The biggest notable might be Vaughn Telemaque listed as starter at safety, where he was co-starter with Ray-Ray Armstrong last weekend.
Armstrong returned from a four-game suspension, with two standout plays against Virginia Tech – a fumble recovery, as well as a pass interference on third down, which kept a drive alive and eventually resulted in a Hokies touchdown.
Another returnee who’s been “demoted” is Seantrel Henderson, who was listed as a co-starter last week with right tackle Jonathan Feliciano. Henderson is listed as second team this week. Same for Malcolm Bunche, who is second team behind Brandon Washington at left tackle instead of co-starter.
Defensive line remains a game of musical chairs. Marcus Forston is off the depth chart, due to a season-ending injury, leaving a very depleted left tackle position. JUCO transfer Darius Smith is the new starter, with freshman Olsen Pierre as the number two and true freshman Corey King at the three.
Building on the Virginia Tech recap and talk of a depleted defense, this week’s depth chart continues bringing that point home. Freshmen and JUCO transfers being heavily relied on while upperclassmen are either underachieving or under performing.
Redshirt sophomore and converted linebacker Shayon Green is starting at left end, ahead of senior Marcus Robinson. Green has virtually zero experience at the position but has beaten out a seasoned veteran.
At defensive end, it’s freshman Anthony Chickillo getting the start. Behind him it’s co-starters – freshman Jalen Gimble and senior Andrew Smith. Another case where two newbies are outperforming the upperclassman.
Telemaque and Armstrong are two veterans in the secondary, but the rest of the defensive backs are depleted. JoJo Nicolas gets the start at free safety, but seemingly so more for attitude, knowledge and leadership over anything else. He’s backed up by quarterback-to-safety convert AJ Highsmith and co-back up Tyrone Cornelius.
At cornerback it’s Brandon McGee still ahead of Kacy Rogers on one side, while on the other the starter is a transfer (Mike Williams), a running-back-to-corner convert (Lee Chambers) and a true freshman (Thomas Finnie) are listed as co-second string.
Linebacker is a mishmash, as well. Sean Spence is your veteran at weakside, backed by true freshman Denzel Perryman. At middle it’s still a black hole, void of leadership and experience as sophomore Jimmy Gaines is your starter and true freshman Gionni Paul is the back up. As strong-side, long-time back up Jordan Futch and sophomore Kelvin Cain are co-starters.
In due time, many of these underclassmen defenders could turn out to be stars, but right now there are a lot of green, inexperienced kids out there who are learning on the job. A baptism by fire as opposed to being eased in and learning from talented, veteran upperclassmen.
Unfortunately it is what it is and that isn’t going to change. You simply hope the young guys pick it up quick, while older plays find a second wind and can turnaround or save a lackluster career, en route to picking up some wins and playing better defense.
2-3 and headed to North Carolina looking for another win. Onward and upward.