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Preempting The Talent Excuse For 2007

While some reporters close the program are trying to downplay the expectations for Karl Dorrell’s football program heading into his fifth season, the reality is Bruin fans know (despite Dorrell’s lackluster recruiting) we will have enough talent for the team to make a run for a BCS bowl game this season.

Over at Bruin Roar CalPolyBruin has a great write up on our two deep for next year coming to the conclusion that Bruins have "capable players" in almost every position in the two-deep. Here is his look at the offense depth chart:

Quarterback: Obviously, Pat gained a lot of experience last year, playing in more games then the current starter, Ben Olson. He's a solid backup and his scrambling, throw-on-the-go style is a nice contrast to Ben's more traditional, pocket passing skills. Considering how closely the two have competed over the last year, I feel confident that Pat could step right in if called upon.

Wide Receiver: You always want a deep stock of receivers to help in the rotation and give guys a breather after big plays. The Bruins have a nice batch this season with a mix of speed, size, and hands. Ketchum and Dominque Johnson are backing up Marcus Everett at the split end position. Ketchum was in the regular rotation in 2005, catching 11 passes and scoring 1 TD his freshman year. Johnson red-shirted last year, but the coaches raved about him on the scout team. He could be a big play maker this season. Both are big, tall targets.

Behind Brandon Breazell are two very capable and exciting players. Joe Cowan lead the team in receptions in 2005, but sat out last season with a knee injury. I Expect him to push for the starting spot and play a lot of minutes. Terrance Austin is the fastest receiver of the lot and he'll be utilized to help stretch the field. Both him and Breazell give the Bruins a deep threat that was not used much in 2006.

Another interesting update on the receiving corp is that Osaar Rasshan is being moved from quarterback to wide out. I think that is a smart decision, as Osaar probably wouldn't ever crack the two-deep at QB. I have always liked his speed and athleticism and I would love to see him get involved in the offense in some way. I definitely smell a trick play or two with Rasshan in the mix.

Tight End: Dorrell has used a rotation at the tight-end spot for years, and I expect Sneed and Moya (listed 2nd and 3rd respectively) to find plenty of opportunities to get on the field this year. Moya was the starter last season, before breaking his leg against Oregon, and he played a bit in 2005 as well. Sneed was just moved to the position last year, but the former defensive end made some huge plays, including a spectacular touchdown catch against Notre Dame.

Offensive Line: There isn't experienced depth here at every spot, but there are some familiar names behind the starters. Alexi Lanis, who started 12 games last year, has been moved behind Micha Kia at the left tackle spot. Lanis was out of shape this spring and he lost his starting spot to Brian Abraham. Now he is behind Lanis and the sophmore will obviously do well if called up to start. Nick Ekbatani, listed behind Sutherland at right guard, is a JC transfer who has played quite a few downs at the collegiate level. He saw some playing time last year in a limited reserve role. The Center position gives me some concern, because even starter Chris Joseph has limited experience. We'll have to hope he stays healthy or someone else can step-up into that spot.

Running Backs: The tail back and full back positions are two areas where I think the Bruins lack quality depth. There is a significant drop-off form Chris Markey to Kalil Bell, though I did read that Kalil had a good spring camp. I don't know if Crenshaw star Raymond Carter can be an every down back his freshman year and Moline is really only a short yardage specialist. Behind Pitre is pretty much a bunch of walk-ons or guys that have shifted positions. Trevor Theriot did a decent job covering for Pitre this spring, but it will be hard to replace one of the best blocking-backs in the PAC-10.
Sure we could add a little more depth in running back (which makes it even more important for Dorrell to land an elite running back this recruiting season). However, we just have enough talent to make a run. The key is Dorrell and his coaching staff has to find a way to optimize the talent they have on their roster.

We heard a lot of hype around Raymond Carter from Dorrell supporters last season (when concerns were being raised for Dorrell striking out on Bruin legacy Marc Tyler). Well it will be up to Dorrell and his staff to make sure Carter is coached up to the point that he can contribute, as well as effectively use the talents of players like Chane Moline. And Markey may not have break away speed, but he is dependable enough. If Dorrell can come up with a dynamic offensive scheme (imagine that), then he should be able to put together even more productive season last year when he rushed for more than 1000yards (averaging almost 5 yards a carry), establishing himself as the 4th most prolific running back in the Pac-10.

We have heard all about our defense. CalPoly covers it pretty well and we will talk about it during the training camp.

The bottom line talent is not going to be an excuse for Dorrell if he fails to produce a Pac-10 championship in his fifth season.