With spring practice in the rear-view mirror, the Hoos are pretty much done until season practice begins in August. The depth chart isn't likely to change much between now and then, except in case of injury, suspensions or the like.
The coaching staff put out a post-spring depth chart, which has a couple of pretty dramatic changes from the pre-spring chart. Of course, with the season still over 4 months away, this chart will still change before August 31st. For one thing, an entire class of players is not yet included in this chart. Many of the incoming players will redshirt, but there are a few who may jump directly onto the 2-deep.
So, let's compare the new chart with the pre-spring chart and see what's changed.
Post-Spring: David Watford OR Greyson Lambert OR Phillip Sims
I imagine that this is the first thing everybody looked at. And, I'm sure that most people were disappointed. The depth chart didn't change one bit. Yeah, now there's an ‘OR' there. That doesn't help. The truth is that nobody really expected one guy to step up and win the job during the spring. We all hoped it would happen, but nobody really thought it would. So, for the umpteenth year in a row, we'll enter the pre-season training camp without a defined starting QB.
Post-Spring: Kevin Parks, Khalek Shepherd, Clifton Richardson, Kye Morgan
To nobody's surprise, this one hasn't changed at all from the previous depth chart. Kevin Parks is listed first, Khalek Shepherd is listed second, Clifton Richardson is listed third and Kye Morgan is listed fourth. All 4 will likely get some carries, but Parks should get the most.
Post-Spring: Vincent Croce, Billy Skrobacz OR Sammy Macfarlane OR Israel Vaughan
There is a major change here, but it shouldn't surprise anybody. Croce is, far and away, the best athlete of the group. He's still learning the position, but his athleticism is off the charts and he could be a weapon immediately as an outlet receiver. His blocking still needs work. Regardless, we will likely see a lot of 2-back sets with Parks and Richardson or some other combination of tailbacks.
WR1: Darius Jennings, Dominique Terrell, Adrian Gamble, Jamall Brown, Pablo Alvarez
WR2: Tim Smith, Dominique Terrell, E.J. Scott, Miles Gooch, Canaan Severin, Kyle Dockins
Again, there isn't much change here. Tim Smith and Darius Jennings were the best receivers at the end of last season, and are the starters. The only change is that Dominique Terrell is now listed as the first backup at both positions. Terrell will be the primary option in the slot in 3 WR sets, but E.J. Scott will get some time there as well. We aren't like to play 11 WRs, so some of these guys may end up redshirted (Canaan Severin perhaps?), while others just won't play (Alvarez, Brown, Dockins?).
Post-Spring: Jake McGee OR Zach Swanson, Rob Burns, Jeremy Dollin, Mario Nixon
Yet another position that hasn't changed much. The only change is that Jake McGee and Zach Swanson are now listed as ‘OR'. McGee is the best weapon in the passing game, while Swanson is a slightly better blocker. Swanson may see some time as an H-back as well. Burns is a bit of a wildcard, because he just moved over from DL, but he looked good in the spring game. His size could make him a weapon in the red zone. Likely, all 3 will see playing time. Nixon is probably another year away from being ready to contribute.
LT: Morgan Moses, Michael Mooney
RT: Jay Whitmire, Cody Wallace
OK, here's where it gets interesting. On the left side, Morgan Moses starts with Michael Mooney behind him. No surprise there. On the right side, sophomore Jay Whitmire is getting the starting nod, with Cody Wallace behind him. On the surface, that makes it look like Whitmire beat out the favorite Sean Cascarano for the spot. But, as we'll see, that may not be the case.
LG: Luke Bowanko, Ryan Doull
RG: Sean Cascarano,, Sean Karl
Here is where everything really got messed up. The interior of the OL was so bad in the spring that the coaching staff had to shake things up. Rather than have Luke Bowanko at Center, he's been moved to LG, with redshirt freshman Ryan Doull behind him there. On the right side, Sean Cascarano is the starter with Connor Davis behind him. Connor Davis was the projected starter on the left side and, in fact, started there much of last year. But he and Cody Wallace were never successful at LG and they've been passed on the depth chart. Bowanko was never really comfortable at Center, and LG is probably a better spot for him. Cascarano was the starting RG last year, but was projected to move outside. With the uncertainly at OG, however, this became unpalatable. So Cascarano stays at RG and Whitmire steps in next to him at RT.
Post-Spring: Jackson Matteo, Ross Burbank, John Pond
So, if Bowanko is moving outside to OG, who is taking over at C? Is it Ross Burbank, who I actually projected to be the starting OC before spring? Nope. It's walk-on Jackson Matteo. Matteo is still listed on the roster as just 260 pounds, which would be awfully slight for a top level OL. But, we've been assured that Matteo is up into the 290 range, which is better. He was solid during the spring game, and apparently all during spring practice. But, fans haven't seen much of him and therefore we're still skeptical. Will Matteo actually be the starter come week 1? Who knows. Burbank backs up Matteo, although it is likely that Bowanko would move back inside if Matteo were out.
Final Thoughts - Offense
The moves on the OL were done in an attempt to get the best 5 guys out there. While Bowanko may be better at OC than Matteo, Matteo is better at OC than Cody Wallace is at LG. So Bowanko gets the nod at LG. And while Cascarano may be better at RT than Whitmire, Whitmire is better at RT than Connor Davis is at RG. So Cascarano gets the not at RG.
The rest of the offense contained almost no surprises. We still don't have a QB, and this is likely going to be a problem right up into the season.
DE1: Jake Snyder, Michael Moore, Stephen Lawe
DE2: Eli Harold, Trent Corney, Marco Jones
Not a lot of change here. The two starters are Jake Snyder and Eli Harold. This was never in doubt. Behind them are, respectively, Mike Moore and Trent Corney. Corney, you'll remember, was one of the stars of the spring game. He could be poised for a big year. Marco Jones is still listed on the roster as a DT, and may in fact see time at both positions. Harold and Corney are both on the small side for a DE, and could get pushed around in the running game. Jones would help provide a more stout presence in that situation.
DT1: David Dean, Andre Miles-Redmond
DT2: Brent Urban, Justin Renfrow
The DTs haven't changed at all. The starters are Brent Urban and David Dean. The backups are, respectively, Justin Renfrow and Andres Miles-Redmond. The starting duo looked very good in the spring, and should play a big role this year. In passing situations, we may see Michael Moore, Marco Jones, or others get some run at DT.
SLB: Demeitre Brim, Mark Hall
WLB: DaQuan Romero, D.J. Hill, LaChaston Smith, Darius Lee
Again, this position hasn't really changed. The projected starter at SAM is Demeitre Brim, backed up by Mark Hall. The projected starter at WILL is DaQuan Romero, backed up by D.J. Hill and LaChaston Smith. I could see Smith redshirting, depending on how playing time works out. I'm not sure how new defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta is planning to use the OLBs, but Romero is the better pass rusher than Brim, and seems more suited for a traditional SAM than a WILL. Perhaps the specific positions don't actually mean much in Tenuta's defense?
Post-Spring: Henry Coley, Kwontie Moore
This one didn't change at all. A lot of people expected that Moore would've supplanted Coley by now, but Coley has persevered. He performed well when spelling Greer, including in the 2011 Chick Fil A Bowl, and he looked good in the spring. Moore will still get plenty of playing time, and both could see some time on the outside in certain situations.
CB1: Demetrious Nicholson, Wil Wahee, C.J. Moore, Divante Walker
CB2: DreQuan Hoskey, Maurice Canady
Demetrious Nicholson was as locked as one can be at a position. He's now entering his junior season and he should be one of the team leaders. He can be a true lockdown corner. He is backed up by Wil Wahee, who redshirted last year but was listed at Safety up until now. Wahee was recruited as a CB and that is his more natural position. Behind Wahee are a couple more redshirt freshmen, C.J. Moore and Divante Walker. On the other side, DreQuan Hoskey is listed as the starter, with Maurice Canady behind him. Because of his size, Canady seems the better fit opposite Tra, so we'll see what happens in the fall. At the very least, Canady would be the third CB and Hoskey would likely end up on the side covering the slot guy in nickel situations. In fact, if something were to happen to Nicholson, Canady and Hoskey would be our top two CBs. Moore, Wahee and Walker are solid depth, but probably not ready to be every down players.
SS: Anthony Harris, Kelvin Rainey, Kyrell Latimer
FS: Brandon Phelps, Rijo Walker, Mason Thomas, Anthony Cooper
And, we end the breakdown by looking at the last line of defense, and the worst position the Hoos had last year. Considering how bad they were, it was obvious there'd be a shakeup there. So, your projected starting safeties for 2013 are...Anthony Harris and Brandon Phelps. Yep, that's the same duo that struggled so much last year. Behind Harris is redshirt freshman Kelvin Rainey, who previous was listed at CB and sophomore Kyrell Lattimer. Behind Phelps is Rijo "I can't get on the field even though I might be better than the guy in front of me" Walker. Behind Walker are Mason Thomas and Anthony Cooper. Cooper, in particular, should be disappointed with his fourth string status. Cooper showed promise last year, and in spring. It seems likely that Walker will be the first safety off the bench in case of injury to either starter. And I still believe Cooper could push for playing time.
Final Thoughts - Defense
I'm disappointed that we're looking at the same duo at safety that we had last year. They didn't get it done last year and there should be better options. The rest of the defense is almost exactly what was projected, which shouldn't be a surprise to anybody.
Again, I haven't included the incoming freshmen class. A couple who could find themselves on the 2-deep early are CB Tim Harris, S Malcolm Cook, RB Taquan Mizzell, and any of the 4 OLs. In fact, I suspect that at least one of the OLs will be on the 2-deep for the season opener.