First 1/3 of the season review

Believe it or not, the football season is already 1/3 concluded. The Cats have played four of their 12 games and, as expected, are 2-2. We take a look at how each position has been performing.

Defensive MVP: Spencer Larsen. Larsen has been arguably the best player on the team and the most consistent performer on defense.

Offensive MVP: It is tough to pick a player, but Chris Jennings was the bright spot against LSU and SFA.

Best Moment: Nick Folk's game winner against BYU.

Worst Moment: Choose one from the LSU game. Stomping on the eye, the hits on Tuitama or the dropped passes.

Quarterback: So far Willie Tuitama has not looked great. His first two games were among the worst of his short career, although the head injury against LSU may have had something to do with that. He was stellar in limited action against SFA and was not terrible against USC when he had the time. Early in the year he was really locking in on receivers and he has not been nearly as sharp as he was his freshman season.

Injuries may also be a problem as Tuitama has been knocked out of three of his last five games dating back to the ASU game. Hopefully, this is not a continuing problem because Adam Austin may not be the answer. Although he has some success against LSU, he did not look particularly impressive in his start against Stephen F. Austin.

Running Back: Other than the Stephen F. Austin game, the Wildcat running game has been woeful. Chris Jennings and Chris Henry have each been given a shot and it seems as if Jennings is the better choice. He does not have the physical gifts that Henry does, but he has better instincts and moves. Henry is bigger and faster, but a lack of carries dating back to his high school career has him still developing his instincts.

Xavier Smith had a good outing against SFA, but it was the only game that he had carries in. He was used as a receiver in a few games, but had some drops against LSU. Although he was going to redshirt anyways, freshman Glyndon Bolasky injured his knee and is now unavailable.

The fullback position has gone to true freshman Earl Mitchell. He seems to be a better blocker than Brandon Lopez. Neither has been involved much in terms of handling the ball. Mitchell has caught three passes, while Lopez has not had a catch or a carry this season.

Wide Receivers: After a strong fall camp this unit has underperformed. Mike Thomas has been hampered with an ankle injury and has caught 16 passes, but only for 158 yards. Syndric Steptoe has been the top target, but he only has 17 catches. Anthony Johnson had the best fall camp and leads the team with two touchdown catches, but has had some bad drops.

B.J. Dennard has been a non-factor. He actually left the team for a week and is back in the fold, but did not see any action against USC. The big puzzle is the lack of playing time for true freshmen Terrell Turner and Terrell Reese. Both have already burned their redshirts, but only saw mop-up duty against USC and LSU. The Cats seem to be bringing them along slowly, but with a lack of big play receivers it is curious that they have not been given a better audition. Bobby McCoy has finally been cleared to play, but has not seen any game action.

Tight End: This has been a hard luck spot. Brad Wood has played in every game but only has four catches and just does not look like the player he was before the terrible knee injury he suffered against ASU last November. Travis Bell has been hampered with injuries and has been a non-factor. In their place Brandyn McCall has gotten the rest of the reps. He has five catches, but looks to be a reliable outlet option.

Offensive Line: The unit just hasn't performed. They were shaky against BYU and just plain bad against LSU. The group is starting three redshirt freshmen and the group has a lot of minor injuries. They have been fair at pass blocking, but have been terrible establishing the run (save for the SFA game). The line is a huge reason the offense has scuffled this season. They must improve if the Wildcat offense is to be a factor this season.

Defensive Line: One of the most improved spots on the team. The interior line has suffered injuries to Yaniv Barnett and Paul Phillipp, but for the first time in almost a decade there is some depth. Marcus Smith has moved inside to help alleviate the impact of the injuries and due to the strong play of Louis Holmes, Jason Parker and Johnathan Turner. Holmes has come pretty close to actually living up to the hype. Through four games he leads the team with three sacks. He has 12 total tackles, has batted two passes, forced a fumble and scooped up another loose ball.

Linebackers: Spencer Larsen may be the team MVP. He leads the team with 32 tackles and always seems to be around the ball. The rest of the unit has been up and down. Ronnie Palmer is second on the team in tackles but has been out of position on a number of occasions, making things harder than they need to be. Dane Krogstad has played well of late, but has not played a ton on obvious passing downs.

Defensive Backs: The unit has really eliminated big plays, keeping most everything in front of them. Antoine Cason has been playing like an All-American, most notably in the USC game, while Wilrey Fontenot has just been super consistent. Dominic Patrick is the team's biggest hitter. The lone disappointment may be Michael Johnson whose tackling has not been very good this season.

Special Teams: Nick Folk had the game winner and has made 5-8 all told. Punting has been an issue. Folk has replaced Kyle McQuown twice, and seems to have a hold on the job for now. The punting game has been iffy, especially in terms of hang time. The Wildcats have been pretty good at both returning and covering kick offs, but did not return a punt until this past week. The muff late against USC led to their final score.

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