I like the optimism but I think if you are going to beat the better teams next year we’re going to have to get better QB play. Period. We know we will be solid defensively, but Petras (or whoever) just has to play better. It’s that simple.Defense wins championships. Sure, we have lost four guys that were big contributors in VanValkenburg, Koerner, Hankins, & Belton. That hurts, but you had young players at every one of those positions get some experience last year.
I think the defensive line is going to be scary. First, Lee, Black, Jones, Shannon are all going to be bigger and stronger and they performed extremely well. Next, you have Waggoner, Van Ness, Craig, Evans, and Hurkett who all played a ton last year at DE. We are going to need Van Ness, Craig, and Hurkett to improve the pass rush, but I think that happens. Plus...I have a feeling someone we aren't talking about is going to emerge...maybe Reames or someone off the radar.
We are deep on the DL and we have options to get to the QB. I can't wait to watch these guys...Black over 300, Lee and Jones in the 290s...and our edge rushers a year better.
The linebackers are all back...and I think it could be one of the best units in the Country...period. All good.
You know damn well Phil with two very good returning starters, plus two guys, Harris and Roberts who saw significant time...we will be fine in the secondary. Then you have the recruits...Nwankpa seems like a perfect fit to play the cash or one of the safety spots. Perfect.
On offense, we just need to shore up the OL. Petras has shown, if you give him time he can get in a groove and be effective. If Padilla or Labas beat him out...great...all the better. The big thing is the OL though. It has to be better...much better. Hopefully guys like Volk, Mylenski, & Elsbury can make the strides necessary. If Ince and Britt can stay healthy...they are options to fill out the OL with Richman and Colby. If we can land the Cornell transfer and he's as good as advertised...that's positive.
The good news on the OL is that Richman, Colby, Ince, Dejung, Britt, and Plumb have all played a ton. Add in the Cornell transfer and you have experience...they just need to improve over the next 8 months.
The best news in all of this...our OL will have to face one of the best DLs in the B10 every week in practice. That's positive.