There's a lot of next year talk going around with Garrett Gilbert's stunning comeback performance against the Tide. So I thought I would do some homework here and take a look at what our churn is for starters on offense / defense.
2. Chris Hall
4. Adam Ulatowski
5. Colt McCoy
2. Ryan Bailey
2. Ben Alexander
4. Deon Beasley
5. Rodderick Muckelroy
I left Norton off the list, he's a senior but was unable to play this year due to injury, so he may be back? I have nothing to back that up with, though.
Early Drafters include:
1. Earl Thomas
Thoughts on Offense:
How can you replace the Roommates? Well, start with Garrett Gilbert. The list of names he has to throw to are all familiar: Malcom Williams, James Kirkendoll, and Marquise Goodwin. We've got some wooden hands in there, but give them time to grow together and I think it's all A+ level talent.
I can't find any running backs leaving, and we're adding another with Chris Whaley. Someone correct me if I'm wrong on that. But our ground game problems have not really been anchored in a lack of running talent, we've got 4-5 decent backs for all kinds of schemes, if anything our problem will be the lack of a "feature" back getting all the meaningful reps he needs. Let's see if the flavor back of the week continues.
The Offensive Line takes the hit on offense. As we saw with OU this year, improperly replacing an O-Line can be bad news. We don't want Garrett out there on the field clutching a seperated shoulder in our season opener, and we got a taste of that pain and shame in the National Championship when one QB went out with injury and another suffered a tough hit for a TO on the game winning drive.
We saw Allen and Snow step in at various points during the year, but I don't think Poehlmann saw any meaningful snaps. He is listed at 6-7 @ 265 and is best known for his Mullet in the Fiesta Bowl.
If we can seriously answer some questions on the offensive line we'll be in good shape.
Thoughts on Defense:
My initial thoughts are that our secondary is largely untouched besides the loss, though significant, of Earl Thomas. The return of Aaron Williams, Chykie and Curtis Brown, and Blake Gideon all in the backfield is a boon for the defense.
Up front we have the development of Okafor to look forward to, we'll see a lot of Kheeston Randall, and the Acho's and Eddie Jones are still around. If Norton returns to anchor the linebackers, I can't see us being in any worse on defense than we were this year... Which is to say, our defense may be able to win some games outright with Muschamp at the helm.
Thoughts on Kicking:
We're losing two kickers with a proven record of drilling nails into our enemies coffins. This makes me a bit nervous, but we'll see what Mack's got waiting in the wings. Justin Tucker is listed as 3rd in line to kick, so he may be a candidate for the top spot come spring.