Oregon returns 18 from their 2011 Quarterfinals run at Nationals. Led by Tyler Cable, Collin Smith and Topher Davis, Ego has one of the most loose and explosive offenses at the tournament, which has yet to be truly showcased this season. This weekend, 2011 1st Team All Region, 1st Team Freshman of the Year and NexGen baller Dylan Freechild sets to do battle along with John Bloch, Camden Allison Hall, Ian Campbell (Rhino, 2nd Team FOTY) and Freshman Aaron Hohn (Rhino).
Not only does Oregon have a wide array of talented players, they also seem to have the most fun on the field when their game is on. Big spikes, end-zone celebrations and the “Break Bucket” are common sights for an Ego game as their high speed horizontal stack offense in addition to their intense and physical man defense should be too much to handle for any other team in Pool B. Seeding aside, anything less than a Semi-Finals appearance would be disappointment for Ego, especially for the spectators since a matchup against any of the other top teams would certainly be a sight to see.
Florida returns to the Stanford Invite after a year hiatus, seeded in the two spot in Pool B. The 2012 Gators have redefined their style of play after losing Cole Sullivan, Alex Hill and Nathan Sage. Running a patient vertical stack that works the dump-swing the entire length of the field, Florida relies on the talents of their entire rotation, instead of a trio of stars. This is not to say that the Gators have strayed away from their rotation tight, as Florida still runs about 8-10 deep where their mainstays are Travis Catron, Rob Brice, Josh Hurwitz, Michael Bowman, Alan Baird, Jeff Kale, Jason Silverman and Freshman Bobby Ley. Catron and Brice are the anchors of the vertical stack, typically getting the most touches and staying back as the primary dump options.
On the defensive side of the disc, Florida opens up their lines and unleashes a multitude of young players that play tough, physical and fantastic defense all around. The main weakness that was apparent at Warm-Up was that the Gators truly lacked an offensive playmaker like Kurt Gibson, Chris Gibson, Brodie Smith and Cole Sullivan. When defenses force them into tough situations, that bail out option is not available as it has been in years past. In my opinion, Florida’s main weapon is still their frustrating style of play. When their offense is clicking, the Gators rarely make mistakes and convert their break chances at a high percentage. Still sporting a stoppage-heavy system, teams that are young or weak mentally will be hard pressed to stay with Florida in tight situations.
North Carolina Darkside
One of the biggest questions for this pool is: Which North Carolina team is going to show up? Will it be the one who decimates their opponents while sweeping a tournament or the one that falters under pressure and in the wind? Darkside is at their best when Thomas Sayre-Mccord is playing in conjunction with his teammates. The team is geared towards working for the next possession as opposed to just riding their stars. When things go back, the dump swing becomes non-existent and next look is always back to Sayre-Mccord or Christian Johnson. Lesser known than Johnson and Sayre-Mccord is Marshall Ward (Cash Crop), typically setting up as the primary dump option for UNC. Ward is a vital cog in North Carolina’s system and if he is constantly looked to, his low turnover style of play will help Darkside make it out of Saturday’s pool play alive.
Cal Poly-SLO SLO CORE
Closing out the Pool of Death is Cal Poly-SLO who is been the talk of the town due to their powerful Fall and early Spring results. Peter Raines (Condors), Jake Juzsak (Johnny Bravo) and Mike Founds lead SLO CORE to their third tournament on consecutive weekends along with FOTY candidates Matt Nelson and Zach Stargensky. Founds returns to the offensive line for SLO after missing Presidents’ Day which should bring balance to a system that has been reliant on Raines touching the disc every other throw. Certainly the question for SLO is whether or not they will have the legs and depth to take on the upper tiered talent at the Stanford Invite having already played 14 games in the last two weeks. While their key games are certainly against Florida and North Carolina, SLO cannot afford to tank the game against Oregon in the hopes of conserving legs and keeping Raines fresh. Currently ranked 29th in the nation, Cal Poly needs to start putting up some solid results if they hope to break into the Top 20 and earn a strength bid for the Southwest.
- Cal Poly-SLO
- North Carolina