Roundtable: Predicting the top performer at Red & White Game
On Saturday, the football team will play itself at TDECU Stadium in its annual Red & White Game.
It is a chance for underclassmen to step up into a new role, for veterans to solidify their starting positions, for transfers to leave first impression with full pads on, and for coaches to spot areas for improvement.
The Cougar sports staff has been tracking the team at practice all week. Here’s their predictions for who will be the top performer come Saturday.
Staff writer Christopher McGehee
Look for sophomore starting quarterback D’Eriq King to display a marked improvement over his performance from last season. Even though he was the team’s leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns last season, King and the team suffered as a result of a constant rotation behind center.
Throughout his sophomore campaign, King split time at quarterback with Kyle Postma and Texas A&M transfer Kyle Allen, which never allowed King to truly establish a rhythm with his receivers.
To put it in perspective, King attempted 139 passes last season while contemporaries such as Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield attempted north of 400 passes. Now, after going through spring training knowing he will be the team’s starting quarterback, King will display the skills that will allow him to be a leader of the Cougars, with an emphasis on efficiency and moving the ball.
Staff writer Jackson Gatlin
With sophomore All-American defensive tackle Ed Oliver already receiving national media recognition, expect him to come out prepared to give his supporters and fans a great preview..
Oliver is the Cougars’ driving force on defense, leading the nation with a career average of 1.56 tackles for loss per game, totaling 39.5 tackles for loss in only 25 games played.
In early March, Oliver announced he will enter the 2019 NFL draft, where he is projected as a top five pick. The decision to announce for the draft can be daunting for many college athletes, some even having doubts about themselves, but not Oliver.
“I would play for the Texans right now,” Oliver said at a post practice interview. “Sign me up.”
Oliver was sidelined for about a week at the end of March because he gashed his forehead during a spring workout. However, he only required a few stitches for the minor injury.
With no impending draft decision and an extra week of rest under his belt, fans should expect a focused, rested and ready-to-go Oliver to put on a defensive clinic during the spring game.
Senior staff writer Trenton Whiting
Ed Oliver said himself that the spring game will be mostly for the young guys on the team. The same applies to the new guys, especially the high-profile transfers who have to prove they can contribute.
Sophomore safety Deontay Anderson, a transfer from Ole Miss, may have more to prove than anyone else on the roster. A former four star recruit with college experience, Anderson is expected to contribute immediately in the defensive backfield. Anderson will have the best spring game because he needs to have the best spring game.
With the graduation of safeties Terrell and Khalil Williams, the pressure is on Anderson to gain the trust of the coaches and fellow players. If he has a strong performance in the spring game, it’ll be a strong first step toward meeting that goal.