The player who stood out the most in the scrimmage was quarterback Matt Mauck. He threw as well as I've ever seen him throw in the scrimmage, although he didn't have to scramble. What impresses me the most are Mauck's recognition skills. He's got the right stuff between the ears - a good asset for a quarterback and pre-med student.
Marcus Randall has a good arm but his timing is off with his receivers. He could make up round if he works hard over the summer, but I think the job belongs to Mauck as long as he is able to run.
The coaching staff still seems to be giving Lester Ricard the nod at No. 3, although he still needs work and polish to be ready for the season.
Of note at the fullback position is that you can look for tight ends to be deployed there with more flexibility than I've seen in the past. It's no news that a tight end lines up in the backfield, but don't be surprised to see them motion out to flanker on some plays. The most we've seen in the past from the TE/FB was getting him out to the end of the line as a sixth or seventh blocker.
There has been some mention that Eric Edwards has fallen from grace with the change of position coaches, but I don't see it. Edwards has some of the best hands on the team, but he will be pressed by Demetri Robinson (more athletic) and David Jones (works well at fullback).
The Tigers are in good shape on the offensive line, but I am still looking for the dominating performance you would expect from so many returning starters and talented newcomers. I think it's coming and spring is the ideal time to get this unit working together.
I have not seen a dramatic change in the line under Stacy Searles, and that's probably a good thing since some players on this unit are working with their third position coach in four years.
Special mention needs to go to Doug Planchard, who appears to have completed a seamless transition from defensive line to possible No. 2 center. You all will remember how uncertain the back-up center position was as recent as two years ago, but I have not seen the slightest bit of faltering from Planchard or Rudy Niswanger.
Once Ben Wilkerson gets his back healthy, you can expect to see more of Niswanger at one of the guard positions. The emergence of Planchard means the staff can get the most out of redshirting a center prospect in 2003 and 2004.
The line situation also takes the pressure off of players like Native Livings, Terrell McGill, Brian Johnson and Paris Hodges. I think they will all be contributors in the coming season, but the staff won't need to lean on them quite as much as you might have seen in years past.
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