After watching the Zips play the past month, I have some grades for the offensive positions and some players. Defense will come later.
Quarterback: B. I'm factoring in the injuries to
Chris Jacquemain and
Carlton Jackson, which dug into the experience they might have gained this spring.
Sean Hakes took advantage of that, however. He cut back on his sporadic "whoops" passes and seemed to have his team behind him. Jacquemain played much better after the Blue-Gold Scrimmage. Although I endorsed Hakes for the job, I am guessing Jacquemain might top the coaching staff's list at this point. Jackson really never showed much. His deep ball that he previewed last season wasn't there. Wearing the red no-contact jersey, it was too difficult to say if his scrambling would have been effective. Although the QB battle remains, one question is answered in my mind. This position will not be a weakness in 2007 (although I don't think it will be a strength either).
Running back: A-. This is another position that didn't get to show its full repertoire.
Dennis Kennedy and
Alex Allen each missed a handful of practices for various reasons. But Kennedy looked really good. The runners behind he and Allen also proved they deserve carries in the fall. The backs ran hard and broke about one long touchdown run per practice. I was pleased.
Wide receiver: Incomplete. The Zips started camp without
David Harvey and
Jermaine Lindsey showed off his talent, then he too got injured. The defense picked off a lot of passes, and at least some were the receivers' fault. In their defense, however, the corps was so thin, the wideouts became very weary after a bunch of 4-WR sets.
Tight ends: C+. It would have been nice to see a few more balls go to the tight ends with the wide receiving bunch being so depleted. The good thing is the team cut back on drops at this position. A few drives halted last season because of butterfingers. Individually,
Brian Flaherty made a several solid catches. He has a knack for finding a spot on the field where the defense is not.
Kris Kasperek and
Merce Poindexter were solid.
Offensive line: C. This might have been the biggest question mark heading into the spring. Who would step into the four vacant positions? Several of the young players showed promise at run blocking, but stopping the pass rush was a real problem.
J.D. Brookhart said the team has worked almost exclusively on run blocking so far, so maybe that will improve. Bad snaps from the shotgun are another negative, however. I really think this could be a team strength by midseason. At this point, it is not.
MVP: Dennis Kennedy
Most improved player: Jermaine Lindsey
Biggest disappointment: Carlton Jackson