Tuesday: Depth Chart Emerging

With some starting spots open, and many back-up spots up for grabs, players are starting to distinguish themselves, and you can see the two-deep starting to emerge on both offense and defense. The OL has been the same for a few days, and one freshman running back continues to impress...

Linebacker Josh Edwards has been cleared to play, but has to go through the acclimatization period before he can practice in pads.

Freshman running back Derrick Coleman has a torn meniscus in his right knee, but his treatment has yet to be determined.

Quarterback Osaar Rasshan sat out Tuesday with a knee injury.

Starting middle linebacker Reggie Carter is going through the protocol for a concussion.

Head Coach Rick Neuheisel was generally happier with the performance of the offense, and it was clear Tuesday that was because of the improved play of his two leading quarterbacks.

Kevin Craft missed some throws here and there, but he made a higher percentage, and the throws he did miss were balls that were far better thrown. In the drills, Neuheisel was emphasizing exactly where he wanted his quarterbacks throwing the ball and Craft hit a number of throws perfectly, which got the coach to say, "Okay! Getting better! Nice job!"

In that series when Craft completed some very good throws, one was a post to Taylor Embree, which Embree caught with one hand on his fingertips in stride.

Craft's rhythm is much better. He's footwork is smoother, his motion flows now and the ball definitely is coming out of his hand better.

Redshirt freshman Chris Forcier also continues to improve. He looks far more raw than Craft right now, but he tends to get it done, even if it's not neccesarily very pretty. It was clear Tuesday that Forcier was a bit more hesitant than Craft in making decisions and going down his progressions, but then completed the easier pass.

In the 7-on-7s, Craft, who was working with the ones, went 6 for 13, but threw the ball down field and just barely missed on some nicely-thrown balls. He hit Marcus Everett in stride, who had a step on cornerback Michael Norris. He did miss Logan Paulsen who was wide open curling on one side into the endzone from about about 15 yards out. He threw a nice ball on a 10-yard touchdown to Terrence Austin, who caught it in stride. At this point, Craft isn't looking off receivers at all.

Working with the twos, Forcier went 5 for 10, but threw far safer and shorter balls, dumping off two of those completions for very short gains. He threw a nice ball on a timing route to Nelson Rosario for a touchdown, and another to Paulsen for about a 15-yard touchdown.

The running backs continue to impress. Kahlil Bell doesn't look hampered by his surgically-repaired knee at all, even though he did spend some extra time stretching it out throughout practice. In a mostly run-oriented scrimmage, he busted through for a nice five-yard touchdown run. Raymond Carter is clearly the second stringer at tailback at this time, and he also scored on a good, physical run from about 5 yards out. Next in the hierarchy is veteran Chane Moline, but then after that, it gets a bit cloudier. Derrick Coleman, with his torn meniscus, can be considered out of the running. That kind of injury, in fall practice, usually portends a redshirt season, especially at a position with some considerable depth and competition. In our opinion, Coleman was looking a bit slower-footed than the other younger tailbacks, and could very likely end up a fullback down the line, as has been expected. Milton Knox has probably been the most impressive – and consistent – of the other three freshman tailbacks. He busted a 30-yarder Tuesday, finding a nice seam between the tackles and looking particularly quick in slicing through it. Both Aundre Dean and Johnathan Franklin are also getting reps, and while Dean hasn't necessarily distinguished himself, Franklin looks a bit too slight at this point, at about 5-10 and 180-ish, and with a narrow frame.

So, the depth chart at tailback is probably this right now:

Kahlil Bell
Raymond Carter
Chane Moline
Milton Knox
Aundre Dean
Johnathan Franklin

Given how injuries can beset the tailback position, it's reasonable to expect Knox and Dean to both not red-shirt. If the position holds up, with limited injuries, you can then probably expect one of Knox and Dean to not redshirt, and at this point it's looking like Knox.

The offensive line has had some consistency for the last several days, in terms of personnel anyway. Scott Glicksberg, after going through a few days of returning from the flu, looks to have settled in at left guard. The surprise is that Sonny Tevaga, the redshirt sophomore, appears to have moved ahead in the competition for the right guard position, ahead of the projected starter, Darius Savage. We could still probably foresee Savage getting time with the ones before fall camp is over, but lately it's been all Glicksberg and Tevaga as the starting guards.

The second string, at this point, is Brandon Bennett at left tackle, freshman Jeff Baca at left guard, Jake Dean at center, Savage at right guard and Nate Chandler at right tackle.

On defense, the D-line looks like the obvious strength of the team. Brigham Harwell and Brian Price look wide, and very quick.

The two-deep looks to be getting settled also. Reginald Stokes and David Carter appear to have won the back-up jobs at D-end, while Jerzy Siewierski and Chase Moline are the second-stringers at defensive tackle. Nathaniel Skaggs looks to be the #5 tackle. It was reported that Jess Ward, who is still in a red, no-hit jersey after recovering from injury, will be moved to offensive line. It's funny since we've always thought he probably was better suited as an offensive lineman. Justin Edison, the redshirt freshman D-end, has been fairly quiet so far this fall practice.

The two highly-touted freshman defensive ends, Damien Holmes and Datone Jones, are doing time on with the 3s and 4s, and at this point, look destined for the scout team for the season.

With middle linebacker Reggie Carter out with a concussion, it's given Steve Sloan a chance to work with the first string, and apparently the coaches are pleased with his play, and more confident about his role as Carter's back-up this season. John Hale is getting most of the reps with the ones at strongside linebacker, but redshirt freshman Akeem Ayers continues to push him. The big story among the LBs will be when Josh Edwards is able to practice completely, and how his return will affect the linebacker depth chart.

Weakside linebacker Kyle Bosworth had a nice sack Tuesday.

Defensive Coordinator DeWayne Walker has been employing the nickel quite a bit in practice, and it appears that Courtney Viney will be the designated nickel back. He's also part of the second-string secondary, along with Glenn Love and Tony Dye at safety, and Aaron Hester at the other corner position. This is, of course, how it is until Bret Lockett returns from his suspension for the Tennessee game.

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