What you need to know ...
The potential is there for a little
bit of a turnaround after averaging 297 yards and an
inconsistent 22 points a game. The strength early on should be
an experienced line with more than enough starters and depth to
be far better. The quarterback situation will be a topic of
debate all season long with big Andre Woodson battling with the
all-around talents of 2004 super-recruit Curtis Pulley. The
receiving corps needs to stay healthy and be far more productive
even though many of last year's top producers are gone.
Fortunately, do-it-all running back Rafael Little is back to
carry the offense with Tony Dixon returning from injury to
provide some much needed support.
Passing: Andre Woodson
146-253, 1,644 yds, 6 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: Rafael Little
197 carries, 1,045 yds, 9 TD
Receiving: Rafael Little
46 catches, 449 yds
Star of the offense: Junior RB Rafael Little
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore
WR DeMoreo Ford
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OT Garry Williams
Best pro prospect: Little
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Little, 2)
TE Jacob Tamme, 3) Williams
Strength of the offense: Offensive line experience
Weakness of the offense: Wide receiver
There's undeniable talent to work with, but can the
coaching staff make Andre Woodson and Curtis Pulley productive?
They're both accurate enough to make all the throws, and now one
of them has to take the job by the reins and show he can put
points on the board. Woodson is the big bomber with the
experience to be a top leader, but Pulley has far more mobility
with enough speed to be a dangerous all-around playmaker.
The key to the unit: Quickly settle on a starter and
go with him. There isn't time to do a quarterback shuffle.
Quarterback Rating: 6.5
- Andre Woodson, Jr. - 146-253, 58%, 1,644 yds, 6 TD, 6
INT, 1 rushing touchdown
Woodson has the size, strength, and raw talent. He's 6-5 and a
tough 240 pounds with a huge arm. For all his skills and
accuracy, he hasn't led the offense to enough points or the team
to enough wins. He was a superstar recruit a few years ago and
holds the school record for most consecutive throws without an
interception (which is more impressive than it might sound
considering how good Tim Couch was). Even with all his
experience he'll have a fight on his hands to keep the starting
- Curtis Pulley, Soph. - 31-50, 62%, 208 yds, 0 TD, 3
INT, 49 carries, 149 yds, 3 TD
2004's star recruit will be bucking hard for the starting job.
He's not as big as Andre Woodson and doesn't have the arm, but
he's far more mobile and adds more options to the attack. He can
play wide receiver if needed and has the athleticism to be used
as a kick blocking specialist. Now he has to show he can be a
consistent enough passer to take over the starting job.
- Will Fidler, Fr.
The true freshman doesn't have much shot at seeing playing time
right away, but he's a talented pro-style passer who
graduated from high school early to be part of the mix. He's
big, strong and mobile, and now he needs practice time.
There are plenty of good options in the
backfield led by all-around All-SEC star Rafael Little. He does
everything so well that the coaching staff could line him up in
several formations to keep him on the field while also allowing
other backs to get in the mix. Tony Dixon returns from a broken
leg to provide some desperately needed depth, while speedster
Alfonso Smith needs to get the ball in his hands. John Conner is
a limited fullback, but he has a motor that won't quit.
The key to the unit: Rafael Little has to stay
healthy meaning Tony Dixon, Alfonso Smith, Terrell Bankhead and
Antoine Brown have to be part of the offense early on.
Running Back Rating: 7.5
- Rafael Little, Jr. - 197 carries, 1,045 yds, 9 TDs, 5.3
ypc, 46 catches, 449 yds
You could make a case that Little was the SEC's best player last
year leading the Wildcats in rushing, receiving, kickoff returns
and punt returns. He's a decent-sized back at 5-10 and 195
pounds with tremendous quickness and wide receiver hands. All he
needs is a little bit of a crease and he's gone. Expect him to
be even more effective this season, even if his numbers don't
improve, with other good backs able to take the pressure off.
Now he has to get healthy after dislocating his wrist in spring
ball and had to undergo surgery.
- Fullback John Conner, RFr.
The 243-pound redshirt freshman is a former walk-on who was a
key player on special teams before getting knocked out with an
injury. He's a physical player who should turn out to be a
perfect lead blocker, but don't expect to see the ball in his
- Tony Dixon, Soph.
Dixon appeared ready to be the starter after a good freshman
season rushing for 244 yards and a touchdown, but he suffered a
broken leg in fall practice and was out for the year. The former
cornerback is strong with excellent speed, and now he'll provide
a big boost for the ground game getting around ten carries a
game to keep Rafael Little fresh.
- Alfonso Smith, RFr.
A top scout team performer last season, the 6-1, 200-pound Smith
is one of the team's faster players and is working hard at
becoming a better blocker. He's not a track star playing
football; he's a football player who happens to have track star
- Fullback Terrell Bankhead, Sr.
Part tailback, part fullback, the 220-pound senior played on
special teams after transferring from Mesa College in
California. He'll play behind John Conner at fullback and will
mostly be used when a big back is needed. He has too much speed
to be just a blocker.
The word you're looking for is uh-oh. Scott Mitchell,
Glenn Holt and Tommy Cook are gone from a receiving corps that
didn't exactly set the world on fire. Top returning wide
receiver Keenan Burton has the talent to explode into something
special, but he can't stay healthy. The team's leading receiver
last year was running back Rafael Little, and the number two man
was tight end Jacob Tamme, who has a shoulder injury. DeMoreo
Ford has to be a key contributor to take the pressure off
Burton, while Dicky Lyons and former quarterback Joe Joe Brown
have to play like veterans.
The key to the unit: Everyone has to stay healthy and
a second wide receiver has to emerge alongside Keenan Burton.
Receiver Rating: 6
- DeMoreo Ford, Soph. - 2 catches, 10 yards
Ford saw a little bit of time as a true freshman and now has to
show he can hold up as a starting receiver on the inside. He's a
wiry 5-11 and 189 pounds without the bulk to be a full-time
playmaker across the middle. He got knocked out for the season
with a knee injury, but he still has the speed to grow into a
top deep threat.
- Keenan Burton, Jr. - 24 catches, 365 yds, 15.2 ypc,
The team's most dangerous receiver has to find a way to stay
healthy. He's a tall, big play target with great moves and
productivity when he's on the field. He suffered wrist injury
two years ago and had problems last season with an injured foot.
When 100%, he'll be the team's number one target and the leader
of the young receiving corps.
- Tight end Jacob Tamme, Jr. - 29 catches, 251 yds, 8.1
ypc, 1 TD
Tamme started off his career as a huge wide receiver before
moving over to tight end. He wasn't quite the matchup nightmare
he was supposed to be, but the 6-5, 240-pound junior was a
steady pass catcher. He still needs work as a blocker and has to
be able to hold up after having problems with a shoulder injury.
- Dicky Lyons, Soph.
Lyons has the speed to be a top kickoff returner and a top deep
threat. He redshirted last season with a logjam of talent at
receiver, and now he'll be back in the mix as a third receiver
and a spot starter if Keenan Burton has injury issues again.
- Joe Joe Brown, Soph. - 1 catch, 5 yards
The former quarterback brings size to the corps. he's 6-3, 200
pounds with enough athleticism to be a difference maker behind
- Tight end Ross Bogue, RFr.
The starter until Jacob Tamme's shoulder heals up, the 6-5 Bogue
has good enough hands to be used in two tight end sets. His
playing time will depend on how he emerges as a blocker.
Experience isn't an issue with nine players able to
rotate throughout the lineup. Now the production has to be better after
allowing 34 sacks and getting next to no push for the ground game. It
isn't a huge line, but the tackles are fast and athletic and the
interior is dominated by strong seniors. Continuity will be the key with
everyone needing to be healthy. This group needs a steady starting
lineup to rely on.
The key to the unit: All the experience has to
convert into production.
Offensive Line Rating: 7
- OT Aaron Miller, Soph.
The 300-pound sophomore took over the left tackle spot in spring ball
but will have to battle with Garry Williams this fall. He's big, agile
and talented, but he'll need a little while to gel into the position on
the left side.
Christian Johnson, Soph.
The 325-pound sophomore is one of the team's best combinations of size
and strength. He has All-SEC potential at right guard where he'll take
over the starting job after a strong spring.
- C Matt McCutchan, Sr.
The team's best offensive lineman was granted a sixth year of
eligibility and will be the anchor up front. He's a good, technical
blocker who has the size and power to be a mauler when he has to. The
310-pound senior is a former walk-on with a high motor.
- OG Michael Aitcheson, Sr.
One of the locker room leaders. the 300-pound senior will have to fight
with Trai Williams for the job at right guard after starting every
game last season. He's a physical run blocker who doesn't make too many
mistakes and can play either guard spot.
- OT Hayden Lane, Sr.
A member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll in each of the last five
seasons, he is also the team's most experienced lineman with 23 straight
starters. While smarts isn't a problem for the 6-6, 283-pound senior,
consistent pass protection is.
- OT Garry Williams, Soph.
Williams will be one of the future mainstays of the line. He's fast 288
pounds with just enough experience to be counted on at left tackle until
James Alexander gets healthy. His emergence allowed Fatu Turituri to
move to guard, and now he'll likely be a rock up front for the next
- OT James Alexander, Soph.
Alexander emerged as a surprising reserve as a true freshman after
bulking up to an athletic 281 pounds. He has the feet and the speed to
grow into one of the team's better pass blockers once he gets healthy.
- OG Fatu Turituri, Sr.
The 290-pound senior started the first seven games of last season before
getting knocked out with a knee injury. He's expected to come back at
some point early in the year to challenge Trai Williams for starting
time at right guard after playing tackle.
Trai Williams, Sr.
He might be one of the team's smaller guards at 286 pounds, but he's one
of the team's strongest players. He has been a steady starter and an
All-SEC Academic performer. He can play either guard spot.
- C Travis Slaydon, Sr.
After not seeing any time in his first two seasons, the 290-pound senior
finally got on the field as a reserve last season. He's very strong and
smart enough to handle the line calls at center. He should be a decent
reserve behind Matt McCutchan.