G-Queue

The G-man takes time out to answer subscribers' question submitted in the first fall practice question queue. Both G-man and Talo have been to just about every practice session and have taken ready note of what has been going on so far this season.

Question from Daniel Mott: Since Mahuika was moved to the outside, who is starting at the HR slot position in his stead? Where are Kessman and Jordan Smith playing?

Answer: Mahuika is still the starting H-receiver. He's seeing most of his reps at in the slot, but is getting reps on the outside, as they're trying out different sets in the offense. As was the case last season, look for Robert Anae to use two-tight end sets in both the wide and tight splits. Daniel Tervort is holding steady as the primary backup at the HR position and look for him to see some reps this year.

Both Ryan Kessman and Jordan Smith are playing outside learning both the X and Z receiver positions.

Question from Chris Wernli: I would love to know how Mosese Foketi is progressing at the nose tackle position. What is he doing to step up and become the stud NT we need at the position? Is he feeling pressure to do so?

Answer: Foketi is definitely feeling the pressure, which he readily noted following the season-ending injury sustained by Russell Tialavea. Foketi is a bit small for a nose tackle, but is quick and has good strength. He's getting a trial by fire every practice from the likes of Travis Bright, Sete Aulai and Ray Feinga, which will serve him well.

Question from Aaron Miller: Could you go down this list and note who you believe will redshirt and who will play this year and in what sort of role?

Answers:

Jordan Pendleton: A redshirt year could have been readily assumed for Pendleton as fall practices began due to the then-adequate depth at both safety positions. That depth has obviously dissipated with the injuries to Dustin Gabriel and to David Tafuna, which may give Pendleton a window of opportunity to contribute this season as a true freshman.

G Pittman: In most years Pittman wouldn't only be vying for playing time but for an outright starting position, but that isn't the case this year, as the CB depth looks to be in good shape. Pittman has shown that he could answer the bell effectively if given the call and has seen most of his reps recently with the second-team defense.

Ryan Kessman and Jordan Smith: I put these guys together since they're in the same boat as true freshmen receivers. I personally don't anticipate any true freshman receiver contributing much this year, barring injuries to the top four in the rotation, which are Bryce Mahuika, Matt Allen, Michael Reed and Austin Collie.

Both Kessman and Smith have shown promise during the first weeks of practice, but I anticipate their contributions will begin later on down the road as they prepare to be part of the regular wide receiver rotation.

Kaneakua Friel: Friel is a very good bet to be headed for a redshirt year. There is simply no reason to play him when looking at the talent and depth currently at the tight end position. Friel is raw, but very promising at the tight end position, but his contribution will come post-2007 on the playing field, barring injury to others.

David Angilau: Angilau is a much better bet to see PT this coming year than those listed above. A lot of this is due to the position he plays in which the reads and keys don't play much at the defensive end position as it does in most other positions. Angilau has looked promising and could very well see playing time this coming year.

Manaaki Vaitai: Pencil Vaitai in for a redshirt year. The depth ahead of him on the offensive line is very good, which should allow for a redshirt year. Vaitai has looked good and will grow up well in the system until it's his turn to contribute.

Tyler Beck: Beck is someone who could very well see playing time this season, whether it be on passing downs at the inside linebacker position or on special teams. Beck is currently getting more work with the 2s on defense than any other true freshmen except for Eathyn Manumaleuna.

Brannon Brooks and Gary Nagy: Both Brooks and Nagy are in the same boat, as they're both likely headed for redshirt years. Both have shown promise and have bright futures.

Steven Thomas: See what I wrote on Pendleton and you could say the same for Thomas.

Question from Kevin Bowers: Are they working with Payne? It seems as if he hasn't improved much from spring practice.

Answer: Of course they're working hard with Payne. Payne has shown a consistently strong leg, but has struggled a bit with accuracy early on, which could be a red flag. We'll be watching Payne closely and note his accuracy as it hopefully improves during the rest of fall camp.

Question from Matt Sanders: What's up with Mark Fitu? How is Griffin Miller progressing?

Answer: Fitu is still very raw and honestly doesn't look like an option to log minutes at nose tackle at this point. Miller meanwhile has shown good promise early on with his size, athleticism and leaping ability. Like Kessman and Smith, I don't see him doing much this year, but look for him to be in the mix in the near future.

Question from Greg Anderson: How is Fui progressing? Will he be 100 percent by the Arizona game? How does Max Hall compare to John Beck? Can he throw the long ball?

Answer: Fui Vakapuna is doing well and has made very good strides catching the ball out of the backfield, which is of great importance in this offensive system. All indications are that he'll be 100 percent or close to it come the first game against Arizona.

Hall has similar size to Beck, but not as strong of an arm. He's obviously not where Beck was last season in regards to grasping the offense, but has looked good and is progressing. Hall can definitely throw the long ball, as he's shown time and again on passes primarily to Austin Collie.

Question from Matt  Nelson: Any possibility that Harvey Unga might start? How is he progressing and how does he compare with Curtis Brown?

Answer: Unga shows more similarities to Brown than Vakapuna does in that he can catch the ball very well and has a good ability to make the first guy miss. Regardless of whether Unga starts or not, he'll most assuredly see a lot of reps throughout the year. At the end of the year don't be surprised if Unga sees the most combined production of any of the Cougar running backs.

Question from David Heid: How do they plan on using George? Will we see all three tight ends in at once during goal line situations?

Answer: Multiple sets will be used once again and you can anticipate all three being used at the same time during certain situations. Look for George, along with Dennis Pitta and Vic So'oto for that matter, to be used in various ways beyond just the normal tight end work.

Question from Ken Crump: How is Brandon Bradley coming along? How about Andre Saulsberry?

Answer: Bradley is seeing a lot of work with the 2s, but doesn't look to be trusting his knee at this point on his breaks. Bradley has looked decent, but not 100 percent. It's iffy at this point whether Bradley will be used much early on, as there are other options on the two-deep. We'll be watching Bradley progress as he learns to trust his knee more and more as the season goes on.

Andre Saulsberry looks to be a solid backup option and should figure in prominently on kick coverages and other special teams work.


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