Written by: Eric Jackson
1. How will the offensive line shake up?
Presumably the strongest offensive line in Blazer history is now gone and the vacancy draws doubt in this season’s success. VSU goes into the season with five unproven starters upfront. Preseason camp is solidifying who these five will be. Returning linemen Colin Glasco, Jesse Yancy, Jack Bradley and Alexander Brock are involved in the current position battle. Coach David Dean expects last year’s reserve center Mike Miller to step up not only on the field but as a leader too. Dean agreed that preparing this raw offensive line will be the most difficult task of all. Quarterback Cayden Cochran has already begun getting acclimated with his new protectors. Cochran and the new unit are working against time to mesh quickly or the beginning of the season could be a drag.
2. Can the Black Swarm make up from the loss of Matt Pierce?
You can ask any team and they’ll tell you that replacing an All-American is far from easy. With Pierce and other former cornerback Alex Webster gone, corners like Manny Evans and Isaiah Gresham must step up more than ever. Not having much depth here, VSU cannot afford any injuries at this position especially facing plenty high-caliber receivers this season. It will benefit the Blazers immensely if a newly added cornerback could bring some much needed intensity.
3. Will Cayden go out with a bang?
In 2013, Cochran is still the most efficient quarterback in the conference and will have to lead once again by example. He is coming off a stellar season but unfortunately he most likely has to produce similar numbers again for the Blazers to fathom defending their title. Good thing for the senior quarterback is he comes back to all his receivers from last season and more. This can be irrelevant however if he doesn’t have enough time to throw to them. Depending on how the offensive line stands has great influence on how much of a bang his final season will be. When Cochran first arrived to VSU in 2011 and played with unfamiliar linemen,that season resulted in the Blazers falling short of even a playoff berth. It’s vital that as much camaraderie as possible is gained upfront before September.
4. How will the running back tandem pan out?
Preseason All-Conference pick Cedric O’Neal and Austin Scott shocked the nation last season both rushing for over 1,000 yards. The two sophomores won’t be nearly as much of a surprise for opposing defenses this season so how they adapt plays a major factor into the season’s outcome. Freshman running back Nick Davis, who had three touchdowns in last week’s scrimmage, is trying to cement himself as a third threat in the backfield as well. Obviously it takes some weight of Cochran’s shoulders when the running game is fluid which ultimately sets up an effective passing game. If the duo can avoid specific game plans the upcoming teams will implement to contain them then I have little doubt that the Blazers won’t win the conference and maybe more than that.
5. Who will be kicking for VSU?
Daniel Anderson’s replacement is assumed to be determined very soon. Coaches will either decide to use sophomores Jake Walker or Dominic Demasi to kick field goals this season. Demasi mainly handled punting in 2012 and Walker was on kickoffs. If not those two, coaches may experiment and plug in GSC top newcomer Anthony Pistelli. This lingering question gets less attention and if taken too lightly could backfire later. The upcoming schedule includes some matchups that very well could end up being decided by three points.