Phil Steele released his comprehensive list of returning starters for 2014. Getting starters back does not guarantee success (see: Texas 2013). But, presuming other factors go as planned, continuity is a positive and the lack of it can be a major problem. Here is a brief breakdown of major implications for the five major conferences.
* Florida State lost 9 starters from 2013. But, the attrition was not as bad as it could have been. Only two of the losses were on the offensive and defensive lines. With stockpiled talent, the Seminoles should reload quickly.
* Clemson get gutted on offense, losing Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and four other starters.
* Virginia Tech finally has skill players and offensive linemen returning, as Logan Thomas graduates.
* Both Boston College and Wake Forest will be gutted, with only 10 starters returning.
* Keep an eye on Indiana. The Hoosiers have been rebuilding under Kevin Wilson. They return 18 starters (most among the five major conferences), including 10 on defense and all five offensive linemen. Will this be the year they go back to bowl play?
* Ohio State loses 10 starters from 2013, including four offensive linemen.
* Both Michigan State and Nebraska lose half their starters from 2013.
* Wisconsin has just nine starters returning, 122nd nationally. The Badgers lose their entire front seven on defense.
* No excuses for Charlie Weis in 2014. Kansas has the most returning starters in the conference, 16, including nine on defense.
* Baylor and Oklahoma State each bring back nine starters from 2013, and just four on defense, where both finished in the top in yards/play allowed.
* Oregon returns nine starters on offense, most notably Marcus Mariota. UCLA brings back eight with Brett Hundley. Both quarterbacks could be chosen Top 10 in the 2015 Draft.
* This could be a turnover year for many Pac 12 programs after a strong 2013. Washington, Arizona, Stanford, Utah and Arizona State each return 12 or fewer starters for 2014. The Sun Devils, in particular, lose eight starters on defense
* Mississippi State returns eight starters on each side of the ball, including QB Dak Prescott. That and a relatively benign schedule could mean good things during a pivotal year for Dan Mullen. They will be discussed preseason.
* Georgia loses Aaron Murray and brings back only five starters on offense. But they only lose one starter on defense, returning their entire linebacking corps and secondary for new coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.
* Tennessee loses every single starter on their offensive and defensive lines. Combined with a tough schedule, that does not bode well for Butch Jones.
* Defending SEC East Champ Missouri has the fewest returning starters in the conference, with nine.
[Photos via USA Today Sports]
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