Phil Steele's projected starting lineup

I picked up the 2019 Phil Steele Preseason magazine today. Besides the Hawgs Illustrated football preview, Phil’s magazine is the one I look forward to the most. Great stats and info. While he doesn’t project us winning a conf game, noting that we are 13-43 in SEC play over the last seven years and are last in his returning experience rankings in the conf, he does mention that there were some close losses last year and that we will be one of the most improved teams in the country this year, so a couple of upsets are possible. No where to go but up, I guess!

A couple of interesting predictions on his starting lineup: He has 4 true freshman as starters.

Burks and Knox on offense. Soli and Catalon on defense. (Soli is listed as his starter over G. Richardson and Catalon is listed at Nickelback if we are in that formation, for what it’s worth. Otherwise it’s Henry at LB).

He also lists Luke Jones, R-FR, as the starter at Center over Clary, but does note that his immediate eligibility is in question.

While I don’t see all of those being immediate starters, especially with Burks and Catalon overcoming injuries and Soli up against a couple of seniors, it is still nice to see he thinks that highly of some of our incoming recruits.

Here we go with the most boring time of the year for me…in between the end of baseball season and the start of fall practice reports.

I like Phil a lot. Spend time with him every year on the Football Writers Association All America committee. He knows more about personnel in college football than anyone in the business. He works and studies extremely hard and talks to a lot of people. If Burks and Catalon are healthy, they will play. I am not sure they will be ready in September. But they may be by the middle of October. I have not heard anyone say Luke is going to be eligible. I expect Clary to be improved and start, but someone can win that spot.

I love Soli’s potential but will be extremely shocked if he can start and handle the physicality of the SEC where he will be going up against grown men.I think he can be a factor in passing situations but against the run he may be in trouble this 1st yr.
I also wouldn’t rule out Beaux Limmer at C,He’s up to 300 Lbs and benching 400 so he’s ready physically now just will have to learn all the calls a C has to make.

If Burks is healthy, he will start… Knox and Burks are the best receivers since Chllds, Wright, Adams and Hamilton. Tight end play should be strong with O‘Grady and Henry. The line play must be better and the new quarterbacks must get the ball to the receivers. If that happens, we will be much better.

If the line can open holes, running backs should be good.

Hopefully the defense will be better too.

This should lead to a more successful season. We still have a long way to go before we can be a player in the top level. Hopefully, we will get there soon.

Does anyone have a feel for special teams? We weren’t exactly stellar in that department the last few years.

I feel pretty good about Limpert and the kicking and Warren on kickoff returns. And Stewart showed some flashes at times on Punt Returns. I would love to see one of the talented freshman get a shot there as well.

Punt team needs to be much improved.

I was hoping we would get one of the transfer kickers in that could handle kickoffs in the end zone consistently and also punt. We averaged 38.9 yards per punt last year (net 34.1) mainly because of the roll…most hit 10 yards or so in front of the fielder and rolled, which I guess was at least more effective than our punt coverage team was at times (N. Texas).

Nothing against Bauer at all. He just doesn’t seem to have a strong leg and wasn’t a threat to flip the field. About 30 yards in the air was what a lot of his punts seemed to travel. But maybe with the off season he has been able to improve in that area. The defense was put in some really bad situations last year due to poor field position after short punts and offensive 3 and outs and turnovers.

I could certainly see Soli starting eventually in his rookie season, but not right away.

Just as our discussion about the OL, I don’t think many true freshman are capable of taking on the men of the SEC at a full-time position right away.

I think Richardson and Gerald - now extremely fit - are poised to have big seasons.

I wouldn’t view “last in returning experience” as a negative following a 2-10 year. IMO, the only shot we have at making a bowl game is if the younger players (and the experienced transfer QBs) are able to make major impacts this season.