Answering my own questions

For a couple of months, I've been doing nothing but running the questions about the 2005 football season through my head and posing them to our readers. Now, my best-guess answers to some of the offensive questions. Tomorrow, defense and special teams.

As I have been writing all summer, there are many questions Coach Ed Orgeron's first Rebel team will have to answer during August practice, which begins Saturday with two practices - one for the varsity in the morning, one for the frosh in the afternoon.

The following is my attempt to answer a few of the offensive questions with an educated guess. I hope I have a lot of disagreement on my answers because that, to me, will mean there is close competition at the positions under discussion.

Here goes something (not sure what).

Who will be the starting quarterback against Memphis?

Micheal Spurlock. I think he not only gained a slight edge in spring training, but I believe he also regained his confidence that was shattered a year ago and the system Coach O and Noel Mazzone will be running will give him the opportunity to succeed that he needs. Not trying to hedge my bet here, but it would not shock me to see Robert Lane or Ethan Flatt pass him, but I see Micheal as the favorite at this point. Lane has had a good offseason in getting healthy from his spring shoulder injury and has been working hard on his delivery and getting rid of the ball quicker. Flatt has also benefitted from the offseason. Frosh Billy Tapp has been mentioned some by the coaches, but I doubt he'll be able to overtake the others, realistically.

What about the gaps in the OL?

I don't want to be critical of any player busting their tails out in the summer sun to win a starting job, but I think we need junior Andrew Wicker, a converted DT, and freshman Michael Oher to step up to Top 5 status in the OL for us to be a good SEC line. The talk is that Darryl Harris or Wicker will be doing some snapping. Beyond Tre' Stallings, Bobby Harris and Darryl Harris, the positions are up for grabs. It would be nice if Wicker, who has a lot of SEC playing time - just not on offense, and Oher could emerge because I believe they are simply better athletes than the other candidates. On the other hand, if they can't beat out the others, we might be in better shape than I think. I will watch this development closely. Beyond that, what we really need to happen beyond the top five solidification is for some of the David Traxler/Maurice Miller/Ryan Jones/Tony Bonds/Thomas Eckers/et al group to step up to their next level, either as reliable starters or quality backups.

Beyond Mike Espy, Mario Hill and Taye Biddle, who will fill in the rotation at the wide receiver slots?

Matt Pierce and Carlos Suggs are capable, but not dynamic - yet. Burnell Wallace has a chance to be dynamic. I'm anticipating the true freshman with a spring and offseason under his belt to make an impact. (I'm not putting Larry Kendrick in this category because he will be playing all over the place.)

Speaking of Kendrick, what impact will he have?

My hope is that he gets the ball in his hands as much as possible. Larry has a knack for making people miss and that's a quality we need in the lineup. A guy who can catch a 5-yard pass and turn it into a 25-yard gain is special. I hope he has the kind of August that will elevate him to special status in the coaches' eyes.

What about the running back situation now that Vashon Pearson is off the team?

It's time for Jamal Pittman to do what we all know he can do. Pretty simple. I think he'll have a breakout year. I'm counting on it, at least. I also think Brandon Jacobs is primed for a big year. His absence from football for nearly five months made him hungry again. Alan Abrams has been around the loop once and will be improved - watch for him to make more of a contribution. FB Jason Cook had a spring the coaches raved about. I am confident he will get the job done and will get help from Jacobs or newcomer Antonio Turner.

How much will the Rebs throw to the tight end?

Mazzone likes to use his TEs, if they are reliable and capable of getting the job done. Jimmy Brooks is more of a blocker, but Lawrence Lilly has lost about 20 pounds in the offseason and is poised for a good year. He could be a darkhorse player this year. We need him to be.

Tomorrow: defense and special teams.

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