(Ed. note by rptgwb: Bumped from FanPosts)
I know that there's still hopefully six games left to play in '08, but I just wanted to get an early start at peeking into '09 (especially since our '08 national championship ride has taken a very significant detour). Plus, I was having this discussion with a buddy this weekend and thought I'd bring it over the the intellectuals here on RMN.
We'll be down next year, no doubt. We're losing a lot on defense (3/4 of the DL, one, maybe two starters at LB and 3/4 of the starting secondary). We have been playing quite a few younger players a lot: Jacquies looks good, Resonno and Hamilton look serviceable at worst. I'm excited about Ebner. I think Hobson and Rutland will be fine as they progress. Safety, however, does have me concerned.
And offensively, obviously we'll be breaking in a new QB, who only has to replace the most prolific passer in our program's history. We're also going to lose the best tight end in college football and one of the best WRs as well (not to mention a couple of key role players on offense). But other than that, we're fine. :) Thankfully, however, D-Wash returns and we'll bring back quite a few O-linemen. So hopefully we can ease the transition from Daniel to Gabbert with a stout running game. The WR/TEs should still be solid with a healthy (hopefully) 'Nario and Perry being the leaders. But I'm really hoping one of Jackson, Kemp, Woodland, McGaffie are able to take a big step forward and become a playmaker. Jones will be fine at TE, though expecting him to replace Coffman/Rucker production is not logical.
Around the North, Nebraska will be better next year, but they'll be breaking in a new QB. kU won't lose a terrible amount on offense, but they lose a lot on defense (not that they're very good on D this year). CU will be better, but we've scored 96 consecutive points on them in two years. Iowa State, eh. K-State will be the most experienced team in the conference (at least by the number of juniors and seniors in the two-deep), but Prince is such a clown that I don't respect his ability to actually make them be better.
Our schedule next year will also be an upgrade: We have a roadie at Nevada in the non-con (which could be a challenge). And we play Illinois (Juice will be a senior). Plus, I'm not real excited about playing Bowling Green. They're a good program and certainly have our number. Then in conference, we have roadies at OSU, CU, K-State and kU (probably won't be at Arrowhead next year). Our home games will be Texas, Baylor, Iowa State and Nebraska. With the exception of the Iowa State and possibly the Baylor (though Griffin certainly scares me) home games, I don't see any for sure wins next year out of those 10.
Personally, I'm setting my sights at getting to 7 wins and bowl eligibility. Anything more than that is gravy for me. Maybe I'm being pessimistic, but I think '09 is a growing year and then when we get to '10, we could be out the gate again in terms of competing for conference championships.
The only caveat to this is if Gabbert (or Dalton/Glaser for that matter) is truly a stud QB. I'm hopeful, but not confident. But if that's the case, then I think our overall supporting cast is still good enough (and our division will still be bad enough) to win a North Division championship. Also to add to that, our recruiting is only halfway done, so if we could get a Bryce Brown type impact player, then that could hopefully mix up the equation as well. Thoughts?