Round and round we go.
Fall Camp is always full of surprises and this week has already produced two big ones for the Cougs. #1 running back Ricky Galvin has shifted to the slot receiver position and freshman WR/return man Rahmel Dockery has moved to cornerback. One thing made clear by these moves... Mike Leach is not a man encumbered by paradigms. There are two consensuses forming around these moves as I prowl around the coug blog-o-sphere and they are:
1. The Dockery move to corner makes perfect sense. He can still be an explosive playmaker for us as a kick returner down the road. His upside at corner is really intriguing. Corner is a position of need. Basically, “YAY”.
2. Ricky Galvin to the slot is strange. We seemed to have a number of good guys battling to start there, especially Simone, Bontemps and Bomber. Galvin was our #1 running back, so we may have weakened that position group a bit. BUT, this is Mike Leach and he knows what he’s doing and he is putting Galvin where he feels he can do some serious damage. Basically, “Huh? Well f-ck it, lets do this.”
When you look up and down the roster it is clear there is plenty of exciting talent on this team. What is also clear is that the talent is in-experienced and it is concentrated in a few areas. With moves like these that talent is starting to get dispersed around the field instead of bunched up in a few areas. Having a new staff in place looking at this team with a fresh set of eyes has forced all of us to change the way we look at this team and how it’s put together. You have to wonder, could these just be the first of many surprising moves to come. The pre-season is for speculation, and that’s exactly what we’ll do after the jump:
At this time I should note that in addition to Galvin and Dockery moving positions, incoming freshman Alex Jackson has also been getting looks at cornerback even though he was recruited as a receiver. The coaches so far have been coy about whether this is a permanent move.
In trying to predict position shifts I considered three things:
- Where are we overloaded, i.e. a potential contributor is buried by depth.
- Where are we thin, i.e. our three deep includes a ball boy and the mascot.
- Who has the versatile size and athleticism to move between positions.
Let’s start with #1. This can be debated, but to my eyes the most overloaded positions on the roster now are receiver, running back, linebacker, QB and safety (and kicker where Andrew Furney counts as two kickers). Looking up and down the depth chart at those positions I see lots of guys who have the kind of talent you’d like to see on the field, but not nearly enough positions available to get them all out there. However, most of those guys are either limited to their position by their particular size, athleticism or skill set, or the only other position they could move to clearly does not need them.
Now let’s consider #2. We are most in need of help on both our lines where we have been desperately short of talent and depth since the days when we all banked at WaMu, hooked up over Myspace and listened to Dave Mathews. Those were the days. Of course, these are the two positions on the field that require the most scarce physical traits on the roster: size and strength + athleticism. As deep as we may be at running back, none of those guys are going to give us any relief at offensive guard.
And finally, #3. Most guys that may find themselves considered for a position shift would be a bit out of their comfort zone as far as the size and athleticism required for the transition.
With all three of these considerations I came up with 3 guys who have the potential to move, though I am not going to make any predictions that they will. They are:
- Tyrone Duckett. We saw Duckett get some work at linebacker in the Spring game and he has that tweener type size as a 5’11” 205 lb safety. He is also a guy who played a lot of different positions in high school including QB. Still, it seems unlikely we’d poach a position of concern (safety) to bolster a position with lots of talent (linebacker, or receiver).
- Darren Markle. Markle is another guy who appears on paper to have versatile size at 6’1” 240 lbs, but more than his size I feel like his legendary strength make him a candidate for a rotation on the D line. He has also never been known as a particularly quick lateral player as you’d like your linebackers to be. Again, its not a perfect fit, but at least in this scenario we’d be closer to moving a player from a position of strength to one of weakness. However, he does currently represent about 100% of our experience at the linebacker position.
- Logan Mayes. Mike Leach wants his best players on the field as much as possible. With this in mind, getting Logan Mayes involved in the D-line rotation would mean having both him and Travis Long on the field together. This seems possible, but Mayes is also the heir-apparent to take over the starting BUCK position when Long graduates.
The more I look at this roster and shuffle things around, the more I believe that after this initial flurry of moves, we are probably about to settle into fairly firm position assignments for the remainder of camp and into the season. Remember, these coaches had all Spring to consider these moves as well and if they haven’t made a move by now, I have a hard time believing it’s because they haven’t considered it yet. Still, as hard as it is to imagine some of these guys changing positions, it’s even harder to predict what Mike Leach will do next. Did anyone see the Galvin move coming?
So what do you all think? Does Leach have any more surprises up his sleave this year? Cody Clements to safety? Chester Sua to running back? Jake Rogers' hair to nose tackle?