Its funny how narratives develop. As the Hogs are on a terrible downturn, the narrative I am hearing on the radio and reading online is that we “lack speed.” I just heard Bo and Matt Jones talking about this.
There is no doubt it would be nice to have more speed. Are we as fast as Bama and LSU? No. Auburn? Probably not.
But lack of speed is NOT why we are losing. I think people simply don’t like to watch the line of scrimmage. They watch the ball. And “lack of speed” is such an easy criticism to make.
No…its not lack of speed. We are losing because we are getting whipped at the line of scrimmage. Particularly the offensive line. THAT is the huge problem. Clay was right to write about it. That and we lack depth and perhaps good ole ability.
But back to speed. Let’s look at each position:
WR - Which group of receivers was better: Morgan/Hatcher/Cornelius or Nance/Stewart/Jones? I think we would all agree group one is easily superior…at least as of today. But the second group…the current group…is FAR faster. Not even close. Jones and Stewart are both far faster than anyone that played alot last year. Are they better players? No. But its not lack of speed.
RB - Rawleigh Williams was a very good RB. But he was not a burner. Haydon and Devwah are both definitely faster than Rawleigh. Looking around the league Haydon/Williams/Whaley are right where you want your running backs in terms of speed. Whaley was a track star. Haydonmis apparently faster. Look at their burst on the rare occasions that they are able to cut it loose. There is plenty of speed. Devwah has a great burst. He doesn’t seem to see lanes sometimes…on the rare occasion there is one.
TE - Do we lack speed there? Goodness no. We have NFL prototypes in terms of size and speed. At least two will play in the NFL. Maybe 3. Even national pundits have said we may have the best stable of TE’s in terms of talent in the nation. Now…are they all good “football payers?” Not yet…no. But the speed and size is there.
QB - We DO lack speed at QB. Duh. But that’s a philosophical decision. Recruit pure passers. The much loved scumbag Petrino recruited the same type. And all you Allen haters…guess who loved the Allen brothers?
OK…over to defense:
Outside LB - We probably do lack speed here. Though Ramsey isn’t slow at all. But it would be nice to have future NFL types here, with more speed.
Inside LB - Who in the country has faster ILBers than us? Show them to me. Our 2 can really really really run. Are there better inside backers? Yes. Are they alot faster? No
Corner - Pulley was our fastest corner. Losing him hurts. But big pass plays against us have not been because our corners get outrun. Curl is green. But coming. Tolliver isn’t getting thrown at much and apparently getting NFL interest. Calloway is the most touted corner we signed in years. We need more depth here, no question. But the starting speed is good.
Safety/Nickel - We do probably lack speed at nickel. And Santos is not especially fast…though he has played pretty dang well. Liddell is a weak link in my opinion…but he has run down people for years. He can really run! He’s just not “good”. Being fast doesn’t make you good.
D-line - Sosa runs plenty well for a d-lineman. The rest do probably lack speed. Guidry seems pretty agile and has some speed. But he’s not one of the top 5-6 seems to me. He has not been what we’d hoped.
So…as we all criticize, evaluate, and fret…let’s be clear. We have a team built to dominate up front. Especially on offense. And we just aren’t. That’s on the coaching staff. I won’t argue that. But to simply say we lack speed is shortsighted and simplistic IMO.