Offensive rundown on Coug position battles

WITH SPRING PAST the midway point it's time to look at the position battles, starting with the offense. Mike Leach likes to keep ‘em guessing when it comes to the opponent. But here's the look from our chair at where things stand through nine days of spring drills.

We checked in with CF.C Correspondent Joe Doyle to get the lay of the land in the offensive position battles this spring. The aim isn't to list every player at the various positions, but instead to focus in on the starting job battles…

OFFENSE
QB: Connor Halliday and Austin Apodaca

Halliday is taking 2/3rds of the snaps with the starting unit and holds a slight edge -- but this position battle remains ongoing. Apodaca has made strides in the last week and Leach has often said he doesn't expect to name his starter until sometime in fall camp or even beyond. Keep in mind that with 10 days to go before the season opener last year, Leach had yet to officially name any of his starters.

RB: Teondray Caldwell, Marcus Mason and Leon Brooks
Caldwell is getting the most snaps and looks to be the clear starter at this stage. But the story doesn't end there. Both Mason and Brooks are seeing time in certain situations in the Air Raid. If everything stays the same, they figure to get more turns than non-starters would in other offenses. Those three are the primary figures in the running back battle but it's one that also figures to continue into the fall when Daniel Jenkins and Gerard Wicks arrive.

X: Dominique Williams and Isiah Myers
This is a tighter battle than many expected due to Williams' late season explosion last year. It's close, but Williams holds a slight edge at this juncture.

Z: Gabe Marks and Kristoff Williams
This one is also closer than expected but Marks looks like the guy. Outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons has been very high on Marks this spring and it's easy to see why. Marks' ceiling is sky high. At the same time, Williams is a physical receiver and those are often in short supply.

Y: Brett Bartolone, Bennett Bontemps and Robert Lewis
Bartolone is looking like the clear favorite at this spot, he's simply the most consistently productive. But you'll definitely see Lewis this year, assuming Leach doesn't redshirt him. As he learns and becomes more versed in the offense, Lewis could be a big contributor. And even before that happens, he remains a threat to go all the way because of his quickness and speed. Bontemps provides solid depth.

H: Rickey Galvin and Bobby Ratliff
This is the best battle going on at the receiver position. Galvin was the frontrunner at the start, and now Ratliff has looked particularly strong the last few days. Adding to the intrigue, the H has different responsibilities and routes and each excels in certain situations.

LT: Gunnar Eklund, Zack Brevick, Jacob Seydel and Eduardo Middleton.
Eklund holds a slight edge but this one is pretty open right now. Eklund has been the most consistent, but some poor execution here and there continues to leave the door open.

LG: Joe Dahl, John Fullington, Jacob Seydel, Eduardo Middleton, Sam Flor and Denzell Dotson.
Dahl holds the slight edge because he's been the most consistent. But this battle remains ongoing with much of the story yet to be written. Note: Jake Rodgers, once he gets healthy, figures in at one of the guard spots as well. Niu Sale got a handful of reps early on this spring but has been mostly running with the scout team since.

C: Elliott Bosch
This is one of two spots on the o-line that looks to have a virtual lock starter. Bosch simply has a hold on the position -- and Bosch has actually been running with both the 1s and 2s at times. Why? The guess here is that the Cougs want Bosch on same page as Halliday and Apodaca. Flor could be an option here if Bosch were to get dinged up, as could Sale or Zach Brevick.

RG: Matt Goetz, Denzell Dotson, Pierson Villarrubia
Goetz continues to hold down the top job -- no one else has taken an obvious step forward through the first nine days this spring.

RT: Rico Forbes
Forbes has impressed this spring and looks to have the position all but locked down at this point. His play this spring has served as a reminder to how much the Cougs missed him last year, after he went down to injury in the early part of fall camp and was lost for the year. Other candidates here include Middleton and Villarrubia.

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