The Roundtable presses on as another Friday is upon us. It seems like every year, there are certain positions that have build up depth and are seen as a strength of the time. Likewise, other positions are a cause for concern due to attrition or poor performances. That being said, this week’s question is: which position group are you confident in and what’s the position that you are most worried about for your team in 2021?
NittanyFalcon: These are easy picks for the Falcons. I just published my review of the Air Force offensive line, and with no starters from last year’s outstanding group coming back, there will be plenty of handwringing at the beginning of the year as we find out if the starting group can gel quickly and keep the offense operating as efficiently as it has the last three years. The offensive weapons should be good enough to keep the offense moving on the ground and through the air, but the unknown with the new line is whether third and fourth down conversions and red zone play will be as effective as it has been lately.
The unit I have the most confidence in is the defensive front seven, which is actually two units, but both the linebackers and the defensive line appear to be strong units. Demonte Meeks, Lakota Wills, Jordan Jackson, and Chris Herrera should provide good quarterback pressure, and the typically stout Falcon run defense likely will elevate their game this year.
Zach: Until they prove otherwise, the offensive line will always be the biggest concern for the Broncos. Maybe the coaching change will bring a breath of fresh air to a unit that desperately needs it. The Broncos will return four out of five starting lineman, but they are in prove it mode. This could be a special team if the offensive line can take care of business.
The easy answer would be wide receiver, but I am going to go with the defensive line. They were absolutely dominant in spring ball. This unit also returns a ton of experience. One of the few positives that came out of the COVID shortened season was that Boise State had to play a lot of defensive lineman because of injury and COVID issues. Demitri Washington should return after suffering a season ending injury and Boise State can go three deep at each of the tackle spots.
Matt: The concern is definitely at LB. The defensive line was fantastic last year, but the middle of the 4-2-5 was way too soft and often out of position. The addition of former Bronco Tyson Maeva should go a long way, but William Inge, Levelle Bailey, and Maeva need to take a big step forward to keep every game from being an absolute track meet.
The most confident position group has to be running back, right? Ronnie Rivers is back for one more year, as is Jordan Mims. Add in Jevon Bigelow as the back-up, plus 4* transfer Jordan Wilmore from Utah. Redshirt freshman Malik Sherrod was dynamite in the Spring game with them resting Rivers and Mims, scoring 3 touchdowns. Oh yeah, plus two highly rated freshmen coming in with Jordan Hornbeak and Johnathan Arcenaux. Not to mention that Jake Haener is not afraid to use his legs, plus Jalen Cropper still is a Swiss Army Knife player on offense. If the defense struggles at all, the Fresno State offense will definitely look to just outscore every other team if needed.
Alex: The biggest question surrounding UNLV right now is the quarterback position, which is the biggest position of concern for the Rebels as they head into Marcus Arroyo’s second season. Last year UNLV used three different quarterbacks in the first half in its first game of the season against San Diego State, and from the rest of the season on the quarterback position became a game of musical chairs with little to no production coming from that position. After spring football, the position is between Justin Rogers and Doug Brumfield. Both have potential, but both have their fair share of question marks and doubts as to if they can pan out. After going 0-6 last year, there are a lot of questions about what UNLV will look like this upcoming season, but everything starts with the quarterbacks. If the Rebels can figure out the quarterback position, everything else on the offense could come into place and the program could begin to show real progression.
The position group that I am most positive in are the running backs. Charles Williams is coming back to use his extra year of eligibility from the shortened COVID season. He will be a focal point in the offense and should get back to his usual form after a somewhat normal offseason. While opponents will see a lot of the “Chuck Wagon,” he will not be the only running back that contributes this season. There are young guys like Courtney Reese and Spencer Briggs that will see playing time this season, as one of them will likely be the successor to Williams next year. The coaches also like what they see from Chad Magyar as well, so expect those three to help bring depth to the running backs and help the Rebel offense as they look to find their quarterback.
Mike: This week I will represent San Jose State. They return a lot of their 2020 production, which will help them in their mission to defend their Mountain West crown. The defensive line should again be a huge strength for the team. Cade Hall, the reigning MWC DPOY and championship game DMVP will lead an experienced unit that is undersized but uses their speed and length to get by offensive lines. Expect them to cause havoc in the backfield once again.
I am concerned about their wide receiver room. The Spartans had a balanced offensive attack last season, but it was really their passing game that set up their running game. Take away Tre Walker and Bailey Gaither and that is 96 receptions, 1352 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns that will need to be made up by other players. There is still talent in the room with Isaiah Holiness, Jermaine Braddock, and Isaiah Hamilton (who had 718 yards and 4 TDs in 2019), but the unit is short on production overall.