As usual, there is a lot of anticipation with the season's first release of the depth chart, heading into the first game.
"I give Tyler a lot of credit for the way he's come in from day one and has had a great approach," head coach Paul Chryst said. "He sees himself on a big stage, and he's going to get that. I've also learned never to be surprised by Tyler. I'm anxious to see him and a lot of the guys who this will be their first time playing, but I think he'll rise up."
The other that wasn't much of a surprise was T.J. Clemmings in at right tackle. Even with Juantez Hollins being eligible after a suspension last year, and now freshman Dorian Johnson enrolled, Clemmings held both off in training camp.
The one mild surprise was that of Artie Rowell ahead of Gabe Roberts. Rowell started getting significant work with the first group towards the end of the second week. Dating back to spring, it was the first significant work he had seen on the fop unit. He alternated with redshirt freshman Gabe Roberts--who had seen a considerable amount of first-team work, dating back to the spring. Chryst has always commented on Rowell's work ethic. Today, he talked about what separated Rowell, in his mind, to make him the starter.
"In bowl preparation last year, Artie stuck out," Chryst added. "He had a great winter conditioning, did some good things in the spring and continued to carry that into the summer and fall camp. He's earned it, and that's a good thing."
One other interesting note on the offense. They list two sets of tight ends. Manasseh Garner and J.P. Holtz are listed as starters at tight end. Garner is backed up by Jaymar Parrish, while Holtz is backed up by Scott Orndoff.
"Everyone can do different stuff at the tight end position," Holtz explained. "That's what's great about our group. We have two freshmen who stepped it up this year, and they're going to have a big role in our offense, they're going to help us out."
A surprise in the sense that each day, true freshmen James Conner and Rachid Ibrahim were taking the majority of the snaps. Bennett has been out of action since August 10, though Chryst said he started working back on Sunday.
Conner took a pretty good hit to the shoulder, trying to make a tackle on an interception return. Chryst said he too is fine from the injury.
"[Bennett] did some stuff yesterday in practice," Chryst said. "He obviously missed quite a bit of time, so it's too early to tell if he'll be ready. But he was able to go through some things yesterday. We'll see how he comes back today. [Conner] practiced some yesterday, so we'll see where he's at during practice today."
Still, the decision to leave the freshmen off is interesting--not only considering how both played in training camp, but the fact that a number of other true freshmen are listed second-team, a co-starter, or even a co-backup.
One such case is at defensive end, where former linebacker Ejuan Price is listed as a co-starter to not only David Durham, but also to Bryan Murphy. Price--who sat out last year due to a pectoral injury--had one of the better camps of any player, regardless of position.
Todd Thomas leaving the team was one of the bigger stories when camp opened a few weeks ago. Yet, it's freshman Bam Bradley at the top of the depth chart, with very little notice. However, in declaring Bradley the starter, Chryst cited a lot of reasons in making this choice.
"With Bam, when he truly gets comfortable, he can really go," Bradley said. "When he was unsure about his responsibility, he was different than when he knew it and could turn it loose a little bit more. Bam is still young, he's a [redshirt] freshman, but he started camp well and then progressed that way through camp."
Overall, including special teams players, there are 11 true freshmen and another seven redshirt freshmen in the two-deep.
In addition to Boyd getting the nod at receiver, Johnson the backup to Clemmings at right tackle, and Orndoff and Parrish as backups at tight end, Carson Baker is listed as a co-backup with Shane Johnson at right guard.As for redshirt freshmen, Adam Bisnowaty--to no one's surprise--gets the nod at left tackle. In addition to Roberts as a backup at center, Chad Voytik is the backup at quarterback.
In the secondary, Trenton Coles is the backup to Lafayette Pitts, while true freshman Titus Howard backs up K'Waun Williams. Jevonte Pitts and Terrish Webb are co-backups to Jason Hendricks at strong safety, while it's Pitts and Cullen Christian as co-backups to Ray Vinopal at the free safety spot.