First, let’s start by defining what a big or successful season is. To me I measure success by the win total set by Las Vegas. This year the total is 9 so if we win 9 regular season games then the season is successful. However, early season success often raises our expectations. It shouldn’t but it just does – it’s human nature. * See last season.* Maybe you have a different definition of a successful season and that’s perfectly okay. I love our fans having high expectations. Our goal every season should be nothing less than a national championship but there is absolutely nothing wrong with being happy after a 10 win season.
What will it take to achieve a 10 win season? Well, the first thing is Luck. Every team, no matter how good they are, needs just a little luck. A simple missed call or fumble taking an opportune bounce can be the difference in a close game. But those are thing we can not control.
As for things we can control, the offensive line is a great place to start. I feel we say this every year but this year they will be protecting the reigning Heisman trophy winner. With the injury to running back Dae Williams, blocking and opening holes for whatever running back that is back there has become even more important. It appears as though that some combination of Geron Christian, Lukayus McNeil, Robbie Bell, Kenny Thomas, Linwood Foy, Toriano Roundtree, Luke Schultheiss, Nathan Schuler, Cole Bentley and Tyler Haycraft will make up the offensive line. The biggest difference in this years version of the most important but under appreciated guys is the addition of Mike Summers as offensive line coach. It appears as though coach Summers has already figured a few things out as he is moving Lukayus McNeil and Kenny Thomas back to guards after playing tackle last season. Summers wants his most two experienced lineman (McNeil and Christian) on the same side. But don’t be surprised to see true freshman Bentley line up next to Christian. He has looked really good so far. I expect to see a lot more moving around before the season starts. If you get a chance to attend the open practices before the season, be sure to see who takes first team reps on the o-line.
Another thing that could help produce a big season is the wide receivers. We all know there is a wealth of talent at that spot and Lamar has so many weapons, but one receiver in particular is going to have a HUGE year (In my opinion). We all know Jaylen Smith will be solid. Dez Fitzpatrick will make some absolutely amazing highlight plays while Reggie and Trevon will come up with some key third down catches. But the guy who is primed for a breakout year is Seth Dawkins. Saying his hands are large is an understatement. I think the dude could catch a plane with one hand. If you noticed late last season, he made his way into the starting lineup. Although he only had 11 receptions for 191 yards and 1 touchdown last season, I have complete faith that he will have at least one game this season where he exceeds those whole years totals.
The defense will thankfully have a new coordinator. Welcome to the Ville Peter Sirmon – it’s your time to shine. What does coach Sirmon need to do? He has to replace the production of leading tackler Keith Kelsey, who is now playing on Sunday’s in the AFC North. With Jaire Alexander patrolling one side of the field, opposing quarterbacks will only have one side of the field to throw to unless they are just flat-out crazy. Coach will have to come up with a scheme to cover that side of the field while maintaining an aggressive pass rush. Speaking of pass rush, another big key on defense will be the return of Trevon Young. Dude was an absolute beast before he suffered an injury that forced him to sit out all of last season. If Young returns anywhere close to where he left off, coach Sirmon will be happier than a tornado in a trailer park.
Of course everyone will say that Lamar Jackson is the key for a big season but that is a no-brainer being that the quarterback is the most important position on any team.
As Always, GO CARDS!