2004 overall record:
Offense: 4, Defense: 7, Kicker/punter: 1
2004 statistical leaders (* returners) Rushing: DeAngelo Williams* (1,948 yds)
Passing: Danny Wimprine (2,892 yds)
Receiving: Tavares Gideon (665 yds)
Tackles: Tim Goodwell* (106)
Sacks: Marcus West* (6)
Interceptions: Dustin Lopez* (4)
Spring answers: Williams didn't participate much in drills, but did he really need to? He's a legitimate Heisman candidate, and anybody who doesn't think so hasn't seen him play. If he does go down to injury, though, coach Tommy West feels more than confident in sophomore Joseph Doss, who put on some muscle and was outstanding this spring. Jamarcus Gaither and Brian Davis should make this a deep unit. ... The Tigers needed some answers at receiver – a position that lost four of its top five contributors. For the time being, they have them. The group that remains is big and fast. Mario Pratcher made some tremendous catches and looks like a legitimate down-the-field threat, while Maurice Avery and speedy Ryan Scott were impressive. Redshirt freshman Carlos Robinzine and JC transfer Brandon Hunt are also potential playmakers. ... Watch out for sophomore LB Greg Hinds. All three starting linebackers return, but West didn't seem thrilled with their performance this spring. Hinds should have a chance to make an impact. ... So should redshirt freshman Ryan Williams, a pleasant surprise at nose guard and certainly a candidate for a starting job. ... Your team's quarterback really shouldn't be doubling as the punter. The Tigers had no choice last year, though, and Wimprine filled in the best he could. In junior college, Michael Gibson averaged 45 yards a boot. His best will be better.
Fall questions: It all begins at quarterback, where the staff was hoping to see more from the trio looking to replace record-setting Wimprine. Junior Patrick Byrne, a smart kid who throws an accurate long ball, is the favorite at this point, but his mistakes do seem to come at bad times. Behind him are redshirt freshman Will Hudgens and early enrollee Billy Barefield, who isn't afraid to run but is pretty raw at this point. ... Can the offensive line keep it up in the fall? It was perceived as a weak spot, but G Willie Henderson is finally coming into his own and three-year starter Andrew Handy looks fine after sitting out '04 with an injury. This group needs to remain aggressive in the fall. ... Can 6-6, 320-pound Van Houston step in for Albert Means on the D-line? West wasn't thrilled with the line this spring and made it clear to the entire defense that he isn't averse to letting the August arrivals come in and play right away. ... A year after it was ranked 114th in the country, the secondary remains one of the biggest question marks. Can Lopez and O.C. Collins shut down anyone? They're not terrible, but they are inconsistent and get beat way too often. FS Wesley Smith is a proven commodity, but the Tigers are trying just about everything at all the other spots. Even walk-on safety Jake Kasser was listed with the first team for much of the spring.