Nowhere To Go But Up

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Want some good news? My pleasure.

It appears as though Fr. CB Phillip Gaines (wrist) will give it a go this Saturday at East Carolina. He was fitted with a cast and told that as long as he can tolerate the pain of playing with a broken wrist, he is free to participate. The news is a bit more hazy with Fr. RB Charles Ross (groin), who is questionable for the C-USA tilt against the Pirates. All told, there are 15 Owls who have started at least one game this season injured to some extent. Only five are on the two-deep depth chart for this weekend: Gaines, So. WR Brent Hotard (thumb), RS Fr. OL Eric Ball (ankle), Sr. DT Chance Talbert (back) and Jr. SS Willie Garley (knee).

So. LB Tanner Shuck (knee) joined the walking wounded on Tuesday, and with Sr. LB Terrance Garmon (lung, concussion) and Matt Nordstrom (foot) already out for this weekend, David Bailiff was forced to move DE-turned-LB-turned-DE Jared Williams back to linebacker. Keep your fingers and toes crossed that Justin Hill and Trey Briggs stay out of harm's way.

Shifting gears for a second, since this is the midpoint of the season the time has come to reexamine the over/under numbers posted prior to the season. At 0-6, some of the stats make perfect sense, but with good health a couple players could make up ground down the stretch:

1. Taylor Wardlow receptions (32). Wardlow is on pace for 44 catches. Sticking with the over.

2. Combined sacks for Solly and Cheta (12). Solomon has four sacks; Cheta 0.5 sacks. Push.

3. Rushing yards/game - team (146.3). The Owls are averaging 86.7 yards/game, and given the injuries on the O-line and at running back, there's no reason to believe things will improve.

4. Combined INTs for Jammer and Ben (6). The Owls have one interception total, which is as amazing a statistic as you will stumble across. Ben was demoted following the Tech debacle.

5. Toren Dixon touchdowns catches (10). Dixon had as many drops against Navy as he has touchdown receptions on the season (two). He'll need a miraculous second half to cover.

6. Combined tackles for Sendejo and Bradshaw (167). Barring injury, the Owls' deep safety tandem will obliterate that number. Sendejo and Bradshaw have totaled 101 tackles thus far.

7. Non-senior receptions leader total (31). Hello, Patrick Randolph. Not only did he snare both of the Owls' scores against Navy, Randolph (40-catch pace) has improved with each game.

8. Turnover ratio (plus-8). With just one interception through six games, it's difficult to post a positive turnover ratio. The Owls sit at minus-7, which explains, in part, their winless record.

9. John Thomas Shepherd rushing yards (307). Shep is on pace to rush for 224 yards, but I don't anticipate his playing nearly enough to reach that total if Nick Fanuzzi remains active.

10. Nick Fanuzzi passing yards (1,818). This one is difficult to call. If Fanuzzi continues to start, he should average at least 200 passing yards/game. That would put him right around the number, so I don't see any legit reason to take the under. The bigger goal for The Nick: 2,000.

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With Ross and Smith dinged, do you think we'll see Marcus Knox gets some more carries this Saturday? Just recently went back and watched the UAB TV broadcast for the first time and he looked really good running the ball on his few carries. He's disappeared the past few games, but he's got the best size of the backs, especially with Ross out.

Also, Pierre Beasley has disappeared. He looked pretty solid against UAB.

Talon: Funny you bring up Beasley because Nate Griffin and I were talking about him on Wednesday. He's been far more consistent in practice this year as opposed to seasons past, so I don't know why he has played so sparingly. He is technically the backup to Dixon, and since Dixon rarely comes out I'm sure that plays a role. As for Knox, I support his playing more, but the staff is trying to get as much speed as possible on the field, and J-Good and Turner have the advantage there. And, I wouldn't scratch Ross off the active list just yet. Talked to him post practice and he said he feels better by the day. Keep those fingers crossed for the young fella. - MK


How many LB's do we have left and who is traveling this week out of that group?

Can you explain to me why some of the guys last year saw significant playing time and are receiving minimal pt this year (Shuck, A. Williams, and Lillard).

Are they all in the doghouse, or is Nordstrom, Briggs, and Hill that much better?

Coach: By my count, the Owls have four LBs left with Hill and Briggs starting and A. Williams and Lillard backing them up. J. Williams was moved back to DE one day after filling in at LB because Kramer Lucio suffered a lower extremity injury. As for Shuck and A. Williams, they were demoted because of poor performances. - MK

I am most surprised by the lack of INTs. The one we have was basically an end of half jumpball.

I'd be curious if there is any talk of changing things up defensively to be more aggressive and perhaps force the big play turnovers.

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