We're a few weeks into spring practice now, but you wouldn't know it by the news leaking out of the camp. (That's probably because all the practices are closed, unfortunately). That means the recent outpouring of news (relatively speaking) is noteworthy.
First off, the offensive line is taking another hit, with starting left tackle Justin Gilbert injuring his knee...again. He missed most of last year with an ACL injury, so this is pretty tough news. He'll likely be out until October, meaning he'll probably miss around half of the season, if not more.
The real problem here isn't the loss of a starter, but instead the loss of depth. I like Gilbert a lot, but he didn't have a iron grip on the position over Max Garcia, a true sophomore who saw limited playing time at the same spot last year. Garcia will become the starter at LT now, and I'm okay with that. He was really highly-touted coming out of HS and is lauded for his athleticism and quick feet. In fact, I'm intrigued to see what Garcia, who could be a three-year starter, can do.
But if Garcia gets hurt, that's when things get tricky. The only other LT on the team is Cody Blue, a converted defensive lineman who's seen minimal playing time. In fact, I can't remember the last time his name came up in conversation. My real fear comes from operating with one known commodity at one of the most important positions on the field. Don't be surprised to see some shuffling to compensate for that.
Elsewhere, Randy Edsall is claiming that C.J. Brown is putting pressure on Danny O'Brien for the starting QB job. The quotes in the article linked tell me a few things:
- C.J. is who we thought he was in physical terms ("he can make plays") but he has to be turning a corner mentally. His drawback was his ability to grasp the playbook, but physically he has every tool he needs.
- Danny is struggling with the transition. I remember reading awhile back that he struggled with the offense initially, and despite reports that he's turned that corner, Edsall's saying he's still dealing with "newness things." But C.J. isn't? That's strange.
- This still isn't serious. Edsall did the whole "You always need someone pushing you," thing, which definitely sounds like this is token pressure instead of an actual battle. And besides, I don't care who it is or how they look in practice: you do not bench the ACC Rookie of the Year and the guy most people expect to be the best QB in the ACC. You do not do that. Edsall knows that. He's praising C.J. and giving, again, token pressure. Danny will respond and all will be well. Even if Danny doesn't, all will be well anyway.
- But don't count out a Wildcat variant. After the Josh and Jamarr Experiment, I never even want to think about going dual-QB again. But Crowton's a spread guy, so throwing in a QB/RB* hybrid in Brown every once in awhile (mini-Tebow?) might be attractive.