Gauging is a pretty good word.
Defined as “to determine the exact dimensions, capacity, quantity, or force of; measure. to appraise, estimate, or judge” it is probably first best used after spring football practice to determine the weaknesses and strengths of Temple football opponents.
If I were writing this with cherry-colored glasses now, I would rate Temple as THE favorite.
The Owls have in my mind the best quarterback in the league in Anthony Russo and POTENTIALLY the best running back in the league in Isaiah Wright. Since we’re not sure new head coach Rod Carey will use Wright on more than a handful of plays from scrimmage, we will have to take those glasses off and put on the regular ones with brown rims and a prescription.
(If Carey made the announcement today or in the summer that he’s putting what Army coach Jeff Monken said was a “touchdown waiting to happen” permanently in the backfield, we’d change our minds.)
Looking through those, I’d have to rate Cincinnati as the AAC East favorite, followed by UCF and then Temple. I cannot see USF rated ahead of Temple under any circumstances, but those are the four strongest teams in the East.
Here’s an early look:
(from USA Today)
UCF’s annual spring football game Saturday gave fans a chance to see just how close the quarterback battle is for the Knights. Head coach Josh Heupel let all four of his available quarterbacks rotate series under center.
Though they each showed flashes of brilliance, it was clear that more work needs to be done for a true starter to emerge.
“Some good and some bad,” Heupel said of his quarterbacks’ play today. “Today was not any of their best days collectively from start to finish. I thought there were some real positive things early when we were pushing the ball down the field. There were some times where we didn’t handle the tempo as well as we needed to.”
Redshirt sophomore Darriel Mack Jr. opened the game with a two-play drive that was capped off by touchdown pass to redshirt senior wide receiver Jacob Harris.
Senior Brandon Wimbush’s best came right before halftime when he led a lengthy drive that resulted in Jacob Harris catching his second touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone with 13 seconds left.
Like Carey, Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell does not believe in spring football contact:
He believes full contact special teams in spring are a throwback. Fickell remembered doing them in his days as a player at Ohio State under Jim Tressel.
“It’s not that often that you get to do it,” Fickell said. “Coach Tress used to do it. You kind of get worried. A guy can get rolled up or this, that and the other thing. But as tired as they are by the end of spring, as tired as they are after covering a couple of kicks, the contacts are nearly as high speed.
“It was a great opportunity for our returners, our kickers in those situations were they have to make some decisions.”
The Bearcats are coming off an 11-2 season with a win over Virginia Tech in the Military Bowl. Quarterback Desmond Ritter, who blamed the Temple fan crowd noise for a key fumble in one of the two losses, looked good but he has lost his top wide receiver Kahil Lewis.
The Bulls might have a new starter at quarterback in Plant City High’s Jordan McCloud, who was 17 for 25 for 228 yards and two touchdowns (and one pick) in the spring game.
The offensive line, though, which was the team’s weak point a year ago, needs “work” according to Charley Strong. It’s hard to make a living in the AAC with an offensive line in a state of flux like this one.
Sunday: Bulking Up a Position
Tuesday: The Drafted Guys
Friday: Shot Chart
Sunday: Blocked by Collins