Saturday, August 28, 2010

Position Breakdown 2010: Tight Ends

Returning: Vince Pascoe, Tapa Taumopeau, Ryan Skidmore, Michael Butler, David Gory, Ryan Bouchma
Newcomers: Riley Barnes (walk-on)
Lost: Isaac Kinter

Vince Pascoe: Sorry, can't Pascoe or collect $200
Sr, 6'1", 250
Exeter (Exeter HS)

He's not exactly what you'd call a receiving tight end, but Vince Pascoe led Fresno State tight ends with 6 catches for 52 yards last year -- a stat that points to how little the Bulldogs are throwing to tight ends. Part of that is because of personnel. Pascoe, a former walk-on and cousin of former Fresno State star Bear Pascoe (Giants), is much better as a blocker than a receiving threat (unless you're playing NCAA Football 11 on PS3). Don't expect his role to change much this year. He'll line up at tight end and H-back and pave some openings for Bulldogs backs.

DaCo on Pascoe: Pascoe has made it clear that he is the premier blocker at tight end for this team. He maximizes his body, strength and leverage to move much bigger bodies. Pascoe is also a valuable chain mover, with usually reliable hands. He's one of those unheralded players you appreciate when he's gone.

FSDogs1 on Pascoe: It's impossible not to love a story like "Cub" Pascoe's. He's the guy with the 4.0 GPA in mechanical engineering who worked his way up from walk-on status to a starting job. Basically, he proves that hard work pays off.

Ryan Skidmore: Time on the bench about to hit the Skids
Jr, 6'5", 240
Bakersfield (East HS)

Remember that bit about Vince Pascoe leading all Bulldogs tight ends in receiving last year? Well it won't happen this season, not if Ryan Skidmore is healthy. Skidmore has missed practice recently with his arm in a sling, but is essentially a big wide receiver playing tight end. Unlike the rest of the players at the position, his strong suit is receiving and his weakness is blocking -- which is why former tight ends coach John Baxter didn't have him on the field all that much last season. Expect that to change with new coach Pete Alamar. It's been obvious since spring Skidmore is high on the depth chart, and it's been obvious for two years the quarterbacks enjoy having him as a target.

DaCo on Skidmore: As a receiver, Skidmore's potential is nothing short of exciting. He adds the element of making plays out of the slot, creating huge mismatches. His top-end speed is wide receiver-esque, and hasn't been seen since former TE Jeremy Johnson (2001). His downfall thus far is his inability/lack of progress as a blocker, and his tendency to lose focus on easy catches (despite his good hands). Every tool, from size to speed, is in his arsenal. If he figures it all out, he will be far and away the best tight end in the WAC, at the least.

FSDogs1 on Skidmore: As can be expected, Ryan Skidmore was involved in the first skirmish of fall camp. The team needs him to separate himself as the go-to tight end and be Mr. Reliable at the position, especially since he can be a deep threat.

Tapa Taumopeau: Wishing we could hear all the different Taumopeau pronunciations
So, 6'3", 220
Euless, TX (Trinity HS)

The end of the New Mexico Bowl still haunts those Red Wavers with attention to detail. Many recall Ryan Mathews trying to plunge into the end zone on four straight downs and failing to make it in during the eventual loss to Wyoming. But lost in the embarrassment was Tapa Taumopeau missing a crucial blocking assignment that led to Mathews being dropped in the backfield. Tapa (we know no one calls him by his last name, or his full first name of Mulitapa for that matter) cannot have those types of errors if he expects to get on the field and help this team.

DaCo on Taumopeau: Tapa is clearly undersized at tight end, especially considering he didn't add much, if any, bulk during the offseason. His ability as a receiver is largely unproven, which is just fine considering the wealth of receiving talent. He is a hard worker, though.

FSDogs1 on Taumopeau: I'd love to see Tapa with a more aggressive attitude on the field -- something any player needs when his main objective is to knock defenders into oblivion on any given play.

Michael Butler: The Butler, in the back of the end zone, with the football
So, 6'3", 240
Fresno (Sunnyside HS)
The local prospect Michael Butler has been battling to find a niche since arriving on campus, and that battle will continue. But he may have been the most successful young tight end in fall camp, with the highlight being a 40-yard catch in traffic from Derek Carr in the first fall scrimmage. Butler might see his first significant game action this season and, if so, must take advantage to move up the depth chart.

DaCo on Butler: There is no question Butler is a really good dude, a quality that can be assigned to a lot of different Bulldogs. His hang-up on the field has been consistency, despite his showing of consistent improvement. He is a strong and willing blocker, which are traits that could give him a role this year, and definitely one when Pascoe graduates.

FSDogs1 on Butler: We'll always have a soft spot for a hometown kid who was so enthusiastic about recruiting other top prospects to join his Bulldogs when he committed. Give it up for Michael Butler!

David Gory: Will the 2010 season have a Gory ending?
So, 6'4", 235
San Ramon (California HS)

David Gory was thought to be a diamond in the rough after being injured his senior year of high school and slipping through the radar of all the Pac-10 teams who probably would have offered him scholarships. His appearance brings back plenty of Bear Pascoe memories -- with an almost identical frame. Because of this and the potential Gory showed in camp last season, he was expected to contend for a starting spot this year, but hasn't lived up to the billing yet. One reason is he can't overcome the injury bug (again missing practice this fall camp). But don't be surprised if he's a constant by season's end if he gets healthy.

DaCo on Gory: Health and football inexperience have hurt Gory thus far in his young career. It's hard to progress when time on the field is limited, which makes his inconsistency understandable. But Gory was supposed to be blocking-ready for this season, and that just doesn't seem to be the case at this point. He is a definite wild card for the position.

FSDogs1 on Gory: Tight end might be the team's weakest position right now, and Gory is a guy who can change that if he reaches his potential. I'd like to avoid the "time will tell" cliche, but it's true.

Ryan Bouchma: Is Bouchma the next surprise breakout?
R-Fr, 6'4", 235
Bakersfield (Bakersfield Christian HS)

When talking about exciting walk-ons on the current roster, Ryan Bouchma has to be in the conversation. He hasn't yet done anything to stand out in game-like situations, but he's got the prototypical tight end body and, as a high school teammate of Derek Carr, has the chemistry with the guy who will be at the helm the next two to three years.

DaCo on Bouchma: Definitely a good decision by coaches to move Bouchma to tight end after beginning his career as a defensive end. Bouchma has very good hands and a Skidmore-like frame, making him an intriguing receiving prospect.

FSDogs1 on Bouchma: Bouchma isn't likely to get playing time this season, but he's definitely worth keeping an eye on to see how he progresses the next two years.

Riley Barnes: Partaking in a Barnes and noble task
Fr, 6'2", 225
Tulare (Tulare Union HS)

An incoming walk-on, Riley Barnes has a long ways to go to crack the rotation, but he's similar to Bouchma in that he's got the size to develop into a contributer. That scenario will play out over the next few camps.

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