Coach Franklin met with the media on Wednesday but was unable to answer questions about position battles in terms of players winning starting roles. The team is still installing both offensive and defensive packages and Franklin said that the coaches have not yet spoken about picking a starting lineup.
One thing that coach was ready to say for certain was that he expects there to be three offensive guards that share time. Veteran Steven Gonzalez has 29 starts over the past three seasons and is expected to start and play the bulk of the snaps at left guard. On the right side, Mike Miranda started one game last season and is competing with fellow redshirt sophomore C.J. Thorpe.
“I think you are going to see those guys play a lot,” Franklin said after practice.
Both Thorpe and Miranda have had more than just playing right guard on their mind. Thorpe switched to defensive tackle last season to help the team when it was lacking game-ready depth. Miranda has been taking snaps as the backup center in the event that he is needed there, which reduces the time he has had to work at right guard. Each will benefit from the competition. They will also to be able to work into the lineup at a natural speed, rather than being forced in due to necessity.
As for the offensive tackles, Franklin mentioned Des Holmes and the offseason work that he has done. At 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds, the redshirt sophomore has gotten both his body and mind ready to compete. Caedan Wallace also got a mention, the 6-foot-5 333 pound freshman has “done some nice things,” in camp according to the coach. Rasheed Walker is expected to start at left tackle and though Will Fries can play either side, he should be on the right side this year.
By this time next week the position battles should be clearer. Like the guard position, not every spot will go to one player. On defense, there seems to be one clear starter at safety, Garrett Taylor. There are three other players that are good enough to start in the Big Ten, all vying for playing time. Lamont Wade, Jonathan Sutherland, and Jaquan Brisker continue to get praise from the coaches. It will be interesting to see how the playing time is divided between the safeties, but all four in the two-deep will see the field often.
Here is the interview with Garrett Taylor following practice.
Taylor mentioned that he cut his body fat from 10% down to 7% by focusing on nutrition and cooking for himself.
“I feel really fast and really explosive. I think just watching the film I can really tell that I look different. I’m moving different. And it feels really good.”
Coach Franklin described Taylor’s new physique. “Not only is he a veteran and played a lot of football for us. Great leader, very mature. He has changed his body. He looks great. He is ripped up. His body fat is way down, he’s moving really well. He’s playing with a lot of confidence right now.”
When talking about the rest of the defense Franklin mentioned the need to gain experience but about the talent, “We are long and fast on defense. I mean, it is very, very apparent. It’s impressive. Our length, our athleticism, and our speed on defense right now.”
Here is the full session with coach.