Spring Game 2010: See Sam Run

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If I can avoid dozing off at my desk (hooray for sleep deprivation!), I'll write and post a feature on So. RB Sam McGuffie, who opened up on a variety of subjects following practice on Thursday. Don't know if I've ever met anyone with relative fame whose personality serves as such a stark contrast to his public perception. There is no arrogance or pretense to McGuffie; he is a hard-working kid who just happens to be an athletic marvel. More on all of that later.

As for Saturday, McGuffie will have his carries limited, keeping in line with the plan adhered to by the coaching staff throughout the spring. McGuffie is singularly talented, yes, but his role in the offense goes far beyond his actually getting touches. The mere threat of his presence will open the field for So. TE Vance McDonald and So. RB Charles Ross to exploit. Given the options he plans to utilize and the offensive versatility of which he has inferred, Owls OC David Beaty can not afford to lose McGuffie to a spring practice injury. Thus, McGuffie will get in for a few plays and he'll exit stage left. Take heed: When McGuffie is out there, watch No. 3

While acknowledging that injuries to Sr. OL Scott Mitchell and RS Fr. OL Bobby Janisch make evaluations somewhat tricky, the offensive line continues to underwhelm. Granted the rotation will be altered once Mitchell and Janisch return to the fold, but the quarterbacks haven't had much of an opportunity to excel because they haven't enjoyed ample time in the pocket. The source behind my desire to see this team run more often is two-fold: the depth at tailback needs to be exploited to the maximum, and I'm still wary of the O-line's ability to pass block. The defensive line caused disruption without Sr. DE/DT Scott Solomon and So. DE Cody Bauer on Thursday. Just imagine when the defensive front is at full strength during fall camp.

Unless I've missed something (a distinct possibility with this addled brain), Sr. Justin Hill and So. Trey Briggs will be the starters at linebacker without much opposition. If anyone notices otherwise on Saturday, please share with the rest of the class. ... With injuries great and small continuing to mount (Solomon, Bauer, Andre Brackens, Nick Fanuzzi, Turner Petersen), it's tough not to be concerned over Sr. CB Phillip Gaines. Following a collision earlier this spring Gaines had a soft cast placed on his previously fractured wrist. On Thursday, he absorbed the worst of a collision in the back of the end zone and staggered off the field. Gaines plays with a physicality far beyond his modest frame (a la Sr. LB Willie Garley), and while such effort is admirable, Gaines will need to bulk up this summer in order to withstand a full season of the punishment he administers. Asking him to scale back his style of play should not be an option.

Not sure if Beaty is married to the trio of Sr. Corbin Smiter, Jr. Randy Kitchens and RS So. Derek Clark when the Owls go 3-wide (with McGuffie and Jr. Tyler Smith as the two backs), but I've noticed that intriguing grouping before. With so many receivers available (11 on Thursday), the combinations are endless. It seems nearly impossible to whittle that number down to a working collection, but it's fun watching Larry Edmondson coach that group up. He gets after them hard, and I am confident that he'll find a handful of receivers that he can trust.

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Good call on limiting McGuffie's touches. I like the WR rotation, as all 3 have good size which should help in blocking at the very least. Has Clark put things together, or is it just new eyes viewing his abilities more favorably?

The OL remains a concern and indicates to me that we're going to need a mobile QB taking snaps.

Thanks for the coverage, and looking forward to a recap of Saturday's action.

At Ease: Thanks for bringing up the blocking of the receivers. That is one thing that appears to have improved, and while I would prefer that this staff scraps those receiver screens altogether, they will work much better if the receivers actually block. As for Clark, I don't think he has done anything spectacular. The staff recognizes his talent and is simply giving him another opportunity to shine. - MK

MK, whatever happened to Allen at LB?

ChicagoOwl: He's been OK. I guess I expected to see a little more hair-on-fire pursuit, but he certainly fits into their playing rotation. Perhaps he will break out tomorrow. - MK

I wish I could be there, and you know if I was there I would have copious amounts of my own observations, but alas I will have to rely on others'.

That's a big set of WR's, but if you look at the rotations Beaty employed during his two year tenure coaching WRs at Kansas, size was clearly something he valued. Briscoe and Meier were both big bodies at 6-3 210ish and the guys rotated at the 3rd and 4th spots also tended to have good size. One has to think that Denzel Wells and Donte Moore will also be factoring into plans with the speed they bring.

McGuffie doesn't have anything left to prove against the Rice defense, but he and the coaches need to remain aware that things could be wholly different once they face other teams' defenses. It's hard to say how much this defense has advanced from its 73-points-in-one-game-allowing form of last season.

The struggles of the OL vs. unproven 2nd and 3rd stringer types that produced maybe 2-3 sacks last season combined should be highly concerning. Do mental errors and blown blocking assignments still seem to be the primary issue as was the case last year, or are these guys simply being over-matched by the d-lineman?

Talon: The latter. Some guys are just getting shoved back into Cook/McHargue. - MK

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