Season 4 Preview

Discussion in '4th Horseman' started by Wyrmreaver, Dec 2, 2012.

  1. Wyrmreaver

    Wyrmreaver Ready for Madden 15 on Xbox One, lets get it on!

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    As we reach season 4 the stakes continue to be raised. The real effects of mercenary coaches start to be felt as there are now Coaches at Stanford, LSU, and Arizona State. Additionally, loyalty has its rewards as the coaches who have stuck it out at the same school have 3 full recruiting classes behind them as they build their teams into their personal vision.

    So give us the state of your team. Are you the new coach? Have you been there all along? What did you do last season, what do you expect this year? What is your philosophy on offense and on defense? Who are your key players? I for one am interested to hear how people feel about their teams and what their goals are for this season. I will have mine up for Army later today.

    qclassic 22
    GMONEY 15
    Selvy9
    Automatik
    Abominatrix
    asurob
    Wilfiger PSU 38
    Jamie
    Five_Fifs
     
  2. Wyrmreaver

    Wyrmreaver Ready for Madden 15 on Xbox One, lets get it on!

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    Here is a brief look at the user conferences.

    [​IMG]
    There is little reason to believe that GMONEY 15 and the Virginia Cavaliers won't win another ACC title. After 3 seasons without a conference loss they are the clear favorites. On the flip side, the ACC boasts 5 teams in the preseason top 25, three in the top ten, so the road includes some tough teams.


    [​IMG]
    The Big East just keeps adding and losing teams! They currently sit at 12 schools with a conference title at the end of the year. As a whole, the league is a bit down, not one Big East team cracks the preseason top 25, including surprise national title contender UMass. Coach Five_Fifs and his Minutemen are the clear favorites as the post Riptides USF bulls fade into mediocrity. The division opposite UMass is wide open. There is optimism in philly that coach Wilfiger PSU 38 and the Owls of Temple could actually be that team that faces UMass for the conference crown, but the Owls will have to do it with a true freshman at QB, and we aren't talking about a big time recruit either......


    [​IMG]
    With Bowling Green breaking in a new coach the race for the MAC is wide open. NIU and coach Jamie look to bounce back from a disappointing season last year, and why not? With an accurate senior signal caller, a maturing stable of HBs and senior leadership at the core of their defense, the Huskies look poised to not just compete, but possibly dominate in the MAC.


    [​IMG]
    The SEC has 4 teams in the top 25. After a miserable 2-10 season, LSU canned Les Miles and turned to local hero and defensive guru coach Automatik to right the ship. Its a tough road with 2 top ten teams in their division plus unranked Alabama to contend with, but LSU had far more talent than their record a year ago and with a dynamic young coach they could sneak up on people and find themselves in the SEC title game. In the SEC East the competition is a little less fierce. The team to watch is Kentucky and coach asurob . The Wildcats went to a bowl last season and have a young, athletic roster with a stud at QB. This could be the year they get over the hump.


    [​IMG]
    Arguably the best conference in college football, the Pac 12 boasts 5 teams ranked in the preseason top 15. Defending champs Cal and coach Abominatrix will have their work cut out this season, not only do they have a tough out of conference schedule, they draw the toughest team in the Pac 12 south (USC) and have to contend with the brutal Pac 12 North just to get to the conference title game. The week 13 rivalry game against Stanford could very well determine who plays in the conference championship game and early season match ups with Virginia and Army should go a long way towards setting the tone for their season. Stanford and Coach Selvy9 had one of the top recruiting classes in the country and this tough Stanford team should have a nice year. A week 2 conference game at Arizona State and their new coach, qclassic 22 could turn out to be a critical early season test for both teams. For Stanford, they need the momentum to carry into the meat of their Pac 12 North schedule. For ASU, a new coach, a new scheme, and a new season could start with a bang if they can upset the Cardinals. The Sun Devils dont have a ton of talent, but coach Q had plenty of success at Bowling Green. On the heals of the Stanford game, Q will host his former team who will be looking to make a statement and then they host a hungry LSU team. For ASU they could be off to a fast start or could get in a hole quickly.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2012
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  3. Jamie

    Jamie Walk On

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    Season three at Northern Illinois. Would have been fourth but cpu really wanted me to be the DC at NC after year one. In hindsight, maybe I should have taken it.

    Coach Wolf is on very thin ice with the AD at NIU. Having only a 5% approval rating at seasons end and missing a bowl game. Coach Wolf contends that it isn't his fault as he missed two games last year do to personal issues; games NIU would go on to lose.

    The six headed ground game returns for NIU, a stark contrast to the first season when Jordan Lynch was under center. Matt McIntosh and Nick Miller lead the offense with running backs Willie Fox, Anthony Williams, Chris Collier and Ayo Smith. A nice mix of speed and power. When they do go to the air, a quick short passing arsenal is used with TE converted to Wide Out, Perez Ford. George Miller, a speedster with quetionable hands, lines up opposite. ATH Cameron Prince will be in the slot and may end up starting if Miller can't get his stickum to work. Super Soph TE Brandon Fitch will provide some big play hands for this offense in desperate need of those.

    The defense may be in trouble this year. The loss of big time safeties Zac Giller and Durante Deshane leave a huge void that must be filled with Fresh SS Brian Hollis. Rasheen Lemon is the new FS and they hope he can do half the job that Zac did. The two book ends of the front four are pass rusher Lionel Gibson and run stuffer Nick Miller. The middle of the front four took a hit with the graduation of Frank Bonzie. Donovan Gordon and Jerrel Lynch hope to solidfy the middle. The linebacking corp of Adam Bolden, Videl Nelson and Kris Carter will have to make big plays all over the field for this team this year.

    This year will depend on the will to run the ball. If I deviate from that game plan and try to hit too many home runs, it will be a long season. Eliminate turn overs and ball control and I think we will be fine. Without knowing the schedule, I am projecting 8 wins, the MAC Title and a return to a bowl.
     
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  4. Wyrmreaver

    Wyrmreaver Ready for Madden 15 on Xbox One, lets get it on!

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    [​IMG]

    Last Season: 12-1, BCS Bowl Game Winner, #5 in the final Polls

    This Season: #17 in the Preseason Polls

    Key Losses: MLB Geoffery Bacon, HB Larry Dixon, WR Alshon Merrick, SS Joe Gibson, Top 3 CBs.

    Offense: The Black Knights struggled a bit early offensively and even had a bit of QB controversy brewing. Freshman Johnny Patton settled in nicely though as the season went on and established himself as the starter. Anthony Payne, the highly touted prospect who pushed Patton for Playing time moves to WR this season. The team lost it's leading rusher and receiver from a year ago, but make no mistake, this team is stacked at the skill positions. The Black Knights will employ an attack that spreads the field and gets as many of those guys into the game as possible. Opposing teams can also expect to see a lot of no huddle and a focus on the passing game with the rushing game being mostly complimentary.

    Defense: The loss of Bacon at MLB is huge, he was one of the premiere playmakers in the country for three seasons. Despite losing so many players at CB (4 graduated, including the top 3 on the depth chart), there is reason for optimism as the Black Knights signed a 4 blue chip CB prospects. The loss of Gibson hurts as well, but the team is not without talent at safety. Army employs an aggressive 3-3-5 scheme that focuses on putting the linebacking corps in position to make plays all over the field, the front 3 are all back and both OLBs return, so the expectations for the defense are pretty high overall despite the loss of key players.

    QB: True Sophomore Johnny Patton (86 OVR) returns to lead the team. Patton is a tough runner and an able passer who should be able to keep defenses on their toes. Senior Angel Santiago (86 OVR) will be the back up. Athlete Lamont Smith (80 OVR) will take a redshirt and should develop into Patton's eventual replacement.

    HB: Versatile and dangerous Obadiah Lowe (89 OVR) is the teams #1 big play threat. Joining him at HB is converted FB Hayden Tippet (88 OVR), a 242 pound bruiser. Also expect RS Freshman Seth Pope (85 OVR) to get some carries.

    WR: Fifth year Senior Devon Castuje (86 OVR), the former Stanford Cardinal, is this teams #1 target on the outside. Castuje is a big target with a knack for making impossible catches. On the other side, Anthony Payne (85 OVR), who played QB last season, will start. Payne played WR in spots as a freshman last season and coaches were impressed enough to pull the trigger on putting there full time. He brings excellent run after catch potential along with Wildcat or trick play possibilities with his throwing ability. Behind those two are Sophomore Tommy Lyles (84 OVR), a phenomenal route runner who knows how to get open, Sophomore Paris Harrison (84 OVR), a big target who can make plays in traffic, and RS Freshman Chaz Matthews (84 OVR), who lacks gamebreaking speed but does everything else well that a WR should and has excellent size.

    TE: 6'7" Sophomore Mike Mason (86 OVR) returns after a breakout freshman year. Mason is a huge target in the middle of the field who has the most reliable hands on the team. Backing him up will be RS Sophomore Billy Davis (83 OVR) who has excellent speed and hands for the position, allowing Army to pass out of 2 TE formations consistently.

    OL: Guard Steve Schumaker (87 OVR) and Center Ryan Powis (90 OVR) anchor the best O-line that Army has employed under coach Hennessy. This is still a somewhat limited group, but given the success they've enjoyed with less talent, they should be fine.

    DL: All three starters return, but none are really stars. Senior Jacob Drozt (84 OVR) is at the nose with fellow seniors Colin Linkul (79 OVR) and Jacob Watts (76 OVR) flanking him. This unit may struggle to provide a pass rush and force the coaches once again to rely on the blitz to create pressure.

    LB: Seniors Adam Booth (78 OVR) and Jay Joliffe (78 OVR) return on the outside. Both players are fast for the position and enjoyed nice seasons a year ago with Bacon taking all of the offenses attention off of them. Sophomore Kevin Williams (76 OVR) steps into the middle. At 6'2" and 249 pounds he surely has the requisite size. Like the other LBs, Williams has good speed for the position, additionally, he has excellent block shedding skills.

    CB: Senior Luke Smith (87 OVR) will start and lead this young group. Opposite Smith, true freshman Ryan Smith (79 OVR) will get a shot. In the nickel, man cover specialist Marcus Easley (77 OVR) will see time as a true freshman.

    FS: Sophomore Lamont Ray (84 OVR) will once again start. Ray has phenomenal speed which allows him to be very successful playing the 1 deep in the 3-3-5 base looks. Ray is also an excellent tackler, an essential skill as the last line of defense.

    SS: Junior John Bennett (88 OVR) enters his third year as a starter. Bennett is a solid overall safety who has NFL tackling ability. This kid is the real deal up near the line of scrimmage in the 3-3-5, plus he has hands like a receiver and makes QBs pay if they make a poor read or throw in his area. Starting opposite him in the 3-3-5 will be Sophomore Brian Jaques (77 OVR). Brian showed some flashes last season as he replaced Bennett for a few games due to injury. Coaches hope that those flashes can turn into consistent play as a starter.


    Verdict: With a top 20 preseason ranking the sky's the limit for this team. Looking at the offense, they are really a year away from being truly special, but they have enough to be great now. Defensively this team has 5 of the front 6 in their senior year, so now is the time. There will undoubtedly be major tests on the schedule this season, but after back to back 12-1 campaigns, this team is looking for perfection.
     
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  5. Selvy9

    Selvy9 Walk On

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    Despite the Stanford Cardinal's #12 preseason ranking, it will be a relatively young and inexperienced team taking the field in Palo Alto this season. Junior QB Marcus Johnson will finally take over the starting role. Johnson got some quality playing time in split duties with Brett Nottingham last season, but now it is all on the junior's shoulders. Barry Sanders and Remound Wright return to the backfield after strong 2014 seasons, so look for the Cardinal to exercise a strong run game.. This will be made possible by the strength of the Cardinal offense, the offensive line. With 4 seniors starting on the O-line, the big, strong, veteran line could prove to be the difference late in game this season.

    Defensively, the front 7 is anchored by a pair of upper classmen on the ends, Luke Kaumatule and Aziz Shittu, and senior MLB James Vaughters. The secondary can't be overlooked, however, with seniors Richard Pippins, Wayne Lyons, Andrew Meyers, and junior Taurean Stevenson leading the way. There is certainly an amount of growth that can be done by this 2015 Stanford team, but with the speed on offense, the strength and experience on both lines, and the knowledge learned during coach Selvy's first year at the helm in 2014, there is no reason to expect anything less than a conference title game for the Stanford Cardinal this season.
     
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  6. Automatik

    Automatik Walk On

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    LSU Tigers
    After last year's 2-10 season, LSU's AD decided that he had enough of Les Miles' shenanigans and hired Oregon's DC Heisenberg. The Tigers enter a season unranked for the 1st time since 2000.
    This is by far the youngest team coach Heisenberg has had in his career and it might be the youngest team in the nation with only 8 seniors on the roster. Look for some inexperienced players playing big roles in key positions this year.
    Offense: Heisenberg has never had this much talent of the offensive side of the ball. In previous seasons a Heisenberg coached team was known for its running game(Michael Dyer - Heisman) but this year the Tigers will look to pass the ball more while running a two QB system with senior Stephen Rivers #17 quarterbacking the majority of the plays while JUCO junior transfer Wes Joyce #4 will come in certain Red zone/short yardage situations. Their running game will be led by SO Lamarr Russell whose elusiveness(95) and route running(80) will be key for the Tigers to return to the top of the SEC. LSU's starting WRs all have great speed and will give opposing DCs nightmares trying to figure a way to slow them down.
    The offensive line should be the Tigers biggest strength this year with two pre season All Americans at LG and C.
    Defense: LSU's will be starting 3 sophomores at LB this year, sure the young LBs will make mistakes but their elite speed will also minimize those mistakes. Once again LSU has got itself another 1st round talent at CB, Jalen Collins(94 ovr) possesess very good speed with amazing Man and zone coverage skills(both 99). Look for coach Heisenberg, a former CB, to mentor this group of DBs into one of the nations best.
    Prediction: Even though the Tigers field a young squad, they have great talent at key positions, look for them to challenge for the SEC title and possibly sneak into the BCS title picture at the end of the year. 12-1
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012
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  7. Wilfiger PSU 38

    Wilfiger PSU 38 Walk On

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    Temple is on the rise...and ar posed to get back to a Bowl this year. We have lots of talent on both sides of the ball...WE ARE A VERY YOUNG team, but this group of guys to me gives us the best team we have had since I've been here.

    The Offense is talented and we look to feature the TE to balance and help out our running game and to allow our WR to get open.

    On D we will try to Man up and Pressure oppsing teams with Blitz from anywhere on the field...this will relie in our DB's and Safteys however.


    Special teams look very good this year probaly are best players talent wise our here so we look for a few TD's here as well.


    We are very excited about the season...
     
  8. Abominatrix

    Abominatrix Walk On

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    /bulletinboard

    12-3-2012 9-14-11 AM.png
     
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  9. Abominatrix

    Abominatrix Walk On

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    Cal Bears 2015 Preview
    The 2015 California Bears, coming off a national championship the year prior, are looking to temper expectations for this year's squad. Despite the return of nearly everyone at the offensive skill positions (most notably QB Kyle Boehm), the Bears' favorable schedule in 2014 has turned into one of the most difficult schedules in the country in 2015. Cal must face 6 pre-season ranked teams, and 4 of those games (#3 UVA, #11 USC, #9 Oregon, #12 Stanford) are on the road. The team may very well be better than last year's edition, but the difficult schedule may tarnish the record. The most important games on the schedule come in the last two weeks, with a game @Oregon followed by what could be a Pac-12 Championship Play-in game @Stanford.​
    Offense: Most of the key skill players return, with the top receiving options (Powe, Treggs, Lawler) from last year all coming back. They will be fed by QB Kyle "Boom Boom Boom" Boehm, coming off a freakishly efficient year through the air. The Bears return 100% of their rushing yards from last year in HBs Bigelow and Lasco. The most notable loss is TE Wark, who will be replaced by a platoon of younger guys. The offensive line doesn't have a senior starter, but needs to gel quickly in order to keep Boehm on his feet. If Boehm gets the time, opposing defenses will suffer the consequences.​
    Defense: The defense is comparatively a more veteran group than the offense, with very talented seniors manning the line. No one player on the defense is notably better than any other, but if there were a headliner, it would be CB Kameron Jackson. Despite the presence of much taller corners, he has solidified his spot in this defense with superior technique and athleticism. Other seniors dot the roster, and only 3 of Coach Natrix's recruits will have a starting spot this season (DT, CB, SS).​
    Special Teams: All-World K Cole Leininger returns for his senior season, and he'll continue to be a force in the kicking and kickoff games. Newcomer P Barrett Ferguson will have to prove himself in the punting game, though the high powered Cal offense won't give him too much work.​
    Prediction: This edition of the California Bears is of similar quality to last year's national championship team, but the schedule is just brutal. It will likely come down to Cal and Stanford for the North title, and the South is wide open.​
    Wins: @Arizona, Utah, BYU, @WSU, UCLA, OSU​
    Toss-Ups: @UVA, Army, @USC, Wash, @Oregon, @Stanford
    Likely Record: 10-3
     
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  10. Wyrmreaver

    Wyrmreaver Ready for Madden 15 on Xbox One, lets get it on!

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  11. Automatik

    Automatik Walk On

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    You put a lot of emphasis on Stanford, I'm guessing that game is pretty important ;)
     
  12. Selvy9

    Selvy9 Walk On

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    Expectations are one thing. Getting there is another altogether. Just hope I don't blow it before week 13, lol.
     
  13. qclassic 22

    qclassic 22 Walk On

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    2015
    ASU lo.jpg

    2014 Record: 4-8
    Preseason Poll #90
    OFFENSE Custom Arizona St
    DEFENSE 3-4

    After a dismal 4-8 season the Sun Devils have a new leader at the helm. ASU starts the season rank 90 in the preseason polls and picked to finish last in the PAC-12 South by almost all the experts. Coach Smith had this to say at PAC-12 media day. "We don't mind being under the radar we can just focus on what we need to to do. We have some key out of conference games against Bowling Green, LSU, and Kentucky and then we go into murderers row meaning the PAC-12 conference schedule. We have our work cut out for us but we expect to compete.". When asked about the style of play for this ASU team coach had this to say. "We're gonna switch it up a bit to work with our strengths on both sides of the ball. I feel that we can run and pass the football effectively so we are gonna try and mix it up. Coach Smith broke down his team at PAC-12 media day like this

    OFFENSE
    QB "We're giving the keys to SR QB Michael Eubank at 6'5" 248 he has decent speed and incredible accuracy. He hasn't played much at all but he should be ready. Also we're gonna get true FR Christian Hill in there. He's 6'5" also but a little lighter at 210 but we're pleased with our QB situation."

    RB " We have SR DJ Foster has good speed and has a year under his belt at starter so we're gonna need him. he rushed for 747 yards last year and we need that number to rise this year. backing him up is SO Chris Beck he hasn't played in his 2 seasons yet but he looked good in the spring and he looks ready. We got a good FB in Alex Bykovskiy so I'm satisfied with this backfield."

    WR " We got 2 returning starters in Dick Smith and Gary Chambers both SRs. Smith with 46 catches and Chambers with 30. We're plugging in SO Marcus Williams another player that's getting his first taste of action is his career at the slot along with Josiah Blandin a tall 6'3" guy. We're young and inexperienced at TE with a SO and 2 true FR and a combined 7 catches but we need this position to step up."

    O-Line
    "We got 2 SRs, JR, SO, and FR starting led by Sr G Evan McCray and the backups are all FR with the exception of a SO. this is a unit that we need prductivity out of and I believe they can get the job done."

    DEFENSE

    D-Line " This is a thin unit for us as we have a JR Carlos Mendoza starting at one DE position and SR Cutter Baldock at the oter. Backing them up are all FR and one SO. In the middle is big Mo Latu at 6'3" 342 we need him to hold it down for us backed up by SR Robert Bishop."

    LBs "Our capitan is leadin this group SR Salamo Fiso who had 45 Tackles 21 for loss and 5 sacks a season ago we're probably gonna need more this year from him as the LB corp is not as strong this year. In the middle we have SR Dustin Koch who has seen little action in his career with no tackles and FR Darren Brown at 6'2 241 is and ideal for a LB. On the other side is SO Quentin Parrish who had 38 tackles as a FR and 28 for loss and 7.5 sacks. So if the middle of this unit holds up we should be ok here."

    Secondary "SR Jimmy Hobbs and JR Joe Washington will get the starts not good numbers for these guys as they have limited action. Nickel back is Michael Davis a SO who had little playing time last year. SR FS Ezekiel Bishop is the leader back there even though his numbers don't prove it he is a leader. at SS we're going with Charles Marshall who also has little experience."

    Special Teams "We have a true FR K in Broderick Washington but he is working hard to improve every day. the Punting game should be solid with SO P Roy Houston. The Return game we're going with WR Marcus Williams and Backup RB Chris Beck."

    OVERVIEW "It seems like a recurring theme as we are very inexperienced and most of our JRs and SRs have had little playing time. I'm not gonna lie but this is going to be a tough season, but this team will not quit and we are gonna play like we know how to. We expect to be in a bowl and to compete for a PAC 12 title."

    Predictions
    Phil Steele 6-6
    Athlon 5-7
    Street and Smith 4-8
    Sports Illustrated 5-7
    Sporting News 7-5
     

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    Last edited: Dec 3, 2012
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  14. Abominatrix

    Abominatrix Walk On

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    Let's just say I can relate to being a blue team and having to play a red team in a Big Game at the end of the season. Go Blue!

    Well, best of luck! I'm going to hope that you end every season 11-1. :)
     
  15. Five_Fifs

    Five_Fifs Walk On

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    2015 UMass Defensive Preview

    With star power at each level, Minutemen expect big things in 2015


    [​IMG]


    For the first time in his time at Amherst, Coach W.D. Franklin enters a season with two members of his defense earning First-Team All-American recognition. Junior strong safety Lance Wilkerson and junior middle linebacker Jorge Smith earned the honors after strong campaigns in 2014 in which they both wrecked havoc rushing the passer, against the run game, and against the pass.

    Both Smith and Wilkerson are known commodities, elite at their respective positions. The hope in Amherst is that their supporting cast elevates its game to similar levels. Losing free safety Ed Saint Vil to graduation is a definite blow. However, the secondary as a unit looks to benefit, as a whole, from both the the infusion of new talent and an open competiton for all positions.

    Freshman cornerbacks Kyle Hughes and Raymond Ferwerda join a unit rich in experience, including juniors Jake Samuel and Nate Carter and sophomore Roderick ***. Carter earned First Team All-Big East honors at cornerback for efforts last season. After arriving at UMass and being asked to move from his more natural cornerback to free safety thanks to his zone coverage prowess, Carter spent last season splitting time between nickle back and free safety. And now, this year, he appears to have finally carved out a true niche for himself.

    In spring camp, Carter beat out sophomore Roderick ***, a First-Team All-Big East selection himself, for the number two cornerback spot opposite juniorJake Samuel in base sets. In two-deep safety alignments, he will slide to the second deep safety slot and allow *** to man the corner. Ferwerda and Hughes will be eased into duty, seeing time in some nickel and dime sets.

    The most interesting battle of ****** camp was that at free safety. Much hype was made regarding 2-star recruit Jake Parsons ability. In a class where more highly touted players were being redshirted, conventiona wisdom followed that lowly-regarded Parsons would not see the field this year and that junior free safety Brent Gardner and sophmore free safety Mike Parker would man Ed Saint Vil's old position.

    Well conventional wisdom lost. **************** in coverage where Parker and Gardner had deficiencies. At 6'4, 237, he brings a physcal presence that neither Gardener nor Parker can match. However, the clincher was the cerebral way in which he plays the game, able to gianoses offenses as if he were a quarterback in an audible, that earned him the single-high free saftey starting position. Gardner and Parker will split time at the the "Sam" strong safety postion, lining up in the box almost as a third or fourth linebacker.

    At linebacker, sophomore Shaun Spurlock will see the most time partnered with Smith in base 4-2-5 sets. Spurlock is primed to have a breakout season after seeing spot duty as a back up to Greg Hilliard last year. Spurlock has good speed and great explosion and is more solid in coverage than the deprated Hilliard. His strength, however, is in getting off blocks and attacking the run. The backups are sophomores Michael Willaims at outside linebacker and Tra Romero in the middle. Romero will also see time along side Smith in some base sets. Romero is not nearly the athlete his cohorts in the linebacker corp are, but he is heady, skilled, and disciplined in hs techniques in both the run and pass game.

    To be noted, though noe of them are expected to see the field this year, Coach Franklin recruited four linebackers this past season who will all redshirt this season and provide an absurd amount of depth next season. Billy Gant leads a class which includes, Kenny McClellan, Trey Murphy, and Scott Davis who look to solidify the Minutemen linebacker unit for the next half-decade.

    Finally, there is the defensive line **********. The unit with the most questions is also the unit with the most promise. Sophomore defensive end David ****** leads the unit. As a freshman, ****** had a standout season due in large part to his ability to rush the passer, earning him First Team All-Big East recognition coming into the season. Opposie ****** is the speedy Anthony Espinosa, a true see-quarterback, chase-quarterback,- hit-quarterback kind of pass rusher. Both are allowed to stay fresh thanks in large part to the rotation of backups Jon Edwards and Shaun Jean. Both juniors, Edwards and Jean both lost out on starting spots to the sophomores, ****** and Espinosa. But instead of moping, or transferring, both Edwards and Jean have embraced their roles and provide good pressure when in the game. Both look to be able to finish the job better in the coming year.

    Finally at defensive tackle, the Minutemen are quick and talented, but severely light in the pants last year. Accordingly, put great emphasis this offseason on getting bigger. As a result, three of the four linemen they use in their rotation are over 300 pounds; junior Grant O'Brien (308), and sophomore Alex Poole (310) and Doug Griffin (316) all serve in compliments to Joe Cameron, an qual opportunity run-stopper and pass rusher as a sophomore. The influc of youth last year (******, Espinosa, Cameron, Griffin, Poole) brought legitimacy to the unit with talent alone last year. No longer a glaring weakness, the Minutemen defensive line allowed its linebackers and safeties to run free and make plays last year. This year, the unit hopes to take a step forward and become playmakers on the front-line themselves. And with experience and physical maturity on their sides, that possibility appears likely.

    2015 UMass Offensive Preview

    Minutemen looks to be more explosive sans Ernest Lee and Jordan Broadnax

    [​IMG]

    Jordan Broadnax. Ernest Lee. Marken Michel. Ed Saint Vil. Greg Hilliard. Aaron Simmons. Those are the only Minutemen from the two-deep last year no returning. All but Simmons graduated; Simmons, a former 4-star defensive tackle and member of W.D. Franklin's much heralded recruiting class of 2013 transferred citing a lack of playing time.

    Returning to lead the offense are junior QB Randy Palmer, junior WR Donte Gaston, and sophomore TE Chris McCall are the known commodities on offense. With two years under his belt, this is the year that many hope Palmer will find consistency in his performance. In his first two seasons, Palmer has been prone to turnover-spells that would blemish otherwise sterling performances. The hope is this year, Palmer will utilize ***************** running abilities more as opposed to forcing himself to play as a "traditional" quarterback, cutting down on his interceptions and sacks in the process.

    Gaston and McCall both had impressive years receiving last year, earning them first team All-Big East honors entering the season. Gaston emerged from the shadows of the since-departed Ernest Lee to become a legitimate number one receiver. As a freshman, McCall proved that he could provide the highlight catch, in addition to the routine, while also stretching the field. They will be joined this season by freshman Sam Davis, a true burner with a knack for the incredible play. In terms of depth, senior Elgin Long and junior Anthony Hopkins are unspectacular, but legitimate, reliable contributors in the passing game capable of starting in a pinch. Freshmen Brian Scott and Wallace Hill are expected to redshirt this season, but if called into duty, possess big play potential.

    The backups at tight end are senior Dan Foessel and junior college transfer Dane Griffin provide both size and speed to the passing attack. Foessel is also a capable blocker and will see most of his time in two-tight-end sets.

    The biggest questions of offense are in the backfield where a true halfback-by-committee approach seems to be the modus operandi. After two years of being the thunder to Jordan Broadnax's lightning, junior Darren Darby is ready ********* the primary back role in the stable. Hopes are that he is able to prove a more consistent threat between the tackles than Broadnax, and thus provide provide more balance to the Minutemen's "Hash, Grits, and Eggs" scheme, which has been more pass heavy than diverse in Franklin's three years in Amherst.

    Sharing the halfback duties with Darby will be sophomore Josh Leonard and junior Julius Jones. Leonard provides an explosive element to both the run game and screen game, whereas Jones is more a brusier in the mold of Darby. Sophomore fullback Randall Holmes also expects to see some carries when not clearing the path for Darby and crew. Also expect to see Holmes utilized more in the pass game, as Coach Franklin has made utilizing Holmes a priority this offseason.

    Backing up Holmes are juniors Brent Franklin and Braylon Harris. Harris, lauded for his receiving abilities coming out of junior college two years ago, has been under utilitzed in his tenure at Amherst. At 6'3, 263, Harris ******************* speed for his size. It will be interesting to see how Coach Franklin is able to get production out of two fullbacks in this offensive scheme. Brent Franklin is more of a tradition fullback and *********** to only see sonme spot duty in short yardage situations.

    Along the offensive line, the Minutemen return all five starters from a year ago. The hope is that a year of familairity and individual improvement will make this unit more consistent than a year ago when both its collective ability to open holes in the run game and protecting the quarterback would come and go. Junior center Eric Thomas and junior right guard Johnathan Olson are the longest tenured members of the unit, having started since they were true freshmen. Though undersized at 263 pounds, Thompson has shown an ability to hold his own against much larger players while also being athletic enough to reach the second level. Olson is a pure mauler in the run game, possessing excellent technique and size at 6'5, 336 pounds. He is joined on the right side by arguable the most talented member of the unit, Dalton Gifford, the former Boston College Eagle. Gifford **************** strong and well-rounded in all techniques and together with Olson appear to bring a potentially ********** power element to the running game on the right side.

    On the left side, there is a bit of a youth movement afoot. Both left tackle Lance Young and left guard Jon Sowell started last year as true freshman. They represent a blend ************** and more pass protection ability as compared to the more brutish approach of the right side.

    The primary backups are senior John Ray at tackle and sophomore Matt Bonds and junior Matthew Sparks at guard. Both Ray and Bonds have starting experience and bring a nastiness to the running game, as does Sparks.


    OVERALL OUTLOOK

    Both the offense and defense are the best units that Coach W.D. Franklin has had since taking the helm at UMass. Upon his arrival, he had unarguably, the least talented roster in all of FBS football. Three recruiting classes later, his vision has truly taken form and his roster is littered with highly regarded recruits who have seen success on the field and are now higly decorated with various recognitions and honors. Having moved from the MAC to the Big East, attention is not as hard to come by these days. After a surprise national championship run and a controversial loss in the title game, the Minutemen are a motivated bunch with the goal of claiming what they feel is truly theirs. The amazing part is that their roster is still young, with only 9 seniors on the roster this season, only one of whom is a starter. Possibly returning 21 starters next year, quality depth waiting in the wings at each position, and stars in waiting like QB Jeremy Holland, WR Sam Davis, OLBs Shaun Spurlock and Billy Gant, and DL David Brooks, Joe Cameron, and Anthony Espinosa already learning the ropes, the future at UMass is so bright that you gotta wear shades!!!

    National title hopes may be out of reach this season. Coming into the season unranked despite their run last year and losing only 11 players off of their two-deep, the Minutemen certainly have the cards stacked against them. They will have to run the table and have yet another undefeated season in order to sniff a BCS game. And with a schedule featuring a rejuvenated LSU squad, followed by the #3 Virginia Cavaliers and #5 Auburn Tigers in a three week span, it seems that the football gods are not holding the Minutemen in high regard at the moment. But with a new contract under his belt, Coach W.D. Franklin has made it abundantly clear that he is ready to take on the critics.....the BCS......and America herself to bring a championship to Amherst, MA.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2012
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