WHO IS RUNNING WITH THE FIRST TEAMS
Bobby Petrino didn't hide much last year during open practices and scrimmages. He showed off new wrinkles like read option plays, tunnel screens, special package plays, and he made sure first team guys got reps together. I expect him to do the same this year. It will be very interesting to see which five linemen run together at the start of camp. It doesn't mean that those five guys will be together against Auburn, but it does say which guys they feel deserve the first shot. The first team defense will also be interesting to watch. 10 spots should be set in stone with only one of the cornerback spots somewhat up for grabs. I think Jaire Alexander and Trumaine Washington are the best bets to split time with the first team.
With Keith Towbridge out, tight end will be another spot where guys will be battling it out for playing time. Charles Standberry, Micky Crum, and Cole Hikutini are all guys that could end up as the second string tight end and first team reps is the best way to solidify that.
James Quick is the only returning wide receiver that saw significant playing time in 2014. With him moving to the slot this year, the other 12 "new" receivers on the rosters will really have to show out to stand out in such a crowded group. I personally think JaQuay Savage and Jamari Staples will get the first chance at the outside receiver spots. Alphonso Carter, Javonte Bagley, and Traveon Samuel will likely be your next group with Dontez Byrd likely forcing his way into the second group by the end of camp. The freshman class has a lot of potential, but I don't foresee anyone other than Samuel getting significant first team reps yet.
WILL THE COACHES UP THE INTENSITY?
We've already heard players point out that mistakes aren't being tolerated like they were last year. The expectations have been raised now that we're in year two with the new staff. Petrino brought in a few coaches that didn't seem to share his intense nature last year. Terrell Buckley, Lamar Thomas, and Kolby Smith are much more mellow than their boss and one can only wonder if a year with their players and a year getting comfortable in general will change that. Intense practices are something that Petrino is known for and it will be very interesting if that bleeds into the entire coaching staff and things are more frenetic this season.
WHICH OFFENSIVE SKILL PLAYER WILL BE "THE PLAYMAKER"
DeVante Parker has wowed fans for the past four years with eye-popping plays during practice. This offense needs that type of playmaker to make himself known during fall camp. They don't have to be DeVante Parker, but they have to be someone that defenses have to account for. They have to be the security blanket for Reggie Bonnafon or Will Gardner. Will it finally be James Quick? In my opinion, he will wow us with his progression but I don't know that he is the guy that will make "wow" plays. While Brandon Radcliff will be the star of the offense I think a receiver will have to make big plays without a big play running back being an option as of now.
JaQuay Savage is your best bet to be a guy that makes those big time plays down the field where he uses his size and athleticism to get the better of a defender. Savage has only played in a handful of real football games since he was in high school but he is a legit talent and he has the size to be a real red zone threat for this offense. If he can be the playmaker this offense needs this group could possible have more success than last year's team.
DOES TODD GRANTHAM MOVE A LINEBACKER DOWN TO THE DEFENSIVE LINE?
Johnny Richardson could possibly miss the season with a knee injury. If that's the case, a deep defensive line just got thinned out to six guys for three spots. That's just enough to fill out a two-deep and not enough to really get a good rotation going. One would imagine that James Hearns or Finnesse Middleton could be candidates to move donw to defensive line to provide depth for the group. I could also see Nick Dawson-Brents moving back to the defensive line because he has better size and he could also be a situational pass rusher. Six guys on the defensive line isn't anything to panic about, but it will be important to have some depth late in the season.