
He's a speedy, slashing runner who didn't see any work last
year, but would be a perfect third-down back.
At fullback behind McDaniel will be 230-pound Joe Tuzze,
a big blocker who was a top runner in high school. He's a
prototypical goal line back, but he needs the work.
Watch Out For ... more from Allen. Kennedy was a
one-man running attack at times last year, and while he's a
workhorse, the more production from Allen, the better.
Strength: Quickness. Kennedy is a fast back, Walker has good
speed, and Allen, once he gets to 100%, is a speed runner.
Getting them in space and around the corner will be a must.
Weakness: A pure power runner. Yeah, Kennedy is nice between the
tackles, but there isn't a sure-thing, short-yardage runner to
rely on. McDaniel and Tuzze can be those players, but they
haven't been so far.
Outlook: The overall rushing numbers will be far
better than last year when the the Zips were 111th in the nation
averaging just 84 yards per game, but that'll have as much to do
with the running quarterbacks as anything else. Even so, the
trio of Kennedy, Walker and Allen should combine for around
1,500 yards and should be a far bigger part of the offense.
Projected Starters: Even though he was out this spring
with a foot injury, 6-4, 225-pound senior Jabari Arthur
will be the main man come fall. With his size and experience,
he's a tough player to match up against, and now he has to be
more dangerous as a number one after making 45 grabs for 730
yards and four scores. The former starting quarterback has all
the measurables to put together a huge senior year.
On the other side will be sophomore Jermaine Lindsay, a
potential big-play target who averaged 14 yards per catch with
34 grabs for 477 yards and two scores. While he's not the ideal
inside target at 6-1 and a mere 165 points, he was consistent,
just not dominant. He should do more with all the attention paid
Senior tight end Kris Kasparek was a disappointment last
season catching just 12 passes for 152 yards. While he got a
catch in just about every game, he disappeared too often from
the passing game and didn't build on a promising sophomore
season. At 6-6 and 265 pounds, he's a big blocker who needs to
do more on short to midrange third down plays.
Projected Top Reserves: With Arthur out in spring
ball, senior Johnny Long and juniors Stephon Fuqua
each got chances to show what they could do. Fuqua was
particularly impressive, but that was in practice. The 6-1,
200-pounder has to use his elite speed to start to produce in
games. Long is a fantastic athlete who only caught five passes
for 47 yards. He's too quick to not be a consistent player in
Junior Brandon Williams didn't step up as expected having
missed the entire year year. Expected to become a strong number
two option when the season began, now he'll be the backup behind
Backing up Kasparek will be 6-4, 245-pound junior Marce
Poindexter, who isn't nearly the same blocker, but is a
better, more athletic receiver. He caught 12 passes for 127
yards and two touchdowns, and he has the speed and hands to do
Watch Out For ... more from the backups. Getsy
mainly worked with three receivers and running back Dennis
Kennedy last year, but now, Long, Fuqua and Williams appear
ready to be part of the mix.
Strength: Speed. This is one of the MAC's faster receiving corps
with Fuqua bringing warp speed, Arthur and Lindsay deep-ball
fast, and Long and Williams able to move. Even the tight ends
can get down the field.
Weakness: Scoring. David Harvey made ten of the team's 18
scoring grabs. The rest of the wide receivers caught six. The
new starting quarterback, whoever that might be, has to be able
to rely on a few different targets in the red zone.
Outlook: While the overall production might not be
there compared to last year, thanks to the loss of Getsy, that
doesn't mean the receivers will be less effective. The veteran
receivers have to make the quarterbacks better, it's not going
to happen the other way around. Arthur is a nice receiver who
has to turn into a 100-yard type of playmaker. There are several
promising options around him, and that includes the tight ends,
which went mostly ignored throughout long stretches.
Projected Starters: Four starters have to be replaced off
a line that was a major disappointment last season. The lone returning
starter is a good one. 6-6, 300-pound junior Chris Kemme earned
all-star honors last season as one of the few solid all-around blockers.
While he's a good pass protector, he's great for the running game.
Outside of him at left tackle, all bets are off.
Coming out of spring ball, two seniors appeared ready to take over on
the inside with the emergence of 295-pound center Jim Holley and
315-pound Mike Schepp at right guard. Schepp has seen starting
time throughout his career at both tackle and guard, but he's far better
suited for the inside considering his physical nature and lack of
all-around athleticism. Holley has seen enough time to not be too green
in the full-time role, but he'll be pushed hard to keep the job.
Sophomore Keith Huebner might be a little green at right tackle,
but he's 6-7, 300 pounds, and extremely talented. He has all the tools
to become a rock for the next three years after learning how to play at
a leaner, meaner weight; he dropped almost 50 pounds before last season.
300-pound redshirt freshman Mike Ward will likely take over the
left guard spot, and while he's inexperienced, he'll benefit from having
Kemme next to him. He's a good athlete who's expected to grow into a
strong run blocker.
Projected Top Reserves: With almost all the jobs
open, that means several untested players will have chances to make
names for themselves. Junior Casey Estrada was a top recruit
coming in from the JUCO ranks to challenge for the right tackle job. At
6-5 and 290 pounds, he has good size and two years of experience at the
lower level, but he doesn't have the upside of Huebner.
6-4, 295-pound sophomore Elliott Bates and 6-4, 295-pound
sophomore Zach Anderson will be options at center and right guard
respectively. If Bates isn't the team's fastest and most athletic
lineman, he's number two, while Anderson was a hot recruit two years ago
who could've got several big-time offers. He could end up moving to
Watch Out For ... the depth chart to change
several times and several ways. Kemme will be at left tackle, and then
take a guess for the other spots.
Strength: Potential. There might not be a whole bunch of
experience, but the talent level is there to form a good rotation and a
strong front five ... eventually.
Weakness: Certainty. There are enough issues at quarterback to
have to worry about who's going to protect the starter. Don't expect the
starting five to jell for a while considering how many jobs are up in
Outlook: As much as the line might be in a state
of flux, at least the production can't be worse than last year when the
line didn't do nearly enough in pass protection and did next to nothing
for the running game. Eventually, there will be a youth movement that
might mean a step backward to take a big leap ahead. The 2008 line
should be tremendous.