Bumped. Good starting point to set expectations for next football season. -BN
The easiest way for me to turn the page on a very forgettable 2010 season is to look ahead to 2011. I am putting it down on the record, for me 8-9 wins (including one over USC) is what is needed for me to have faith in CRN going forward.
Still, I've been looking forward to the upcoming 2011 season for a couple years now. Our roster for 2011 is shaping up to be solid and stacked at every area but QB (ugh) and maybe OL. We should have a very good Defensive/Offensive Line, a solid secondary, a very good LB corp, and one of the best set of RB's in the Pac-12.
Offensive Depth Chart:
My comments on this lineup and a look at the Defense are after the jump.
Looking at the Offense, the obvious question mark will be at QB. I put Prince as the #1 QB on the assumption that we'll continue running the Pistol at least 50% of the time. Prince, at least to me, looked much more comfortable running the Pistol, and reading the defense. If Prince is not back 100% for Spring Practice, then I would move Brehaut to the tentative #1 and have an open competition come Fall between the Three QB's.
Our depth and skill at the RB/WR is the best it's been in a long long time. Franklin will be coming off a 1,000 yard season, although he desperately needs to get in touch with Tiki Barber to cure his fumbling woes. Malcolm Jones will split the heavy duties and I'm excited to see him break out. Jordan James will be the scat back shifty runner (and I hope will be used in screens and empty backfield spread formations because he should be a matchup nightmare). Derrick Coleman will provide depth in case anyone gets hurt.
At WR, Rosario and Embree need to take a back seat. Marvray and Carroll are faster, hungrier and attack the ball with more intensity. I also hope Josh Smith works on his route running because he obviously has the physical tools to be great, although I don't have high hopes that he'll put in the necessary work.
The OL is still in flux and I don't know enough about the backup OL's to put in a 2-deep rotation. Still, I trust Coach Palcic here more than any other coach on our roster. I hope Maiava bounces back well. Ward and Hasiek are 4 star recruits that should step in well. Harris will be the elder statesman here.
DE: Jones/Graham (gonna be a big competition)
I look at that Defensive Line and I just think WOW. These guys will be young but incredibly talented and dynamic. Owa, Willis and Marsh are all studs, and I hope Willis asserts himself this Spring and dominates his way into the lineup. Jones and Graham are also both solid, I hope Graham gives Jones a run for his money. We also have tons of Depth for the inevitable injuries, with Carter, Chandler and Graham all having good experience. We should be winning the LOS fights here. Period.
At LB, I'll be curious to see how things play out. I know Zumwalt and Larimore both play Mike, but they need to be on the field together so I bump Zumwalt to Strong Side (Akeem will obviously be playing on Sundays). Olaniyan has dominated practice, and I hope he also makes the step up. If Zumwalt, Larimore and Olaniyan can all play well, that will be one dominant LB corps (although prone to making a lot of mistakes because they will be very young).
Secondary is looking to be our most experienced area again, but I really hope these guys can stop the yapping and concentrate on football. I anticipate Moore will be gone, but if not then I'll be thrilled. I feel bad that Dye will likely get benched, but Riley is too good to sit. If Dye can make a move to FS, that'd be ideal but I think Hilliard is solid there too.
As for special teams, let's hope Kip Smith picks up where Forbath left off, and let's hope Embree doesn't return another ball for the rest of his career because Josh Smith and Thigpen are too explosive to sit.
Lastly, A VERY VERY early look at the schedule, and where I predict expect our 9 wins to come from:
1. At Houston - WIN.
2. Vs. San Jose State - WIN
3. Vs. Texas - WIN (why the hell not?)
4. At Oregon State - WIN
5. At Stanford - LOSE
6. Vs. Washington State - WIN
7. At Arizona - LOSE
8. Vs. California - WIN
9. Vs. Arizona State - WIN
10. At Utah - LOSE
11. Vs Colorado - WIN
12. At $C - WIN
13. BOWL GAME!!!
That's our 9-3 season. We lucked out not playing Oregon. Of the predicted expected Wins, we have the greatest chance to lose against Texas, OSU and ASU. Thus 8 wins is definitely possible and still having a successful season with some solid wins over tough opponents, as long as we beat SC and have no more embarrassing blowouts.