1. Start to establish the receiving corp.
Despite four receivers returning with plenty of game experience, only one, sophomore Mike Hass, has put up worthy numbers. Senior George Gillett, senior Cole Clasen, and junior Josh Hawkins will have a chance to put up or shut up as a host of talented true and redshirt freshman, including a couple of junior college transfers, will be competing for a starting role.
Riley weighs in: “We need to look at our receiving corps, we really have only one player returning (Mike Hass) who had production a year ago.”
2. Improve special teams play.
Special teams play was sporadic at best last year. Coverage on kickoff returns and kickoffs exposed and hurt the Beavers numerous times swinging games into the opponents’ favor.
In addition to working on team coverage, a new punter and place-kicker must get work in the system. If that wasn’t enough the Beavers also need to find an explosive playmaker to return kickoffs and punts to improve their return average.
Riley weighs in: “The two major areas of interest during spring ball is at the kicker and punter positions. I expect great competition between Alexis Serna and John Dailey for the placekicking duties. We have Sam Palescu coming in at punter, but we won’t see him until the fall – so we have some issues there.”
3. Evaluate the running backs.
Senior Dwight Wright has the starting running back position, but redshirt freshman Yvenson Bernard and redshirt sophomore Ryan Cole will push for playing time. The battle between these three should be one of the most exciting to watch.
Riley weighs in: “There will be a major battle at tailback – Dwight Wright is the frontrunner, but he will be pushed. Tailback will be a very interesting position to watch this spring.”
4. Solidify the left side of the offensive line.
Sophomore Adam Koets and junior Jason Fyda will start spring atop the depth chart on the left side of the offensive line. Junior college transfer Chris Miller, redshirt freshman Kyle DeVan and sophomore J.C. Ronnfeldt will also compete for playing time on the left side.
Riley weighs in: “The left side of our offensive line is going to be new; we have some questions there.”
5. Keep the players focused, injury free, and push them everyday.
It is important to have fun, but stay focused and improve every practice. Learn from mistakes, adjust, and move on. It is important that each unit improves and each individual within the units advances. Progress is the key; there is no such thing as too much depth.
For the players to stay injury free everyone must play smart and not let their emotions take control of their body. One area that is extremely important is not unloading on the quarterbacks and knocking them to the ground.
Riley weighs in: “We want to continue with the establishment
and growth of our system. A foundation has been laid and we’ll start much
farther ahead than we were last year at this time, but the growth of the people
within the system is a huge goal.”
Dan Norz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.