In his Monday morning press conference, Coach Weis explained that any serious depth chart movement would be revealed early next week.
So of course, I've decided to speculate with a few (educated) guesses as to which players you'll see play from scrimmage vs. Nevada and at Michigan.
Defensive Starters and Contributors: Week 1-2
- Starters: Kapron Lewis-Moore and Kerry Neal.
- Rotational Players: DT Ethan Johnson and SLB Darius Fleming.
- Spot Duty: John Ryan and Morrice Richardson.
Defensive Tackle (Three-Technique):
- Starter: Ethan Johnson
- Backup and Rotational Players: Hafis Williams
- Spot Duty: Emeka Nwanko (as a result of the versatility available at his current defensive end position)
- Starter: Darius Fleming
- Rotational Player (multiple series): Scott Smith
- Other contributors: Steve Filer, assuming he returns to the practice field by the end of this week.
- Starter: Brian Smith
- Backup: Manti Te'o – limited duty at backup WLB but extended duty as the team's second nickel linebacker (along with Brian Smith).
- Rotation or spot duty: None.
- Starter: Toryan Smith
- Rotational Player (multiple series): David Posluszny
- Spot Duty (limited, but non-blowout action): Anthony McDonald
- Kyle McCarthy with Sergio Brown spelling him for one series if games are close (more if they're not). No other SS contributors for Week 1-2.
- Harrison Smith with Ray Herring spelling him for a series or two and Dan McCarthy seeing a few reps.
- Starters: Raeshon McNeil and Robert Blanton
- Heavy rotational player: Darrin Walls, with a healthy Walls winning the starting role back by Week 3 vs. Michigan State (if not at the end of fall camp).
- Rotational player: Gary Gray
- Earned spot duty: Jamoris Slaughter
- "Starter" – Sergio Brown. Spelled in long-yardage situations by McNeil with Darrin Walls (if relatively healthy) sliding into McNeil's spot or Gary Gray if Walls isn't (close to) 100 percent.
- Gary Gray in long-yardage situations resulting in a 3 CB/3 Safety package (more often than 4 CB/2 Safety).
The final breakdown equates to 10 total defensive linemen (plus LB Darius Fleming); eight contributing linebackers; five safeties and five cornerbacks for a total of 28 total defensive participants over the season's first two weeks.
For the sake of reference, 25 defensive players contributed in last season's opener vs. San Diego State and 23 saw the field vs. Michigan in Week Two. As mentioned, both the offensive and defensive players discussed rank as educated guesses…which is why we'll save the special teams contributors column for Aug. 31.