Here’s what Phil Steele has to say about returning starters as a general rule of thumb:
… When I look at a team for the upcoming year one of the first factors I look at is the amount of returning starters. Last year there were 9 teams in the NCAA that had 18 or more returning starters and 7 of the 9 improved their record from 2006. Making the list were teams like Virginia which went from 5-7 to 9-3 and Florida Atlantic which went from 5-7 to Sun Belt Champs. Teams with 17 returning starters included Central Florida which went from 4-8 to CUSA Champs and Illinois which went from 2-10 to the Rose Bowl!!
On the other end of the spectrum there were 33 teams last year that had 12 or fewer returning starters and of the 33 only 8 managed to improve their record. Some of the less experienced teams that really dropped last year included Notre Dame which had just 9 returning starters and went from the Sugar Bowl to 3-9! Nebraska went from 9-4 to 5-7 with just 11 returning starters and Northern Illinois with 12 returnig starters went from 7-6 to 2-10.
With that in mind, locate Georgia on Steele’s list. In ’08, the Dawgs don’t play a single school which fields more returning starters. Then find Georgia Tech. (Hint: start at the other end of the list to save time.) Every school the Jackets will face this season will be more experienced. Combined with a sea change of offensive philosophy, that doesn’t sound like a formula for success this year.