The Cougars’ decisive 46-25 win at North Texas proved this team was still plenty focused on 2019 and as importantly, still have enough talent on the team to dismantle a solid team on the road.
As much as that game was a reminder that 2019 might have more meaningful football than most of us believed to be the case a week ago, the who does/doesn’t redshirt question is important enough that we’re debuting a NEW regular written feature today!
Specifically, we’ll be regularly featuring a redshirt tracker, allowing you to see which Cougar players are eligible to redshirt with an eye towards the 2020 season and beyond.
Some notes before we get started:
· I left off a few players who have played only 1 game. I tried to be thorough about including backups and players who see most of their action on special teams. I don’t believe there’s a scholarship player who has seen action for the Coogs missing from this tracker, but if you believe I have missed an important player please reach out to us!
· The Coogs’ 4 specialists who have appeared in a game are listed with the offensive players. I felt weird creating a separate tab in Excel just for special teams. Please accept my deepest apologies.
· James Dickey beat Kevin Ollie and the future 2014 national championship UConn Huskies on New Years’ Eve in front of like 1800 people at Hofheinz Pavilion. Does that have any relevance to now? No, but I am contractually obligated to bring this factoid up every 60 days.
Let's get this started!
The Cougar Offense:
The above 2 pictures show 33 Cougar players with listed offensive positions and the 4 specialists who have seen game action.
Out of that group, there are 9 offensive/special teams players who cannot redshirt this year due to number of games played this year or having already used their redshirt in a previous year. Thus, this group of players will almost certainly end their collegiate careers in 2019:
· RB Patrick Carr
· WR Courtney Lark
· OT Josh Jones
· OG Justin Murphy
· OT Jarrid Williams
· P Dane Roy
· LS Nick Wildberger
· TE Bo Alexander
· WR Terry Mark
Here are the seniors who are officially sitting out the remainder of the 2019 season or have been mentioned specifically as likely to redshirt:
· QB D’Eriq King
· WR Keith Corbin
· OG/C Braylon Jones
· RB Mulbah Car
Car is the only guy from the above group of 4 who will likely see further action this year. An unforeseen injury-crisis at running back could force Car into more than 2 more games and thus burn his redshirt. But it seems obvious Holgorsen and his offensive staff are going to do everything possible to keep Car around for the 2020 season.
There are a total of 10 offense/special teams player, regardless of classification, who have seen live game action and are eligible to redshirt. We have already talked about the 4 seniors who meet the criterion, but there are interesting names from the underclassmen who are redshirt eligible:
· QB Clayton Tune
· OG Dennis Bardwell
· QB Logan Holgorsen
I think the only one of these players likely to redshirt this year is the younger Holgorsen. Even though he’s only played 1 game, Tune feels like a long shot to redshirt as he’s the only scholarship QB left with King sitting out the rest of the year.
Not only is Bardwell right at the 4-game redshirt limit, but he played well enough as a fill-in starter against North Texas that I have a hard time envisioning the staff shutting down Bardwell entirely.
Here’s the classification breakout for Cougar offense/special teams players so far, regardless of redshirt status:
· Senior/Grad student: 13
· Junior: 9
· Sophomore: 9
· Freshman: 6
Of the 2 groups we’ll look at here the offense is certainly more senior-heavy but could still lose as few as 9 players with some of those seniors redshirting and possibly returning in 2020.
The Cougar Defense:
These are the 33 Cougar players who are on the roster as defensive players and have seen enough game action to merit inclusion here (or in 1 case, was a returning starter who’s seen minimal action in 2019).
You may notice a slight difference between the offense and defensive charts, as in the interest of saving space I didn’t include an Announced Redshirt column as no defensive player has said they’re being held out of 2019 games to preserve a redshirt year…yet.
There are only 5 Cougar players who are seniors and not redshirt eligible:
· DT Aymiel Fleming
· DT Blake Young
· DE/LB Leroy Godfrey
· LB Jordan Milburn
· S Darius Gilbert
Fleming was the only one of this group I thought might get included in the redshirting of key players for 2020, but he played his 5th game vs UNT and is no longer eligible to redshirt. Even with a wide defensive line rotation, there are precious few players on the roster who can be trusted with meaningful reps on the interior line and Fleming is one of those guys. Ditto for Blake Young, another a senior interior D lineman.
Godfrey, a regular starter in 2017-18 at outside linebacker, has only played 1 game (PVAMU) and hasn’t played in any of the last 3. Milburn and Gilbert are almost exclusively special teams guys.
The only senior defensive player with the theoretical ability to still redshirt 2019 is Ka’Darian Smith, who has appeared in 4 games and has no prior redshirt year. I have been surprised many times in this young season, but I don’t think there are enough guys who can play cornerback right now to allow Smith to miss the remainder of this year to redshirt.
Some other interesting possible redshirts from the non-seniors are: LB Terrance Edgeston (3 games), S Gleson Sprewell, DE Taures Payne (2 games), DT Jamykal Neal (4 games) and DT Atlias Bell. There isn’t close to enough depth for the entire group of Edgeston, Neal, Bell and Payne to redshirt. I wouldn’t be surprised if 2 of those guys redshirt, though.
I also don’t believe Sprewell will redshirt this year, but with him being held out of the UNT game I included him just in case that becomes a reality.
The youth of this unit as compared to the offense (and college football defenses, generally) is noticeable. Out of this group of 33 defensive players, there are only in my estimation 9 to 10 players who saw anything more than garbage time action for UH’s defense last year.
Here’s my rough list of which guys I believe qualify: Aymiel Fleming, Gleson Sprewell, Leroy Godfrey, Deontay Anderson, Payton Turner, Isaiah Chambers, David Anenih, Grant Stuard, Ka’Darian Smith and Logan Hall.
There are definitely more defensive players who saw game action of any kind last year than the ones I just listed, but the distinction between is noteworthy.
This means over half of the rotation players seeing action for the Cougar defense in 2019 are getting their very first meaningful Division 1 experience or first experience period. I believe that this puts into some context the frustrating ups and downs of this Cougar defense so far.