Lots of discussion about who'll start at quarterback for the Commodores, so we thought we'd trot out a starting offensive lineup for the 2010 season. This isn't the opening day lineup, but the lineup we think, barring injury, may (or is it should?) be in place by mid-season. Here we go:
1. Larry Smith (R-JR): Yes, Larry will get the keys to the offense. We think the coaching staff plans to redshirt Jordan Rodgers (Johnson's been talking about it since signing day) and if the Larry Smith Project fails it'll be mid-season and too late to burn up Rodgers' redshirt.
2. Charlie Goro, (R-FR): Just a hunch, though the Tennessean didn't even mention Goro in its recent article about quarterbacks. There's been much more talk about the playing time Jared Funk got in the spring, but we think that was just a reward for sticking it out for so long without playing. You know, one final chance. While Funk will get some mop-up duty against Eastern Michigan just to say he threw at least one pass during five years at Vandy, Goro would be our best bet if Larry goes down and Rodgers gets a redshirt. And Goro may turn out to be our best bet period. Time will tell.
1. Warren Norman (SO), Zak Stacy (SO): The strength of our offense, these guys will often take the field at the same time, with Stacy lining up in the Wildcat and even running the option, and either one of them lining up in the slot and catching passes.
2. Kennard Reeves (R-SR), Wesley Tate (R-FR): Expect to see both these guys in big-game situations, with Reeves picking up tough yards in short situations and Tate lining up as a classic tailback or sometimes even a big receiver.
1. John Cole (R-SO), Udom Umoh (R-JR), Jonathan Krause (FR): The good news is Cole and Umoh return as starters. The bad news is Cole and Umoh return as starters. Neither should be a starting receiver in the SEC. And while you wish Krause had more size, he's probably the most game-ready of the true freshmen receivers and he's supposedly quick and physical enough to get separation from coverage, which was a real weakness of the receiving corps last season.
2. Brady Brown (SO), Chris Boyd (FR), Jordan Matthews (FR): Last year we thought Brown had a chance to start or at least be a major contributor but he didn't even catch a pass, which shows how shaky it is to have three true freshmen projected as your top six receivers. And it shows that Brown has been a bit of a disappointment, but he's got three years to go. Boyd's a huge target who's still growing into his body and Matthews is a tall, athletic kid who starred at a small school against lesser competition. What does that mean? It means fans should expect the unexpected.
1. Brandon Barden (R-JR): Barden is a future NFL tight end who didn't get the stage last season to make the kinds of game-changing plays he made as an All-SEC freshman in 2008. But he remains one of our biggest offensive weapons and should be a big part of Jimmy Kiser's game plan.
2. Austin Monahan (R-JR): Nobody's talking about how Monahan's loss affected last season, but it certainly played a role. He's a huge short target who can line up in the same formation with Barden and free him up to be a deeper threat.
1. Joey Bailey (R-SR): With all the talk of Bradley Vierling's delightful personality and blue-collar work ethic, the departed senior struggled last season and was far from the all-star candidate coaches had touted. Bailey's been a steady role-player on the O-line for the past three seasons and could even be an improvement over Vierling this year.
2. Chris Aaron (R-SR): The walk-on from Lehigh suffered a concussion in the spring but should be ready to spell Bailey.
1. Kyle Fischer (R-JR), Wes Johnson (R-FR): Fischer, a former All-SEC freshman, has been starting off and on since he took off his redshirt. Long one of the team's most gifted linemen with the size and athleticism to play left tackle, he still hasn't stepped up and claimed the starting position that coaches have been dangling in front of him for three seasons. In contrast, Johnson seems to have all the intangibles and will likely begin his playing career as a starter, but is still awfully light for an SEC lineman.
2. Jabo Burrow (R-SO), Justin Cabbagestalk (R-FR): Burrow, who didn't play a snap last season as a defensive end, is a scrappy blocker whose mention on the pre-spring starting lineup was a nod to his seniority over all those redshirt freshmen and maybe a reward for being so willing to switch positions. Cabbagestalk saw some time at center on the scout team and could be a utility guy on the line.
1. James Williams (R-JR), Ryan Seymour (R-SO): Williams, who blasted truck-sized holes for Zac Stacy early last year against LSU, is still recovering from a season-ending leg injury suffered in that game. Meanwhile, Seymour, an All-SEC left tackle who looked great filling in for Thomas Welch against Florida, is recovering from a shoulder injury in the spring. We need both these guys healthy.
2. Caleb Welchans (R-SO), Mylon Brown (R-FR): Welchans looked promising in some big-game situations last season, and Brown is a massive, SEC-sized tackle with nice feet who could emerge from the pack, especially if Williams or Seymour aren't ready to go.