Training Camp 2019 XVI: Mid-Camp Three-Deep

Aug 12, 2019

I'm constantly (CONSTANTLY) updating the depth chart in my head. Part of it is simply "this guy is clearly ahead of that guy every time they run the first and second strings out there", but part of it is also "I have a hunch he'll pass him by August 31st". So with one more week of open camp (ending with a scrimmage on Saturday at the stadium), here's where I'm at with my depth chart.

Starters in bold, newcomers in italics.

QB | Peters (JR) | Robinson (rs-FR) | Williams (FR)
RB | Corbin (SR) -OR- Epstein (JR) | D. Brown (SR) | Bonner (JR)
TE | Barker (SO) | Walker (SR) | J. Williams (SR)
LT | Lowe (JR) | Cerny (rs-JR) | Slaughter (rs-FR)
LG | K. Green (rs-SO) | Gavin (JR) | Myers (rs-FR)
C | Kramer (JR) | Stover (SO-walkon) | Engel (FR-walkon)
RG | Petitbon (SR) | V. Brown (rs-FR) | Plohr (FR)
RT | Palczewski (JR) | Pearl (rs-FR) | Kirts (FR)
WR-drag | Sidney (JR) | Stampley (JR) | Cumby (FR)
WR-deep | Smalling (JR) | Washington (FR) | Holmes (SO-walkon)
WR-dig | Imatorbhebhe (JR) | Reams (SR) | Davis (SR) | Navarro (SO-walkon)
WDE | Gay (JR) | Shogbonyo (JR) | Mondesir (JR)
DT | Milan (SR) | Oladipo (rs-SO) | Avery (SO) | Pate (rs-SO)
DT | Oliver (SR) | Woods (rs-SO) | Jackson (SR)
SDE | Carney (JR) | Betiku (JR) | Randolph (FR)
WLB | Hansen (JR) | Tolson (SO) | Cooper (FR)
MLB | Harding (SR) | Barnes (FR) | McEachern (SO-walkon)
SLB | Eifler (JR) | Ware (SO) | Meed (FR-walkon)
CB | Hobbs (JR) | Walker (JR) | Bernat (SR-walkon)
SS | S. Brown (SO) | S. Green (SR) | Marchese (JR-walkon)
FS | Adams (JR) | Joseph (SO) | Smith (JR)
CB | Martin (SO) | Beason (FR) | Leitzsey (JR-walkon)
Kicker | Griffin (rs-FR) -OR- McCourt (JR)
Punter | Hayes (JR) | McCourt (JR)
Longsnapper | Tabel (JR) | Hall (FR) | Rossback (FR)
Holder | Hayes (JR) | C. Miller (JR) | Judd (FR-walkon)
Punt Return | Sidney (JR) | Cumby (FR) | Holmes (SO-walkon)
KO Return | D. Brown/Norwood | Stampley/Sandy


+ First off, I adjusted for current injuries. The third string corners would be sophomore Dylan Wyatt and freshman Joseph Thompson, but neither has participated in practice yet (injury rehab, I guess). So as we get closer to the opener and they're not back yet, I'm sliding the walkons in there.

Other players who weren't in there on Saturday, such as Sydney Brown (rehabbing a hamstring I think?), I left in there because I'm assuming they'll return by the opener. More adjustments on this stuff to come after Saturday's scrimmage.

+ I moved Brandon Peters into the starting QB spot. In my pre-camp three-deep I had Matt Robinson as the starting QB for Akron (he knows the offense, Peters and Williams don't yet), but Robinson has thrown too many interceptions in front of my eyes (and in front of Rod Smith's eyes) to get the starting nod.

But I'm not settled on that yet. I'm mostly picking Peters because he's a fourth-year junior who has started four Big Ten games (at Michigan). When in doubt, choose the guy who can legally drink.

Lovie named AJ Bush the starter on the Monday before the opener last year, so I'd expect something similar this year. Which means there's two weeks to go until a starter is named. Which means all three guys currently in the running still have time to make a push for the starting spot.

+ See all the walkons on the third string in the back seven on defense? Injuries or not, that should be a flashing warning light.

+ I went back in and did the italics at the end (for the newcomers). And it was then that I realized that I have all four transfers starting on offense (Peters, Petitbon, Sidney, and Imatorbhebhe). "All four" meaning "all four transfers on the offensive side of the ball". There are also two transfers on the defensive side of the ball (Eifler and Betiku) and I have Eifler starting and Betiku first DE off the bench (honestly, he might start if they don't think Isaiah Gay is ready to start).

So THAT makes me think that I'm reading too much into the reps all of the transfers are getting. I moved Milo Eifler into the starting role at Sam Linebacker here because, when I've been watching, he's gotten more reps than Delano Ware. And I moved Josh Imatorbhebhe into the starting spot because he gets rep after rep after rep. But maybe those reps are "you're new - let's get you as many practice reps as possible". Meaning, the reps that Betiku, Eifler, Imatorbhebhe, and Sidney are receiving might be fooling me. Something to file away in my brain before my final preseason depth chart.

+ Sorry my wide receiver "positions" are so annoying but I love them. Deep-route receivers, dig-route receivers, and drag-route receivers. Join the deep-dig-drag revolution!

+ The closest position battles besides quarterback: Eifler and Ware for SLB, Griffin and McCourt for kicker. And then all of the "who will be the starter and who will be the backup?" battles at DL and WR. I'm not sure those really matter - I think 5 defensive ends and 7 defensive tackles will rotate fairly heavily and I think at least 7, maybe 8 wide receivers will play against Akron.

So I'm basically waiting for five things as far as starters go:

  • Which QB gets named the starter 14 days from now.
  • Which two defensive ends start the Akron game (Carney and Betiku? Carney and Gay?)
  • Which kicker runs out for the first extra point against Akron (and is it the same guy that kicked off or will we use one of the kickers for each?)
  • Who starts at SLB (Ware or Eifler?)
  • Who returns the first punt?

And it goes without saying: I'll continue to watch the backup holder battle (Cam Miller? Matt Judd?) right down to the bitter end.


MoCoMdIllini on August 12 @ 06:31 PM CDT

What's the barometer on one of our QBs transferring away?

escot on August 12 @ 08:41 PM CDT

What about Carter at WR? Is he not getting any reps yet?

Robert on August 12 @ 11:10 PM CDT

It looks like they're easing him back in after his knee surgery. I don't believe he practiced Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, so perhaps they're monitoring knee swelling and planning out his practice time from there.

ktal on August 12 @ 09:25 PM CDT

Can your Deep, Drag and Dig terminology also be applied to the DB's according to our base defense?

Wasn't the DB position supposed to be an area we had no concerns with depth for a couple more years? Who isn't stepping up?

Robert on August 12 @ 11:34 PM CDT

It's not so much that players aren't stepping up as much as it is injuries. Right now, at corner, Joseph Thompson and Dylan Wyatt are out with injuries. If they were healthy, they'd both be in front of the walkons there (well, maybe not Bernat). Devon Witherspoon, who just enrolled and was at his first practice on Saturday, will likely fight for a backup corner spot as well.

Safety is more of a concern, which is why (in my view) they moved Kendall Smith and Dawson DeGroot back to safety. In the spring, Smith was moved to WR and DeGroot to LB, but this past week, both were back at safety. I think Smith might stay there will DeGroot might go back to linebacker, so that's why I included Smith and not DeGroot.

Duce20 on August 13 @ 04:55 AM CDT

Beason isn’t getting any looks at KR or PR?

HiggsBoson on August 13 @ 03:04 PM CDT

Beason went down with a knee injury today, so probably not.

iluvrt on August 13 @ 10:48 PM CDT

We can't have anything good. Why doesn't a second stringer get the bad injuries? Bad comment I know, but this just sucks. Two top D players hurt. Not sure it looks great for Beason right now

BelieveInIllinois on August 13 @ 06:16 AM CDT

We always dismiss Trenard Davis. He has been the 4th and 5th leading receiver in yards the last two years. In catches, he was the 2nd leading receiver last year with 30. I highly doubt he is 3rd string.

lucasmeducas on August 13 @ 08:45 AM CDT

My changes... Williams over Robinson at QB (Peters is starting). Betiku over Gay at WDE. Woods over Oliver at DT. Griffin kicks FG's & extra points. McCourt has kickoffs.

Douglascountyillinifan on August 13 @ 09:43 AM CDT

Because I'm as mature as your average 12 year old, I see "dodge, dip, duck, dive and dodge" EVERY. SINGLE. TIME I read you're WR descriptions. :-)

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