Post spring look: Tight ends

Going into camp Joe Newton and Jason Vandiver knew they were going to get a ton of repetitions. The coaches also knew this and planned accordingly shelving some plays until the fall.

Depth chart beginning of April:

Joe Newton
Jason Vandiver

H-back: Dan Weis

 

Depth chart end of April:

Joe Newton
Jason Vandiver
James Otuhiva

H-back: Dan Weis

 

Injuries:
  • James Otuhiva missed the last week of practice with a sore knee
  • Jason Vandiver sat out a week of practice with a concussion

 

Overview:

Going into camp Joe Newton and Jason Vandiver knew they were going to get a ton of repetitions.  The coaches also knew this and planned accordingly shelving some plays until the fall. Walk-on Dan Weis assumed the H-back role as Newton and Vandiver manned the tight end spots.

Besides Newton and Vandiver's legs being extremely tired the system worked well until Vandiver went suffered a concussion halfway through the month. With Vandiver's injury and tight end recruit Gabe Miller rupturing his Achilles tendon offensive lineman James Otuhiva switched to tight end. Unfortunately a knee injury forced Otuhiva to miss the last week of practice and Newton tweaked his shoulder in the spring game. But it wasn't all bad news from the tight ends.

Newton entered the month at almost 100% and in shape. In fact he was cleared for last year's Civil War by the doctors, but the coaches wouldn't let him play. He doesn't have a limp and does not favor one leg over another.

The Roseburg High product got right into the thick of things the first day leaping up and catching a pass while being hit by defenders. He dominated in the redzone and was routinely a favorite target of the quarterbacks on 10-yard out patterns. All things considered, he looked fantastic and reminded all what a valuable weapon he is. Quarterback Matt Moore and him are still working on their passing relationship but it is getting better with each pass.

With Newton back and the defense focusing on him Vandiver is looking forward to seeing a lot more passes his way this year, especially on play action. But most likely Vandiver will be held into block as that is what he excels at.

Otuhiva is a big load at 6-foot-5, 275-pounds but is surprisingly agile. In passing drills he controls his body well while displaying soft hands and if gets a head of steam it will be tough to bring him down. It is nice to have his versatility. He has an inside track on blocking as well as offensive lineman. Riley says that the switch is not permanent, but do to depth issues it would be surprising to see him stay with the tight ends.

I should note that last year the coaches talked about Andy Levitre playing tight end. He is too valuable as an offensive lineman and risking him at tight end is not worth it, but I thought is an interesting side note.

H-back Dan Weis turned in a decent camp displaying a strong knowledge of the playbook and a tough attitude. It is tough to say weather or not he played himself into a role with the team, but you can't fault his work ethic.

As for when the fall rolls around a freshman or two will prepare to play. Joe Halahuni seems to be the front runner, but Howard Croom and John Reese will both get a shot as well.

 

Top spring performer:

Joe Newton. Absolutely dominated the redzone and deadly on 8-10 yard outs. Loved seeing him go up, grab the ball out of the sky and see the defenders bounce off of him.

 

TE spring summary in three sentences or less:

Newton is almost at 100% and it showed as he was a favorite target of the quarterbacks. Vandiver and Otuhiva struggled through a few injuries. Good thing there are a lot of tight end recruits coming in the fall.

 

Notable quotes:

Joe Newton - “I just want to consistently make plays and get a first down when we need to. I was us to run the ball for five yards and then come back and hit a play-action pass –- just put together good drives and be able to make plays when we have to do it.”

Matt Moore on Joe Newton - ""He's a dominant player. As athletic as he is, as tall and fast as he is...it's going to be awesome playing with him. I just hope to progress our football relationship. As we grow on the field hopefully we'll mesh, but it's definitely nice to have a guy like that back."

Jason Vandiver - “He’s such an awesome guy, and I get a lot of good information from him. It’ll be good for me having him around next fall, especially when we’re using double tight ends or H-back. The opportunities to catch balls are going to double just because of Joe. On the play-action stuff in the red zone where he runs that corner route, the H-back goes to the flat. Defenses will focus on Joe, and I’m going to be standing there wide open.”

 

Who's coming in the fall:

 

Additional links :

 

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