What three positions are in the most need of playmakers?
JHoo: I suppose that “quarterback, quarterback, and quarterback” is the most correct answer, but I doubt that is where the question is going.
The other issue for me with the question is that I do not know whether we are talking about short-term needs where the depth chart going into 2011 is thin (like at safety) or long-term needs where the 2011 depth chart looks okay but a long-term need always is there (like at wide receiver). So I will answer it both ways. Short term, I think we need playmakers at quarterback, defensive back, and linebacker; long term, I would point to quarterback (again), tailback, and wide receiver.
Kamikaze Hoo: Quarterback, pass-rushing defensive end, and cornerback. I am thinking long-term with this answer, not just for next season, so I mention the positions that are consistently among the most important given the passing emphasis of the modern game. It is tempting to include wide receivers, but as we saw during the 2003 season, a passing offense can thrive without elite talent on the outside.
Chris Horne: Mike London, a defensive coach, wants a fast, playmaking defense. There are some talented players already in the mix, but overall the group needs an upgrade in speed and playmaking. Defensive back and linebacker are the most immediate needs in terms of upgrading the talented and also adding immediate depth.
Quarterback is an obvious choice on the offensive side, but I’m going to focus on running back. A strong running game is the best way to help a young quarterback, which Virginia will have next season. Perry Jones is a good player, but Virginia needs someone else to help take the pressure off of the quarterback spot.
Greg Waters: Virginia’s issues up the middle on defense in 2010 were evident. Clearly there is a need for an influx of talent on the interior defensive line and at middle linebacker. There was big play production at receiver this season and despite the loss of some key personnel there is production coming back at that position – where the team really needs some big play production is at the tailback position.
Who in the red-shirt freshman class could make an impact?
JHoo: If we are talking short term, I think the answer is hard to provide. By the structure of the question, you have eliminated Mike Rocco from the quarterback discussion since he did not redshirt this year. That leaves Michael Strauss and Miles Gooch , and I would lean to Strauss over Gooch simply because I think it is more likely than not that Gooch is best slotted elsewhere.
In terms of the short-term answers at defensive back and linebacker, those are hard to project but the answers to the question are easy just because of the lack of choices. As was the case with the quarterbacks, the fact that Rijo Walker already is playing leaves you with Pablo Alvarez at defensive back, and I still am not sure if he will end up at safety or cornerback (I think there will be a lot of movement in the spring in this regard). At linebacker, Henry Coley is the only pure linebacker among the redshirts. So there you go.
Long-term, you get the same answer at quarterback. At tailback, Kevin Parks , Jr. made the staff think long and hard about playing him in 2010 and I certainly expect to see him get carries in 2011. At wide receiver, E.J. Scott was another player who tempted the coaches in 2010 and he will add a different skill set to the wide receiver corps in 2011.
Kamikaze Hoo: For 2011, I have to highlight the skill-position players, starting with K.P. Parks and E.J. Scott . I like the long-term potential of Zach Swanson, Jake McGee , Conner Davis , Henry Coley , and especially Chris Brathwaite , but unless there are injuries on the depth chart above them, I am not sure that they have developed enough to garner substantial playing time. In terms of sleepers for 2011, I note that Ryan Cobb and Pablo Alvarez could easily end up on the two-deep to...
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