Just a week is left before the Cardinal take the field again - and now it looks like we'll know who will run out with the first team.
David Shaw and the coaching staff announced the winners of a few critical position battles on Thursday, including at center and outside linebacker.
The first - and perhaps most important order of business - was to name senior Khalil Wilkes the starting center. Wilkes was in a battle with Conor McFadden for the center spot, and edged out McFadden in the end. Wilkes had more in-game experience than McFadden, and took home the three-way competition after Kevin Danser played his way into the right guard spot.
Therefore, the offensive line will look like this:
LT Andrus Peat - Sophomore, 6-foot-7, 312 lbs
LG David Yankey - Senior, 6-foot-5, 313 lbs, 2012 All-American
C Khalil Wilkes - RS Senior, 6-foot-3, 286 lbs
RG Kevin Danser - RS Senior, 6-foot-6, 296 lbs
RT Cameron Fleming - Senior, 6-foot-6, 318 lbs
That's a strong, veteran o-line that should gel almost right away and give Kevin Hogan and the running backs all the help they need.
The one concern now is making sure that the young linemen further down on the depth chart get some playing time, but we all know that shouldn't be too big of an issue. After all, this is a team that happily trots out 7 or 8 offensive linemen at times.
Vaughters was a high-profile recruit and it's no surprise that he won the job, especially considering that Lueders was hurt last season. (As a side note, Vaughters, like Thomas, is a Georgia native. The Peach State rules at OLB.)
Meanwhile, junior Wayne Lyons earned the job as the starting cornerback opposite Alex Carter. Now, the defensive backfield appears to be an extremely strong unit: Carter - SS Jordan Richards - FS Ed Reynolds - CB Wayne Lyons
On special teams, senior Ben Rhyne will be the starting punter, while Ty Montgomery will return kickoffs. Again, neither one is a shock, given that Rhyne punted in the Pac-12 title game against UCLA and Montgomery has flashed his skills as a kick returner in the past - including his kick return for a touchdown against Washington State two years ago.