The fall release is here, including updated depth charts for fall camp. Not some huge surprises, but there are a few worthy of attention:
- Jeshua Anderson is listed as a starter. OK, not that big of a surprise, but given his off-season track commitments, you have to wonder if he'll be behind early on. As a true sophomore with just 12 catches last year, Anderson is still ahead of senior Benny Ward.
- Daniel Blackledge, another true sophomore, is also a starter at flanker. Blackledge had a grand total of 24 yards last year. Here is where you see some depth issues, as Michael Willis is the backup, and Keith Rosenberg 3rd string. Neither guy played a snap last year.
- As our own Hooty reported here, the offensive line looks not only stacked for today, but for tomorrow as well. Just two starters are seniors, yet there is a lot of experience back in guys like Kenny Alfred and Andrew Roxas. Just looking at the o-line depth chart, you can see why people are excited about how we will look up front for the next several years.
- Tardy is the starter at running back, ahead of Chris Ivory as the primary backup. You know those two will share the load, so being listed as the starter might not really mean a whole lot. Still, Tardy is just what, 10 months removed from a serious knee injury, so we'll see how things look now that practice is finally here. No mention of JC transfer Chance Staden on the depth chart. Staden was highly regarded coming in last year, but while he is on the official roster, he's not on the depth chart among the running backs.
- There are co-starters listed at kicker, with Wade Penner OR Nico Grasu, the JC transfer with serious leg strength and especially good on kickoffs. That will be a battle to watch and I bet we don't know who wins the job until the last week of camp.
- On defense, an area of concern we touched on last week are the d-tackles. A'i Ahmu and Matt Eichelberger are the starters. Toby Turpin is one backup, but Andy Roof is listed as the other.
- Nowhere to be found on the depth chart for the defensive line? JC tackles Bernard Wolfgramm and Josh Luapo. Merely an oversight, or something more?? Wolfgramm and Luapo are both on the official roster, but surprisingly are not on the depth chart. Some publications have projected Wolfgramm as not only a regular, but even possibly a starter by the opener. We'll see how that goes.
- The secondary looks about how we thought it would. The position changes are official between Chima Nwachukwu and Alfonso Jackson. Chima is now the starter at strong safety, Jackson the starter at the right corner spot. Xavier Hicks is listed as the starter at free safety, which we know will be a problem for the first few games of the year due to suspension. JC transfer Easton Johnson is listed as his backup and will likely elevate to starter by the opener.
- Redshirt frosh Tyrone Justin and sophomore Daniel Blackledge are listed as punt-returners. I know there was at least some thought that maybe Gibson would get a look back there, but given his likely heavy workload this year, it probably isn't a good idea after all. However, Gibson and Chris Ivory are listed as kickoff returners. Interesting.
So there you have it, the beginning of a new era. It's going to be a fun ride, and I can't wait to see how things shake out this month. How will Rogers look running the new offense? Will Kevin Lopina push him, as has been hinted by Wulff that Rogers is the starter but Lopina could play? Will the young wideouts opposite Gibson be ready for prime time? Can they help carry the load and pick up the slack after losing Michael Bumpus, Jed Collins and Charles Dillon? How will the new faces on defense factor in? Will the JC guys be ready to help immediately? How will Mattingly take to the new position at defensive end? The buzz is that he could just explode out on the edge, but will he take to the new spot right away or will it take a month of game action to figure it out? How will the secondary do with the position changes, plus the suspension of Hicks? Stay tuned!