10 College Football Teams Who'll Struggle to Overcome Loss of Senior Leadership
Every year departing seniors leave voids on rosters that are difficult to replace. Experience is a major factor in college football, and losing a lot of it at once hurts no matter how much talent remains on roster.
Ten teams will struggle mightily heading into the new year as they look to replace a host of key seniors from the 2012 team. Some were award winners and finalists, while others filled roles with their teams for the past four years.
Here is a look at the teams that will struggle to replace the senior leadership heading into the 2013 season.
Kansas State Wildcats
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Kansas State will lose nine of 11 starters when it heads into spring practice. The Wildcats will also lose star quarterback Collin Klein, receiver Chris Harper and tight end Travis Tannahill.
The 2013 season is going to be an extremely tough transition year for Bill Snyder’s squad.
To make matters worse for Kansas State, most rising stars have little to no experience and are predominately underclassmen. While that will grow experience for the future, the next season may be one of the worst in recent memory since Snyder’s re-arrival.
West Virginia Mountaineers
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The West Virginia Mountaineers have put together one of the best offenses in the country over the past few years with senior Geno Smith leading the charge.
Alongside Smith were receivers J.D. Woods and Tavon Austin. Both guys helped usher in the new era of play in Morgantown.
When those three offensive players depart, West Virginia will lose virtually all of its offense.
On defense West Virginia is losing four starters including leader Terence Garvin at linebacker. The blow to the defense will be tough, especially considering how woeful its play was this past fall.
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This past year, Vanderbilt put together the best season in Nashville since the 1940’s. The Commodores were a scrappy unit that was often outmanned, but found ways to outplay its opponents.
The Dores lose nine starters overall, including quarterback Jordan Rodgers and star running back Zac Stacy. They also lose both interior guards along the offensive line.
On defense Vanderbilt will depart with a number of key players, but the biggest loss will come along the line. The Commodores will lose both starting defensive tackles and starting end Johnell Thomas.
Replacing this amount of talent will be tough in one year. The Commodores will dip in 2013, but they will return in short order.
San Diego State Aztecs
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San Diego State has been on a steady climb in college football over the past few years, but after this season, it will struggle to keep the success constant. The Aztecs lose seven starting seniors off the roster with the biggest loss coming on offensive line.
The Aztecs will lose three linemen—all of which play on the interior. Losing talent like that will hurt the ground game that has helped the resurgence.
Both starting corners also depart, leaving underclassmen to take over the outside of the defense. It will be a transition stage for the team, but the overall talent will help it earn some wins despite the roster losses.
N.C. State Wolfpack
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Mike Glennon may have been a spotty player at times in his career, but his departure leaves a major hole for the Wolfpack offense. He was a great leader for the offense over the past two seasons and will leave a gap in the offense.
The Wolfpack also lose key receiver Tobais Palmer and tight end Mario Carter.
Both starting safeties depart from the defense, leaving gaps in the pass defense for the Wolfpack. This will be a tough transition year for an up-and-down N.C. State squad.
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The Wolverines lose the most electric player in recent memory after this season with the departure of Denard Robinson. He wasn’t the best quarterback in his senior season, but his talents made him a threat at running back.
His leadership and electric play will be impossible to replace.
An even bigger loss is along the offensive line where the Wolverines will lose with three starters—all interior offensive linemen.
Having all new guards and a new center will be a tough transition for this team. It should result in some struggles in the Big Ten next season.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
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The Bulldogs were in a great place this season sitting at 7-0 before the Alabama game, but it all fell apart and the team lost five of its last six games. The senior leadership fell apart for the team.
Still, losing defenders like Corey Broomfield and Cameron Lawrence will be tough to overcome. The Bulldogs have relied on those players to lock down offenses over the past three years.
Mississippi State also loses explosive receiver and return man Chad Bumphis. Chris Smith and Arceto Clark also depart from the receiver corps.
Dan Mullen will struggle as he attempts to replace the major playmakers on offense and defense.
Kent State Golden Flashes
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Kent State lost half its defensive front, and half two-thirds of its starting linebacking corps after the 2012 season. There is a lot of experience that waits to replace the departing seniors, but it will still be a huge loss for the team.
On offense starting quarterback Spencer Keith is out, and both starting offensive tackles will be gone to graduation.
Add in the loss of receiver Eric Adeyemi and it’s easy to see why the Golden Flashes so desperately wanted the BCS this season—the prospect looks bleak heading into 2013.
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Oklahoma loses its four-year starter at quarterback with the graduation of Landry Jones this year. He departs with three-year starting left tackle Lane Johnson and receiver Justin Brown.
The Sooners also lose three of four starters along the defensive line and four key contributors at linebacker and in the secondary.
Bob Stoops will have a chore on his hands as he tries to replace the talent that is departing after this season. There are also early departures that will thin out the 2013 roster.
For the first time in many years, the Sooners may not start the year as a favorite in the Big 12.
Southern California Trojans
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Southern Cal is loaded with young talent, but there are a number of key senior departures that are coming with the end of the 2012 season.
Matt Barkley is the most obvious departure that will hurt the Trojans, but losses on defense like T.J. McDonald and Jawanza Starling will be huge.
Starting center Khaled Holmes is also gone after this season. The Trojans are handcuffed with scholarship sanctions so the signings that occur in February have to count.
Look for the secondary and skill positions to be big focus points for the Kiffin staff.