Competed so far:
Wheeew, boy. We had a lot of transfers. Here we go...
Graduated: Brandon King, Jonathon Mincy, Trovon Reed, Robenson Therezie, Jermaine Whitehead
Transferred: Mackenro Alexander, Kalvaraz Bessent, Khari Harding, Kamryn Melton, Derrick Moncrief, Joe Turner
Jonathan Jones, Johnathan (Rudy) Ford, Josh Holsey, Stephen Roberts, Nick Ruffin
This includes folks who redshirted last season.
Tray Matthews, Markell Boston, Blake Countess, Tim Irvin, Jordan Colbert, Montavious Atkinson, Jaravis Davis, Jeremiah Dinson, Jamel Dean (will redshirt)
Causes for Optimism:
Ok, so let's look at this. We have Jonathan Jones, Blake Countess, and Josh Holsey as three options at Corner. Then you have Rudy Ford and Tray Mathews over at Safety. That's a pretty awesome starting set of defensive backs! Practice reports seem to indicate that Countess is the real deal, which we should already have known given his time at Michigan.
Causes for Concern:
So, let's examine what options the Tigers have after those starters...
Ummm... there's talent. That's for sure. Experience? Not so much.
This is the biggest worry for me this season. I am extremely confident in our starters in the secondary. I know we have talented youngsters behind them, but just how capable are those backups to stepping up and taking over if they're need to?
I'm sure we'll have some of them who surprise us and do just that. We know Will Muschamp isn't afraid to play true freshman and that the defensive coaches believe the further from the ball your position is, the easier it is to play as a freshman. We know Nick Ruffin saw the field last year at Star and has been working with the corners. Stephen Roberts moved to Safety. Tim Irvin has played a lot of the nickel position since arriving in the spring.
There are options. I don't want to think about needing them, but we're going to need to rest our DBs at times, and we have to face the fact that we're probably going to have at least one injury over the course of the season. Hopefully it's not a season-ending one, but they are going to get banged up.
This is where a complete defense comes in. With this set of DBs last season, a serious injury to the starter would have made an already struggling defense even worse. Now? A more effective pass rush can help mask deficiencies in the secondary. It will allow for the younger players to grow more without facing a QB throwing to WRs with all the time in the world.
It's still a worry, though. Anytime you're this thin on experienced depth you're going to be biting your nails every time it looks like something may be wrong with one of the starters.
We're going to struggle a bit in the secondary because of the depth issue. Whether that's due to the DBs being worn out by the end of the season or because one or two get hurt, I don't know. The secondary has been one of the biggest question marks about this team by many pundits, and with good reason.
The potential starters are all excellent and I would say we're in more than capable hands there. If they all stay healthy and fresh, then we could have one of the better secondaries in the conference. We all know that's not likely to happen, though. I think we'll see flashes of brilliance and we'll see times of serious frustration.