The hope is that a combination of better quarterback play combined with more experienced receivers will lead to a much improved passing game this fall. There are three returning starters off of last season's squad in wide outs John Cole and Udom Umoh and tight end Brandon Barden. All three players will be counted on to make major contributions for the ‘Dores along with some young talent hoping to make their debut on the field.
Tight end play for the Commodores has been one bright spot in the passing game under the direction of tight end coach Ted Cain. Two experienced tight ends return this fall with red shirt juniors Brandon Barden and Austin Monahan both expected to have major roles of the offense this season. Barden caught 29 passes last season for 357 yards and one touchdown building on his 28 receptions and four touchdowns his freshman year. He was counted on heavily in 2009 and made many key plays at critical points as the season progressed. He possesses excellent athletic ability, but should expect to be pushed for the starting nod by Austin Monahan who has recovered from knee surgery last year. Monahan has worked as a starter over the last two seasons when he has been healthy. He has excellent hands to go along with his blockings skills for the running game. Red shirt sophomore Ryan van Rensburg and red shirt freshman Mason Johnson will add additional quality depth at the position along with incoming freshman Blake Gowder. The tight end position will have to produce and help the quarterback gain confidence early in the season so that the offense can build some momentum.
The most urgent area of improvement from last season needs to be from the play of the wide receiver. Starters John Cole and Udom Umoh return for the ‘Dores, but there should be some young contributors hoping to get their chance. Cole returns as the team's leading receiver from last season when he caught 36 passes for 382 yards and one touchdown. He started in 10 games land hopes to continue to be the primary receiver this fall. Umoh returns as a starter as well and he hopes to continue to build on the 20 receptions and one touchdown he made last season. His development will be a critical component of this year's receiving corps. Along with the returning starters returning red shirt senior Turner Wimberly, red shirt junior Tray Herndon, and red shirt sophomores Akeem Dunham and Jameson Sackey and sophomore Brady Brown are all hoping to make contributions this fall. Minnesota transfer Tray Herndon has shown potential in practice but was only used sparingly last season. Both Dunham and Brown were touted recruits out of high school who have shown promise in practice.
Along with the returning receivers there will be some new faces competing for playing time this fall at receiver with incoming freshmen Chris Boyd, Jonathan Krause, Jordan Matthews and Trent Pruitt looking to get there chance to contribute. All four are highly touted and we should expect for at least two of them to push for playing time. There will have to be some new faces to step up this fall for the ‘Dores if they wish to compete in every game. The improvement of the passing game has to be the highest priority for new head coach Robbie Caldwell. There is talent at receiver and if the offense can get consistent play from the quarterback position there is hope for the offense to make big improvements.
STAN'S PROJECTED STARTERS
TE Brandon Barden
WR John Cole
WR Udom Umoh
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