Malik Rosier’s leadership is still in question, as the Malik/N’Kosi/Jarren debate has been lively all off-season. Due to struggles experienced last year, it seems that a solid gunslinger is the solution to all of the Canes’ issues. There’s no doubt that Mark Richt has assembled an elite level of talent; but question marks exist outside of the quarterback position.
Zach Feagles is one player who comes to mind after a disappointing season as starting punter. Feagles however, does deserve some slack for starting as a true-Freshman; but in order to keep his starting job, he must improve.
Feagles averaged 38.6 yards per punt last season, with a long of 54 yards; which is competitive, but not solid enough. Justin Vogel, Feagles’ predecessor; averaged 43.8 yards in his last season with the Canes. Despite the disparity not seeming massive, the difference between those two punters is quite noticeable. The ability to flip the field, and pin our opponent deep in their own territory is a vital tool, and we can only hope that Feagles exceeds his numbers from last season.
Gerald Willis’ leave of absence came as a surprise after the 2016 season, as we feared that his presence would be utterly missed. Thankfully, players such as RJ McIntosh and Kendrick Norton stepped up and helped the Canes build a ferocious defensive line. Now, with the departure of those two players, as well as Chad Thomas and Anthony Moten, there’s some doubt surrounding the position group.
Willis’ return gives us hope, as he was a solid force in the lone season he played with the Canes. Questions surround him though, as we can’t know for sure that he’s in the same playing condition, despite seeing him practice well this year. Gerald Willis has more to prove on the field, and could be the answer to the questions at defensive line.
There’s no doubt that improvement from Malik Rosier is necessary in order for the Canes to surpass last season’s success. However, the impact of the two players mentioned can help the team become more well-rounded. Malik Rosier still holds the key though; as a short punt from Feagles, or a missed tackle by Willis, isn’t as derailing as an errand pass to a defender, or a missed throw to an open receiver; which were acts that Malik committed far-too-often last season.