Well, the hope is that last year's disaster was the result of the three season-ending injuries and not the coaching/schemes and that everything would have looked like the UAB game had everyone been healthy.
This "group", as you say, has never played together. And certainly not as seniors and sophomores. Again, it's just hope until it happens, but I would say the hope for this season is that everyone getting a year older + getting Abrams, Thorne, and Black back = night and day difference.
And if it doesn't, Josh Whitman knows what to do.