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Depth Chart Analysis

For those who couldn't view the picture I linked earlier, here's the depth chart for the Eastern Kentucky game:

WR: Brodrick Smith / Torell Miller
LT: Manase Foketi / Zach Hanson OR Ethan Douglas
LG: Keenan Taylor / Nick Puetz
C: Shaun Simon / Tomasi Mariner
RG: B.J. Finney / Colten Freeze
RT: Clyde Aufner / Cornelius Lucas
TE: Travis Tannahill / Zach Trujillo
QB: Collin Klein / Sammuel Lamur
FB: Braden Wilson / Jay Hanley
RB: Angelo Pease OR John Hubert OR Bryce Brown
WR: Sheldon Smith / Tyler Lockett
WR: Chris Harper / Tramaine Thompson

DE: Adam Davis / Laton Dowling
NT: Ray Kibble / John Sua
DT: Vai Lutui / Javonta Boyd OR Raphael Guidry
DE: Jordan Voelker / Meshak Williams
SLB: Emmanuel Lamur / Jonathan Truman
MLB: Arthur Brown / Alex Hrebec
WLB: Tre Walker / Blake Slaughter
CB: David Garrett / Kip Daily
SS: Ty Zimmerman / Thomas Ferguson
FS: Tysyn Hartman / Matthew Pearson
CB: Nigel Malone / Allen Chapman

PK: Anthony Cantele / Brandon Klimek
H: Ryan Doerr
LS: Marcus Heit

P: Ryan Doerr / Logan Ortiz
KOR: David Garrett / Chris Harper
PR: Ty Zimmerman / Tysyn Hartman

Follow the jump for my hastily written analysis of Bill Snyder's moves.

Offensive Skill Positions

Quarterback and fullback look exactly as predicted, so I'll refrain from discussing them.

It would appear that Robert Rose has been subtly eliminated from the running back competition, narrowing a four-man logjam down to three. I expect Pease to get the first carry Saturday, with Hubert going in for the second series.

As predicted, this position group likely will be decided on the field. The ball's in your court, Bryce. Time to shine.

Wide receiver was not a huge surprise, given the rumors of a nagging injury to Thompson. It sure looks like Lockett will not redshirt. Typically, you can read Snyder's WR depth chart as an S-curve ranking from top to bottom to top:

  1. B. Smith
  2. S. Smith
  3. Harper
  4. Thompson
  5. Lockett
  6. Miller

That sounds like an accurate sorting of their quality, from everything I've heard. I don't expect to see much of Miller.

The "shakeup" at tight end is due to Andre McDonald's arrest the other day for possession and domestic "issues."

He is suspended for Saturday's game, from all accounts. I doubt it will be permanent. Snyder's sending a message.


Offensive Line

This easily was one of the biggest surprise groups on the whole depth chart, so I'll discuss it separately.

Considering the spring game starting lineup apparently still was in effect at Fan Appreciation Day, the changes expressed here are a little unexpected, coming so close to the season as they did. Here's what I think happened:

Many have speculated that Freeze was not a long-term solution at right guard, so his demotion does not shock me.

But most figured it would be Simon, not Finney, moving over to that spot, since Finney has been penciled in at center since January. That tells me two things.

First, Simon obviously stepped up his game big-time in fall camp to earn that spot. Second, Finney is versatile enough to play multiple positions (which Snyder confirmed today) and good enough that he has to start somewhere.

The other big shuffle was flipping Lucas from left to right tackle, and the Hanson/Douglas duo vice versa. Clearly, they're not comfortable that Lucas can develop into a blindside protector, so they want veterans there instead.

I hope Douglas sees some time there this season, since he's the presumptive heir-apparent there next year (unless we land a JUCO stud like Tavon Rooks, but that's a discussion for another day...)

With Freeze sliding back to second string, Puetz was flipped over to the left side, and Mariner thus moved to center, where he apparently drilled a lot last season, so no big shift. It's the same 11 guys we thought, just in different spots.

In Charlie Dickey I trust...


Defensive Line

The other major surprises were here. We've been operating under the assumption that Williams was the biggest lock to start on the front four, so Voelker apparently played his ass off this fall to supplant him.

That said, I still expect Williams to play a bunch and probably start later on in the season. This could be a motivational tactic, he could be a little banged up or they maybe just want to save him for obvious pass-down situations.

Still, it's not unexpected. The duo split reps at Fan Appreciation Day, while Davis had all the reps on the strong side.

Meanwhile, I'm really encouraged by what's happened at defensive tackle.

Look at this way: Guidry was one of our best two linemen last season and supposedly improved a ton coming into fall camp. Yet he's fighting for his life simply to be a backup. That tells me Boyd has stepped it up and Lutui is a badass.

Payton Kirk played a ton of snaps last year, and he's nowhere to be seen, which speaks very well of Sua. And we also have talented players in Bo Tillman and Darryl Blackmon who obviously haven't mastered things yet.

My guess is Blackmon and Ian Seau will redshirt unless guys start getting hurt. No matter what, I expect more flux in this position group during the next month than any other. The battles aren't done here yet...


Linebackers and Secondary

Virtually no surprises in either of these position groups. That tells me things came together in the spring and have stayed consistent. There is clear separation between the 1s and 2s at linebacker, which looks exactly as predicted.

Other than at cornerback, we didn't really bring in any impact JUCOs or freshmen, so the lack of surprises is not wholly unexpected. I do think we could see some jostling between Daily, Chapman and Malone, but it will take time.


Special Teams

It's strange that no kickoff specialist is listed, but I'm sure it's Cantele. There are no surprises on any of the kicking units. Dillon Wilson appears headed for a redshirt, and likely Jack Cantele, too.

I urge everyone not to read too much into the returner positions. I can't count the number of times Snyder has put one of these out and the guys actually catching the ball on Saturday were completely different.

My guess is he will start the season safe with veterans he knows won't muff the catches. But as the season wears on, and players such as Pease and Lockett gain experience, I think Snyder might start taking more risks back there.