Three players, three phases of the game. Here are my impact players on offense, defense and special teams. I've tried to narrow this down to one single player I see as having the biggest impact on that phase of the game in the upcoming season.
I know this could generate some interesting discussion and I've been wanting to post it for a couple weeks. But truthfully, I've had some trouble narrowing this list down. But as Kramer would say, GiddyUP!
Offense - Joe Cox
Pretty easy right? Cox has gotten a lot of press. And when you take over the huddle from the number one draft pick...that's understandable.
His one career start was one to forget, but his career numbers in Athens at least show Bobo's not handing the keys to the car to some guy named Clausen.
33/58 432 yds 5 TDs 1 INT
Throw in the fact that he's hasn't lost a football game as a starter since the Clinton administration and Dawg fans begin to feel much better.
Perhaps most importantly, Cox's been super impressive since Stafford's announcement. He's used his actions and words to lead his teammates while reminding Dawg fans that there are a number of intangibles to being a signal caller.
Special Teams - Drew Butler
With the recent performance of Richard Samuel having all but sewn up the starting spot at TB, the speculation over who kicks off in Stillwater is probably the most intriguing. So this one I thought would go to Walsh...or Bogatay. I've even considered giving it to Fabris in hopes he might crack a smile.
But whoever is named to placekicking duties will have had ample experience doing it. Butler was used sparingly last season as a redshirt freshman punter. The words from Woodruff recently are just south of glowing for Kevin's son. Unfortunately his career stats add little to the discussion:
3 punts for 107 yards, 35.7 avg, 1 inside the 20, and a long of 40 yards
Not a lot to go on. But it's hard to make an argument that any other special teamer would have a greater impact than the punter in my mind. Butler will be the one charged with controlling Big XII burner Dez Bryant's knack for returning punts on Sept. 5th. If you disagree, take a moment to envision the offense stalling out from the shadows of a Stillwater goalpost.
Yeh...definitely going with Butler here.
Defense - Marcus Washington
There are a number of other players I could have put here, but Washington's move to end truly gives Martinez a nice opportunity to change some things up. Couple that with the utter lack of production at the position in '08 and this turned into a no-brainer for me.
Washington's nose for rushing the passer will create some not so happy feet in opposing backfields. I was a little surprised when I only saw two career sacks to his credit, but the 13 TFLs and 10 QB hurries look awful nice. He knows his way around an opposing backfield.
And with his experience as a LB, he can drop back into zone coverage if needed to really get into the QBs head. Think Reggie Ball trying to read a zone blitz...
The asterisk with this one of course is health. Washington is coming off a shoulder surgery that forced him to miss 2008. But if #44 can come back and avoid the nagging injuries I really think he can be a difference maker for this defense in both a direct and indirect way.
So, who would you substitute? Or add...?