The injury to David Blough has shaken things up on the depth chart. When we get to the quotes section I’ll share what coach Brohm said about him, but he is confirmed out for the rest of the season. That has moved Jared Sparks to the backup spot, and true freshman Nicholas Sipe, who has been redshirting to this point, would be the third string for now if needed.
QB: 1. Elijah Sindelar 2. Jared Sparks
RB: 1. Richie Worship 2. D. J. Knox 3. Markell Jones 4. Brian Lankford-Johnson
WR1: 1. Anthony Mahoungou 2. Jared Sparks
WR2: 1. Jackson Anthrop 2. Terry Wright 3. KeyRon Catlett
WR3: 1. Gregory Phillips 2. Isaac Zico
TE: 1. Cole Herdman 2. Brycen Hopkins 3. Darius Pittman
LT: 1. Eric Swingler 2. Michael Mendez
LG: 1. Shane Evans 2. Michael Mendez 3. Peyton Truitt
C: 1. Kirk Barron 2. Shane Evans 3. Bryce Brown
RG: 1. Matt McCann 2. Bearooz Yacoobi
RT: 1. Dave Steinmetz 2. Ethan Smart
Corey Holmes was taken off the depth chart this week, but it is interesting to note that Jarrett Burgess not only made a sudden appearance against Illinois, he started and caught three passes for 43 yards. Considering he had only 2 catches for 37 yards in his career before Saturday and he had been MIA for weeks, it was a shock. The 6’3” former baseball player is a junior and if he can play a larger role going forward, so be it. Here is what Brohm said about Burgess:
Well, we needed, in our opinion, to get some type of spark in the passing game, get some life to it. Jarrett is a guy that has good size and he can run. He has shown signs throughout fall camp, since we've been here, but he's been injured a lot, to be honest with you. At certain times we were ready to go with him, he would get injured before the game, a day or two before. That's been a little frustrating.
He had a great week of practice. He knew we were going to try to go with him more, go from there. I thought for the most part he did a very good job. He was able to make some plays for us up the field, caught some balls underneath, I think provided some competition to the position. Other guys raised their play.
In general, we caught the ball much better. We worked extremely hard on it the last couple weeks. Our coaches, players, spent a lot of time on it. We're going to continue to do that. We're going to continue to adjust practice so we have consequences for drops, we make sure we're keeping track of it.
While sometimes it's going to happen, I think our guys have worked hard to improve. That's all we can ask. I thought the whole unit got better at catching the ball this past game.
The big news was concerning Blough, however:
Well, David dislocated his ankle. When they got out there, they were able to put it back in. Got him a little more comfortable. But it's going to require surgery, which I believe he'll have tomorrow. Around a six-month rehab table, give or take a month or two. He'll miss spring ball, but hopefully be back for the summer months. I think there may have been a small break of the fibula, something with a small ligament down there. I don't know the exact terminology.
It is something that they can fix. The rehab will take some time. But I think he can recover from it. It will, of course, knock him out the rest of the year. He will not be able to go through spring practice. We're hopeful he will be ready for the full summer months of training and ready for fall camp.
Sparks is still listed at receiver and will likely get more snaps in the “Wild Sparks” formation, but he is also the No. 2 QB now:
Jared is going to continue to practice at receiver, play that role for us. But he will be the backup quarterback, as well. We'll have to make sure he's ready to go in there with at least a small package of things that he feels comfortable with and go from there.
I think he'll be up to the challenge. I think he's ready to do whatever we ask him in order to help us win.
He also spoke about Sipe:
Nick Sipe, you know, he has developed well throughout the season. We would prefer not to take his redshirt off. That's kind of what we were going to try to strive to do. He'll be practicing, getting reps, travel with the team. If certain things happen, he's got to be ready to go. We would prefer not to use that at this point.
I could see a situation much like the Indiana game two seasons ago where Blough was out with an injury and Austin Appleby started. At the time, Sindelar was redshirting and was the only other scholarship QB available if Appleby got hurt. Appleby did get knocked out for a play, and walk-on Aaron Banks came in.
Now, here is the defense:
DE: 1. Austin Larkin 2. Antoine Miles
DT: 1. Lorenzo Neal or Eddy Wilson
DT: 1. Gelen Robinson 2. Anthony Watts
DE: 1. Danny Ezechukwu 2. Kai Higgins
WLB: 1. T.J. McCollum 2. Derrick Barnes
MLB: 1. Ja’Whaun Bentley 2. Garrett Hudson
SLB: 1. Markus Bailey 2. Rob Simmons
CB1: 1. Josh Okonye 2. Tim Cason
CB2: 1. Da’Wan Hunte 2. Kamal Hardy
FS: 1. Navon Mosley 2. T.J. Jallow
SS: 1. Jacob Thieneman 2. Antonio Blackmon
There are no changes here, but Tim Cason got some of his first playing time all season in place of Hunte this week. Cason played extensively last year, but has been working his way back. He finished with a pair of tackles.
Coach Brohm addressed the defensive injuries, specifically to Hunte and McCollum:
We'd like to get T.J. back. Actually I'm hopeful that he will. I've been hopeful a couple weeks before, so I'm not for sure.
Da'Wan I think was close to being able to go, but wasn't able to pull it off. I would be hopeful he could go, but we'll tell later on in the week.
I think those are the main two. Hermanns will not play. Fuller probably will not play.
Punter: 1. Joe Schopper 2. Jake Herr
Placekicker: 1. J.D. Dellinger and Spencer Evans
Kickoffs: 1. Spencer Evans 2. Myles Homan
Long Snapper: 1. Ben Makowski 2. Ryan Sadkowski
Holder: 1. David Blough 2. Elijah Sindelar
KR: 1. D.J. Knox 2. Brian Lankford-Johnson
PR: 1. Jackson Anthrop 2. Isaac Zico
As for other quotes:
On the targeting call:
You know, I didn't get a good explanation. Their replay officials replayed it. For whatever reason said it wasn't targeting. I don't agree with that. I haven't gotten confirmation yet, got back with the head of the officials.
I can't argue any calls. Whatever they say goes. But without question, I think it is important to protect quarterbacks throughout the league, make sure that we're getting those calls right.
I think we've got confirmation on some missed calls, some missed late hits that should have been called. Why they haven't, you know, I don't know the exact reason.
Like I said, I think it's just important in general that you protect the quarterbacks, that you get those calls right. There's multiple officials out there, too, in the back that should have their eyes there.
We can't control what's called. But we want it called fair. Without question I think that David has taken some unnecessary shots.
On the running game:
Well, I think we've spent a lot more time practicing and devoting time to getting better in the running game. I think we've been more consistent in running the football and sticking with it, not trying to always create big plays and take advantage of extra guys in the box, all those things.
I think we've been able to neutralize that with different personnel groupings, spreading the field, creating some lanes. Really, like we've said, Richie, D.J. Knox, Markell, those guys are running well, taking care of the ball. Good things can happen if they're taking care of the ball, where they're going to get yards, bounce off tackles, find lanes, push the pile, get us into some manageable third-down situations. Because we were not effective throwing the ball earlier in the year, we were in some bad third-down situations. It's a hard hill to climb.
I think it's balanced us out lately. We definitely maybe are not as explosive, but we've been more consistent at getting positive yards, eliminating sacks, negative plays. We just have to have the right mix. Sometimes you got to be more aggressive.
I thought we opened it up a little more in the second half. But we're probably going to have to build our passing game off the run and not vice versa. I think running the football can open up some things in the passing game, and that's probably the route we need to take.
Adjustments from a coaching staff. How refreshing.