We've spoken a lot recently about expectations for the 2015 defense, but what exactly would be a reasonable improvement to anticipate for the unit? In my honest opinion, just about anything would be a "reasonable improvement" over last season. I just can't see a scenario in which the 2015 defense is as atrocious, particularly on third down, as last season's was. It just doesn't seem feasible. There are too many talented pieces and veteran players for it to not be at least a top-50 or 60 defense in the nation and another finish like last season's very well could cost Ted Roof his job, though I don't think we can attribute last year's failures purely to his coaching.
Paul Johnson worked some of his scholarship magic yesterday by putting two former walk-ons, Ike Willis and Chase Alford, on full scholarships for the upcoming season. Willis in particular seemed like somewhat of a lock to receive a scholarship this season given the relatively large role he is expected to play for the team, which he earned through his hard work and dedication to the program. It is easy to forget that walk-ons work just as hard as anyone else on the team and it's always nice to see that dedication rewarded. Congratulations to Ike Willis and Chase Alford.
Despite being the final commit of the 2015 class to even receive a scholarship offer, freshman wide receiver Brad Stewart has a very real chance to come in and start for the Jackets as early as week one against Alcorn State. Though I'd rather not see this scenario play out because it hinges largely on injuries to other players at this point, it is definitely something to watch for. Stewart was a lightly-recruited receiver coming out of high school but was lauded for his apparent college readiness towards the end of the recruiting cycle -- he has all the tools to be as good a player as anyone. In fact, the only downside to Stewart starting week one would be that the AJC's Michael Carvell, a well-documented Stewart enthusiast, might need immediate medical attention. He's been a Brad Stewart fan for well over four hours, it might be time to contact a doctor.*
It has been a week since I last engaged in America's favorite pastime, making fun of other teams' uniforms, so why not resume now? Here's a quick rundown of the uniforms and what they mean for their respective schools:
-Texas A&M forgot that black isn't in their color scheme and that black on black is hard to see.
-Oregon's glow-in-the-dark uniforms are irrelevant because football is not played in the dark.
-Nebraska's football players enjoy dressing up like roadkill with an eating disorder.
-Louisville's helmets will haunt your dreams and eat your children.
-Your grandmother knitted UNC's new uniforms.
-Miami's color will never stop being ugly.
What are your expectations for the 2015 defense? Will it be a top-50 unit nationally?
*Michael Carvell's heavy endorsement of Stewart is both justified and appreciated. Thanks, Michael!