Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Final Grades for 2013 Season

Before anybody's head explodes, this is just for fun so don't take it too seriously.  I am by no means saying all of these things will happen.

Quarterback:  Sophomore Chad Voytik finally got his chance to start after backing up Dayne Crist in his freshman season, and he showed great promise running what finally became Todd Graham's high octane offense.  Voytik passed for 2,732 yards while completing 62.3% of his passes.  He also added 18 touchdowns compared to 12 interceptions.  On the ground, Voytik showed good running skills with another 352 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns.  Junior backup Trey Anderson was scrappy in limited snaps and his fourth quarter touchdown run in the Virginia game brought the Panthers to victory.  Grade: B

Running Back:  Like Voytik, sophomore Rushel Shell finally got his chance to be the  No. 1 guy after sharing the load with Ray Graham and Isaac Bennett last season, and he responded with 1,435 yards (4.9 avg.) and 14 touchdowns.  He also showed great hands with 35 catches for 3 more touchdowns.  Bennett chipped in with 435 yards (4.8 avg.) and 3 touchdowns.  Grade A


Wide Receiver:  Though just a true freshman, Robert Foster lived up to his billing with 54 catches for 1,104 yards (20.4 avg.) and 8 touchdowns.  His performance against Notre Dame, in a losing cause, in which he had 10 catches, 201 yards, two long touchdown catches, and a punt returner touchdown, was the most dominant performance a Panthers receiver had since Larry Fitzgerald.  Sophomore Demitrius Davis also had his moments with 48 catches for 737 yards (15.4 avg.) and 5 touchdowns.  Third starter Devin Street continued to become a more dependable receiver and pitched in 35 catches for 512 yards.  Junior Ronald Jones also was good in reserve with 24 catches while junior Brandon Felder, true freshman Tyler Boyd, and redshirt freshman Chris Davis all showed promise in limited duty.  Grade A

Tight End:  With the emergence of Voytik, Graham, and Foster the junior tight end trio of Andrew Carswell, Anthony Gonzalez, and Brendan Carozzoni only managed 19 catches between them, but they were solid when called upon.  Grade:  B


Offensive Line:  Three year starters Cory King and Ryan Schlieper both came into their own in their senior seasons and really benefitted from a more mobile quarterback.  Sophomore Brandyn Cook started for the first time after backing up Ryan Turnley as a true freshman, and he was solid, if unspectacular.  Junior Tom Ricketts had a solid season at left tackle and should develop into an All-ACC caliber player next season.  Senior right tackle Tavon Rooks still looked like the thinnest offensive tackle in the country, but his quickness helped him to get out in front of Voytik on a few big runs.  Sophomore Adam Bisnowaty and true freshman Patrick Kugler showed a lot of promise in reserve an both could be great next year with Kugler replacing one of the guards and Bisnowaty replacing Rooks.  Junior Matt Rotheram and redshirt sophomore Artie Rowell were solid in reserve.  Grade: B


Defensive Line:  As he has for the third straight season, All-American Aaron Donald led the way with his third straight season with double digit sacks, this time ending the season with 12.  Junior Khaynin Moseley-Smith and seniors Tyrone Ezell and T.J. Clemmings were solid, if unspectacular.  There was a big drop off after Donald but it's hard to give a bad grade to any unit that has an All-American.  Grade:  B


Linebackers:  Remember when the linebacker corps was slow and untalented?  Seems like it was a million years ago but believe it or not it was in 2010.  Now the unit is deep and talented.  As expected this unit was led for the second straight year by redshirt junior Bryan Murphy whose 8.5 sacks helped him to form a great pass rushing duo with Donald.  On the other end, redshirt junior Todd Thomas continued to get better, finally turning into an All-ACC caliber performer with 74 tackles, 3 tackles, 4 interceptions, three sacks, and four forced fumbles.  On the inside, junior Juan Price continues to be playing out of position but still became All-ACC with 60 tackles, 8 sacks, and 15 tackles for loss.  The fourth starter, junior LaQuentin Smith, was excellent against the run and led the team with 94 tackles.  Senior Shane Gordon, sophomores Dakota Conwell and Deaysean Rippy, and inspirational senior Dan Mason were good in reserve.  Grade:  A


Defensive Backs:  Senior All-American candidate K'Waun Williams was excellent for the third straight season.  He only had two interceptions but that's because nobody threw his way.  On the other side, junior Lloyd Carrington was solid and had four interceptions.  Redshirt sophomore free safety Lafayette Pitts and redshirt sophomore Roderick Ryles were both first time starters, and struggled at times, but they also made their fair share of plays.  Grade:  B


Special Teams:  Matt Yoklic started for the third season and he finally has limited his amount of 7-yard punts, but four different placekickers cost the Panthers in two of their three losses.  On the return side, Foster was magical on punt returns, returning one for a TD and averaging 15.3 yards per return.  On kickoffs, redshirt freshman Corey Jones averaged 20.2 on 24 returns.  Grade  C+


Coaching:  After much criticism in his first season, in which he went 7-6, and his second, when he went 8-5, Graham finally got the last laugh with a 9-3 record heading into the Dec. 31st Sun Bowl matchup against Arizona and old nemesis Rich Rodriguez.

In ever better news, 15 starters return including stars Voytik, Shell, Foster, Davis, Ricketts, Murphy, Price, Thomas, and Smith.  One publication has already ranked the Panthers No. 8 in their "Way Too Early Top 25 for 2014" rankings.

13 comments:

  1. Standing-O! VERY well done! (that must have been fun to research and write).

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  2. ...what? No back to back National Titles or ACC Championships? Time for a new coach. I love the reality behind this post.

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  3. Hey off topic but I heard amile Jefferson was at the Pitt Penn game? Does Pitt have a shot at him

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  4. They have a shot but I wouldn't say it's a good shot yet.

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  5. That was a fun read, thanks for doing that. Man, getting Robert Foster really would be huge. I hope Urban Meyer doesnt steal him away.

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  6. You forgot about the contributions of Super Soph Dakota Conwell from Upper St. Clair. He made quite a few splash plays at strong safety.

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  7. Very fun read! I do think HCTG will do a nice job at Pitt and the future looks promising. It is probably too early, but what schools are on Foster's interest list right now?

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  8. Foster hasn't even really thought about recruiting yet.

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  9. Great article Chris! Hope it is not too far off the mark. You do know nothing is ever forgotten when it is published on the Internet. Hopefully you can refer back to this article with pride regarding your foresight at the end of the 2013 season. I see you decided to keep Trey Anderson around. I hope we are in the ACC for the 2013 season.

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  10. that.......that's just awesome.

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  11. Doke:

    What do you think are the chances of Bryan Murphy returning to the team? If you think he will be back, do you think he will be available for spring practice?

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  12. Well, he didn't leave at the time he was ineligible so that's a good sign. I have no idea how his academics are now but clearly at the time he was told he can't play, he wanted to come back. Hopefully it stays that way.

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