Will Ray Graham play Saturday?
Probably the most asked question this week, or for the last four weeks for that matter. Per team policy, Paul Chryst is not going to comment on any injuries, unless there's a threat of a surgery that would require a player to miss significant time. That is understandable. With that in mind, it's safe to say that he's not entirely out for Saturday's game. My gut feeling tells me we're going to see him, and we're going to see him start. Especially, if the decision ultimately falls to Ray and his family. At the same time, I wouldn't expect more than 10 carries from Graham. For a first game back, and for a season-opener, that's reasonable. Throw in the fact you have an Isaac Bennett on the team, with a Rushel Shell and possibly a Malcolm Crockett—it's good reason to also get those guys involved. Prediction, 10 carries for Graham, 20 for Bennett, and maybe 10 or so from Shell. That's 40 rushes, and surely there has to be at least one run over 20 yards based on the law of averages.
Will Paul Chryst try to make a statement on his first offense series?
My first answer; why, what for, and for what reason? Lets think back to the first offensive series of the last two head coaches. In 2005, we saw Dave Wannstedt open with a 39-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Palko to Greg Lee. In 2011, Todd Graham's first offensive series cultivated with a 33-yard pooch punt from Tino Sunseri. In a certain respect, both of those head coaches were trying to make statements—Wannstedt by going deep (which we rarely saw across his six years) and Graham's pooch punt (which we often saw through the first half of the season). Chryst played things according to script in his days as an offensive coordinator. I don't think he's going to come out with any kind of shenanigans, in order to feel the need to prove a point or make a statement like, ‘hey look at me, I'm a head coach.' What we'll most likely see is a ball-control, or steady type of offensive series that's going to be indicative of how this team wants to control the clock, and use a power type of offense (running the football, utilizing the tight ends).
How many freshmen may we see Saturday?
Always an exciting question to answer. At the very least, I'm certain we'll see Rushel Shell and Jahmahl Pardner. After those two, I'd expect to see J.P. Holtz in the game. Defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable said this week he's comfortable using an eight-man rotation at defensive line. If that's the case, look for Darryl Render to get on the field. If for some reason the offensive line needs a switch, Adam Bisnowaty isn't too far off. Also, with the uncertainty of whether K'Waun Williams playing or not, combined with Lloyd Carrington's transfer, I wouldn't be surprised to see Ryan Lewis in an extra-back package as well.
Will any recruits be at the game this week?
You might see a few local recruits there. The only one who said anything about being there for sure was committed tight end Scott Orndoff. There's also an outside shot that commit Aaron Reese makes it in for the game. A lot of these guys are already talking about coming in for the Virginia Tech game, so I'd expect a bigger turnout for that one.
Keep the questions coming…we can almost do one of these daily.
On a programming note, I'm testing my hand at producing a game-day podcast that will be available tomorrow. I've got a lot of interviews from this past week, so I'm going to try and combine them and discuss some topics from the week, as a bit of a pre-game show. Also, heading up to New Castle this evening for the Central Valley-New Castle game. We'll have some video on Robert Foster and Jordan Whitehead, and hopefully a quick word from each following Friday's game.