The Redshirt Freshman: Willie Henry
What I Said: My assumption here is that Henry's been hot and cold throughout camp, and they put Glasgow ahead both to reward Glasgow for a strong offseason and push Henry....Even if I'm dead wrong about all of this and Henry plays like a back-up, well, that'll still mean heavy contribution time in Mattison's rotation-heavy defensive line. I'd guess by the end of the season he'll have put himself in a good position to be the heir apparent at 3-tech, and nab at least 2 sacks.
It's looking more and more like the hot and cold thing is true. At time, Henry's looked like the best interior defense lineman on this squad, yet he's still firmly occupying a backup role. The assumption here is that for every explosive play he makes, he loses a few in practice. With a senior like Jibreel Black ahead of him (good pass rusher, otherwise average but reliable), it isn't likely that Henry's going to push for a starting role until he gains consistency. The only unknown here is how Black will be able to hold up against heavier run offenses. In previous years, he's struggled. If that remains the case, we'll probably see a heavy dose of Henry against the likes of Michigan State, Iowa, and maybe Penn State.
The Freshman: Derrick Green/DeVeon Smith
What I Said: If you wanted a more concrete prediction from me, it's this. Smith will play a key back-up role through September, good for 5-10 targets/carries a game. By the time we reach the B1G schedule, Green will sub-plant his playing time after having finally adjusted and shaken off his injury. By the end of the season, we'll see a four headed monster with Toussaint, Hayes, Green, and Smith playing roles.
Eeek. Probably should have just stuck to my gut here and not thrown Smith in.
Through 4 games, Green's posted a 13 carries/60 yards/1 TD line, and Smith's had 7 carries for 12 yards. Not exactly what I had in mind. By now, it's pretty clear that Green is the number 2 back. However, the way they're working Toussaint, that doesn't really count for much. Although Hoke recently hinted that a larger role for Green could be upcoming, the current ratio of Fitz to Green carries is about 6:1. Toussaint may have gotten a little bouncy following his injury last year, but overall he's still a very capable back.
The Redshirt Freshman: Kyle Kalis
What I Said: Because duh. Kalis comes into the season with mountains of hype after locking up the RG job at some point in spring when he abruptly chose to stop making freshman mistakes. Since then, he has had a vice like grip on the job despite the numbers of young players looking to take it away from him. Couple that with his recruiting profile and a Taylor-Lewan-but-guard career path becomes the trend. Based on what I saw from him on Saturday, it seems as though Kalis will actually be able to stand up to that kind of hype this year.
Through the season so far, Kalis has had his ups and downs. Not surprising for a redshirt freshman- the surprise is in that fellow new starter Graham Glasgow is actually outperforming him.
Still, Kalis has shown promise, and if anyone expected any more from him, you probably had your sights set too high.
The Freshman: Dymonte Thomas
What I Said: EITHER WAY. The leash on Thomas Gordon is somewhat long now, but if he goofs and Dymonte improves, it could quickly shrink. Gordon is a solid player, but he'll never be quite as gifted. Assuming Dymonte is the heir apparent at the SS position, the coaches will try to incorporate him more and more into their gameplans as the season wears on. One bad game and Gordon could be out of the lineup.
Through the summer, it seemed like Thomas was the starting nickel back. Through four games, we've seen little to no Dymonte at nickelback, instead a cycling of CBs while Countess moves inside on passing downs. The hype meter was probably dialed up a bit too high on Thomas. Since his 'Denard-esque entrance', his only notable play has been a late hit on kickoff return coverage.
With garbage games (that weren't actually garbage games) likely out of the way, time will be hard to come by for Thomas. The safeties have looked very strong this year (in that we haven't heard from them), so opportunity isn't there. More special teams for thee, son!