It was a sight that had many Bucs' fans talking in the stands. After what seemed to be the 3rd fumbled snap in 2 practices over the weekend, the rumblings began over why Evan Smith was in at starting center over Joe Hawley.
“We’re alternating Evan [Smith] and Joe [Hawley] every couple of days, so, as we said, there’s competition there," head coach Dirk Koetter said after Sunday's practice.
While I completely understand the need for competition, it means something that Smith has gotten the first chance to impress at training camp. Forgetting about the fumbled snaps, since those things happen early on in any camp, Smith has been pretty solid while in at center. He has been stout at the point of attack, and has done a good job at leading the unit.
“I mean, me and Joe are good friends," Evan Smith said of the battle. "We talk a lot, we see a lot of the same stuff, that’s just football, man. It’s competition. You’ve got to go out here and play, you’ve got to compete, and at the end of the day they want the best five on the field.”
Despite Hawley being younger (27) and potentially more of a long-term fix at center, Smith offers a more stout stature to be able to take on bigger and more physical nose tackles. Anyone that has stood next to each can attest to the different physiques.
As for Hawley, this competition is far from over. Hawley should get his opportunity within the next few days to reclaim the position he started at in 2015. Hawley might not be physically imposing, but he is crafty and gets the job done.
Expect this battle to go back and forth most of camp.