I'm going to keep updating this throughout the season, responding to new recruits, position changes, attrition, etc. Hopefully it can serve as a good starting point for talking about next season!
For the sake of simplicity, I am going to keep the depth chart as it was at the end of the season (with a few exceptions where I predict position changes). In other words, even though it seems probable that a red-shirt freshman like Anthony LaLota is going to move ahead of a walk-on like Will Heininger on the depth chart, I'm not going to predict it until I see it. Thus, for the time being, I am also going to list possible red shirts at the end of the depth chart.
There are a number of fifth year seniors that might not be brought back: Sheridian, Cone, Ferrara, Rogers, Patterson, Wright, etc. For now, I am going to include them. I am also going to include five recruits that I think we will end up signing: Cullen Christian, Jatashun Beachum, Tony Grimes, Clarence Murphy, and Josh Furman.
QB: Forcier (So), Robinson (So), Sheridian? (Sr), Cone? (Sr), GARDNER (FR/RS)
SB: Smith (So), Shaw (Jr), Toussaint (Fr), WHITE (FR/RS)
FB: Moundros (Sr), Cox (So), HOPKINS (FR/RS)
WR: Hemingway (Jr), Stokes (So), ROBINSON (FR/RS), JACKSON (FR/RS)
WR: Stonum (Jr), Gordon (Fr), MILLER (FR/RS), WILLIAMSON (FR/RS)
SR: Odoms (Jr), Grady (Jr), Gallon (Fr), DILEO (FR/RS)
SR: Roundtree (So), Robinson (So), DRAKE (FR/RS)
TE: Koger (Jr), Webb (Sr), Moore (So)
LT: Dorrestein (Sr), Lewan (Fr)
LG: Schilling (Sr), Mealer (So), Barnum (So)
C: Molk (Jr), Khoury (So), PACE (FR/RS)
RG: Omameh (So), Ferrara? (Sr), Washington (Fr)
RT: Huyge (Jr), Schofield (Fr)
...gardner is a better runner than tate, he's got a stronger arm, and he might even have a more accurate arm (based on the last several games). if tate gets the swagger that he had against notre dame back (he has been hurt since?), then he's got a chance. but, if gardner enrolls early and learns the playbook (as its rumored he will), he's probably our guy at the start of the season. if he's not able to enroll early, then he still might be the guy by mid-season. denard will probably stay at qb, because you need three, but he will be used a lot more at rb and w/sr next season.
...the running game isn't losing much in minor/brown (because minor was out so much). smith has looked good in the last couple of weeks. shaw has looked promising throughout the season. toussaint is probably our third back. cox probably gets some power situation carries. getting a healthy moundros back at fb also helps!
...the passing game isn't losing much in matthews, as stonum might even be an upgrade. hemingway, odoms, roundtree and koger are also all back as starters. stokes, grady and webb are probably the first backups at those positions, though, gallon could explode onto the scene.
...ortmann was a solid blocker, but he wasn't anything special. dorrestein is probably the first candidate to replace him. lewan will probably push hard. omameh could slide out there as well. inside we've got molk back which is a huge bonus. schilling, omameh and huyge all return as starters. in general, this should be a much improved unit.
NT: Campbell (So), Sagesse (Sr), BEACHUM (FR/RS)
DT: Martin (Jr), Banks (Sr), Patterson? (Sr), TALBOTT (FR/RS)
DE: Van Bergen (Jr), Heininger (Jr), LaLota (Fr), WILKINS (FR/RS), PASKORZ (FR/RS),
DB: Roh (So), Herron (Jr), Watson (Jr), KINNARD (FR/RS), MURPHY (FR/RS)
MLB: Mouton (Sr), Ezeh (Sr), Demens (So)
WLB: Leach (Jr), Fitzgerald (Jr), Bell (Fr)
SLB: Smith (So), Simmons (So), Jones (So), Hawthorne (Fr), FURMAN (FR/RS)
FS: Kovacs (So), VanSlyke (Jr), Gordon (Fr), ROBINSON (FR/RS)
SS: Woolfolk (Sr), Williams (Jr), Emilien (So), JONES (FR/RS), JOHNSON (FR/RS)
CB: Warren (Sr), Floyd (So), Rogers? (Sr), GRIMES (FR/RS), AVERY (FR/RS)
CB: Turner (Fr), Jones (So), CHRISTIAN (FR/RS), WITTY (FR/RS), TALBOTT (FR/RS)
...the best way to replace graham on the dline is probably starting campbell at nt, martin at dt, van bergen at de, and roh at db. this makes us a litte bit stronger against the run, but it also makes us worse against the pass. lalota and/or wilkins are going to have a shot to get some pt at de on passing downs.
...im going to go with ezeh and mouton at inside backer. i know that leach started the osu game, but he sucked (go back and take a look at some of his reads on those long cutbacks/pryor keeps). isiah bell introduces a new element at this position, but that's about it. maybe Hopkins starts out as an inside backer!? brandon smith probably gets the first shot at spinner, but jones and hawthorne are going to push.
...it sounds like warren is going to be back as our shut down corner, woolfolk and turner are probably going to start at cb/fs, and i'm going to go ahead and guess that marvin robinson starts at ss. there's little reason for me to believe that emilien or gordon (red-shirted) could beat out kovacs next season.
K: Gibbons (Fr), Wright? (Sr)
P: HAGERUP (FR/RS)
LS: Pomarico (Jr)
KR: Stonum (Jr), Smith (So)
PR: Odoms (Jr)
...gibbons is probably a slight upgrade at kicker. hagerup isn't zoltan, but he should be alright. pomarico is back as our snapper. stonum and smith are both back returning kicks. odoms is back returning punts (though dileo might push him). next to punting, we should be better in every special teams area (more depth!).
Connecticut - win (close).
Notre Dame - win (close).
Massachusetts - win.
Bowling Green - win.
Indiana - win.
michigan state - win (close).
iowa - win (close).
penn state - loss.
illinois - win (close).
purdue - win (close).
wisconsin - loss (close).
ohio state - loss (close).
best guess, 9-3
best case, 11-1
worst case, 3-9