I feel like talking O-line, since we struggled this year and it's probably the most important position group on the field. I've seen stats on how the best predictor to how a team will do in an upcoming season is to look at the number of starts on the O-line. If it's over 85 the team will probably be pretty good, if it's less than 85 it's less likely. Obviously, it's only a rough correlation, but I still feel it highlights the importance of the O-line.
If we look at the likely number of starts on our O-line next year, it will not be 85, no matter who steps up. However, if we can figure out who is going to step up in spring and get them playing together, they will gel faster and we may have a better shot. So, here's the question, what do you think our line up will look like next year? We'll have many more players to choose from next year, though a lot depends on injuries. This may be a stupid conversation to have before signing day, but if the current commits sign, here's what our roster will look like (I'm no insider so maybe there are issues I don't know about):
Jr's: Pouvave (not sure if he had a RS available, if not he'll be a Sr), Lozano, Wesley, Albers
So's: Aiono, Friel, Poutasi, Neilson
Fr.'s: Lutui (RS), Deilman (RS), Kristensen(RS), Tuimauga (RM), Lindsay(GS), Lafaele (GS), plus whoever we sign from highschool this year.
I didn't include walkons because I doubt any will have a chance at starting, and I also didn't include Junior Salt. I know he was working with the O-line this fall, but our DT depth is very suspect next year, so unless we can sign at least one JC kid who is ready to contribute right away, I think we'll need Salt on the D-line (we will only have 3 scholarship DT's on roster this spring, Palepoi, Fauonuku, both can play, and Tuipulotu, who has always impressed me in practice but hasn't done anything in games, maybe he's battle injuries?). Leota can also play DT but is a little light.
So what will the O-line look like? Experience really does matter, so you'd have to think at least 2 of the Sr's will win spots, but part of me thinks if you haven't made a mark by the end of your Jr year, we can't really expect anything from your last year. Then we can't predict injuries and late enrollees, etc. I'm just trying to get some conversation going. So here is my way too early, completely uniformed 2-deep for our O-line next season.
LT: Poutasi (if he ends up being our best Tackle (my prediction) he should switch to the left side)
Friel (was a starting at one point in the fall. Lot's of upside and sounds like he's a hard worker)
LG: Tofaeono (a steam roller, was coming into his own before he got hurt)
Heimuli (if he could ever get healthy I think he could win a starting spot, tons of talent)
C: Jones (played fairly well at guard this year and has lots of experience)
Lutui (Tons of talent but just a RS fresh. I bet he's the starting C for 3 years here)
RG: Bot (I have always liked Bot but felt they were trying to force him out of his natural position by playing him at T)
Pouvave (Don't know much about him, other than he was penciled in to start at LT last fall, but I hear he has short arm so may be a better guard. We'll see how fast he heals)
RT: Lozano (If he can continue to get in shape he could be a very good one)
Albers or Wesley (Film looks good, but they may need a year in the program to develop)
Well, there are my guesses. Anyone else want to weigh in?
P.S. Does it frustrate anyone else that they didn't post the O-line grades on the press releases this year? Anyone know where to find them?