Time for the defense.
DE (Buck) 2 Sergio Kindle | 43 Dravannti Johnson OR 80 Alex Okafor
DE (Power) 81 Sam Acho | 97 Russell Carter
We're Kate Moss thin at DE this Spring. Eddie Jones is out and he really could have used the work. Because we're effectively two deep here, everyone is going to get a lot of reps and that's a good thing for all. Dravannti Johnson's eventual move to DE was as expected as Huckleberry's high school virginity. If he can pass rush, we've got an undersized situational guy with real value. If he can't, I hope he organizes a Coats For Kids drive before he graduates because his productive use will be comparable to that of Ralph Friedgen's genitalia.
Russell Carter is an unknown but has the look of a possible contributor. Okafor plays this year and probably starts in 2010. We need Acho to show that he's at least capable of replacing Melton, if not being a 6-8 sack, 20+ pressures guy opposite Kindle.
Nose Tackle 33 Lamarr Houston | 92 Ben Alexander
Tackle 91 Kheeston Randall | 94 Michael Wilcoxon | 90 Kyle Kriegel
This depth chart is more frightening than existentialism. I hope someone puts a boomslang in Andre Jones' orthotics. Look, all young men want to rob a drug dealer at some point in their lives, but is too much to ask that you wear a mask? The one from Scream. And hit him with a lead pipe to remind him not to snitch? Maybe take the dude's best pit bull hostage. Freaking amateur.
It's pretty clear from Muschamp's presser that we're going to play both DTs at 1 and 3 and see what works. Houston played well last year until he tweaked his ankle and he'll be very solid at minimum. Ben Alexander was again referred to as a contributor as a run-stopper, but the only thing I've seen him stop cold is a tray of bacon. Kheeston Randall has potential, but he's young and still learning the ropes. We'll see what Wilcoxon can do in short order. You'll see a lot of DE snaps inside against heavy pass teams, but a quality physical running game will slice through us like the judgemental stare of a Baylor fan when we're drunk.
I feel really bad for Jarvis Humphery and wish him the best.
Strongside LB 1 Keenan Robinson | 13 Tariq Allen
Middle LB 11 Jared Norton | 42 Dustin Earnest
Weakside LB 38 Roddrick Muckelroy | 18 Emmanuel Acho | 30 Ryan Roberson
I'm confused and stunned. I'm looking at a LB depth chart with talent, experience, potential. Given that we spent 80% of our snaps last year in a nickel or dime, depth isn't a great concern for me as three LB spots are effectively rendered two; we'll mix and match appropriately based on opponent.
Kindle Robinson (of course) and Acho will get heavy looks as situational pass rushers and I expect Tariq Allen to play as a freshman. I don't know what our rapt fascination is with 5 foot 9 inch LBs. It's like we're Colin Farrell in En Bruges. They're filming midgets! Midgets!
Right CB 8 Chykie Brown OR 3 Curtis Brown | 23 Marcus Davis
Left CB 4 Aaron Williams OR 7 Deon Beasley
We're going to be a lot better here. Four guys legitimately competing for two spots. As it should be on all of our depth charts. Charles Darwin confided in me that he likes Aaron Williams as a starter and Deon Beasley as a dime back. Beasley's Howard Hughesian "I do not like touching others, particularly ballcarriers" act grew wearisome over the course of the year; Aaron Williams' penchant for WWF body slams was a nice counterpoint. Chykie has the potential to be special and make a lot of money. Curtis Brown will be very good when his upper body strength and technique catch up to his athletic ability and balls skills. This depth chart is pleasing to me.
Right Safety 12 Earl Thomas | 6 Christian Scott
Left Safety 21 Blake Gideon | 27 Nolan Brewster | 5 Ben Wells
Nickel 12 Earl Thomas | 4 Aaron Williams | 23 Marcus Davis
I have decided to rename the Left Safety position Crackerback.
At first blush, one might see Christian Scott backing up Earl Thomas and Nolan Brewster backing up Gideon and be tempted to run out in your yard, snap off tree branches, and excitedly beat yourself while menacing the genitals of any male within two hundred yards like a rabid chimpanzee let loose at a Roy Orbison concert - thus mimicking Trips Right at any company picnic where mimosas are served - but consider three points:
First, Muschamp has been pretty upfront about the fact that he loves Christian Scott, but Scott's elevator of football knowledge isn't always reaching the top floor. By the way, Christian is a smart guy - that's not the issue. It's about confidence and the ability to line up everyone else correctly as well as himself.
Second, notice that Earl Thomas is the 1st team nickel. If we spend 80% of our snaps in nickel, which we will, it would appear that Scott is penciled as a de facto starter at safety on most of our snaps. Basically, if you can read between the lines of our depth chart, the battle for 5th DB is a struggle between Aaron Williams (or whoever he supplants) and Christian Scott.
Third, it's February '09. We've got time to work things out.
Blake Gideon played commendably for a true freshman, and it's shocking that we recruited so stupidly as to force that issue, but he was also responsible for exactly one turnover last year. Some turnovers fall into your hands, but most are forced. You have to make a play on either. Gideon was essentially redshirted in grammar school, so I don't know what his physical upside is, but he played last year at 185. If he can put on 20 pounds and his tackles can morph from capable to crushing, that would be good for us. Catching pop-ups would be outstanding as well.
The best parallel you can draw for Gideon's upside is LSU's Jack Hunt, who we remember as Cedric Benson and Roy Williams' Cotton Bowl whipping boy, but LSU fans remember as the on-field coordinator for their dominating national championship defense the following year. Some people have it in for Gideon: haunted by memories of spilled blood and Robert Killebrew, or disdaining Caucasians in the defensive backfield on general principle; others are whiny apologists who can't handle the notion of competition and have adopted him as their own personal Applewhite.
My assessment of these positions is as cold and emotionless as a Russian mafiosi. Play the best guys. And as a critic, have the intelligence to understand that physical upside has to be measured against a coach's coordinational needs. There's an interplay between the two and usually a point where it's fairly clear where one exceeds the other.