EOTH’s Top 25 Countdown Revisited (#19-17)
Welcome back for another season of EOTH’s review of the Pre-Season Top 25 Countdown. I think this sort of review of our expectations vs. reality is a useful exercise for fans. Usually this feature is done immediately following the end of football season. However, this year, I thought it would be most useful to look at this comparison right before the start of spring practice, which commences on Saturday, March 2nd.
As you will recall, EOTH readers were asked to use the following criteria when evaluating the players:
- The players’ past performance (in the 2012 pre-season, unlike every other year, readers were allowed to rank freshmen)
- The players’ performance during spring practice or last year
- The players’ raw athletic ability including performance in the weight room and 40 times
- How essential the players’ success is to the team’s success as a whole (meaning if he gets knocked out, we will probably lose the game)
#19 Darius Smith
2012 Pre-Season Outlook: I’m not sure it can be overstated exactly how much we need Darius to step up and become a dominant defensive tackle. I know a lot of our readers don’t like to be bothered with stuff like “facts” and “depth,” and would prefer to simply blame coaches, but suffice it to say, when asked about our defensive tackle situation at a private booster dinner in the spring, Coach Golden replied (paraphrasing) that the question had just ruined his evening. Hopefully Golden, D’Onofrio, and Franklin can work some of that Temple magic (don’t laugh, at least they were able to beat Maryland last year, unlike us), and turn Smith from the guy no one wanted on their side of the scrimmage line into the guy no one wants to see across it.
2012 Performance: Darius played in nine games, making seven starts along defensive line, racking up 11 tackles, including seven solo stops, as well as 1.0 sack and 1.0 TFL.
#18 Jimmy Gaines
2012 Pre-Season Outlook: It’s been a long time since I have used the word “excitement” in the same sentence as our linebacking corps. Usually the adjective is something like “nauseating,” “terrible,” “invisible” or simply “thank God for Sean Spence.” But now, between Denzel Perryman, Gionni Paul, Tyrone Cornelius, and [fingers crossed] Ramon Buchanan, I think Barrow actually has quite a bit to work with now . . . which is good because those dudes have like 1/2 a d line in front of them. Gaines is a player that I’ve been excited about since he interviewed with Eye of the Hurricane before he stepped foot in Coral Gables and I think he has tremendous potential to make a big impact his junior season.
2012 Performance: Gaines played in 11 games at linebacker, making six starts, finishing fifth on the team with 57 tackles, including 34 solo stops. Jimmy’s first start of season came at MLB against Georgia Tech and he played starting MLB for the final five games. Jimmy tallied seven tackles at Georgia Tech, six tackles against Florida State, seven vs. Virginia Tech, a career-high 12 tackles in loss to Virginia, nine tackles at Duke, 1.0 TFL against Georgia Tech, Florida State and Virginia Tech, a recovered fumble against Florida State, as well as interceptions against Virginia Tech and USF, and a season-high two PBUs at Duke.
#17 Tracy Howard
2012 Pre-Season Outlook: I feel like a broken record saying this, but we really need Howard to step up and um . . . play like a senior All-American this season. I know that expectation is not realistic though. So, although I think Howard is capable of great things in the future, I ask/plead that our fan base give him a chance to learn and grow before the boo-birds come out in Sun Life Stadium (although, I would hedge a bet that those who boo our team are not actually intelligent enough to know when a blown play is a DB’s fault or exactly which DB Howard is – much easier to boo a QB without investing too much thought or diverting your attention away from your stadium beer). Our fan base’s expectations thrust upon these young men’s shoulders is pointless – let’s sit back and watch what Howard can do and hopefully enjoy watching him progress into a great playmaker.
2012 Performance: Howard played in all 12 games at defensive back and on special teams, making one start, finishing the season with 17 tackles and four pass break-ups. Howard posted at least one tackle in nine games, including one tackle at in his UM debut at Boston College in UM debut. Tracy tallied three solo stops in win over Virginia Tech, three tackles and one PBU in road loss at Virginia. In his first career start, Howard had a career-high four tackles and two PBUs in win at Duke.