Slapdash

When you don’t know what to write about, just start writing. Subtitle: I take a look at the remaining basketball games and update the football depth chart herein.  [Read more…]

2016 Depth Chart

It’s the Monday after the Northwestern game, so that means one thing: a look at next year’s three-deep. I’ll start with the chart and then, well, then I’ll probably write 1,500 words on how Bill Cubit couldn’t be handed a more complete roster. Talent is debatable, but this will be the most experienced Illini team of my lifetime. [Read more…]

End Of Rantoul Three-Deep

Craig emailed me his depth chart today. And I TOTALLY DIDN’T LOOK AT IT because I knew I was writing this post. Once I’m done here I’ll go look at Craig’s. And then mock him for his third string Star not being promising walkon Cedric Doxy. I think Ced can hold down the 3rd-string spot, but Craig probably thinks Justice will prevail. [Read more…]

Post-Spring Three-Deep

I wrote this long, whiny post yesterday about burnout and the perils of maintaining a near-daily blog whilst working a sometimes hectic full-time job (and being a father & husband). But it had been far too long since I wrote something and deleted it, so it’s in the trash. Instead, let’s get to all the posts I should have written since the spring game. First up: depth chart. [Read more…]

2015 Three-Deep

I love that this feels premature. The day after each season ends, I do a depth chart for the next year. The season “ended” yesterday so it’s time for the depth chart, right? Well, yes, but the season isn’t over. These seniors get one more game. Have you heard? We’re going to a bowl game. [Read more…]

Post-Rantoul Three-Deep

This one was pretty easy.  As far as competitions for starting spots go, there’s really only three open competitions right now: quarterback, of course (for a competition there wasn’t much competing), right tackle (Pat Flavin or Christian DiLauro), and Leo (DeJazz Woods or Dawuane Smoot).  The rest of the starters seem to be set in stone. [Read more…]

Spring Mailbag III

I think I have enough questions for seven or eight of these. Is it bad if this site is ten to twelve consecutive days of spring football mailbag posts? I guess that would make The Seventeen happy, but that’s not really smart blogging, right? I should probably talk about something other than the third string offensive guards.

[Read more…]

Pre-Spring Depth Chart

Spring Practice starts in 15 days. Want to know the weird thing? For maybe only the third time in the last 30 years, those words are somewhat musical to the ears of Illini fans longing for something – anything – to prevent another look at the current Big Ten basketball standings.

OK, fine, it’s only me and the other 16 of you. But Spring Ball starts in 15 days, so we need to get prepared. [Read more…]

My Preseason Depth Chart

I always end Rantoul with my guess at the depth chart, and here it is nearly a week since I’ve been home, and I haven’t three-deep’d yet.

That’s right, three deep. Because two deeps are something Fitzee would do.

QB: Nathan Scheelhaase (SR) / Reilly O’Toole (JR) / Aaron Bailey (FR)
RB: Donovonn Young (JR) / Josh Ferguson (SO) / Dami Ayoola (SO)
TE1: Jon Davis (JR) / Matt LaCosse (JR) / Kenny Knight (SO)
TE2: Evan Wilson (SR) / Tim Clary (SO) / Tyler White (FR)
LT: Simon Cvijanovic (JR) / Dallas Hinkhouse / Austin Schmidt (FR)(JR)
LG: Michael Heitz (JR) / Joseph Spencer (rs-FR) / Harry Black (FR)
C: Alex Hill (JR) / Jake Feldmeyer (SR) / Tony Durkin (rs-SO)
RG: Teddy Karras (rs-SO) / Chris O’Connor (rs-SO) / Jesse Chadwell (FR)
RT: Corey Lewis (rs-SR) / Pat Flavin (rs-SO) / Christian DiLauro (FR)
WR1: Spencer Harris (SR) / Justin Hardee (SO) / Marchie Murdock (FR)
WR2: Miles Osei (SR) / Martize Barr (JR) / Devin Church (rs-FR)
WR3: Ryan Lankford (SR) / Steve Hull (SR) / Peter Bonahoom (rs-SO)

Leo: Houston Bates (JR) / Dejazz Woods (JR) / DJ Smoot (FR)
DT: Austin Teitsma (JR) / Teko Powell (rs-SO) / Abe Cajuste (JR)
NG: Jake Howe (JR) / Robbie Bain (rs-FR) / Bryce Douglas (FR)
DE: Tim Kynard (SR) / Kenny Nelson (rs-SO) / Chunky Clements (FR)
WLB: Jonathan Brown (SR) / Zeph Grimes (rs-SO) / Ralph Cooper (JR)
MLB: Mason Monheim (SO) / TJ Neal (rs-FR) / Henry Dickinson (rs-SO)
Star: Mike Svetina (SO) / James Crawford (FR) / BJ Bello (rs-FR)
CB: Eaton Spence (rs-SO) / Jaylen Dunlap (FR) / Caleb Day (FR)
SS: Earnest Thomas (JR) / Ben Mathis (SR) / Darwyn Kelly (FR)
FS: Taylor Barton (rs-FR) / Zane Petty (JR) / Jevaris Little (rs-FR)
CB: V’Angelo Bentley (SO) / Darius Mosely (FR) / Dillan Cazley (FR)

K: Taylor Zalewski (SO) / Ryan Frain (rs-FR) / Baron Von Miegham (rs-FR)
P: Justin DuVernois (JR) / Brad Janitz (SR) / Ryan Frain (rs-FR)
LS: Zach Hirth (rs-FR) / Michael Martin (rs-FR)
Hold: Tim Russell (SR) / Justin DuVernois (JR)
PR: V’Angelo Bentley (SO) / Darius Mosely (FR) / Martize Barr (JR)
KOR: Josh Ferguson & Miles Osei / Devin Church & Dami Ayoola

Commentary:

+ First, injuries.  I doubt Eric Finney will be ready for the opener, so I didn’t put him on there.  But I’m guessing Ben Mathis will be back by then, so I did.  And I’m not even acknowledging that Teddy Karras’ injury even happened, so he’s on there.

I should just list them.

Players who aren’t on here because of injury (I’m guessing they won’t be back for the opener): Eric Finney (Star), Vontrell Williams (defensive tackle), Chris Boles (offensive guard), Scott McDowell (offensive tackle), Trevor Kanteman (tight end).
Players who are injured but I added them to the three-deep because I’m guessing they’ll be back: Ben Mathis (safety), Teddy Karras (offensive guard), Ralph Cooper (linebacker).

+ I added two tight end positions.  If you’re super terrific at interpreting things, you might read that to mean we’re going to use a lot of tight ends at different spots on the field, like at fullback, h-back, and tight end.  And if we do that, there are five or six guys who might rotate in.

So I put together two lists.  Because the ultimate tight end is half offensive lineman, half wide receiver, I divided the lists into blockers and receivers.  I’ll let you decide which is which.

+ Putting together this two-deep made me realize that there are two players I didn’t talk about enough in Rantoul: Devin Church and Tyler White.

When Tim Beckman says he doesn’t like to talk about injuries, he doesn’t really ever want to talk about injuries.  For example, Devin Church tore his ACL in late August last year, and nobody knew about it.  Most just thought he was redshirting.  It wasn’t until this spring that we learned it was a torn ACL.

Church is fully healed now and in the mix at slot receiver.  We have four seniors at receiver this year, so it might be a year before Church starts to contribute, but he has an eye-opening burst that I think you’re going to like.

The other name is freshman tight end Tyler White.  When I talked to Alex Golesh about recruiting, when talking about finding diamonds in the rough, he lit up talking about White.  And when you watch practice, White stands out.  A senior and two juniors will lead the way, but of all the tight ends, I think White might have the best combination of blocking and pass-catching.  Two years from now, he could be pretty good.

+ Things I debated a lot before making my selection:

  • Freshman James Crawford in front of BJ Bello at Star.  Bello has a year in the system, but I like Crawford so much that I talked myself into putting him on the second string.
  • DJ Smoot over Paul James as the third string Leo.  I just think Smoot’s frame is a little more Big Ten ready.  They both need muscle, but I think James needs a little more. (I also think James has more potential, but that’s a topic for another day).
  • I considered Aaron Bailey as the backup QB.  Reilly is clearly the guy if Nate gets hurt, but if Nate stays healthy, I think Aaron Bailey will take dozens more snaps than Reilly O’Toole.
  • I really debated Hinkhouse or Schmidt for backup left tackle.  Went with Hinkhouse so that Schmidt can redshirt.  Because I want Schmidt as a three year starter in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
  • Really need to find a spot for Martize Barr and Justin Hardee, but I’m guessing the three starters at wide receiver will all be seniors.
  • Don’t really know who the punt returner will be.  I guessed Bentley.  But Mosely has a shot at it, I think.  Barr, too.

+ Because the players cover multiple positions, the offensive line is always the toughest position to three-deep.  Pat Flavin is the backup right tackle, but if Corey Lewis is out for a few series, I think Michael Heitz slides over from guard to tackle and Joe Spencer comes in at left guard.

So perhaps it’s best to list the OL backups as a nine-man rotation

Cvijanovic – Heitz – Hill – Karras – Lewis are the starters.  6th man is Joe Spencer (either guard spot).  7th guy is Jake Feldmeyer (any of the three interior spots).  8th is Pat Flavin.  9 – I’ll say OT Dallas Hinkhouse.

+ Fourteen freshmen in the defensive three deep.  14.  Fourteen.  And we’ll legitimately rotate three players at some of those positions, so ten of those 14 will probably play.  That’s… that’s a lot.

OK, I think that’s it.  Next time I’ll go five deep.  Pretty much just so I can add #Manberg.

Depth Chart Musings

My WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TELL ME moment for the week happened yesterday.  I saw the press release for the the 2013 Illini Record book, a PDF I visit quite often during the season to see how many rushing yards Steve Havard had in his career (or some such nonsense).  I didn’t flip through it at first, but then saw something on Twitter referring to the “official” preseason depth chart that was released.  WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TELL ME??

As is my usual reaction, I dig out my latest three-deep and compare it to the officially official one.  Let’s go through that exercise.  I guess I hadn’t done one since post-spring (when we didn’t know that Darius Millines and Darrius Caldwell were dismissed yet), so here’s what I had:

QB: Nathan Scheelhaase (SR) / Reilly O’Toole (JR) / Aaron Bailey (FR)
RB: Donovonn Young (JR) / Josh Ferguson (SO) / Dami Ayoola (SO)
TE: Jon Davis (JR) / Evan Wilson (SR) / Matt LaCosse (JR)
LT: Simon Cvijanovic (JR) / Scott McDowell (rs-SO) / Austin Schmidt (FR)
LG: Michael Heitz (JR) / Joseph Spencer (rs-FR) / Chris Boles (rs-SO)
C: Alex Hill (JR) / Tony Durkin (rs-SO) / Jake Feldmeyer (SR)
RG: Teddy Karras (rs-SO) / Chris O’Connor (rs-SO) / Jake Feldmeyer (SR)
RT: Corey Lewis (rs-SR) / Dallas Hinkhouse (JR) / Pat Flavin (rs-SO)
WR1: Martize Barr (JR) / Justin Hardee (SO) / Devin Church (rs-FR)
WR2: Spencer Harris (SR) / Miles Osei (SR) / Peter Bonahoom (rs-SO walkon)
WR3: Ryan Lankford (SR) / Darius Millines (SR) / Steve Hull (SR)

Leo: Houston Bates (JR) / Darrius Caldwell (rs-SO) / Dejazz Woods (JR)
DT: Austin Teitsma (JR) / Teko Powell (rs-SO) / Abe Cajuste (JR)
NG: Jake Howe (JR) / Vontrell Williams (rs-FR) / Robbie Bain (rs-FR)
DE: Tim Kynard (SR) / Kenny Nelson (rs-SO) / Paul James III (FR)
WLB: Jonathan Brown (SR) / Mike Svetina (SO) / Zeph Grimes (rs-SO)
MLB: Mason Monheim (SO) / TJ Neal (rs-FR) / Henry Dickinson (rs-SO)
Star: Eric Finney (JR) / BJ Bello (rs-FR) / Darwyn Kelly (FR)
CB: Eaton Spence (rs-SO) / Jevaris Little (rs-FR) / Dillan Cazley (FR)
SS: Earnest Thomas (JR) / Taylor Barton (rs-FR) / Nick North (rs-SO)
FS: Ben Mathis (SR) / Zane Petty (JR) / Caleb Day (FR)
CB: V’Angelo Bentley (SO) / Darius Mosely (FR) / Jeremey Whitlow (rs-SO)

K: Taylor Zalewski (rs-SO) / Ryan Frain (rs-FR) / Brennen Van Mieghem (rs-SO)
P: Justin DuVernois (JR) / Brad Janitz (JR) / Ryan Frain (rs-FR)

And here’s the official one. So that we can discuss them – that’s the whole point of this exercise here – I italicized the players who are different than my three-deep.

QB: Nathan Scheelhaase (SR) / Reilly O’Toole (JR) / Chase Haslett (SO)
RB: Donovonn Young (JR) / Josh Ferguson (SO) / Dami Ayoola (SO)
TE: Jon Davis (JR) / Evan Wilson (SR) / Matt LaCosse (JR)
LT: Simon Cvijanovic (JR) / Austin Schmidt (FR) / Dallas Hinkhouse (JR)
LG: Michael Heitz (JR) / Joseph Spencer (rs-FR) / Chris Boles (rs-SO)
C: Alex Hill (JR) /  Jake Feldmeyer (SR) / Tony Durkin (rs-SO)
RG: Teddy Karras (rs-SO) / Chris O’Connor (rs-SO) / Jesse Chadwell (FR)
RT: Corey Lewis (rs-SR) / Pat Flavin (rs-SO) / Scott McDowell (rs-SO)
WR1: Spencer Harris (SR) / Justin Hardee (SO) / Kenny Knight (rs-SO)
WR2: Miles Osei (SR) / Martize Barr (JR) / Devin Church (rs-FR)
WR3: Ryan Lankford (SR) / Steve Hull (SR) / Peter Bonahoom (rs-SO walkon)

Leo: Houston Bates (JR) / Dejazz Woods (JR)
DT: Austin Teitsma (JR) / Teko Powell (rs-SO) / Abe Cajuste (JR)
NG: Jake Howe (JR) / Vontrell Williams (rs-FR) / Robbie Bain (rs-FR)
DE: Tim Kynard (SR) / Kenny Nelson (rs-SO)
WLB: Jonathan Brown (SR) / Mike Svetina (SO) / Zeph Grimes (rs-SO)
MLB: Mason Monheim (SO) / TJ Neal (rs-FR) / Henry Dickinson (rs-SO)
Star: Eric Finney (SO) / BJ Bello (rs-FR) / Jeremey Whitlow (rs-SO)
CB: Eaton Spence (rs-SO) / Jevaris Little (rs-FR) / Nick North (rs-SO)
SS: Earnest Thomas (JR) / Ben Mathis (SR)
FS: Taylor Barton (rs-FR) / Zane Petty (JR)
CB: V’Angelo Bentley (SO) / Darius Mosely (FR) / Dillan Cazley (FR)

K: Taylor Zalewski (rs-SO)  / Brennen Van Mieghem (rs-SO) / Ryan Frain (rs-FR)
P: Justin DuVernois (JR) / Brad Janitz (JR) / Ryan Frain (rs-FR)

I have to say, nailing the entire defensive line and linebacker three-deep… I’m bursting, Jerry, I’m bursting.  You know that weird uncle who predicts the high temperature and then watches the evening news and when they say the high was 66 he screams “NAILED IT”?  That’s me right now.  Straining my shoulder to pat myself on the back.

OK, let’s go through some notable things.  Please note that the “official” depth chart only lists freshmen who enrolled early, so guys like Aaron Bailey and Caleb Day will likely find their way onto the list before all is said and done.

  • The biggest eye opener, for me, was seeing Austin Schmidt listed as the second string left tackle.  When a true freshman who enrolled early is listed as the second string left tackle before his first fall camp, you take notice.  After getting my eyes on them I ranked the three freshmen tackles Schmidt-DiLauro-Chadwell, but I didn’t see “second string left tackle” coming from Schmidt.  I’d still love to see him redshirt, but just based on this information, we might need to start thinking about Schmidt as a three or four year starter (three if he plays this year, four if he redshirts).  I’m gonna have to work on some Schmidt from New Girl lines for Austin Schmidt. Maybe something with “youthhss”.
  • I had two starters wrong.  If you read anything I wrote this spring, you know that I was a big fan of juco transfer Martize Barr at wide receiver.  And if you’ve read anything I’ve ever written ever, you know that I’m a fan of walkon safety Ben Mathis.  So I listed both as starters.  This lists both as backups, with Miles Osei the third wide receiver starter and Taylor Barton as the starter at free safety.  I still think both Barr and Mathis will play a fair bit – they’re just not listed as starters right now.
  • Two position changes I noticed.  Nick North has moved from safety to cornerback.  And Jeremey Whitlow, who just moved from wide receiver to defensive back in the spring, is now at the Star position behind Eric Finney and BJ Bello.
  • A few other second string/third string changes I noticed: Pat Flavin is second string ahead of Scott McDowell at right tackle, Baron Von Miegham (Brennen Van Miegham) is the backup kicker behind Taylor Zalewski (and in front of Ryan Frain), and Jake Feldmeyer is ahead of Tony Durkin as the backup center.

The official depth chart also listed specialists.  Zach Hirth is ahead of Michael Martin for the open long-snapper job.  Tim Russell is the only holder listed.  Punt return was a surprise: V’Angelo Bentley in front of Miles Osei (I thought Ryan Lankford or maybe even freshman Darius Mosely would be listed there).  And at kickoff return, it’s Bentley again, listed with Lankford, Osei, and Josh Ferguson.

What does all of this mean? Very little.  It will all change on Monday when the freshmen practice for the first time.  Why am I writing about it then?  Because for me, depth charts are up there with doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles.