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Digging into the First Depth Chart: Interesting Inferences Can Be Made

[ This post has been edited]

Now that the first depth chart – via the ASU games notes release –  is out, there are some very interesting things to learn from it simply by what names are and are not on it. Moreover, the names also lead me to believe that this depth chart is a shell of what it will really be come kickoff on September 1st. However, these are the names put out by our staff…so let’s take a closer look, shall we?


Quarterback – So pretty much anyone who has been around this program since Coach Ruff and crew arrived know that when it comes to the QB position, you don’t get good information from this staff…but you also get GREAT info by what they say and how they say it. For instance, EVERYONE knew that Dominique Davis was going to be the starter in 2010…but it was a game time decision according to the staff. This year, you had to live in Siberia not to know that this QB race was between Rio Johnson and Shane Carden – always was. With Cody Keith in his first active season and Brad Wornick in his last, it just makes sense. Further, for an “OR” to be on the DC with Rio and Shane tells me that this staff intends to play them both – at least in the first game. Pretty obvious, IMO, that Rio will get the start based on being the No. 2 last season and because it takes pressure off of Shane. I think either will be successful unless the staff over pressurizes the situation with the short leash and an “OR” next to the two every week.

Running Back
– Wow…how the worm turns. I am happy for Michael Dobson. That kid has been picked apart since his first action and was pretty much written off going into this season. To see his name atop the depth chart is a surprise to me but one that I am not bothered by at all. I think Reggie Bullock will see the lion’s share of the carries, over time, but with a great spring, Michael is primed to be a big part of the O, too. The bigger surprise is that Hunter Furr is NOT on the DC and that Vintavious Cooper – who only got into camp a few weeks ago – is. Now, Lincoln Riley was very candid with me earlier this year that they were excited about Vintavious…that he was a potentially outstanding back, with quarterback hands and instincts. What concerns me is that Hunter was hyped as being the strongest and fastest. Does this mean he is struggling to get the offense down? Was this hype to push Reggie and Michael? Looking like the latter to me. And with Vintavious…does this mean that he showed so much in a couple of weeks that he is already DC worthy? And, if so, should we expect to see Vintavious pushing for more and more PT as he “waters in” to this offense? Is he our soon-to-be featured back? I remember another “junior” sized running back around here that was pretty damn good…is Vintavious channeling  Mr. Smith? Gonna keep a very close eye on that young JUCO transfer.

Outside Wide Receiver – OK…so am I the only one who feels a little misled here…I feel almost downright lied to. Where the hell is Dayon Arrington. All we heard in the spring and summer and early fall camp was how improved, how serious, how good Dayon was playing and what a playmaker he could be. Of course, we will rotate a ton of receivers and he will get his chances, but not on the DC…kind of insulting if you ask me. Expected to see him as one of the No. 2s on this DC. That said, Andrew Bodenheimer and Reese Wiggins are not surprises and to see them atop the DC at their OWR positions is re-assuring – consistent and reliable, both. It is the No. 2 spots that are somewhat shocking. While Jabril Solomon was touted as a guy who might be ready to go from the jump – and his play so far has not lessened his case – how is that we need a True Frosh in this talent-rich receiving corps? Seems to me we would try like hell to RS him and only use him should attrition set in. This is why not seeing Dayon’s name is bothersome. Perhaps the plan is to try to RS Jabril, but maybe not. Maybe we promised early playing time…who knows. Seems somewhat unnecessary to me. On the other side, behind Bodie, I am also surprised to see Lance Ray there. Not because he is not a huge talent – he is and he proved it already – but I am surprised because he has only been practicing a few days. He must be good…that is all I can say on that one.

Inside Wide Receiver – No real surprises here. The Justins – Hardy and Jones – are listed as expected at one of the IWR positions while Derrick Harris – now sporting the familiar Harris No. 17 – is stepping in to cover for Danny Webster – who not only is recovering from surgery but also now trying to figure out how to get back into the staff’s good graces following an off-field issue. Harris and Donte Sumpter are really all the Pirates have there so no surprise there on the DC. Hopefully, this might allow for a few packages where the Justins are both on the field at the same time coming out of the IWR spots.

Offensive Line – To be honest, like many of you I am sure, this was the first spot on the DC that I looked and more specifically, right to the middle – Center. I am not stunned that Taylor Hudson is starting, but I am stunned that Josh Clark is still sitting at No. 3. Lincoln Riley told me that Josh had some non-football items to address – that were not BAD things – but things to address nonetheless. Does this mean he has not addressed them yet? This is worrisome. I like CJ Struyk, but think he is a year away from really competing as a center. We are going to need Josh, so this is worrisome to me. No surprises at Left Tackle or at the starting guard positions. I am a littel concerned that Drew Gentry is listed as the No. 2 at both guard positions. I get that it most likley means that he is first reserve, but I worry that it also means that none of the other guards has emerged as game ready. Where is Tre Robertson’s name? Most troubling to me is what is going on at Right Tackle. Hey…I love the feel good story of Robert Jones transforming himself into a stud at Tackle and with ECU’s track record of sending converted defensive linemen to the NFL, it is not a stretch, but when you see an “OR” next to Robert and Grant Harner, it gets my attention. Perhaps the rumors about Grant’s relative health are true and if he is somewhat on the mend – or will not be healthy for this season – we are for some serious concerns at Right Tackle. We need Grant to be the starter – a veteran and uber experienced starter – if this is going to be a good year at that position. This is my No. 1 concern on the offensive depth chart.


Defensive End – Starting at the end position, I am pretty surprised that Matt Milner is listed as the starter considering just how much practice he has missed. I am even more surprised that Justin Dixon is ahead of John Lattimore as the back-up. I know things will be situational for the position – with the guys getting reps based on the offensive strengths of the opponents. I really expected it to be Lattimore – Milner – Dixon…surprising. On the other side, it is a little surprising that Lee Pegues is listed as an “OR” with Chrishon Rose. Lee has been the model DE for DC Brian Mitchell from a coach talk perspective so I am not sure what the “OR” is about. Perhaps motivation for Lee or a reward for Chrishon’s improvements…either way, not really a big surprise with the names there or their order.

Nose Tackle – Absolutely expected. With Terry Williams in limbo right now – though back to work and on the roster – we all pretty much knew that it would be Michael Brooks and Terrell Stanley. Brooks needs to be an ironman till Terry returns and Terrell needs to pick it up big-time to be able to spell Michael.

Outside Linebacker – Really no surprises here. On the one side, Derrell Johnson and Chris Baker – that was expected – and on the other Maurice Falls followed by Montese Overton with an “OR” along side he and Gabe Woullard, the JUCO transfer. Given the fact that other JUCOs who just showed up this fall were on the DC, I half expected to see Gabe listed as an “OR” with Maurice, but the DC is what is expected. I will say that it is very tough not to see Jake Geary on this depth chart. I expect him to be a starter or a solid No. 2 by end of season if he is healthy.

Inside Linebacker – This is exactly what was expected, with Jeremy Groves ahead of Ty Holmes and Kyle Tudor and Daniel Drake as “OR” at the other Mike position. What is a little surprising is that they only listed two-deep at the position, where I expected to see Zeek Bigger and Brandon Williams listed somewhere after very, very good camp spring camps for both.

Boundary Corner – We are learning a ton from this DC about what is going on at this position. First, it clarifies that expected starter, Leonard Paulk, is not as “close” to returning as we all probably expected. Second, it shows that the staff sees a big gap between Leonard and his expected back-ups at the position. And, third, it might indicate that Jacobi Jenkins is simply very good and you want to put your best on the field. That Jacobi is flipped over to the Boundary also might indicate that Field Corner Adonis Armstrong is also much better than expected. Put your best on the field, so the move to Boundary makes sense for Jacobi, who is more physical than Adonis. Seeing Rocco Scarfone and Joshua Hawkins listed as “OR” at the position does not instill big confidence in me. This is a position that we should all watch closely and cross fingers that Leonard recovers quickly and that Jacobi stays healthy, not much behind them.

Field Corner – With Jacobi’s move as a stop gap at Boundary, depth at Field Corner just thinned a bit. Fortunately Adonis was in the battle from the jump and Kristopher Sykes is no newbie. The FC position is more secure than its counterpart, but still thinner than it should be. Given the circumstances, this DC is not surprising.

Strong Safety – Lamar Ivey and Chip Thompson listed as “OR” makes sense. I think that Lamar is going to be given the first opportunity, but Brian Mitchell has said all along that Chip is a guy who you want in the game. As Chip gains the system command needed, I think you see him working more and more into the lineup. Lamar is talented and physical, too, but may not be as consistent as an experienced vet like Chip. No surprises here.

Free Safety – Seeing Damon Magazu atop the DC is expected but I was surprised to see that Desi Brown is now challenging Justin Venable as primary back-up. Perhaps a testament to Desi’s growth and understanding, but I fully expected to see Justin as the solid No. 2. Not overly concerning as the position is the strongest and most reliable in the secondary. Should be well covered here.


Placekicker – No surprise here. Warren Harvey is already kicking like a veteran and Connor Torruella – a freshman – is a good prospect who hopefully will not be needed this season.

Holder – Again, no surprises. Trent Tignor is an excellent and experienced holder while Bodie is also a very good fall back.

Punter – I am not surprised to see Trent ahead of JUCO transfer – and scholarship – kicker Brent Rowlands. Trent has worked very hard and has earned his shot. Brent is a fine punter and may eventually take the job, but to have two in a position that we were not very good at last year is a relief. Phil McNaughton at No. 3 is also no surprise. Punter depth looks pretty darn good right now.

Deep Snapper – Again, no surprises here. Charlie Coggins is a very good snapper and C.J. was considered one of the best in the country in high school. Well covered here and the DC is appropriate.

Punt Returns – I am surprised but happy to see Justin Hardy as the top Punt Returner. Surprised because he is such a huge part of the offense but happy because he is good and this underscores the staff’s commitment to making strides in the return game. Derrick at No. 2 has some experience and gives the team depth.

Kick-off Returns – A whole lot of “OR” listings there but honestly, not sure what was expected here. On the surface, you have to think that Lance Ray will be a fixture on KO Returns given his track record in the SEC, but beyond Lance…hard to say who has the goods. Derrick has some experience and if Vintavious is the threat we are hearing that also makes sense as does the fast and physical Hunter who can parlay KO Return action into more carries at RB perhaps.
So there you have my take on the depth chart. To recap, my biggest concerns on the offense: Right Tackle; and on the defense: Boundary Corner with Nose Guard depth a second concern. On special teams, the biggest concerns are not the guys listed on the DC, but rather the guys who make up the coverage units…where we were awful in 2011.

Would love to have your thoughts on the DC my Pirate friends.

Game week is here! I am jacked.

22 comments on “Digging into the First Depth Chart: Interesting Inferences Can Be Made

  1. Blackbeard's Ghost

    Good points on the DC discussion RC. I am wondering though that with all the “new” faces on the DC, if the coaches want to see more out of some of theae players. They might have performed well in camp but lets see them in actual game time situations. Its almost like the coaches are preparing a little more for the next game in Columbia.
    Also….An unconfirmed report is that Arrington has a 1 game suspension for missing class.

    Again..great stuff RC!

    • Thanks for dropping in BBG…you may well be right on the coaches POV for this depth chart. I hope they are not tooooo looking ahead to the USC game, but also, if we do not handily beat Appalachian State…we are in for a long season IMO.

      Thanks for the info on Dayon…that would explain the absence of his name. Thank God we are deeeeep a the WR positions…with Arrington and Webster out.

      Thanks for dropping in and cheers! Cannot wait for the game on Saturday.

  2. Mike Bartos

    Too much second guessing for my taste. Could be this is just the way the coaches saw it playing out. One thing for sure after game 1, we will have a better feel for this going into the next 3 games.

    • Thanks for checking in Mike…simple, straight and hard to argue.

      Definitely agree on the latter comment…we will learn a lot against ASU.


  3. Ed Keller

    It’s always exciting to be at the start of the season and see all the new faces. I agree we need to really hand it to ASU or things are going to get grim quickly. It’s not like the opponents get easier going forward. I really liked your article on the defense and sincerely hope the talent shows on the field. Just got my tickets for homecoming…can’t wait!

    • Ahhhh…long time Ed…hope all is well.

      Thanks for dropping in…I am so looking forward to the season and trying to figure out which games I can get to this year!

      Go Pirates!

  4. Thanks so much for the update. Personally I put little faith in the DC when the whistle blows you have guys that can play under the heat and others that can”t. I have seen many a game where DC is in the trash can before the half. My biggest worries about this team as always is across both lines. Your DB’s are only as good as the pressure generated up front, and RBs and Qbs are only as good as the protection they get. Our skill positions and LBs should recruit themselves based on the systems we run. I would love to see more of an emphasis in trying to sign more big bodies as these guys are the difference makers.

    • Share your concerns DC 28…the trenches rule the day. I would also like to see us start to get those guys – both side of the ball. I was very bummed that Jon McLaughlin didn’t get in the fold…thought he looked like a good one.

      Seems like defensive linemen are the hard ones…but we have a nice group right now.

      Stop in a again DC…always welcome.


    • ultraviolet

      I think this staff likes to have the competition at every position. My guess is that the depth chart is set up so that they all get in the App game to see who can do it in front of a crowd and TV cameras. The following week depth chart will be much more defined, IMO.

      • Hi UV…as always…thanks for dropping in and sharing.

        On the DC…the official one released by ECU is much more elaborative and makes a lot of sense (including the WR suspensions), but I agree that the DC will continue to change as a lot of talented players earn more PT.

        So ready for Saturday!


  5. Nice post and keep them coming – I was little befuddled as well regarding the dissemination of the depth chart just because our fanbase spends more time and $$$ than just about program out there, so we should get the depth chart first and foremost from the mothership in a perfect world. But I’m over that already – that’s so last weekend. Totally agree with the flavor of the posts here that the linemen is where it’s at, and it’s a crystal ball half of the time – recruit someone that might be a bit undersized and hope he puts on weight and learns the techniques. Beginning to focus on other important things like what needs to be served for the breakfast tailgate here in 4 days.

    • I hear you Pirate R…I am on vacation with the family with the explicit requirement that everyone can do and have whatever they want so as long as i am in front of the TV at noon on Saturday.

      So jacked up for this season PR…really excited. I do subscribe to the theory that we need to have a decisive performance against App.

      Enjoy breakfast on Saturday and tailgate extra hard for me, can you?


      • i am really concerned the way this coach likes to stick to one qback. if the qback is not producing, get the next guy on the field quick. last year DD should have been pulled several times. this shows favoritism, which is not a good thing. i hate to say this but there is not enough presure on the coach to win. i think this coach has said the right things to the powers that be. i believe we could be mediocre for five years and he will still be coach. if we would have been big winners the last two years the big east would have invited ECU.

      • I am mixed on this…on the one hand, Ruff faced a huge loss of players – particularly on defense – in 2010 and I think Skip would have had a tough time going .500 in the regular season, so I cut Ruff slack on year one. Year 2 was tough with the excessive OL injuries, but I do think at times, DD was pressing so much to make things happen that the offense broke down.

        We also had so much youth at WR that a lot of those INTs were not – IMO – DD’s fault. The WRs also hurt us early with turnovers – fumbles after the catch.

        Having said that, I do not sense pressure on the staff either. But, this could be because it is a given that we need to win and win now. But, I agree that there is no outward signs of pressure to win.

        finally on the Big East…I agree only to the point that if we had won HUGE – which I think personnel prohibited it with or without Ruff – we might have gotten an invite. Meaning, if we had accumulated enough wins to be an AQ keeper for the Big East, which we did not and probably would not have without 10-11 wins each season. Otherwise, I think that we NEVER had a chance to get into the BE regardless given its “market” approach. Frankly, glad we are not.

        I really like Ruff, but we need to win. To me, a run at the CUSA title and a bowl game must be achieved this season for it to be a successful campaign. I think he has brought in good talent…hoping that they put it all together in Year 3.


  6. Good post – As for receiver, I think you see Solomon ther because he allows us to have deep threat speed at the X and the Z. I do agree that Arrington was hyped and it surprised me a bit. I still expect to see him play a good bit. If you think about Having Wiggins or Ray , Solomon and then Jones in the middle with a two back set, we would be extremelty hard to defend. Thats my take. I think we want to spread the field more than ever this year and this depth chart shows me that we are taking that serious. Thanks for the write -up.

    • Hi Gordon…

      Your perspective on Solomon makes a lot of sense. I think if this team can go vertical with some consistency, it could be a big step forward.

      I think Ruff and crew have recruited very well, so it makes sense, also, that some of the youngsters are getting in the games sooner. Gonna be exciting to watch them emerge.

      Thanks for dropping in G!

  7. Mike in Durham

    Pharma…great insights & blogs too this summer/fall, kudos to you…agree with you 100% on release of DC, that was crAPPY…as they say, whatzupwitdat? Regarding positions:

    RBs–Surprised Cooper ascended so quickly, why not redshirt, more time to get used to being a D1 RB, our Offense, & to even out RB classes, he must be special…Surprised to not see Hairston, Furr or Hunt, hope at least 2 of these see game action, maybe via special teams. Dobson has earned PT, fine w/ RB by committee; Bullock will have a good/great year. Hope we use more 2 back sets & run more than normal early, gives our new QB time to grow & not too much burden.
    WRs– heard the same on Dayon but to not address it is unwise, IMO. Not surprised that Jabril or Lance ascended so quickly, nothing against others, but we’re talking talent upgrade, D1 ready WRs. Not sure about DW’s knee, seems if it’s not 100%, then redshirt, sure he does not want too (realize there’s other stuff affecting game 1 too).
    O-Line—not my cup of tea, but maybe at tackle Robert Jones is equal to Grant (RJ is on a mission, it’s now or never) and if Grant is less than 100%, better to have him available if needed…who knows…
    D-Line—not surprised to see Dixon on 2 deep as Ruff raved about his spring & fall. While Lattimore is huge, he’s not played in a while, still getting used to the D1 game (it’s talent & experience vs size & inexperience). JL likely play more as season progresses. Good to see Terry back, surprised also that Rose is listed as an “or”, Pegues has been solid, maybe a motivational thing for both guys.
    Linebackers & DBs—not much surprise here, Woullard should see much PT.
    DBs—Way thin here, need Paulk back asap; or else our front 7 must cause havoc.
    Lastly kick returners—fine with KO returners tho Hunt makes more sense here than Harris (better speed & in space). Fine w/ others there including Furr (speed). For punt returns, why risk Hardy, why not use Cooper, Smyre, Harris, Webster, Soloman, etc., anyone…just not our #1 WR.

    That’s my .02, or no quarter…lol…8-4 or better…GDP!!

    • Lot of great commentary MiD…

      Starting with the DC…I am backing off some on my remarks in frustration…I think that there may have been a bit of a have to in getting the DC over to App who then released it. The official DC released by ECU really is what we all expected and have been used to. I was a bit harsh in my commentary. Us types hate getting scooped, but I think it was a function of some deadlines and ASU releasing it.

      Interesting thoughts on RB…Hairston seemed to be the star of camp. I wonder if Cooper’s kick return abilities are part of the equation. Furr was the big surprise to me, although I am expecting to see all of the backs some. Have heard that 2 backs will happen more frequently.

      On the WRs…I have heard this on Jabril from others as well…that is welcome news that if he can’t be RS because he is that good…wow! exciting. And Ray I expected to get in the mix, just not this fast, but he is Junior and a prime KOR specialist, makes sense.

      Would love to see Dixon rage this year…love him as a player. I hope Matt is full health, but if not, seems we have talent to cover.

      Totally agree on Paulk…love his passion and we need it back there. Front 7 must cause havoc anyway!!

      Man…8 wins would be awesome…hope we can pull an upset or two along the way. Brutal stretch to start the season.

      • Pharma- thanks for your reply and all of the information that you share but…i’m not convinced this hc is capable of leading this program to consistant improvement year after year. ECU needs a coach that everybody wants to hire. i was not a Holtz fan but i think he would have contended every year for the conference championship. i hope i’m wrong, but i don’t see this coach being a big winner year in and year out. one last question, was coach Logan losses also a record?

      • From one RC to another…I hope you are wrong, but would not surprise me if you are right. I think that the fact that we went south on the W-L slate in year 2 is worrisome…I hope he can correct it – this is a big year for this staff IMO (not that it means anything) because if they do not win this season, then we could be in some trouble.

        On Logan…good question. I am going to do some research in terms of winning and losing percentages…hmmmm. Something tells me you already know the answer.

        Drop in a again RC…your commentary is always welcome.

        Go Pirates!

  8. if the quarterback race was as tight as the coach stated why in the world wouldn’t they give the other qback a chance to see what he could do under pressure. Johnson was terrible in his start..the coaches said he settled down in the second, he just did not throw any passes but short ones and some of them were bad. why will this coach not substitute to see who might be the best under pressure..keeping a chart during practice is fine but you need to see what the player looks like under pressure..i think Nebraska played 3 or 4 qbacks to see which one was the best under fire. how are you going to know if you have the best qback in the game until you see what the other guy can do, especially if they are so close. also Furr is a real talent and he got in the last three plays of the game..we need his size and his speed. he averaged eight yards on two carries. if we see the same Johnson against USC, the game will be over the first half..the fans are all in for ECU and they saw what was obvious..the qback was bad period!

    • Hi RC (love the initials!)…I hear you and can’t really argue too much.

      On Furr…I am surprised as anyone. Unless something happened that no one knows about, it makes no sense that he is not at least No. 3 – meaning he gets carries. He had a good spring, has all the skills, and was highly regarded prior to close of fall camp.

      Based on what I saw, I would have at least given him some of Bullock’s carries as Bullock was not very effective. Film review also showed a lot of running room that was not taken – bay all the backs. Almost as if they put their heads down and did not look at all to the left or right of the zone. Would think that they could have found Furr a few more opportunities.

      On Rio, I am mixed. Had he been sharp in the first half the game would well have been over before intermission. A starting QB has to hit the wide open receiver and he missed too many. That said, I feel like the game plan should have either been play one for the first half and then the other for the second regardless of performance OR hook when a guy is not doing well.

      Given that USC is up next, I DO understand letting Rio finish – and I feel he finished pretty well though as you pointed out, it was not an earth-shattering performance – because you want your “starter” over the first game jitters and finishing well heading into a big game.

      Now, that said, I do think that this USC game is huge for this team…we can win and we need to. In order to win, the coaches HAVE to be ready to make the hard decision should Rio falter early because if we spot USC a big lead, we will not come back. In Shane’s one play, you could see what the players were talk about…he does look Favre-like. I think Shane should get a chance if Rio struggles at all. I think if that scenario unfolds and Shane delivers a great game, the QB debate will be over. I just hate that the team would have to go through a beating to get there so hopefully the plan will be to have the 2nd QB ready to go early if the situation calls for it.

      Hey…RC…please keep dropping in…love the analysis and commentary.

      Go Pirates, go!

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