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The Cardinal Countdown: 11 Days Until Kickoff

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#11 Dee Smith

Class: Freshman

Ht/Wt: 6-1/200

Position: Safety

Hometown: Florence, AL

Twitter: @I_Am_Dee_Smith

Thoughts: Go ahead and put him as “next in line” when discussing the ridiculous string of talent we’ve had come through UofL at Safety the last 5 or 6 years. Smith was a near consensus 4 star talent last season at Florence High, playing both safety and linebacker and chose the Cards over Auburn, Tennessee, Miss St, Miami and UK, among others. Coming into fall camp Dee already had some chatter around him in regards to his potential as a developing athlete, and then came out guns a blazin’ the first few practices. Both Dee and Khane Pass garnered praise from Petrino with how well they were playing at safety and how athletic they looked even when running alongside the vets. While Harvey-Clemons has one of the safety spots locked up and Chucky Williams has a strong hold on the other, don’t be shocked to see Dee get some work out there this year, even as a true freshman. One would expect to see Dee cut teeth on special teams, as they try and do with most freshman, but he simply may be too talented to keep off the field. I believe it was Mark Ennis who said that Dee could be a good fit at the “star” position in Grantham’s defense (what JHC will play this year) and I tend to agree after watching some highlights. His frame isn’t as large as Harvey-Clemons, but few are, and his speed helps make up for his lack of length at times. If JHC is just here for one season then look for Dee to be the man in 2016 at the position.

“What’s that you say, we lost ANOTHER member of our secondary to the NFL…[shrugs shoulders]…NEXT!”

Sweet Tweet:

Via social media and some conversations with friends it appears most have received their Auburn tickets and/or season tickets. Congratulations. You made it. It’s been a long few months but the paper is now in hand. Let’s ride out these last 11 days like the Ruff Ryders

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#11 Will Gardner

Class: RS Junior

Ht/Wt: 6-5/220

Position: Quarterback

Hometown: Douglas, GA

Twitter: @willgardner_11

Thoughts: I went back and read my post about Will from last year and I’m pretty happy with what I said then. The good/bad thing I guess is that I could almost post it all over again this year. “He’s developing”, “He will make some great plays”, “He will make some bad mistakes”, “He’s injury prone”, etc. Hell, the same thing may still apply a year from now as well. Will Gardner is a mystery to me at times, and I’m almost to the point where….I’m ok with it. Just when you think you have him figured out, things change. He didn’t throw the ball away all year (only 3 interceptions) but had the most fumbles of anyone on the team (5). He had more passing yards than the other three quarterbacks combined (1629/1607), but accounted for over negative 100 yards in the rushing game (not all his fault, of course). He had more passing touchdowns than the other three quarterbacks combined (12/9), but played probably the worst game of the season from any quarterback all year at Virginia. So which is the real deal Will? Maybe both.

We all have our own opinions about the QB position, as we’ve learned over the course of the last two months almost ad nausea, but in my opinion Will was what I’ll call the “eye test” quarterback last season.  When he was in the game I felt “less nervous” for reasons it’s hard to pinpoint. Even with mistakes or sacks I still felt a sense of calm that he had it under control, more so than I did with Reggie or even Kyle. What does that mean in terms of 2015? I have no idea. Maybe Reggie has a better grasp of the offense now? It sure seemed that way in the Spring and early fall. Maybe Kyle has made the necessary strides to get back in the running? As I talked about 3 days ago, I’ll never count him out. But, something about Gardner fighting back from his 37th ACL injury has me excited about his determination to be successful. Mike said a lot about Will much better than I could in a post last week, so if you missed it go back and check it out

I speak truthfully when I say that I trust Petrino and McGee to make the correct decision and know we’ll have the best guy out there, whoever that may be. Each of these players individually won games for us last year with their play so I echo the thoughts of Petrino when he says he feels much better now than he did a year ago at the position. I thought Reggie was the man as little as a week but now I honestly have no idea…and I’m ok with it.

Sweet Tweet: Will isn’t spitting a lot of “hot takes” on twitter, in fact it’s 90% retweets, so I’ll use this as an excuse to “revisit” a post from earlier in the countdown. Back on Day 72 I asked what many projected our final record to be. That was over 60 days ago so a decent amount has changed. We remained healthy for the most the part, finished up fall camp, have a better understanding from the coaches about freshman progression, veteran leadership, etc. I’m curious if our collective minds have been swayed one way or the other the last two months. I’ll post the same poll as before and throw Day 72’s results down the comments as not to sway your decision one way or the other before you vote. We’re 11 Days out now…how do you think we’ll be sitting on November 29th?