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How Impressed Are You At The Roster Littrell Has Built?


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We're heading into year three of the Littrell era following his third recruiting class and third spring football practice season. The overall roster talent under Littrell has turned around from Mccarney's last year, as we all expected and as it absolutely had to. In year two we saw an impressive 9 wins, but we can all agree that it was not a loaded roster and that a few players, including an all-conference quarterback, really led the way and helped us to a lot of close wins.

Now with our post-spring depth chart out to look at, we have something that roughly resembles what we will trot out on the field for year three. On paper, it reminds me a lot of last year's roster. On offense you have a really good QB, good receivers, offensive linemen who have experience but are likely not going to be preseason all-CUSA picks, and no Jeff Wilson but with a promising young backfield.

On defense you still see not much proven depth, a few solid dependable players, decent amount of returning experience among starters, and mainly upperclassmen starting. One of the two exceptions to the last point was a big surprise in Tyreke Davis being listed over Ashton Preston. Imo that is very promising to see.

My personal evaluation is that we have some star playmakers like Fine, Guyton, and Lawrence who can lead this team to a lot of wins but I'm not necessarily sold that this roster, top to bottom, is shaping up like a top-of-the-conference type roster.

I like seeing Tyreke Davis pushing Preston out of the listed starting lineup because it shows the possibility of a recruited underclassmen locking up a starting spot early because of good play rather than lack of competition at the spot. NFL-type players are guys that come in and push legit D1 players out of starting spots. I would like to see more of that. Many of the young players who have played under Littrell so far have done so by default or because of lack of competition. Ozougwu starting over a walkon at Jack is an example of that. That's not a great look. 

So what do you guys think of the roster Littrell has built to this point? Do you see this roster becoming a top CUSA roster this year? Does this roster have the talent across the board to survive a key injury or two? 

Edited by BillySee58
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We're heading into year three of the Littrell era following his third recruiting class and third spring football practice season. The overall roster talent under Littrell has turned around from Mccarn

Agreed. This is a defense that will continue to struggle. And at this point the blame has to fall on this staff. It was an issue on the roster when they took over and they have done minimal to shore i

My thoughts. The roster was better in year two than in year one. The roster is better in year three than in year two.  Will they go 12-0? I don't think so but they will win between 8 or

24 minutes ago, golfingomez said:

i'm still worried about the line on both sides of the ball... neither side has been very strong since '13 and it started to really show towards the end of last year

 

23 minutes ago, MeanGreen13 said:

That wide receiver room is legit! 

Two very strong comments to start this off. Completely agree on both.

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Love our QB, very much like our WRs, our RBs should be solid and could be special...everywhere else there are some question marks. 

Billy, I think you answered your question.  This year's roster looks like last year's roster, and some of us were a little concerned about last year's roster going into the season.  And we were exposed a few times.  But they won 9 games.

And last year's roster was young.  Most of our roster has gained another year of experience, maturity, and FBS-level training.  I think we'll win a lot of games in '18.

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I think he’s upgraded the roster at a very high level with skill positions. But the lines still look lighter than we need them to be. And I think that we can’t be so aggressive with our DBs next season unless the pass rush has improved—that cost us greatly against teams that could pass (SMU, FAU, and Troy, as well as UAB).

I do worry about next year being a return to the mean and that we don’t win all of those close games like we did this past year. But the schedule is helped by having both Liberty and Incarnate Word, as well as Rice, UTEP,  and SMU at home with a new coach and without their first round WR. That should be five wins right there. Win 4 of the remaining 7 games and we get back to 9 wins, which is doable.

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9 hours ago, BillySee58 said:

...Does this roster have the talent across the board to survive a key injury or two? 

Yes, except for 1 guy.   Draw your own conclusion.

Smith will be a nice RB for us, but I'm not sure if he can be the next guy in the fantastic line of RBs we've had over the past 19 years.

WR...  Strongest unit on the team.  Depth for days, with 2 very solid freshmen coming in.

The OL apparently is going to rest on Mayfield's extra year.  I like what we're hearing from Brammer, but not sure he's ready.

DL: If English is healthy, we'll have 2 very solid DTs plugging the middle, and Young will set an edge allowing LB's to do their jobs.   If no English, I fear our DL is too thin to be effective all year long, and will get worn down by a running team like Iowa did to us last year.

LBs: Jack is concerning.  I think JoJo is going to be OK, but behind him...  I like Garner/Ejiya & Fulp, but again, they need the DL to keep upfield blockers off of them so they can do their jobs.

CBs: Not worried about Kemon.  Hoping Nate is ready to step up and can keep emotions in check.  Coverage-wise, he's awesome.  Need to keep it together mentally.  Do we have a Jenkins-type player to step in for either of them though?  Cam?

Safety/Nickel: Losing McClain will hurt, but I'm hoping Siggers' move proves to be a big one and he turns into an all-conference-type guy.  Tyreke will be a fan-favorite if he can hold off Preston in the Fall.  Either way, he's getting more PT this Fall.  This year we may be thin back there, but I love the future of this group based on 2018's class.

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The LB corp still looks like it needs work.  I am ok with Ejiya at the Will spot, but the Mike and Jack look pretty meh.  The MLB spot has been very underwhelming for the last couple of years.  

I am hopeful that the JUCO LB can come in an compete for a spot right away (I assume he is being brought in to play Jack).

I guess there is always hope that a year in Reffett's system will have a larger impact than an influx of new talent.

 

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7 minutes ago, TreeFiddy said:

The LB corp still looks like it needs work.  I am ok with Ejiya at the Will spot, but the Mike and Jack look pretty meh.  The MLB spot has been very underwhelming for the last couple of years.  

I am hopeful that the JUCO LB can come in an compete for a spot right away (I assume he is being brought in to play Jack).

I guess there is always hope that a year in Reffett's system will have a larger impact than an influx of new talent.

 

Faison?  I thought he's more SAM like Ejiya?

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Maybe to early but I was hoping the JUCO guys would have more of an impact. They have the size on defense I would like to see. Don't like a 6',1" 300lb DE, but I like Rod, also don't want to see an undersized freshman in the mix at nose. Red Shirt all freshman DL. We will always get the skill position guys, the trenches will always be a challenge and that is why  we need to red shirt those guys! GMG

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I still don't see a "one possession defense."   In 2002 we had a one possession defense, and in 2013 we had a one possession defense.  

If either of those teams' offenses could get you ahead by one possession to start the 4th quarter, it was lights out.   I still see a "three possession defense."  

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14 minutes ago, emmitt01 said:

I still don't see a "one possession defense."   In 2002 we had a one possession defense, and in 2013 we had a one possession defense.  

If either of those teams' offenses could get you ahead by one possession to start the 4th quarter, it was lights out.   I still see a "three possession defense."  

Agreed. This is a defense that will continue to struggle. And at this point the blame has to fall on this staff. It was an issue on the roster when they took over and they have done minimal to shore it up. I have no reason to believe that this defense will not allow 35 ppg a second year straight. 

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34 minutes ago, Ben Gooding said:

Agreed. This is a defense that will continue to struggle. And at this point the blame has to fall on this staff. It was an issue on the roster when they took over and they have done minimal to shore it up. I have no reason to believe that this defense will not allow 35 ppg a second year straight. 

This was always the rub on Mike Leach's teams at Tech or Briles' teams at Baylor. Just never focused much on defense, only on offensive talent. They would have huge OLinemen, great skill players, but their defense was running out some lackluster talent. So when they played tams that had better talent on both sides of the ball, it generally turned into a massacre (see Tech's epic beatdown at OU in 2008) or just losing a huge lead late (see Baylor's epic meltdown in the Cotton Bowl against Michigan State in 2014)

Edited by untjim1995
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34 minutes ago, Ben Gooding said:

Agreed. This is a defense that will continue to struggle. And at this point the blame has to fall on this staff. It was an issue on the roster when they took over and they have done minimal to shore it up. I have no reason to believe that this defense will not allow 35 ppg a second year straight. 

The defense is a big concern, but I have a tough time looking at the staff and killing them over it. Both sides were in bad shape when they got here and they prioritized offense over defense. If we continue to prioritize offense and let the defense suffer from here, then I can take the staff to task over it. Given the recent results, I am willing to give them a little leeway to continue to build and improve. They built and offense from nothing in a very short time, and defense can be more difficult to recruit to given the scarcity of players in those positions. Success on the field should allow us to get more of the higher quality defensive guys.

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10 minutes ago, forevereagle said:

The defense is a big concern, but I have a tough time looking at the staff and killing them over it. Both sides were in bad shape when they got here and they prioritized offense over defense. If we continue to prioritize offense and let the defense suffer from here, then I can take the staff to task over it. Given the recent results, I am willing to give them a little leeway to continue to build and improve. They built and offense from nothing in a very short time, and defense can be more difficult to recruit to given the scarcity of players in those positions. Success on the field should allow us to get more of the higher quality defensive guys.

Agreed. They have earned leeway. But in the same token, they are playing with fire a bit by not legitimately addressing blatant issues with the defense. I just don't think we can win another 5 or 6 1 possession games in 2018. I hope we do, but bounces typically don't always fall in your favor like that over the span of an entire season very often. 

 

34 minutes ago, untjim1995 said:

This was always the rub on Mike Leach's teams at Tech or Briles' teams at Baylor. Just never focused much on defense, only on offensive talent. They would have huge OLinemen, great skill players, but their defense was running out some lackluster talent. So when they played tams that had better talent on both sides of the ball, it generally turned into a massacre (see Tech's epic beatdown at OU in 2008) or just losing a huge lead late (see Baylor's epic meltdown in the Cotton Bowl against Michigan State in 2014)

Agreed. We are literally turning into Tech. 

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The staff made an effort to address defense this last recruiting class.  They signed several JUCO players to attempt to fill immediate holes and signed some quality HS guys and they also went heavy with defensive signings.  They are making a visible effort, but it will be interesting to see if they are produce on that side of the ball.

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2 minutes ago, TreeFiddy said:

The staff made an effort to address defense this last recruiting class.  They signed several JUCO players to attempt to fill immediate holes and signed some quality HS guys and they also went heavy with defensive signings.  They are making a visible effort, but it will be interesting to see if they are produce on that side of the ball.

I think 3 of the "safeties" we recruited play this year the rest RS.  I really wish people realized how hard it is to recruit and land game changing DL that also have size.  

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I think people underestimate what a great player Josh Wheeler was.  Yes he had injuries but when he was on the field he elevated the level of performance for the entire defense.  I think we added some pieces but we did not replace Wheeler.

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12 hours ago, meanrob said:

We still aren't physical enough. But our O will win us a lot of games. Hell, our QB will win us a lot of games. 

 

 

The physical issue concerns me. I can't get the way Troy basically bullied us physically in the NO Bowl out of my head...

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7 minutes ago, Harry said:

I think people underestimate what a great player Josh Wheeler was.  Yes he had injuries but when he was on the field he elevated the level of performance for the entire defense.  I think we added some pieces but we did not replace Wheeler.

Couldn’t agree more.  I don’t believe the two listed on the depth chart at The Jack can produce at an injured Wheeler level, let alone when he was healthy.  FFS, we have a converted TE in his first offseason playing the position listed at #2 on the depth chart.

I hope Faison is the real deal and doesn’t have issues qualifying.

 

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14 minutes ago, GMG24 said:

I think 3 of the "safeties" we recruited play this year the rest RS.  I really wish people realized how hard it is to recruit and land game changing DL that also have size.  

This is a huge point I think that's missed on the boards. God/Evolution (whatever you believe), has only created so many 290+ lb men that can run 40 yards in under 5 seconds. G5 in general is not a bastion of D-line talent. You got one all-american at Houston, and another of similar caliber that just graduated from UTSA. Ware from troy a few years back, etc. But athletic, talented behemoths go to big programs. With that being said, I think UTSA takes some huge steps back defensively, as no one or no rotation will replace Davenport.

I think our offensive line will actually be significantly improved this year. Maybe it's a gut feeling, but I also think having a full red-shirted crop of o-line will really help us this season. And Manase Mose is the "Tyreke Davis" of the offensive line. Almost everyone said he could/should have started last year, but the staff wanted to bank that year. That's a decision the last staff would have never made.

My concerns are really as follows in order from biggest to least: LB, D-line, RB.

With linebacker, we just lacked any ability to beat talented run teams to the edge, whether that's shedding blocks, understanding schemes, or pure speed, it was definitely an issue. EJ was a bright spot, garner still scares me, if they can get JoJo ready, I actually expect him to be a difference maker. He had a lot of really good plays/athleticism just needs to raise the consistency and that will come with more reps.

D-line is of course the Bryce English question. I think Rod will be a difference maker at end, just not sure we'll be able to afford to keep him out there if there are any injuries, similar to last year. He is really athletic for his size and I think he helps us on the edge a great deal. There's a reason they wanted him there last year. From either of these two groups we need a consistent pass-rusher to emerge. Without pressure, this defense is a sitting duck. This system operates with pressure, and we have not gotten a consistent amount form anywhere. It's the key to improving that 35 points a game. And honestly, i don't care where it comes from. If TJ/Bryce can force a double often enough, I think we could be alright.

At RB, i'm just not sold on Smith and Co yet. Jeff, like lance, was special. Maybe we continue the RB magic, but Smith isn't built like the prototypes of the past. Not a lot of successful teams are RB by committee. The upside is that spreading everyone out in the pass, and having a productive pass-catching backfield can help close the gap. Hopefully.

 

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1 hour ago, TreeFiddy said:

The staff made an effort to address defense this last recruiting class.

I don't think anyone doubts the effort, but the concern is were they able to get it done?  Is this on paper a better defense than last season?  I think that's at least questionable.  And I hate to say that because I really think the offense is going to be one of the best we have had.

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