EDIT NUSS: Bumped to the front page due to excellency. Enjoy.
I know, I know! Spring ball hasn't even arrived. Heck, the spring signing period is only one day old! But I just couldn't help it. While the disgust for this past fall's on field product isn't completely gone, I can't help but start feel anxious about pads cracking on the Palouse.
Now, at a number of positions, I'm speculating based on second hand reports of what went on in practice, or on statements garnered here and there regarding the impact new faces will have this coming season. This assumes everyone is healthy coming out of camp, etc.
Without further comment... a *WAY* too early depth chart.
QB Tuel (So), Lobbestael (RS Jr), Gilbertson (RS Fr), Connor Halliday on red alert
RB Montgomery (RS Sr), Mitz (RS Jr), Winston (So), Burns (RS Fr)
WR Karstetter (Jr), Forzani (RS Sr), Kristoff Williams (Fr)
WR Solomon (RS Jr), Blackledge (RS Sr)
WR Simone (So), Robert Jiles (Fr)
TE Stormo (RS So), Aaron Dunn (Fr), Lintz (RS So)
LT Wade Jacobson (Jr), Pencer (RS So)
LG Williams (RS Sr), Ayers (RS Jr)
C Roxas (RS Jr), Valenzuela (RS Fr)
RG Guerra (RS Jr), Freitag (RS Jr)
RT Hannam (RS Sr), David Gonzales (Jr)
K Grasu (RS Sr)
KR Staden (RS Sr), Ricky Galvin (Fr)
PR Staden (RS Sr), Ricky Galvin (Fr)
I really hope Tuel stays upright this season. Halliday may end up having more upside than Tuel, but he *really* needs a RS year to pack on some pounds before being thrown to the wolves.
Montgomery is clearly the biggest question mark here. He was head and shoulders, the best RB we had before his injury last year. Reports are good for his return, but you just don't know how much of that explosive step his injury might have taken out of him.
We're getting more bodies at WR, but this may be the weakest position.
Call me crazy, but I think with the new OL coach, a couple new faces and another year in the weight room, we take some major steps up front.
While I generally don't like the idea of burning a redshirt on a Freshman just to have them play special teams, I just don't see how we can keep some of the talent off the field after the last two seasons.
RE Brandon Rankin (RS Jr), Travis Long (So), Coerper (RS So)
DT Wolfgramm (RS Sr), Turpin (RS Sr), Laurenzi (RS So), Luapo (RS Sr)
DT Spitz (RS So), Sanchez (RS Sr), Clayton (RS Fr)
LE Kooyman (RS Sr), Hamlett (Sr), Pu'u-Robinson (RS Fr)
Sam C.J. Mizell (Fr), Higgins (RS Sr), Kaufusi (RS Fr)
Mike Bland (Jr), Markle (RS Fr), Ledgerwood (RS Jr)
Will Hoffman-Ellis (RS Jr), Barrington (RS Fr), Ford (RS Jr)
CB Simmons (RS So), Washington (RS Fr)
CB Jones (RS Sr), Justin (RS Jr), Carpenter (RS Fr)
SS Beck (Sr), Atofau (RS Fr), Hayward (RS So)
FS Nwachukwu (Sr), Daniels (RS So), Locker (RS Fr)
P Forrest (RS Sr)
Long may end up taking Kooyman's starting spot, but I had Kevin there due to size and experience. Either way, I'm assuming the top 4 DEs get a lot of playing time. Turpin and Laurenzi likewise will get lots of playing time, and if Turpin starts out the way he was playing just before his suspension, he'll likely take one of the starting spots.
I wouldn't be surprised to see Bland moved to Will and Markle taking over the starting position at Mike, nor would I be surprised to see Kaufusi moved to DE.
In the backfield, it really is a crapshoot as to how is shakes out. We all know about the speed issue we've had, so do we trade speed for experience? I would not be surprised if we start the season with this starting lineup for CBs and Ss and end up with a completely different lineup halfway through the conference season.
Special Teams additions
Barrington (RS Fr), Kaufusi (RS Fr), Markle (RS Fr), Atofau (RS Fr), Locker (RS Fr), Carpenter (RS Fr), Washington (RS Fr)
Still heavy on youth
We'll still have issues being so young, but just looking at the speed and athleticism being added to the Special Teams coverage alone (without having to plug in a bunch of starters!) has me believing we'll be a lot better. Not miraculous turnaround, make Wulff coach for life better, but better on both lines, better at LB, better in the defensive backfield, and much faster at the very least, at every position.
The defense, despite being consistently out manned, seemed to show flashes of real strides last year. I'm assuming that continues.
The big question for me will be how the offense performs, as last year was pretty disastrous. I have to believe better protection will lead to better execution. In my opinion, how much better will be the single *biggest* factor in how the Cougs do next year.