Homerism's first stab at a preliminary 2009 power poll was done under the assumption that OU would sustain significant losses to the NFL draft. In fact, I figured that Sam Bradford, Jermaine Gresham, Trent Williams and Gerald McCoy would be playing on Sundays in the fall.
Obviously, their return changes things. The biggest question in Homerism's mind is whether the Sooners should be ranked second or third. While I suspect OU will have a better overall team than Texas next year, Mack Brown and Colt McCoy seem to have turned the tide in the Red River Rivalry. This is a power poll, though, so Homerism has the Sooners checking in at number two. The eye test tells me that OU is simply better.
Blatant Homerism Still Blatantly Premature Power Poll for 2009
No change here. Percy Harvin's departure shouldn't hurt the offense too badly, as the Gators have plenty of weapons to fill in. Brandon Spikes or Tim Tebow leaving would have struck a far bigger blow to Florida's hopes to repeat.
No team came away from the early entrant deadline looking like a bigger winner than OU. The Sooners are bringing back nine defensive starters, and that doesn't include players like Mike Balogun, who filled in at linebacker when Austin Box--who was filling in for Ryan Reynolds--went down. The lack of defensive depth that burned OU in 2008 won't be an issue. Losses on the offensive line and at wide receiver won't have as big of an impact as the pundits believe.
The Longhorns fall a spot through no fault of their own. Keeping Sergio Kindle on campus one more year should help offset the loss of DE Brian Orakpo.
No team is in a better position to bounce back from early attrition than the Trojans. QB Mark Sanchez would have triggered a potent offensive attack next year, but the drop-off between Sanchez and Aaron Corp or Mitch Mustain shouldn't be too steep. The return of S Taylor Mays should help the defense transition.
5. Virginia Tech
The Hokies came on strong at the end of the 2008 season. Tech has a talented and athletic signal caller in Tyrod Taylor, and running back Darren Evans is back to build on a strong debut. Coach Frank Beamer has shown that his defense is predicated on a lunch pail mentality, rather than a system of stars.
6. Ohio State
I know, I know--Ohio State lost a ton in this offseason. In Terrelle the Buckeyes should trust. Pryor influence on OSU's offensive scheme and play calling likely will be huge in his second year under center. And that's a good thing.
Jeff Tedford's team played better football in 2008 than it was given credit for. The Golden Bears return Hesiman candidate Jahvid Best at running back and their entire starting secondary. The defense must replace three starters at linebacker. Cal is one of three or four teams vying to end USC's stranglehold on the Pac-10.
The Ducks are another challenger to 'SC. The Oregon O will continue to rack up yards and points behind QB Jeremiah Masoli and RB LeGarrette Blount, despite heavy losses at receiver and along the O-line. Finding players to step in for departed DE Nick Reed and S Patrick Chung will be key.
9. Florida State
Homerism keeps waiting for the Seminoles' return to glory. Might as well keep putting it out there, because it's bound to hit once. FSU has plenty of talent on offense, including rock-solid QB Christian Ponder. Lots of losses on defense, in addition to superstar punter/kicker Graham Gano.
Homerism hates putting too much emphasis on the previous season's bowl performance; that's not why the Tigers are here. LSU simply has too much skill to stay down for long. New coordinator John Chavis looks like a good candidate to shore up a leaky defense. Meanwhile, QB Jordan Jefferson and RB Charles Scott should continue to chew up yards in Gary Crowton's version of the pistol offense.
On the cusp: Oklahoma State, Boise State, Ole Miss, Alabama, Oregon State.
Update: Dr. Saturday takes the pulse of preseason polls.