Fear the Elf (Image: Hipple)
As I've said before, the program in 2011 has very little margin for error. It's not that the program is on life support or that there's a seat of unmanageable heat. It's also not as if the program is incapable of course correction and returning to 10+ win seasons.
All of those things are within our reach given the schedule and starting talent. The problem is that there's just no margin for error as there's simply no proven depth.
We're an injury or suspension away from scenarios like:
-- Going from 32+ starts to zero at LT or Center
-- Dropping from Jarvis Jones to Chase Vasser at SAM
Other than tight end, what position has proven, reliable SEC-caliber depth? Any?
Dean Legge talked today about the 2007 "What Could Have Been" recruiting class. While he's correct overall, I think that particular recruiting class is water under the bridge. Most of the impact players from that class were in the NFL by Year 3 or 4. Very few are left for this season.
My concerns are more focused on the 2010 offensive signing class. How does a coaching staff with no offensive turnover deliver a class that in Year 2 has only one sure fire starter and only two more obvious meaningful contributors for the upcoming season?
2010 Signing Class (Offensive):
OT - Kenarious Gates
Potential Meaningful Contributor in 2011:
RB - Ken Malcome
FB - Zander Ogletree
Who Knows When They'll Contribute:
QB - Hudson Mason
WR - Michael Bennett
OG - Kolton Houston
Didn't Qualify (yet):
WR - Lonnie Outlaw
No Longer in School:
OT - Brent Benedict
This is fixable. We just can't afford the bad luck injuries of 2003, 2006 or 2009. Nor can we afford to ever have a recruiting class on either side of the ball like the 2010 group above. Note: I'm not giving up on those guys. I'm just pointing out the lack of anticipated contribution in Year 2).