8 units in need of a rebuild for 2016
Yesterday we broke down the top 10 teams in terms of returning production, today looks at the other end of the spectrum. Which individual units are depleted and in need of a rebuild? Whether it was graduation, transfers, or even retirements, these eight units need to be re-built from the ground up this season:
Florida: Zero percent returning snaps
The quarterback situation at Florida appeared to be heading in the right direction last year through six games, as Will Grier was getting a hang for the new system in his redshirt freshman season. He was then suspended for the rest of the season and the beginning of 2016, eventually deciding to transfer to West Virginia. Backup Treon Harris replaced Grier, but the passing game suffered and Harris was never going to be in the plans to start this season. He’s dealing with off-field issues of his own and also looking to transfer, meaning the Gators return zero snaps at the quarterback position this season. Luke Del Rio is one of a number of transfers looking to make an impact this season.
Runner Up: Utah, two percent returning snaps
Ohio State: two percent returning snaps
Ohio State attrition is one of the biggest offseason storylines and the running back position is their most depleted heading into 2016. Workhorse Ezekiel Elliott is off to the NFL after taking 820 of the 861 running back snaps a year ago while backups Brionte Dunn (dismissed) and Warren Ball (graduate transfer) are no longer on the roster. The percentage of returning snaps may be skewed a bit, as Curtis Samuel moves back to running back after a one-year hiatus to slot receiver in which he saw the field 303 times. Regardless, between Samuel, redshirt freshman Mike Weber, true freshmen DeMario McCall and Antonio Williams, and all-everything Dontre Wilson, the Buckeyes have a lot of production to replace beside QB J.T. Barrett.
Runner Up: Alabama, 12 percent returning snaps
Cal: 13 percent returning snaps
Not only did Cal send No. 1 pick Jared Goff to the NFL, they also lose their top six receivers and 38 receiving touchdowns. WR Chad Hansen leads all returning receivers with 203 snaps followed by Kanawai Noa with 101, so it will be an entirely new look to Cal’s passing game this season. There are a number of redshirt freshmen and transfers vying for playing time while true freshman Demetris Robertson’s hype train is off and running. “Talented, but young” appears to be the theme for Cal this season at wide receiver.
Runner Up: Notre Dame, 17 percent returning snaps
Kansas State, 21 percent returning snaps
One of the nation’s best offensive lines is depleted after losing four of five starters including the top-graded offensive tackle in the nation in Cody Whitehair and the No. 13 guard in Boston Stiverson. The lone returning starter is center Dalton Risner who was outstanding as a redshirt freshman (84.9). He makes up 928 of the 998 returning snaps, so there may be some growing pains in Manhattan this fall.
Runner Up: Missouri, 21 percent returning snaps
Virginia: 18 percent returning snaps
It’s a complete overhaul up front as four players who played at least 586 snaps last season are moving on. NT Donte Wilkins has the most experience with 538 snaps over the last two years while former five-star recruit Andrew Brown has seen the field only 237 times during his two seasons at Virginia. They need him to live up to his high school hype as new head coach Bronco Mendenhall installs a 3-4 scheme for the Cavaliers.
Runner Up: USC, 21 percent returning snaps. More on USC attrition at defensive line.
Utah: 0.004 percent returning snaps
It was mostly a two-man show at linebacker for Utah last season with Gionni Paul (936 snaps) and Jared Norris (832 snaps) rarely coming off the field while Jason Whittingham chipped in 316 snaps of his own. All three linebackers move on while backup Uaea Masina retired at the end of the season. That leaves Sunia Tauteoli and his nine snaps as the most experienced Utah linebacker heading into the season. The Utes need instant impact from junior college transfer David Luafatasaga, though the linebacking corps will benefit from playing behind one of the nation’s top defensive lines.
Runner Up: Kentucky, three percent returning snaps
Arizona State: five percent returning snaps
The top two corners from a snap standpoint are moving on in Lloyd Carrington (982) and Kweishi Brown (991) leaving Kareem Orr as the lone returning starter. Orr played 677 snaps last year as a true freshman and he’ll have help from junior college transfers J’Marcus Rhodes and Maurice Chandler as well as Texas transfer Bryson Echols who saw the field for only 121 snaps over the last two years for the Longhorns. It’s never a good time to be inexperienced at cornerback in the Pac-12, so keeping points off the board could be a challenge in Tempe this season.
West Virginia, 10 percent returning snaps
Maryland: four percent returning snaps
Three-fourths of Maryland’s secondary is gone, including both starting safeties Anthony Nixon and A.J. Hendy. Nixon had the top run-stopping grade among Big Ten safeties while Hendry also graded positively, so there’s a lot of production to replace in College Park. Denzel Conyers is projected to start at strong safety and he showed well on his 110 snaps last season, while Josh Woods — projected starter at free safety — has seen the field just seven times in two years.
Runner Up: Ohio State, four percent returning snaps