2012 Opponents' Returning Starters: Why the Schedule Isn't as Tough as it Appears

2012 Opponents' Returning Starters: Why the Schedule Isn't as Tough as it Appears

Submitted by hart20 on January 10th, 2012 at 1:47 PM

Before we dive into the details, here are some things that you should know so that you can understand what’s below better:

1.   *  : When you see an asterisk by a number, know that it means that I included at least 1 Jr who I am projecting or has said that they will leave in those numbers. When you see a * by a name, it means that the player is a Jr projected to leave or is leaving.

2. 17 starters is the number that you want to return if you want to have at least the same amount of wins as the previous year. So the greatest number of starters that you would want to leave would be 5. After 5 starters leave, you expect to lose more games than the previous year. (Note: That number is from memory, I could not find the diary with that number so if someone could link to that in the comments, that would be great.)

3. I used the depth chart from each team’s Rivals site and the NFL draft projections from http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/prospectrankings. If a player was around the top 3 at his position, I projected him to leave unless, obviously, he’s already said that he’s coming back.


Now for a chart, keep in mind that the numbers are in terms of players lost. Remember, losing more than 5 total starters is not a good thing. The chart breaks it down into lost starters on offense, defense and then total.

  Offense Defense Total 
Alabama 5* 8* 13*
Air Force 8 9 17
U Mass 5 3 8
Notre Dame 4 6 10
Purdue 3 4 7
Illinois 4 4* 8*
MSU 6* 2* 8*
Nebraska 2 4 6
Minnesota 7 6 13
Northwestern 6 3 9
Iowa 4* 6 10*
Ohio State 5 0 5


Continue on for a more in depth look at each team. This includes starters lost by position, list of each starter lost, some notes on back ups, notes on new coaches or leaving coaches, and other general observations on each team. After the draft, I will break down each team in terms of percentage of yards, TDs, tackles, interceptions, forced fumbles, etc. lost with each starter. 


**If I didn't include a leaving starters, leaving/new coachs, or if someone I've included has said they're coming back to school, please let me know so that I can fix it.**





5 Starters lost: 1 RB*, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 C

*Trent Richardson, RB

Darius Hanks, WR

Marquis Maze, WR

Brad Smelley, TE

William Vlachos, C

Quick Notes: Replacement TEs will be a true sophomore. Richardson is a top 5 pick and was a Heisman candidate, he’ll be tough to replace.


8 Starters lost: 1 NT, 3 LB*, 2 CB, 2 S*

Josh Chapman, NT

Jerrell Harris, LB

Courtney Upshaw, LB

*Dont’a Hightower, LB

*Dre Kirkpatrick, CB

DeQuan Menzie, CB

Mike Barron, S

*Robert Lester, S

Quick Notes: The talent Alabama will be losing is ridiculous. Everyone they’re losing will be playing in the NFL. At least half of them are ranked in the top 3 at their positions. Yeah, Alabama will replace that talent, but there is no way that the talent coming in is greater than the talent going out. 2 possible LB replacements will be JRs. The rest of the possible replacement LBs will be true sophomores.


Offensive Coordinator is leaving.


13 starters lost.


Air Force


8 Starters lost: 1 QB, 1 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 C, 1 RG, 1 RT

Tim Jefferson, QB

Asher Clark, RB

Jonathan Warzeka, WR

Zack Kauth, WR

Joshua Freeman, TE

Jeffrey Benson, C

A.J. Wallerstein, RG

Kevin Whitt, RT

Quick Notes: Back Up QB is graduating too.


9 Starters lost: 2 DE, 1 NT, 3 LB, 2 CB, 1 S

Zach Payne, DE

Harry Kehs, DE

Ryan Gardner, NT

Jordan Waiwaiole, LB

Brady Amack, LB

Patrick Hennessey, LB

Anthony Wright, CB

Josh Hall, CB

Jon Davis, S


No Changes. (Note: These guys are going on to do something greater than playing football, a thank you to all of them and to everyone else serving.)


17 starters lost.




5 Starters lost: 1 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE

Jonathan Hernandez, RB

Tom Gilson, WR

Julian Talley, WR

Jesse Julmiste, WR

Emil Igwenagu, TE


3 Starters lost: 1 DT, 2 LB

James Gilchrist, DT

Tyler Holmes, LB

Shane Vivieros, LB


New head coach (Former ND OC). Also first year in the FBS.


8 starters lost.


Notre Dame


4 starters lost: 1 WR, 1 OT, 1 OG, 1 C,

Michael Floyd, WR

Taylor Dever, OT

Trevor Robinson, OG

Mike Golic Jr., C

Quick Notes: You all know about the talent of Michael Floyd, and no, I’m not talking about drunk driving. Losing him is a huge, huge, huge loss for ND, especially with the QB questions that they have. It looks like the replacement OT and OG could be true sophomores.


6 starters lost: 1 DE, 1 LB, 2 CB, 2 S

Ethan Johnson, DE

Darius Fleming, LB

Gary Gray, CB

Robert Blanton, CB

Harrison Smith, S

Jamoris Slaughter, S

Quick Notes: Manti Te’o is returning. That’s huge for ND.


New Offensive Coordinator, RB coach, OL coach, and QB coach. Also Brian Kelly is still there.


10 Starters




3 Starters lost: 1 WR, 1 OT, 1 OG

Justin Siller, WR

Dennis Kelly, OT

Nick Mondek, OG


4 Starters lost: 1 DE, 1 LB, 2 S

Gerlad Gooden, DE

Joe Holland, LB

Albert Evans, S

Logan Link, S


No Changes


7 starter lost.




4 Starters lost: 1 RB, 1 WR, 1 OT, 1 OG

Jason Ford, RB

A.J. Jenkins, WR

Jeff Allen, OT

Jack Cornell, OG

Quick Notes: A.J. Jenkins is a pretty big loss for Illinois.


4 Starters lost: 1 DE*, 2 LB, 1 CB

*Whitney Mercilus, DE

Trulon Henry, LB

Ian Thomas, LB

Tavon Wilson, CB

Quick Notes: Mercilus is the #3 DE, if he leaves, which is likely, it’ll be a huge loss for Illinois.


You know the deal with Zook, he’s gone so there’ll be a new HC and a new coaching staff.


8 starters lost.




6 starters lost: 1 QB, 2 WR, 1 OG, 1 FB, 1 RB*

Kirk Cousins, QB

B.J. Cunningham, WR

Keshawn Martin, WR

Joel Foreman, OG

Todd Anderson, FB

*Edwin Baker, RB

Quick Notes: Replacement QB will be a Jr or Sr. B.J. Cunningham is a beast, losing him really hurts. Replacements will be Arnett, providing the NCAA grants a waiver, or will be a Jr or a few sophomores. Losing Baker is another hit to MSU’s offense


2 starters lost: 1 DT*, 1 S

*Jerel Worthy, DT

Trenton Robinson, S

Quick Notes: Worthy’s back-up is graduating too. Robinson’s replacement will be a Jr or sophomore. The defense looks to be much the same as it was last year.


As of the time of this writing, rumors of Narduzzi to Texas A&M continue to run rampant. Losing him is huge.


8 starters lost.




2 starters lost: 1 OT, 1 C

J. Hardrick, OT

Mike Caputo, C

Quick Notes: Offense looks to be as potent as you can be with a QB who throws like a girl.


4 starters lost: 1 DT, 1 LB, 1 CB, 1 S

Jared Crick, DT

Lavonte David, LB

Alfonzo Dennard, CB

Austin Cassidy, S

Quick Notes: Nebraska loses their top 3 players on D. Tough to replace losses like that.


New DL coach.


6 starters lost.




7 starters lost: 1 RB, 1 WR, 1 FB, 1 TE, 2 OG, 1 C

Duane Bennett, RB

Da’Jon McKnight, WR

Eric Lair, FB

Collin McGarry, TE

Chris Bunders, OG

Ryan Orton, OG

Ryan Wynn, C

Quick Notes: Ouch.


6 starters lost: 2 DT, 1 LB, 1 CB, 2 S

Anthony Jacobs, DT

Brandon Kirksey, DT

Gary Tinsley, LB

Troy Stoudermire, CB

Shady Salamon, S

Kim Royston, S

Quick Notes: Ouch again. Minnesota looks to stay Minnesota.


No changes.


13 starters lost.




6 starters lost: 1 QB, 2 RB, 1 WR, 1 OT, 1 OG

Dan Persa, QB

Jacob Schmidt, RB

Drake Dunsmore, RB

Jeremy Ebert, WR

Al Netter, OT

Ben Burkett, OG

Quick Notes: Losing Persa is pretty big but Colter filled in pretty well for him this year.


3 starters lost: 1 DT, 1 CB, 1 S

Jack DiNardo, DT

Jeravin Matthews, CB

Brian Peters, S


No changes.


9 starters lost.




4 starters lost: 1 WR, 2 OT*, 1 OG,

Marvin McNutt, WR

*Riley Reiff, OT

Markus Zusevics, OT

Adam Gettis, OG

Quick Notes: Losing McNutt is pretty big for Iowa.


6 starters lost: 1 DE, 2 DT, 1 LB, 1 CB, 1 S

Broderick Binns, DE

Mike Daniels, DT

Thomas Nardo, DT

Tyler Nielsen, LB

Shaun Prater, CB

Jordan Bernstine, S

Quick notes: Defense looks to worsen with the loss of 6 starters and the DC.


New DL coach. New DC.


10 starters lost.


Ohio St.


5 starters lost: 1 RB, 1 WR, 2 OT, 1 C

Dan Herron, RB

DeVier Posey, WR

Mike Adams, OT

J.B. Shugarts, OT

Michael Brewster, C

Quick Notes: New offense, new schemes, new plays, etc. Remember the offense without Posey and Herron? Couldn’t score if they were playing a middle school football team.. Remember the offense without Posey? Not much better. Now they’ll have a new offense without 3 new starters on the OL and without their 2 biggest playmakers on offense.


0 starters lost.

Quick Notes: The defense that we owned this year looks to be the same next year.


New HC, mostly new coaching staff.


5 starters lost.