Gabe Rodriguez drops back to pass in the 2016 Spring Blue/Gold Game
Redshirt Freshman Preston Wheeler looks downfield during the Spring Game.
Who will be the trigger man?-Gabe Rodriguez and Luis Perez are locked in a tight battle for starting quarterback. This is probably the tightest competition that had been in Commerce for quite a while. One would think that Rodriguez has the upper hand as he backed up Harrison Stewart last season and saw action in just about every game. Also, the staff is familiar with how good he is. 3 seasons ago he went 39 for 54 for 418 yards and 4 touchdown passes and one touchdown run. Last year backing up Stewart he also played well in both relief and back-up duty and knows the offense well. Perez red-shirted last year, but despite not seeing any action, he has been totally neck and neck with Rodriguez the entire way. It will be interesting to see who gets the first team snaps and if they go with continuity with Rodriguez or a possible new phenom in Perez.
Keeping The Balance?-Richard Cooper had a tremendous season, as did Theo Wofford. Wofford has graduated, but which of the other back-ups will step up to help Cooper carry the load? Expect guys like Tristan Slaughter and Richard Whitaker to be in the running for helping keep a balanced offense.
Pass/Run ratio?-Last season we did something somewhat odd in that we were able to score quickly if needed, but also whip tail on the line and gash people to burn clock when we needed to run it down against tough opponents. I would assume the staff is going to do the same thing by scoring quickly with the passing game then giving the ball to the running backs to kill clock and grind the other team down. Which leads to the next question.
Are We On Line?-The offensive line of last year was great group in being both pass blockers and run blockers. Elwood Clement and Shane Thompson have graduated, but Landon Watkins, Jason Osei, and Avery Poates all return to the line. Having 3 of the 5 return is a big thing in opening holes for the running backs and keeping whomever is going to be the signal caller upright. Whoever replaces those guys will be instrumental in continued success.
Receiving-Lance Evans, Darby Smith, Chris Chumlay, and Hayden Marsh all return. All but one was a full time starter except Marsh, who should replace Derrick Macon who is no longer with the team for undisclosed reasons. Add Shawn Hooks to that group as well and you have a solid receiving core overall and overall the best team that Colby Carthel has had since he has arrived in Commerce. A lot of continuity and the chance to place his guys in the game and get them to where they want to be.