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NCAA POWER 25 – 2017 WEEK 3

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Colorado St. 41-23. The Rams scored some garbage TDs in the 4th quarter that made the final score appear closer than it actually was. This is the Alabama formula on full display. So far the Tide have ran the ball 120 times compared to 66 rushing attempts. It was the same against Colorado State. I’m surprised the defense is allowing 13.3PPG, but as you saw against Florida St., when the defense shows up fully motivated, opposing offenses don’t score.
#2 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Tulane 56-14. Tulane actually played pretty well in the first quarter being tied with the Sooners 14-14, but over the next 3 quarters, Oklahoma outscored the Green Wave 42-0! The Baker Mayfield show was on full display as he went 17/27 for 331yds/4TD without a pick. Mayfield is on pace for 4,881 yards/47TD. Given what happened to Kansas St. on Saturday & TCU giving up 30+ to SMU, it really looks like Bedlam! is the only thing standing from 12-0!
#3 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Louisville 47-21. Back to back wins against Auburn & Louisville with Louisville being played on the road is easily the most impressive two weeks of football by any team in the nation thus far & Clemson could definitely make a case for being the #1 team in the nation. The Tigers defense flexed hard last night against Lamar Jackson recording 4 sacks, 7 tackles for loss & 5 passes defended. Kelly Bryant is playing well & at this point I don’t see a weakness.
#4 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Texas 27-24 (2OT). How good is USC? It needed double OT to beat a Texas team that gave up 51 to Maryland in their season opener. Yes the Stanford win looks good but Stanford just lost to San Diego State! USC also had a little bit of trouble against a 1-2 W.Michigan squad. I think the reason you rank the Trojans high is because of Sam Darnold. There is enough talent here to never get blown out & I don’t think you bet against Darnold in a close game.
#5 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Georgia St. 56-0. Another week another blow out win for the Nittany Lions but at this point who have they really beat? Two of their wins have come against Georgia St. & Akron. The other against a Pittsburgh team that was destroyed by Oklahoma State. Those 3 teams have a combined record of 2-6 & none of them are a bowl team. Yes Saquon Barkley is on pace for at least 2400 yards from scrimmage but good grief Penn St. play a decent opponent!
#6 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Air Force 29-13. The academies are a lot tougher than people imagine & Air Force is a pretty good football team that can run the football. They tried like crazy to get things going on the ground against Michigan, but the Falcons only managed 168 yards on 49 carries which translates into a great showing defensively for the Wolverines. Wilton Speight is going to have to make some plays at some point though. The Florida wins looks really good now.
#7 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Fresno St. 48-16. Last week Fresno St. faced Alabama! This week they had Washington! They got two playoff teams in back to back week & were outscored 89-26. In some ways that feels like a win! The average score is 45-13 and it seems as if the Bulldogs should have been beaten by a greater margin. QB Jake Browning was almost perfect in this game going 19/22 for 255yds/4TD & no picks. Washington hasn’t played anyone yet, but Colorado is up next.
#8 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Pittsburgh 59-21. Is #10 too low for the Cowboys? Last week Penn St. hosted Pittsburgh and beat the Panthers by 19 points. This week Oklahoma St. travels to Pittsburgh and beats them by 38. Mason Rudolph finally threw an interception yesterday but he also almost threw for 500 yards & had 5TD. The Cowboys had 4 receivers go over 100yds & Justice Hill ran for 2TD and 91yds. The weapons are outstanding here & OK-State should probably be top-5.
#9 Computer Hope Last Week Beat BYU 40-6. Brigham Young is terrible & they have no offense, but the Badgers are completely thrashing teams at this point. Have they played anyone yet? Not really, but Alex Hornibrook is a darn near perfect QB & the Badgers can run with Jonathan Taylor & Chris James. The Badgers are always going to be able to run so if Hornibrook doesn’t make mistakes, they’ll be fine. How about the LB crew from Wisconsin? TJ Edwards, Chris Orr & Leon Jacobs?!!!
#10 Computer Hope Last Week Beat LSU 37-7. WOW! I thought the Bulldogs could win this game in Starkville and I also am getting the feeling that this team has a chance to mimic what the 2014 team did when they were the #1 ranked team in the nation. This wasn’t just a win. It was a THRASHING of a team with ELITE level talent. I know we can get caught in Nick Fitzgerald or Aeris Williams, but the Bulldogs O-Line has been spectacular this season. Next week at Georgia is CRAZY!
#11 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Army 38-7. I’m not sure you can get up too much over this win. Sure JT Barrett looked great, but he’s always going to look great against inferior opponents. Ohio St. was going up against a bunch of 1-2 star guys and they ran wild which isn’t surprising. I like Army and like the Navy & Air Force they try to get after you with their running game with that triple option attack, but the Buckeyes are too fast for that to be very effective. We didn’t learn too much.
#12 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Samford 42-14. The win in South Bend looks good with the Irish rebounding against Boston College. Jake Fromm might have taken the starting QB position from Jake Eason & isn’t looking back. The true frosh QB went 8/13 for 165yds/3TD in a game where Nick Chubb flashed his old self running for 131yds/2TD on just 16 carries. No Sony Michel but UGA played a little smash mouth running it 54 times. Fromm is 2-0 as a starter with a 5:1 TD:INT ratio.
#13 Computer Hope Last Week Game No Game. The Seminoles had another week off before they resume playing next week when they host NC State. That’s an interesting game for the Seminoles as true freshman James Blackman gets the nod at QB & will be facing a pretty stout defensive line from the Wolfpack. NC State had a tough opening loss to South Carolina but have rebounded to win two straight so they’ll be ready to go while FSU might have a little rust from their layoff.
#14 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Mercer 24-10. Not overly dominant but Auburn went off script a bit by passing the ball so much. This almost felt like a game where War Eagle was working out some kinks on offense. Jarrett Stidham threw the ball 37 times which is never going to happen in big games, but he completed 32 of them (86.5%) although he didn’t find the endzone. Nine receivers caught the ball with 8 of them having multiple catches. They are still a solid playoff possibility.
#15 Computer Hope Last Week Beat East Carolina 64-17. Sometimes things make sense. Virginia Tech beat West Virginia. Both teams played East Carolina in back to back weeks. West Virginia beat the Pirates by 36. Virginia Tech beat them by 47. It works out! Virginia Tech is going to run you into the ground & D up against the run, but QB Josh Jackson can make some plays & I think this is what separates the Hokies. They get Clemson & play Miami-FL on the road but 10-2 is the floor.
#16 Computer Hope Last Week Beat SMU 56-36. Give up 7 points to Arkansas on the road, come back home and give up 36 points to SMU? TCU’s defense looked abysmal. No sacks. Just 3 tackles for loss. The Mustangs racked up almost 500 total yards of offense & only had the ball for 26 minutes! The Horned Frogs offense did show up. Kenny Hill threw for 4TD and the TCU rushing attack ran for 254yds/3TD! TCU plays at Oklahoma St. next week & if they just gave up 36 to SMU? Scary.
#17 Computer Hope Last Week Game No Game. Like Florida St., Miami-FL hasn’t played since Week 1 and they’ll finally get back on the field next week when they host a Toledo squad who has started out 3-0 & is playing pretty good football. Rockets QB Logan Woodside is a player so the Hurricanes will have to defend against him, but Toledo’s defense has looked pretty bad all season so I’m guessing the ultra athletic skill players in Miami won’t have any issues getting loose.
#18 Computer Hope Last Week Lost to Mississippi St. 7-37. WOW! I thought Mississippi St. would win this game, but by 30 points!? LSU’s defense was absolutely shredded in this game. Aeris Williams ran for 146 yards on 23 carries. Nick Fitzgerald chipped in 88 & 2TD on 14 carries. Derrius Guice ran well for LSU but the Tigers didn’t have the ball much. I also think this was a good example of LSU not creating turnovers on defense. I’m not selling on LSU completely but this was a red flag.
#19 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Wyoming 49-13. The win over Nebraska last week doesn’t look nearly as good as it did when it happened now that the Cornhuskers dropped a home game to Northern Illinois! That being said, the Ducks still ran wild over an over-matched Wyoming squad and the defense made Josh Allen look terrible. Royce Freeman had over 2ooyds from scrimmage & Justin Herbert completed 62% for 251yds. The offense is averaging 56PPG which ranks #3!
#20 Computer Hope Last Week Lost to Clemson 21-47. So you lose to Clemson? If the Tigers are ranked #3 then Louisville has an argument for being the #5 team in the nation after Clemson, Oklahoma, Alabama & Auburn. They still have the most electric QB in the country and the defense is super athletic. The Florida St. game will pose a problem because it’s in Tallahassee, but it’s going to be hard for the Redbirds not to finish 10-2 with a shot at an 11-2 season. They are THIS close however.
#21 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Tennessee 26-20. The 63-yard pass from Feleipe Franks to Tyrie Cleveland on the last play of the game to win it was total bananas. The Gators almost threw it away up 20-10 with 5 minutes left in the 4th only to see Tennessee pull off the miracle comeback to tie it up. I think this gives Florida quite a bit of confidence & watching them, you just can’t get away from how extraordinarily athletic this team is. The loss to Michigan stinks, but it was Michigan!
#22 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Oregon St. 52-23. Luke Falk went out of his mind against the Beavers throwing for 396 yards & 6TD on 37/49 (75.5%) passing. Oregon St. isn’t great but neither is Montana & the Cougars beat both of them. Throw in the 3-point win over Boise St. and Wazzou has started 3-0 against teams they should beat. This is a big deal. Washington St. hasn’t started a season 3-0 since 2005. Don’t sleep on the defense either. Not fantastic but very opportunistic.
#23 Computer Hope Last Week No Game. The Terrapins got the week off after great wins against Texas & Towson. The Texas win looks fantastic now that the Longhorns went into the Coliseum and took USC to double overtime. Texas probably wins that game if not for the strip fumble in 2OT that gave USC the ball only needing to score. If you rank USC as the #4 team in then nation, then Maryland makes a good case for being in the top-10. Should be 4-0 when they visit Columbus.
#24 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Boston College 49-20. The Irish rush offense went absolutely crazy against BC rushing for 515 yards on 51 carries with 7TD! RB Josh Adams led the way with 229yds on just 18 carries but QB Brandon Wimbush also chipped in 207yds on 21 carries! This has to give ND & especially Wimbush a lot of confidence, but last week against Georgia you saw ND struggle. To me this is where the Irish are. Good enough to win some games, but not against the elite.
#25 Computer Hope Last Week Beat South Carolina 23-13. I might have been higher on South Carolina more than anyone outside of Columbia, so if Kentucky can go into South Carolina and get a 23-13 win, I have to reward the Wildcats who ran their record to 3-0. I thought UK would be pretty good this year & may even challenge in the SEC East but troubles with E.Kentucky & Southern Miss early spelled disaster. Then they beat South Carolina & now what? Can they beat Florida next?

DROPPING OUT

#11 STANFORD CARDINAL: Losing to San Diego State? Really Stanford? What has Stanford really done this year to be honest? They blew out a terrible Rice team before losing back to back games against USC & San Diego State. USC had trouble with Western Michigan and Texas took them to OT. This same Texas team that gave up 51 to Maryland in Austin! USC blew out the Cardinal so where does that put Stanford? Behind Texas? Behind Western Michigan? Stanford’s defense could not get off the field! At this point Stanford is completely wasting an AMAZING season from RB Bryce Love who nobody can stop at this point. These first 3 games couldn’t have gone worse.

#16 SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS: Losing at home to Kentucky!? Kentucky!!?!?!?!!? Carolina didn’t really have an answer for Kentucky’s running game. They couldn’t get off the field on 3rd down and the Kentucky rush defense was excellent. Deebo Samuel broke his leg late in the game and is now out for the year which is a CRUSHING blow to this offense moving forward. Carolina was a little sloppy as well with turnovers and penalties. This went from a year of infinite possibilities to one of distinct questions in the span of a Saturday afternoon. What a tough loss to take and now the season is in jeopardy.

#22 UCLA BRUINS: Riley Ferguson is a decent QB, but in his first game of the year against UL-Monroe, Ferguson was 10/25 for 97 yards and an interception with no TD passes. In his 2nd game of the year against UCLA, Ferguson goes 23/38 for 398 yards & 6TD to just one pick and outplays potential #1 overall draft pick Josh Rosen! The Bruins defense is giving up 38.3PPG and is complete garbage at this point. It sounds absolutely crazy given the talent level on this squad, but UCLA legitimately could go 4-8/3-9. Next year is going to be wild because Rosen will enter the NFL Draft and I think Jim Mora is looking for a job. Crazy times.

#24 KANSAS ST. WILDCATS: You can’t be taken seriously if you travel to Vanderbilt and lose 14-7. K-State ran the ball for over 200 yards and still lost this football game. The Wildcats had more total yards, more first time, greater time of possession and more rushing yards. And lost. Terrible. Assuming they can’t win road games, KSU has at least 3 more losses and play Oklahoma at home meaning another L which limits them to an at best 7-5 record with home games against West Virginia & Texas Tech potentially preventing them from a bowl game. Goodness! A loss to Vanderbilt!?

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September 17, 2017 Posted by | ACC, Alabama, Auburn, Big 10, Big XII, Clemson, Florida, Florida St., Georgia, Kansas St., Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Miami-FL, Michigan, Mississippi St., NCAA, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Oregon, Pac 12, Penn St., Power 25, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, TCU, UCLA, USC, Virginia Tech, Washington, Washington St., Week 3, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

NCAA POWER 25 – 2017 WEEK 2

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Fresno St. 41-10. I think the most surprising aspect of this game is that Fresno St. scored 10 points against Alabama’s defense after the Tide only surrendered 7 points last week to Florida State. Another surprise of this game is Alabama only getting 1 sack and 3 tackles for loss against a severely outmatched Bulldogs squad. It almost seems like the Tide were going in slow motion. QB Jalen Hurts threw for 128yds and also ran for 154yds and had 3 total TDs.
#2 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Ohio St. 31-16. QB Baker Mayfield put on a CLINIC in Columbus taking down the #2 team in the nation. Mayfield passed for 386yds/3TD without a single mistake & completed 77% of his passes! He’s the Heisman leader at this point. The bigger picture is Oklahoma’s O-Line completely shutting down the Buckeyes pass rush! Good grief that was an impressive performance. If you can’t get to Mayfield, you can’t stop this offense & you can’t stop OU!
#3 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Auburn 14-6. Forget that Clemson only scored 14 points. Auburn is a helluva football team. Focus instead on Clemson recording a RIDICULOUS 11 sacks and 14 tackles for loss. And that was a solid Auburn O-Line. Before the season Phil Steele rated Auburn’s O-Line as the 8th best unit in the nation. That speaks to the strength of this Clemson defense. That D-Line is INSANE & after Saturday, a Clemson/Oklahoma title game seems very tantalizing!
#4 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Stanford 42-24. After the Western Michigan game I wasn’t sure about USC, but the tape of the WMU game showed Sam Darnold as sharp as he was last season. That showed up against Stanford as Darnold threw for 316yds/4TD while completing 81% of his passes! USC found a compliment to Ronald Jones in true frosh Stephen Carr who like Jones ran for 100yds. Deontay Burnett can’t be stopped & the Trojans O-Line was outstanding. Incredible win!
#5 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Pittsburgh 33-14. I thought coming into the season that if Penn St. had somewhat of a weakness it might be the edge rushing unit but Shareef Miller flashed a bit against Pittsburgh LT Brian O’Neill who is considered one of the best LTs in the nation. Penn St. now has 8 sacks on the year & they’ve given up just one. You can’t read too much into that because all they’ve played is PITT and Akron, but if the pass rush keeps up this pace, then there’s no weakness.
#6 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Cincinnati 36-14. This game was quite a bit closer than the final score indicates. Michigan was up only 14-7 after the first quarter and after 3 quarters the Wolverines led 24-14. Hayden Moore & Mike Boone would come up with a big play here and then while Michigan never really broke the game open. Michigan’s defense is swarming & the duo of Rashan Gary & Maurice Hurst is incredible, but QB Wilton Speight is going to have to play quite a bit better.
#7 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Chattanooga 45-10. So far, LSU is playing EXACTLY like they need to. QB Danny Etling had another solid game & so far he’s completing 71% of his passes with 1TD. He’s throwing 15-16 passes per game. RB Derrius Guice is on pace to rush for 1,456yds/26TD. LSU is running the football 52 times per game. At some point Etling will have to make plays, but if LSU can get a 7-0 or 14-3 lead, this team is ready made to salt games away. Stay the course!
#8 Computer Hope Last Week Lost to Oklahoma 16-31. Not sure what to make of the Buckeyes getting slaughtered in Columbus! I didn’t think the Sooners could win this game and only did they win, they won by 2TDs on the road! I think the take away from this one is that Ohio St. is limited at their QB position and at receiver. JT Barrett is limited & I don’t think Paris Campbell can be a #1 WR against elite teams. At least not this season. The D-Line also only had 2 sacks. Very curious.
#9 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Montana 63-7. The Huskies looked a lot sharper this week against the Grizzlies than they did last week against Rutgers. I thought UW’s defense played extremely well in getting pressure on the Montana offense and collapsing the pocket. I think Washington’s offense is still finding it’s way. Losing WR John Ross seems to be having an effect as Washington doesn’t seem to have that dangerous weapon that can take the top off a defense. They need that guy.
#10 Computer Hope Last Week Beat S. Alabama 44-7. The Cowboys didn’t meet much resistance from South Alabama & to be honest I thought Oklahoma St. used the game to get some guys game experience. He’s not getting tons of media attention but QB Mason Rudolph at this point is on pace to throw for 4,147 yards & 39TD with 0 picks while completing 73% of his passes. With Oklahoma beating Ohio State, if Oklahoma St. runs the table, Rudolph is going to make a big case for the Heisman.
#11 Computer Hope Last Week Lost to USC 24-42. Wow! Talk about a shock! Stanford’s defense was downright awful against the Trojans offense allowing USC to go 10 of 12 on 3rd down which gave the Trojans a 10 minute advantage on time of possession. QB Keller Chryst was decent. RB Bryce Love was exceptional running for 160yds on just 17 carries, but the Cardinal couldn’t stop USC & couldn’t get them off the field. Stanford was even +2 in TO margin. Stanford needs to tighten up that defense.
#12 Computer Hope Last Week Game against Louisiana Monroe cancelled. FSU cancelled their game against UL-Monroe due to the impending disaster known as Hurricane Irma. The Seminoles were 34.5 point favorites in this one so I doubt it would have been much of a game, but it would have give new QB and true freshman James Blackman some game experience. FSU doesn’t play again until 9/23.
#13 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Florida Atlantic 31-14. This is a helluva football team. I thought Wisconsin would suffer a bit after the players they lost due to graduation/NFL. So far they haven’t. True freshman Jonathan Taylor is on pace to rush for close to 1900 yards & he wasn’t even slated to start coming into the season. QB Alex Hornibrook has been solid & TE Troy Fumagalli looks like an All-American. The Badgers should be 10-0 when they lost Michigan on November 18th.
#14 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Notre Dame 20-19. Fast. That is one word I kept coming back to when watching Georgia play Notre Dame Saturday night. The game wasn’t as close as the final score would indicate if you watched the game. The Bulldogs completely shut down the Irish running game, and their edge rushers consistently beat the vaunted Irish O-Line. Georgia was extremely sloppy with turnovers & penalties. If they clean that up they might of won this game by 15-20 points.
#15 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Arkansas 28-7. This was a fantastic win for TCU made especially so because it was a true road game in Fayetteville, and also a game Arkansas desperately needed to win. The Horned Frogs defense made life miserable for Arkansas QB Austin Allen for the entire game & they also did a good job stopping the Razorbacks running game. TCU ran the ball well giving Arkansas a taste of their own medicine. QB Kenny Hill has to play better though. He was a bit rough.
#16 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Missouri 31-13. Quit sleeping on the Gamecocks!!! Amazingly enough Missouri opened as 4-point favorites in this game. The line closed to Mizzou by 2.5, but SC covered that with ease with a convincing 18 point victory on the road! It was ludicrous to think Missouri could win just because they put up 70 points on Missouri State, but South Carolina is for real. I think their first two wins over NC State & Missouri are solid. QB Jake Bentley is the real deal.
#17 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Delaware 27-0. Sort of a ho-hum game for the Hokies after a thrilling win over West Virginia the week before. Tossing a shutout is always a nice thing and edge rusher Tremaine Edwards was an absolute monster in this game, but I would have liked to have seen the offense get a little looser than it did against the Hens. Games like this happen. You are playing lesser competition and it’s hard for the kids to get up for it. They get East Carolina next week.
#18 Computer Hope Last Week Lost to Clemson 6-14. I’m not sure you can read too much into this loss. Clemson might actually be the best team in the nation and Auburn lost to them on the road by 8 points. That’s hardly cause for concern. If anything, Auburn has to realize that they need QB Jarrett Stidham to make some plays when opponents take away the run. They have plenty of time to work that out before hosting Alabama on November 25th. The next test will be traveling to LSU.
#19 Computer Hope Last Week Game against Arkansas St. Cancelled. Like Florida St., the Hurricanes cancelled their game this week although Miami-FL was slated to play in Arkansas instead of hosting the Red Wolves. Miami doesn’t play against until 9/23 but a possible 11-0 season is on the table as Florida St. now looks vulnerable without Deondre Francois as their starting QB.
#20 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Nebraska 42-35. Oregon couldn’t get anything going in the 2nd half against Nebraska, but the Ducks outscored the Huskers 42-14 in the 1st half so you could see how they might be thinking about salting the game away & holding on for dear life. What stood out to me was how explosive Oregon is on offense & that the O-line did a good job keeping QB Justin Herbert upright. There is a lot of experience on this team & I think they can win a lot of games.
#21 Computer Hope Last Week Beat North Carolina 47-35. Two things are certain from Louisville’s first couple of games. The first is that this team can’t play a lick of defense. Purdue put 28 on them followed up by the Tar Heels scoring 35. Those teams aren’t prolific offensively. That’s going to be a problem. The other certainty is that Lamar  Jackson is unstoppable. He’s on pace right now to throw for over 5,000 yards, run for over 1500 yards & have 52 combined touchdowns. Good grief!
#22 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Hawaii 56-23. Josh Rosen picked up right where he left off completing 22 of 25 passes for 329 yards & 5TD! So far on the season Rosen is 57/84 (68%) for 820 yards & 9TD without an interception. That’s insane. He’s on pace for almost 60TD! UCLA did a better job running the football although the Rainbows defense isn’t exactly Texas A&M. The Bruins have to work out some kinks on defense but they get another week before having to go to Stanford.
#23 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Louisiana Tech 57-21. The battle of the Bulldogs wasn’t much of a battle. Mississippi St. led 36-14 at halftime & 57-14 after the 3rd quarter before LA Tech scored a garbage TD in the 3rd quarter. Both Nick Fitzgerald and Aeris Williams ran for over 100 yards in a dominant performance. Hail State has a telling 3-game slate beginning next week as they play LSU, Georgia & Auburn in secession. They could easily lose all 3 games & still be a top-20 team.
#24 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Charlotte 55-7. I was a little late to the Kansas St. bandwagon but so far they’ve been dominant. They haven’t played anyone but so far they’re scoring 55 points per game and there is something to be said for dominating the teams you are supposed to. Go ask Baylor about being 0-2! QB Jesse Ertz is playing well and the receivers are making big plays. They are playing flawless football at this point. They haven’t committed a turnover & average just 5 penalties/G!
#25 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Towson 63-17. QB Tyrrell Pigrome missed this game with an injury but the Terps still rolled to a 63-17 win over Towson. This was nothing special to be honest. Maryland should beat Towson by 50 points, but like I said, there is something to be said for dominating teams you are supposed to. Ty Johnson GOT LOOSE again running for 124 yards on just 5 carries. Johnson is on pace for 1,664 rushing yards averaging 15.1ypc! That’s absolutely bananas!

DROPPING OUT

#19 NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH: Notre Dame is in a very tough spot. If you watched the game against Georgia then it was certainly obvious that Notre Dame wasn’t nearly as athletic or fast as Georgia was. It wasn’t as bad as when the Irish played Alabama in the 2012 National Championship game, but it was obvious just the same. When looked through this prism, the Irish are going to have an extremely difficult time with North Carolina, USC, NC State, Wake Forest, Miami-FL, & Stanford. Even a game against Navy won’t be easy and all of a sudden the Irish could be 5-7 or even 4-8 this season. As a Notre Dame fan, I’m going to say what we all don’t want to hear. Notre Dame has already peaked under Brian Kelly and I think Kelly might be out after this season. It might be an overreaction to a depressing loss in a game the Irish should have won, but I don’t see a way out for Notre Dame. I think big change is coming.

September 10, 2017 Posted by | ACC, Alabama, Auburn, Big 10, Big XII, Clemson, Florida St., Georgia, Kansas St., Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Miami-FL, Michigan, Mississippi St., NCAA, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Oregon, Pac 12, Penn St., Power 25, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, TCU, UCLA, USC, Virginia Tech, Washington, Week 2, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

NCAA POWER 25 – 2017 WEEK 1

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Florida St. 24-7. It’s amazing to consider all the ways that Alabama can beat you and then watch them beat the Seminoles by 17 through special teams. That isn’t to say the defense wasn’t dominant. Alabama totaled 3 sacks, 9 tackles for loss & 2 picks in destroying an exceptionally talented Seminoles squad. Maybe Alabama gets beat this year, but after watching Week 1, Alabama is head & shoulders above every other team in college football at this point.
#2 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Indiana 49-21. Ohio St. trailed at the half 14-13 before blowing the barn doors off the Hoosiers, outscoring Indiana 36-7 in the 2nd half. Watching this game you almost felt as if Ohio St. was feeling their way through the first half before exploding. JK Dobbins was exceptional and the Buckeyes defense came up with 9 tackles for loss, 5 sacks & 2 picks. Tyquan Lewis had 2 sacks. QB J.T. Barrett looked OK at times but I think he still needs to play better.
#3 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Kent St. 56-3. It’s Kent St. so you can’t really get too jacked up on this one if your Clemson but with Deondre Francois going down with an injury for Florida State, didn’t the path to the playoffs just get incredibly easier for the Tigers? Kent St. was down 21-0 after the first quarter, but the Flashes only attempted 5 passes the entire game. If you are wondering why Clemson’s pass rushing numbers aren’t better, it’s because Kent St. never tried to throw the football!
#4 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Rice 62-7. Yes it’s Rice but good grief the Cardinal looked dominant in their opener against the Owls. RB Bryce Love put fears to rest over losing Christian McCaffery by taking the first snap of the game & turning into a 62-yard scamper! Love finished with 180 rushing yards on 13 carries! True frosh TE Colby Parkinson caught 2 TDs! Keep an eye on him all season. The defense could have potentially made a few more plays, but that is nit picking to a high level.
#5 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Akron 52-0. Like with Clemson you can’t get too excited over Penn St. hammering a team like Akron but good grief Saquon Barkley looked amazing going for 226 yards from scrimmage with 172 rushing yards on 14 carries along with 2TD! DT Tyrell Chavis had an incredible day with 3 tackles for loss. As a defense the Nittany Lions racked up 14 tackles for loss & 5 sacks with an interception. If the defense keeps this up then Penn St. defends their Big 10 title.
#6 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Florida 33-17. You make a good argument that this was the most impressive win of Week 1. Michigan is incredibly young. Wilton Speight didn’t play well. Chris Evans didn’t run well. Michigan still DOMINATED Florida like they were playing a decent MAC squad. The defense was downright scary. The Wolverines had 6 sacks, 11 tackles for loss, & forced 5 fumbles recovering 3. They held the Gators to 11 rushing yards on 27 carries and 192 total yards. Great game!
#7 Computer Hope Last Week Beat BYU 27-0. Do you get the feeling that nobody is really paying attention to LSU and that the Tigers sort of like it? BYU is a pretty good football team and LSU dominated them in total. The LSU defense held BYU to -5 yards rushing & 97 total yards. Derrius Guice rushed for over 100 yards while Darrel Williams looked great in relief with almost 100 of his own. An even scarier thought? Arden Key didn’t even play this week so the defense can get even better!
#8 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Tulsa 59-24. Oklahoma St.’s triplets were on FIRE against Tulsa in the Cowboys opening win. Mason Rudolph was 20/24 for 303yds/3TD. Justice Hill ran for 132yds/1TD on 15 carries. James Washington caught 6 balls for 145yds/2TD. OK State’s defense was a little raggedy giving up over 400 total yards to Tulsa and over 200 rushing yards. Mike Gundy & his staff will need to tighten things up, but it’s going to take 40+ points to beat Oklahoma St. anyway.
#9 Computer Hope Last Week Beat UTEP 56-7. QB Baker Mayfield was on fire going 19/20 for 329 yards & 3TD before giving way to the backups in Oklahoma’s blow out opening win. TE Mark Andrews looked like the 1st Team All-American he should be and while Oklahoma wasn’t as explosive at tailback the way they were last year with Joe Mixon & Samaje Perine, the Sooners still rushed for 180 yards. The defense could have been more explosive especially against a team like UTEP. Nit picking.
#10 Computer Hope Last Week Beat W.Michigan 49-31. I didn’t expect USC to come out looking THAT rusty even with how many new players they were breaking in. It isn’t like PJ Fleck left the cupboards bare at WMU, but USC giving up 31 at home to a MAC squad and not covering the spread? That was surprising. The Trojans managed just one sack and 4 tackles for loss which is way too low. Sam Darnold looked bad leaving only Ronald Jones and Deontay Burnett as the lone bright spots.
#11 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Rutgers 30-14. Like USC, it took Washington a little while to get going. After going own 7-0 to start, the Huskies outscored Rutgers 27-0 before the Scarlet Knights got an early 4th quarter TD to make it 27-14. Lavon Coleman struggled in this game & the Washington defense didn’t seem nearly as incredible as I thought they might be. Myles Gaskin had a great game & Jake Browning did too for the most part which makes the final score all the more odd.
#12 Computer Hope Last Week Lost to Alabama 7-24. Last year Florida St. lose Derwin James. This year they lose Deondre Francois. Talk about bad luck! The game really came down to FSU’s inability to take the physical pounding from Alabama that we all thought the Tide would revert to. Alabama only passed the ball 18 times, but ran it on 42 occasions. The Seminoles also had a difficult time with Alabama’s Front-7. That isn’t surprising. Florida St. can overcome this, but it’ll be tough.
#13 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Utah St. 59-10. So maybe I should have had Wisconsin in my preseason top-25! We all make mistakes don’t we!? The Badgers offense looked incredible. Alex Hornibrook was outstanding going 15/23 for 244yds/3TD. I thought Wisconsin would struggle at tailback after losing Corey Clement but Jonathan Taylor & Bradrick Shaw combined to rush for 171yds/2TD on 27 carries. The defense didn’t flash that much but the overall effort was great.
#14 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Appalchian St. 31-10. That is a big win right there. Appalachian St. is a solid football team & Georgia came out and dominated them start to finish. Quite a bit will be made of the Bulldogs losing QB Jake Eason early but true frosh Jake Fromm went 10/15 in relief for 143yds/1TD. Sony Michel & Nick Chubb combined to rush for 183yds/2TD on 31 carries. I was a little disappointed to see that Davin Bellamy or Lorenzo Carter didn’t get any sacks.
#15 Computer Hope Last Week Beat West Virginia 31-24. I thought Virginia Tech would struggle a bit in trying to replace QB Jerrod Evans, but freshman QB Josh Jackson did a pretty good imitation throwing for 235yds/1TD while also rushing for 101yds/1TD! The Hokies had a brutal time stopping West Virginia’s offense with the Mountaineers racking up over 500 total yards, but Virginia Tech did a good job of bending & never breaking especially on the final drive of the game.
#16 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Jackson St. 65-0. Ignore TCU at your own peril. Sure it was Jackson St., but 65-0!? Kenny Hill was on fire throwing for 4TDs while the Horned Frogs rushing attack totaled over 240 yards rushing. The defense amassed 5 sacks and an astounding 15 tackles for loss. Jackson St. had only 65 total yards & TCU turned them over twice. With Texas losing, TCU is the 3rd best team in the Big XII. It’s too bad they have road games against both Oklahoma teams.
#17 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Georgia Southern 41-7. I think what we all wanted to see from Auburn in their opener, we saw. The running game was devastating with Kerryon Johnson & Kam Martin combining for 272 rushing yards & 2TD on 30 carries. QB Jarrett Stidham was 14/24 for 185yds/2TD. He did throw a pick, but Stidham showed us that opponents will have to respect the passing game which only opens up the running game even more. Getting to 10 wins is a possibility.
#18 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Bethune-Cookman 41-13. We all wanted to see how new QB Malik Rosier would play now that Brad Kaaya went to the NFL. Rosier didn’t disappoint going 17/28 for 217yds/3TD without throwing a pick. Mark Walton was outstanding rushing for 148yds/2TD on 16 carries but backup Travis Homer didn’t fall off AT ALL rushing for 108yds on 11 carries! WR Ahmmon Richards didn’t play & Miami-FL could have been better on defense, but Rosier showed out.
#19 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Temple 49-16. I said before the year that if QB Brandon Wimbush plays well the Irish should average 40PPG. Wimbush was outstanding against Temple & the Irish scored 49. The Irish had 3 different players rush for over 100 yards en route to racking up 422yds/5TD on the ground. Temple also had no answer for Equanimeous St. Brown on the edge. The Irish need to get a lot better at covering receivers & they need a 2nd receiver for St. Brown, but impressive!
#20 Computer Hope Last Week Beat NC State 35-28. NC State has one of the best D-Lines in college football and Dave Doeren always has his defense hitting hard. You can’t help but be super impressed that the Gamecocks were able to hang 35 on the Wolfpack. It might be one of the most impressive showing from Week 1. For the most part, NC State outplayed SC, but the Wolfpack had no answer for Gamecocks WR Deebo Samuel & SC converted NC State turnovers into 14 points.
#21 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Southern Utah 77-21. Yes it’s only Southern Utah, but everything was clicking for the Ducks on offense and the defense looked great too. Given how the other Pac 12 teams played (excepting Stanford), the Ducks stand out as possibly one of the better team in the conference. Justin Herbert and Royce Freeman look dialed in and I think the Oregon O-Line played very well which is a great sign. Beat Nebraska this week and the Ducks will put people on notice.
#22 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Purdue 35-28. Lamar Jackson got off to his Heisman defense with an incredible statistical game as he passed for 378yds/2TD and added another 107 rushing yards. The final score doesn’t look great especially when you consider how bad Purdue has been in recent seasons, but I actually thought the Boilermakers might have a puncher’s chance in this one & they showed up. Credit Louisville’s defense for being very opportunistic. This might be too low.
#23 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Charleston Southern 49-0. The Bulldogs were smothering on defense allowing Charleston just 33 total yards for the entire game. The Bulldogs weren’t ball hawking too much though. They didn’t create a single turnover and only sacked the CSU QB one time. QB Nick Fitzgerald had a solid game and I was excited to see RB Aeris Williams run the ball well as it’ll take pressure off Fitzgerald. As good as a 49-0 win looks, this Mississippi St. team can get better.
#24 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Texas A&M 45-44. I almost flirted with the idea of putting Josh Rosen himself at #1 over Alabama! Did any QB make a better case for the Heisman than Rosen did on Sunday night? The Bruins QB completed 35/59 passes for 491yds/4TD without throwing a pick. He was hammered most of the game due to a porous O-Line and still managed to led UCLA back from a 44-10 deficit late in the 3rd quarter to a 45-44 stunning victory. What a way to start the season!
#25 Computer Hope Last Week Beat Texas 51-41. A 10-point win over Texas in Austin with Tom Herman making his coaching debut for the Longhorns? Darn right the Terps belong in the Power-25! Yes Maryland gave up 41 points but the Terps put on a clinic. Texas had absolutely no answer for RB Ty Johnson or QB Tyrrell Pigrome or WR DJ Moore. Pigrome got off to a bad start in this game but showed tremendous heart in leading Maryland to a victory. You can’t underestimate this guy.

DROPPING OUT

#18 NC STATE WOLFPACK: Losing to South Carolina isn’t awful, but giving up 35 points when the defense is as good as it is? I’m not sure whether South Carolina is legitimately the best team in the SEC East or if NC State isn’t nearly as good as I thought, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see NC State back in the Power 25 at some point in time. The team is entirely too good and if you look a that boxscore, it is easy to see that NC State dominated the game statistically. Can’t give up huge plays and points off turnovers. That is what cost NC State the game.

#19 TEXAS LONGHORNS: Giving up 51 points to Maryland at home in the season opener? That’s ridiculous but maybe even more of a concern is that Texas’ O’Line didn’t play all that well. Maybe Maryland has a lot better edge rushers than I’m giving them credit for, but if Maryland is teeing off on the Texas QBs then what are teams like TCU & Oklahoma going to do? I really like Tom Herman in Austin so I hope this works out, but the results after Week 1 have to be a bit alarming especially given how the Longhorns were beat.

#21 FLORIDA GATORS: Like NC State I wouldn’t be surprised to see Florida get back into the Power 25 and climb really high. I do think their QB situation is a bit alarming and Michigan completely ran them over which isn’t a good luck for a storied program like Florida has especially considering how young and inexperienced Michigan is as a football team. Florida to me looks like a squad that might have an identity crisis. Coach McElwain is exceptional but winning at Colorado State is a little different than building & sustaining a program like Florida.

#25 SOUTH FLORIDA BULLS: The Bulls are actually already 2-0 but they’ve beaten San Jose St. and Stony Brook and haven’t really dominated either of them which knocks them out of my Power-25. The Bulls have a pretty good football and I think they can get to 12-0 without much difficulty for the most part, but it’s a flawed team to be sure and eventually it’ll catch up to them. Too many teams at this point seem to be better than South Florida.

September 6, 2017 Posted by | ACC, Alabama, Auburn, Big 10, Big XII, Clemson, Florida, Florida St., Georgia, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Miami-FL, Michigan, Mississippi St., NC State, NCAA, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Oregon, Pac 12, Penn St., Power 25, SEC, South Carolina, South Florida, Stanford, TCU, Texas, UCLA, USC, Virginia Tech, Washington, Week 1, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

NCAA POWER 25 – 2017 PRESEASON

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 Computer Hope Last Season: 14-1, National Runner Up. It’s almost impossible to bet against Alabama. They return just 11 starters but QB Jalen Hurts returns and the depth is so absurd that it almost doesn’t matter who they throw out there. There is talk that DT Da’Ron Payne is better than any DT HC Nick Saban has had in Tuscaloosa. Minkah Fitzpatrick is moving to safety to join Ronnie Harrison for a secondary that is straight FILTHY! They can ground & pound opponents to death.
#2 Computer Hope Last Season: 11-2, Lost Playoff Semifinal. The Buckeyes bring back 15 starters from a team that went to the playoffs but got exposed by a tremendous Clemson team 31-0 in the Fiesta Bowl. Ohio St. is the closest team we have to Alabama as far as overall talent is concerned. What separates Ohio St. for me this year is their ability to get pressure off the edge. The team has a couple of questions but Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard, Nick Bosa & Jalyn Holmes are a nightmare for QBs.
#3 Computer Hope Last Season: 14-1, National Champions. I think Clemson isn’t being favored to repeat because Deshaun Watson is now playing on Sundays but Clemson’s defense is otherworldly and I think Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence & Christian Wilkins give the Tigers the best DL in college football. Throw in Kendall Joseph, Van Smith & Trayvon Mullen, and I’m not sure how you score on defense. The O-Line is incredible & I think QB Kelly Bryant will make enough plays to win.
#4 Computer Hope Last Season: 10-3, Won Orange Bowl. The Seminoles should be considered national title contenders. They return 9 starters on defense that should be nasty. I love Clemson’s defense but FSU probably has better edge rushers with Brian Burns & Josh Sweat and it’s not like DTs Derrick Nnadi & Demarcus Christmas aren’t beasts! Even scarier is FSU gets a full season of S Derwin James who in my opinion is the best player in college football. They could celebrate like it’s 2013!
#5 Computer Hope Last Season: 10-3, Won Rose Bowl. No team in college football is on a bigger winning streak than the Trojans who after starting 1-3 in 2016, reeled off 9 straight wins including a dramatic 52-49 win over Penn St. in the Rose Bowl. Anytime you have the best QB in college football you should be considered a threat. Sam Darnold  completed 67% of his passes last season for over 3,000 yards & 31TD to just 9INT! The Trojans also return 7 on defense & have a shot at 12-0!
#6 Computer Hope Last Season: 11-3, Lost Rose Bowl. Penn St. returns 15 starters including 9 on offense including QB Trace McSorey, RB Saquon Barkley & TE Mike Gesicki. The Nittany Lions scored 37.6PPG last season & they’ll top that mark this year. I think defense is going to be key for PSU and specifically their ability to get pressure on the opposing QB. DEs Garrett Sickels and Evan Schwan have graduated meaning they’ll need some guys to fill those voids. There is nothing not to like!
#7 Computer Hope Last Season: 10-3, Won Sun Bowl. After a 3-2 start that saw Stanford drop 2 divisional games to Washington & Wazzou, Stanford 7-1 to end the season & rank 12th in the nation. I think the #12 was too low and the Cardinal return 16 starters (8 on both sides) including QB Keller Chryst who started the last 6 games, all Stanford wins. Losing guys like Solomon Thomas & Christian McCaffery is tough but I think the 2017 Stanford team is better than the Stanford of 2016.
#8 Computer Hope Last Season: 12-2, Lost Playoff Semifinal. Seems ludicrous to list Washington at #8 in the nation, but they have to play at Stanford which pushes them below the Cardinal. If the Huskies finish 12-0 I wouldn’t be surprised in the least. QB Jake Browning is a Heisman candidate & UW has incredible talent returning in Myles Gaskin, Dante Pettis & Trey Adams. Defensively replacing Kevin King & Budda Baker will be tough but Azeem Victor and Co. should be stone filthy!
#9 Computer Hope Last Season: 10-3, Won Alamo Bowl. If not this year when? Oklahoma St. flirted with the possibility of a national championship back in 2011 but a loss to Iowa State crushed that dream. This season, Oklahoma State has a schedule that could give them a 12-0 season that could lead to a playoff berth. They get Oklahoma at home & the Sooners are now entering the post-Bob Stoops era & there is opportunity there. They’ll score a ton of points but they’ll need to play D!
#10 Computer Hope Last Season: 11-2, Won Sugar Bowl. Oklahoma should be a massive playoff contender but I think a couple of things work against them. The first is that they play road games against both Ohio St. & Oklahoma State. That could be 2 losses which would be difficult to make up. I think the 2nd thing is that losing Joe Mixon, Samaje Perine & DeDe Westbrook are going to be hard to overcome. I also think there will be transition now that Bob Stoops has resigned. It’ll be tough for OU.
#11 Computer Hope Last Season: 8-4, Won Citrus Bowl. After starting the year 2-2 with losses to Wisconsin & Auburn, LSU fired Les Miles and Ed Orgeron took over on an interim basis leading LSU to a 6-2 record including a 29-9 win over Louisville in the Citrus Bowl. Of course, LSU lost to Florida & Alabama, but LSU rewarded Orgeron with the head coaching position. LSU will always field an incredible defense & Derius Guice is the best RB in the nation. Let’s see how strategic Orgeron is.
#12 Computer Hope Last Season: 10-3, Lost Orange Bowl. Michigan has to be the youngest team in college football this season given that the Wolverines return a total of 5 starters from last year’s squad including just one defensive starter in Mike McCray. On the other hand I’m loathe to place Michigan any lower because the talent Jim Harbaugh has assembled in Ann Arbor is downright scary. The key for Michigan is to get the young players comfortable & working together. If so they’ll win big!
#13 Computer Hope Last Season: 9-4, Won Russell Athletic Bowl. The U isn’t quite back to its recent glory years of 2000-2003 including their 2001 National Championship, but give Mark Richt a couple more years and the Hurricanes are going to be a force on the national scene. They are still a bit young and will break in a new QB this year with Brad Kaaya playing in the NFL, but they draw Virginia Tech & home & only have a couple of other tricky games. Getting to 10-11 wins is in play.
#14 Computer Hope Last Season 8-5, Lost Sugar Bowl. The key for Auburn this year will be the play of QB Jarrett Stidham. Stidham might be the best QB Auburn has had since Cam Newton was screaming War Eagle and the Tigers have plenty on hand to run HC Gus Malzahn’s offense to perfection. Stidham is a better QB than Nick Marshall who got Auburn to the national title game in 2013. Kamryn Pettway is a better runner than Tre Mason. The D will be salty & they get Alabama at home!
#15 Computer Hope Last Season 10-4, Won Belk Bowl. If QB Jerod Evans was returning to Blacksburg, not only would the Hokies be the favorites to win the Coastal but I think they’d have a good shot at giving Clemson or Florida St. all they could handle in the ACC championship game. I’m excited to see this defense in action. Virginia Tech returns 6 of their back-7 and DC Bud Foster is going to get the most out of those players. If the QB situation gets solved, I think the Hokies could flirt with 11-1.
#16 Computer Hope Last Season 6-7, Lost Liberty Bowl. After finishing with a two year record of 23-3 from 2014-2015, TCU had a transition year last season finishing 6-7. There won’t be a repeat performance as the Frogs return 17 starters including 10 on offense & have a schedule that should allow them to potentially win 10 games assuming they lose road dates against Oklahoma St. & Oklahoma. The last time TCU had close to this many returning starters was 2010. TCU finished 13-0!
#17 Computer Hope Last Season 8-5, Won Liberty Bowl. Potentially one of the most interesting teams in the nation that could throw a real wrench into the narrative should they get excellent QB play from either Jacob Eason or Jake Fromm. If RB Nick Chubb is back to 100% health then Georgia is going to be nasty on offense because they’ll be able to spread their receivers out. Defensively, UGA returns 10 starters from a squad that allowed 24PPG. They can legitimately finish with 12 wins.
#18 Computer Hope Last Season 7-6, Won Independence Bowl. Another potential surprise team, the Wolfpack are a dangerous team because their D-Line is going to be incredibly dominant & winning in the trenches typically means winning a lot of football games. QB Ryan Finley had a solid season as a first time starter & I think he’ll get better. It’s wild to think that HC Dave Doeren might be on a hot seat because I think NC State is on the verge of becoming a major factor in the ACC.
#19 Computer Hope Last Season 5-7. Texas got their man when they lured Houston HC Tom Herman away from the Cougars and brought him to Austin. Charlie Strong couldn’t quite get things working with the Longhorns but he hardly leaves the cupboards bare for Herman who inherits one of the most talented teams in the nation. Texas returns 17 starters including 10 on defense & should be A LOT better especially considering QB Shane Buechele was a true frosh last season. They’ll win big.
#20 Computer Hope Last Season 9-4, Lost Citrus Bowl. It sounds wild to think Louisville is barely hanging on for a spot in the top-20 considering they started the 2016 season off 9-1 and have the reigning Heisman Trophy winner in QB Lamar Jackson, but the Cardinals dropped their last 3 games in embarrassing fashion & it seems as if the 2017 version might not be as goo as the 2016 team. I’ll never count out Bobby Petrino in the college game & Louisville has a lot of talented pieces.
#21 Computer Hope Last Season 9-4, Won Outback Bowl. I think Jim McElwain is one of the best coaches in college football, but something seems off about the Gators this year. Their QB situation is still somewhat muddled and they’ve already suspended WR Antonio Callaway for the season opener against  Michigan. There is no question the Gators are talented enough to win the SEC East for a 3rd straight season but so far things are getting off to a great start down in Gainesville.
#22 Computer Hope Last Season 4-8. Brian Kelly might be coaching for his life this year in South Bend, but I think the Irish season might hinge on the play of QB Brandon Wimbush. If the rSO can live up to his recruiting hype, then Notre Dame has so much talent & firepower on offense, they’ll find it difficult not to score 40PPG! That will put pressure on the D which returns 7 starters for new DC Mike Elko. If Elko can get the most out of his defense, Notre Dame will have a shot at the playoffs.
#23 Computer Hope Last Season 6-7, Lost Birmingham Bowl. You won’t find the Gamecocks on anyone’s preseason Top-25, but South Carolina is going to make significant noise this year on the back of QB Jake Bentley. As a true freshman last year, Bentley completed 66% of his passes with 9TD to 4INT. He’s big at 6’4/230lbs & is going to get better. SC returns 10 starters on offense & should see a huge jump in production. Getting LB Skai Moore back this year will even make the defense better.
#24 Computer Hope Last Season 6-7, Won St. Petersburg Bowl. Like South Carolina, Mississippi St. has a QB in Nick Fitzgerald who I think the Bulldogs will ride hard to a lot of wins in 2017. The schedule is absolutely nasty but HC Dan Mullen always gets his teams to overachieve. It will be difficult to navigate a 3-game stretch that sees MSU host LSU followed by 2 road games against Georgia & Auburn. Win those three & will be seeing shades of 2014 when the Bulldogs were ranked #1!!
#25 Computer Hope Last Season 11-2, Won Birmingham Bowl. South Florida is the team you are going to hear a lot about when it comes to non-Power 5 conferences either crashing the playoff party or getting into the New Year’s 6 bowls. The Bulls have to deal with losing their HC Willie Taggart to Oregon but Charlie Strong knows a little thing about winning & he takes over. The schedule is made for USF to finish 13-0 & QB Quinton Flowers deserves to have some spotlight on him.

August 27, 2017 Posted by | AAC, ACC, Alabama, Auburn, Big 10, Big XII, Clemson, Florida, Florida St., Georgia, Louisville, LSU, Miami-FL, Michigan, Mississippi St., NC State, NCAA, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Pac 12, Penn St., Power 25, Preseason, SEC, South Carolina, South Florida, Stanford, TCU, Texas, USC, Virginia Tech, Washington | Leave a comment

2017 ACC PREVIEW AND PREDICTIONS

The ACC has made some headlines this off season in declaring they are the best conference in college football, taking over the title from the SEC. That seems odd given how dominant the SEC has been over the last 10-15 years, but do the ACC acolytes have a point? Consider last year’s records against the other Power-5 conferences along with Notre Dame and also their bowl record:

SEC: 10-4
BIG 10: 6-2
Notre Dame: 3-2
BIG XII: 1-1
PAC 12: 0-2
TOTAL: 20-11

BOWL GAMES: 9-3

The Big XII & Pac 12 didn’t have much by way of sample size. Miami-FL beat a then #14 ranked West Virginia in the Russell Athletic Bowl 31-14 leaving no doubt that the Canes were by far superior to the Mountaineers. The other Big XII game came early in the 2016 season as Oklahoma St. beat Pittsburgh 45-38. Hardly inspiring considering it was a “close” loss for Pitt who finished 8-5 while Oklahoma St. finished 10-3 and had a chance to win the Big XII had they beating Oklahoma in Bedlam! last season.

The Pac 12 games were also decided in the ACC’s favor despite going 0-2 against them. North Carolina lost 25-23 to a Stanford team that finished in the top-12 with a 10-3 record. Beating UNC by 2 points is hardly dominant especially when Carolina wasn’t one of the 5 best teams in the ACC while Stanford was AT LEAST the 3rd best team in the Pac 12 by season’s end. The other Pac 12 game came early as Oregon beat Virginia 44-26 in Eugene. You can hardly extrapolate from that one as UVA was the ACC’s worst squad.

No conference had a better bowl record than the ACC who finished 9-3 and had a bowl record against the SEC of 4-1! Possibly even more important is that Clemson took down Alabama to win the National Championship. At least for 2016, the ACC’s best was better than the SEC’s best. And is it really THAT much of a jump to think Florida St. was better than Florida last season? No, because FSU actually beat the Gators 31-13! Is it hard to imagine Virginia Tech being better than LSU? Not in the least. Is it difficult to think Miami-FL was better than Auburn? Was Louisville better than Georgia? At the top at least you can certainly make an argument that the ACC truly did take over the moniker of “BEST CONFERENCE” in college football. The ACC has won 2 of the last 4 national championships and they can make an argument they should have won 3 of them.

Heading into this season, the ACC has 2 teams in the preseason top-25 rankings. The SEC has only Alabama. The SEC does get 6 teams in the preseason top-25 but the ACC gets 5 of their own. And what about talent? Here is how many players were drafted in the 2017 NFL Draft by rounds between the SEC and ACC:

1st Round
SEC: 12
ACC: 4

Rounds 1-2
SEC: 21
ACC: 7

Rounds 1-3
SEC: 30
ACC: 11

Rounds 1-4
SEC: 38
ACC: 17

8As you can see, from an NFL talent perspective, it’s not really that close, but doesn’t that make the case for the ACC having better “teams” that much more potent considering how well the ACC did against vastly superior talented SEC squads? What about moving forward with recruited talent? According to Phil Steele, The SEC has 4 teams have top-10 recruiting classes as compared to the ACC’s 2. The SEC had 9 programs rank in the top-25 while the ACC has 4. The SEC has 11 programs finish in the top-30 in 2017 recruiting classes. The ACC has just 5.

As far as NFL talent and recruiting talent is concerned, the ACC falls behind the SEC, but that is why we play the games. As much as it sounds odd to believe the ACC is now the class of college football, the on-field results support this conclusion. The question becomes whether or not the ACC has any staying power over the SEC and whether or not the Big 10 can start getting very consistent play from Michigan St., Nebraska, Wisconsin, Indiana & Iowa which could combine with Ohio State, Penn State & Michigan to potentially throw the Big 10 into the discussion in the near future? The question of whether or not the ACC is better than the SEC is very intriguing and one that is worth watching as the season unfolds.

# TEAM ATLANTIC
1 Computer Hope If Deshaun Watson were returning to Clemson for the 2017 season I think the Tigers would be the easy pick to repeat as national champions. The big question mark regarding Clemson is how new QB Kelly Bryant will handle the team. That’s a good question but to me what separates Clemson is their defense. DTs Dexter Lawrence & Christian Wilkins are 1st Rd. NFL picks. DE Clelin Ferrell is going to take over Carlos Watkins’ role from last season. Kendall Joseph is the best LB on the team & he returns. The secondary is FILTHY! Clemson gets Florida St. at home which decides the Atlantic. I think the defense gives Clemson the edge.
2 Computer Hope If there is an argument to be made for two teams out of the same conference getting to the playoffs, then the ACC can certainly make that case. FSU is the favorite in any other conference outside the SEC. I think what puts FSU a hair behind Clemson is that Dalvin Cook is a HUGE loss. Cook might be a top-5 NFL RB this season if that gives you any indication of how good he was last season. I also think losing DE DeMarcus Walker is tough although Brian Burns & Josh Sweat should be INCREDIBLE edge rushers. S Derwin James is arguably the best player in college football! The road game at Clemson is the big hurdle for the Noles.
3 Computer Hope Defense in the ACC Atlantic continues to be the key as NC State separates themselves with a NASTY D-Line led by All-American Bradley Chubb! At 6’4/280lbs, Chubb is a physical beast off the edge but DT BJ Hill, DT Justin Jones & DE Kentavius Street are also returning starters that are going to be exceptionally difficult to handle. Offensively QB Ryan Finley returns along with his top-4 receivers & 4 O-Linemen. Finley was a bit underrated last year having completed 60% of his passes for 3059yds with 18TD to just 8INT. The junior enters his 2nd year as QB1 & will get better. NC State can make noise getting Clemson & L’Ville at home.
4 Computer Hope How good is the ACC Atlantic? The defending Heisman Trophy winning QB is playing for a team I think will finish 4th in his own division! The Cardinals only return 4 starters on offense but have some very good weapons in RBs Jeremy Smith & Colin Wilson along with WR Jaylen Smith. QB Lamar Jackson is the show of course but he’s got plenty of weapons to help. Defensive Louisville returns 7 starters on a unit that allowed 23.8PPG. The unit loses some big time players though in Keith Kelsey, Devonte Fields, De’Angelo Brown & Josh Harvey-Clemons. Those are 4 big time players. NC State & FSU on the road pushes Louisville to 4th.
5 Computer Hope HC Dino Babers did a solid job in his first year at Syracuse. The Orange’s record didn’t regress from the previous year & Syracuse got wins over Virginia Tech & Boston College which were great for morale. The talent base here isn’t outstanding which is what you’d expect, but Syracuse returns 19 starters from last year’s squad and they all now have a year of playing under Babers systems which is going to help with experience. QB Eric Dungey can play as evidenced by his 65% completion rate last year & 2679yds. The defense returns 10 starters and if it can generate any kind of pass rush they’ll be a tough out. Getting BC & WF at home helps.
6 Computer Hope HC Steve Addazio is on the hot seat and he enters an interesting situation. I think BC is going to have a solid defense headlined by potential All-American DE Harold Landry, but Landry has quite a bit of help. DE Zach Allen is a load while LBs Connor Strachan & Ty Schwab can fill it up. BC also features a secondary made up of entirely upperclassmen with 3 returning starters. The defense has a shot to be good. Offensively BC hasn’t fared too well under Addazio. They are struggling but moving on from QB Patrick Towles might not be awful and BC returns 4 starters on the O-Line. With just 6 obvious losses, BC could get back to a bowl in ’17.
7 Computer Hope HC Dave Clawson did a FANTASTIC job last season in getting Wake Forest to their first bowl game since 2011 and getting their first bowl win since 2008! He also did this with a team that averaged just 20.4PPG & a QB that completed 56% of his passes with 9TD to 10INT! Clawson will need to do another fantastic coaching job should the Demon Deacons get back to a bowl. The offense returns 9 starters but the unit was dreadful last season. They’ll improve but by how much? Defense has been Wake’s calling card & DE Duke Ejiofor returns along with CB Amari Henderson, but Wake loses quite a bit too. The schedule didn’t do them favors!

 

# TEAM COASTAL
1 Computer Hope Miami-FL’s 9-4 record last season in HC Mark Richt’s first foray in Coral Cables was THIS CLOSE to being 12-1 as Miami-FL lost 3 games by a combined 11 points & never won a close game. Richt has done a fantastic job amassing talent in his short time at Miami and it’s already paying dividends. THE U has to break in a new QB with Brad Kaaya leaving for the NFL but the skill positions are STACKED & the O-line returns 4 starters. Defensively, Miami-FL is starting to look like the Miami of old. Shaq Quarterman is a beast. The entire Front-7 returns and the secondary has some salty big hitters. Miami-FL looks really really good!
2 Computer Hope I absolutely LOVE what Justin Fuente is doing in Blacksburg and the Hokies saw absolutely no dropoff after Frank Beamer’s retirement as Fuente took Beamer’s last squad that finished 7-6 and turned them into a 10-4 team that won the ACC Coastal! Replacing Jerod Evans at QB is a big fill although I think VT can handle it a bit due to Fuente’s offensive schemes. Still, a frosh QB in Josh Jackson will have a learning curve. The Hokies defense should be ELECTRIC as DC Bud Foster’s unit returns 8 of their top-10 tacklers including guys like Tremaine Edumunds, Mook Reynolds, & Andrew Motuapuaka. Nov. 4th is going to be nuts!
3 Computer Hope Losing Dedrick Mills earlier this year is a huge blow as GT’s leading rusher last season was dismissed from the team, but the Yellow Jackets are more scheme based than talent based so I don’t think it’ll matter too much. HC Paul Johnson gets the most out of his talent & Georgia Tech returns 16 starters from a team that went 9-4 a year ago. QB Matthew Jordan replaces QB Justin Thomas, but Jordan has been around awhile so I don’t think it’ll be a drop off. Georgia Tech’s defense should be just as good as it was last season. Getting Pittsburgh & North Carolina at home pushes the Ramblin’ Wreck up to 3rd and they should get 7-8 wins.
4 Computer Hope Duke is a tricky team because like Georgia Tech, the Blue Devils under HC David Cutcliffe are almost always going to exceed expectations and get the most out of their talent. Duke returns 7 starters on offense including QB Daniel Jones who as a freshman last season completed 63% of his passes for 2836yds & 16TD to 9INT. This for a Duke squad that finished 4-8. Under Cutcliffe’s guidance, Jones is going to get even better & the Blue Devils have enough help to push the offense forward. Defensively Duke returns 5 starters but the players returning such as LBs Joe Giles-Harris & Ben Humphreys are rock solid. Don’t sleep on Duke.
5 Computer Hope USC transfer QB Max Browne has been named the starter, but I think a lot of people don’t realize how good Nathan Peterman was last season. Peterman threw for almost 3,000 yards along with 27TD to 7INT. Browne is big at 6’5/230lbs and he has talent, but Peterman is going to be difficult to replace as will heart & soul RB James Conner. I really like Quadree Henderson & Qadree Ollison but how does this offense not regress? PITT returns 4 starters from a defense that yielded 35.2PPG! That’s a blessing & a curse. The D returns just 2 starters from their Front-7. Unless Rori Blair goes crazy there isn’t a pass rush. I’m not a believer here.
6 Computer Hope This seems WAY TOO LOW for Carolina under HC Larry Fedora, but wow did the Tar Heels lose a lot to the NFL. On offense they lost the #2 overall pick in QB Mitch Trubisky who passed for almost 4,000yds and 30TD! Brandon Harris is supposedly the new QB, but he couldn’t keep the LSU gig from a Purdue transfer! UNC also loses Elijah Hood, TJ Logan, Ryan Switzer, Bug Howard & Mack Hollins! Good grief! Also remember they lose C Lucas Crowley & RT Jon Heck, both 2-time All ACC performers! On D the Heels bring back 7 starters but lose Nazair Jones & Des Lawrence! Like Pitt, where is the pass rush? Looks like a transition year.
7 Computer Hope Virginia is trying to become respectable and this could be a coming out season for the Cavaliers. I’m very interested to see how the defense does after they gave up 33.8PPG a season ago. This unit should improve immensely given the talent on board. DE Andrew Brown is a monster on the edge if he can stay healthy & is a potential NFL 1st Rd. pick. LB Micah Kiser is an All-American & LB Jordan Mack was outstanding last year as a true frosh & he’ll get even better. S Quin Blanding is fantastic on the hunt & UVA’s corners are all 6’2 or better! The offense is just OK & I think RB Taquan Mizzell is a big loss but QB Kurt Benkert should improve.

ACC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

ATLANTIC ACC CHAMPIONSHIP COASTAL
Computer Hope This might seem like another win for Clemson on their road to repeating as National Champions, but I like this game because Miami-FL’s real strength resides in their O-Line. I think Clemson is going to win the Atlantic because I don’t think anyone really has an answer for their Front-7 on defense, but Miami-FL has an offensive line that should be good enough to give the Hurricanes some time to utilize their skill position players. I don’t think it’ll be enough this year as Clemson wins their 3rd straight ACC title. Computer Hope

August 27, 2017 Posted by | ACC, Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida St., Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami-FL, NC State, NCAA, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Predictions, Preseason, Previews, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest | Leave a comment

TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 LB FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

Linebackers are up next! This might have been the most difficult position yet for me to select down to 20 players. There is seemingly a lot of talent across the nation at the LB spot which is a great thing for defenses and for us fans!  I do want to point out that my definition of “linebacker” is the traditional sense of the word that doesn’t include the edge rushers. This mean I’m looking primarily at 4-3 LBs (the SAM, WIL and MIKE LBs) and 3-4 ILBs. I think it’s worth noting that the in today’s version of football, the LB position is evolving quite a bit. A lot of teams are in some ways going away from those big thick inside thumpers, and instead are looking for more athletic guys who can drop into coverage and defend the middle of the field against the pass.

This evolution has been going on for awhile now and see this especially in the NFL with examples such as Mark Barron and Deone Bucannon. What gets tricky with these types of hybrid players is their physical size. Bucannon is 6’1/211lbs which is essentially the size of a safety, the position Bucannon played in college for Washington State. Barron is similar at 6’1/213lbs and again he played safety in college for Alabama although he’s been moved to LB in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams. I’m thumper heavy for the most part in my top-20 because the guys that are 6’1/210lbs I’d consider a safety. Bucannon and Barron are interesting examples and I wonder if this evolution will actually revert back to the old mentality of thumping ILBs given how many collegiate running backs have enormous size for the position.

A quick reminder, the 20 players are listed alphabetically by their team. As I’ve said before, I don’t try to actually rank the top-20 because I’m not entirely sure how much value added I’d receive by doing so. The margins are fairly thin between some of the players.

TEAM COMMENTS
Computer Hope Rashaan Evans/6’3/234lbs/SR: Evans is a BEAST of a player but when you are playing behind Reggie Ragland and Rueben Foster, it’s going to be hard to find time to get on the field. That is a testament to how amazing the depth chart is at LB with the Tide. This will be Evans’s first years as a full time starter and he’s already a potential All-American candidate that will be the key to the Alabama defense that should once again be one of the best in the nation. Evans is a freaky athlete that should have no issues topping 100 tackles.
Computer Hope Kendall Joseph/6’0/230lbs/rJR: Joseph exploded last year for the Tigers en route to leading Clemson to their first national championship since 1981! Joseph recorded 124 tackles last season included 13.5 tackles for loss and 5 QB hurries. Ben Boulware got a lot of publicity and rightly so, but Joseph was a 3rd Team All-ACC linebacker and should easily be one of the best LBs in the ACC again this season. I think Clemson has a real chance at a repeat national championship and I think Joseph will have a lot to do with that very real possibility.
Computer Hope Tegray Scales/6’0/230lbs/SR: From a production standpoint, there wasn’t a better inside LB than Tegray Scales last year. Scales racked up 126 tackles, 7 sacks and an incredible 23.5 tackles for loss for the Hoosiers as Indiana went to their 2nd straight bowl game. Is it possible for him to still be underrated because he plays for Indiana? Scales has the ability to be a 1st Team All American this season and I’m interested to see what happens with him in the NFL. He’s an inside thumper but if he can improve in coverage, he’s got a big time chance.
Computer Hope Josey Jewell/6’2/236lbs/rSR: Jewell is an interesting guy because he racks it up when you talk about production. He tested the NFL waters this past season but was told to return to school to improve on his pass coverage ability, but he broke up 9 passes last season so it’s not like he doesn’t drop back into coverage at times. Jewell is certainly a thumper at 6’2 and almost 240lbs. An unheralded recruit out of Decorah, IA, Jewell has maximized every bit of his talent. He’s a front runner to be a 1st team All-American and he’ll be playing in the NFL.
Computer Hope Jordan Jones/6’2/221lbs/JR: Kentucky’s defense last year was dreadful in giving up 31.3PPG but that was hardly Jones’s fault who had an incredible year leading the Wildcats in tackles with 109, tackles for loss with 15.5 and QB hurries with 9. That was good enough to merit a 2nd Team All-SEC selection and keep in mind that Jones did this as a true sophomore with hardly any experience. UK’s defense should be a lot better in 2017 an Jones has a unique role in that he plays that hybrid S/WIL spot that is becoming in vogue. He plays it well.
Computer Hope Jermaine Carter/6’0/235lbs/rSR: Carter doesn’t get a lot of publicity but he’s been filling it up for the last two season at Maryland. Last year Carter racked up 110 tackles which led the team and also led the team in 2015 with 103 tackles. He’s obviously a thumper and plays the MIKE spot but he’s able to drop into coverage at times. He’s best asset is his ability to read and attack. Carter recorded 14 tackles for loss in 2015 and followed that up 9 last season. Carter is a little limited physically & he’s not getting a ton of attention, but he’s very solid.
Computer Hope Shaq Quarterman/6’1/240lbs/SO: MONSTER. If you want to like a young linebacker, then look no further than Quarterman. You can tell “THE U” is ready to return to their swag days when guys like Quarterman hit campus and then dominate. The true frosh racked up 84 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 8 QB hurries and 3.5 sacks in a banner year for the Miami-FL freshman. Quarterman is a man already at 6’1/240lbs. He’s a legit All-American candidate as a sophomore and if he keeps building off of 2016, he’ll be a 1st Rd. pick in 2019.
Computer Hope Mike McCray/6’4/248lbs/rSR: I mentioned this briefly in my write up on Maurice Hurst when looking at defensive lineman, but it applies to McCray as well in that he took advantage of Michigan’s outstanding talent on their D-Line in 2016 to hunt down opponents and turn in a huge year. McCray was an all-around beast totaling 76 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss 7 passes broken up, 2 picks and 5 QB hurries. Expect a lot of the same in 2017 as I think McCray will have just as many opportunities to hunt from the weak side as Michigan’s D-Line is going to be good.
Computer Hope Nyles Morgan/6’1/238lbs/SR: Morgan is a helluva player but I think some inaccurately compared him to former Irish stand out Jaylen Smith which is an inaccurate comparison as Smith is more of a WIL backer while Morgan is a MIKE. There weren’t a ton of bright spots on defense for Notre Dame last year but Morgan racked up 94 tackles & 4 sacks which is even more impressive when you consider opposing offenses knew to stay away from him an the ND D-Line didn’t give him tons of room to diagnose and attack. I think he’ll be in for a big season in South Bend.
Computer Hope Jerome Baker/6’1/225lbs/JR: Baker is an interesting guy because hiss athleticism is off the charts and that is giving rise to some speculation that he’s even better than he’s shown. That’s amazing considering last season as a sophomore Baker had 83 tackles with 9.5 tackles for loss. He even picked off a couple of passes although most evaluators think he could get better against both the run and in pass coverage. One thing is for sure is that it’s impossible to keep him off a list like this because his athleticism is off the charts. He’s that perfect hybrid WIL.
Computer Hope Ogbonnia Okoronkwo/6’1/242lbs/rSR: Okoronkwo is an interesting guy because he broke out last year for the Sooners, but he also led the team in sacks with 9 so there is some speculation he’s going to project more as a 3-4 OLB. His size though speaks more to an inside thumper and he did record 71 tackles which shows he’s all around the field. Smaller guys on the edge have worked though. Dwight Freeney is one of the best pass rushers in NFL history and he was around that 6’1/270lbs range, but Freeney was freakish athletically. I like Okoronkwo a lot.
Computer Hope Troy Dye/6’4/225lbs/SO: Like Shaq Quarterman, Troy Dye is a true sophomore that makes the list. Dye came into Eugene and had an incredible true freshman season leading the Ducks in tackles with 91 but also recording 13 tackles for loss along with 6.5 sacks. He was a Freshman All-American as a result. Dye was nothing short of outstanding on a defense that was downright terrible. I think Dye is going to improve dramatically which could be scary now that Jim Leavitt takes over as DC for Oregon. Dye can hunt and I like him being that hybrid WIL type LB.
Computer Hope Skai Moore/6’2/221lbs/rSR: Moore was an All-American candidate going into the 2016 season with some projection systems suggesting he could be a 1st round NFL draft pick. Moore was set up to have a banner year as a senior but that came crashing down when he injured himself and was lost for the season. He returns to Columbia motivated to make a comeback and I’m for one am betting on his ability. At this best, Moore is a tackling machine with the ability to hunt and drop back into coverage. I think South Carolina can be sneaky good in 2017.
Computer Hope Malik Jefferson/6’3/238lbs/JR: As a freshman in 2015, Jefferson didn’t disappoint coming in and being an immediate starter racking up 61 tackles & 7 tackles for loss. Last year as a sophomore Jefferson for the most part replicated his freshman season and the Longhorns once again gave up 30+PPG. It’s hard to miss Jefferson on the field and a lot like Jerome Baker from Ohio St., you get the feeling you haven’t seen even the surface of Jefferson’s immense talents. He’s a 6’3/240lbs WIL that can get to the QB & drop into coverage. Rare.
Computer Hope Cameron Smith/6’2/245lbs/JR: Smith has started since he set foot in Troy and hasn’t disappointed yet putting in back to back 2nd Team All Pac 12 campaigns from the middle spot. Smith is an absolute thumper in the middle at 6’2 and almost 250lbs. He led USC last season tackles with 83 but also posted 7 tackles for loss and 4 passes broken up. Smith has a chance to be an All American this year and work his way into the 1st round of the NFL Draft. With as much talk as we hear about the hybrid WIL position, having a legit leader in the middle is invaluable.
Computer Hope Micah Kiser/6’2/240lbs/rSR: From a tackling standpoint there hasn’t been a more productive LB in the country over the last two seasons than Kiser who has posted 251 tackles over the last 2 years. Last year’s 134 tackle campaign earned Kiser a 2nd Team All-American nod. It’s easy to blur the lines between collegiate and NFL football sometimes when looking at players. Kiser is limited physically, but the guy can fill it up in the middle which is very valuable. He’s a diagnose & attack player that has a hard time dropping into coverage, but the kid is a playmaker.
Computer Hope Andrew Motuapuaka/6’0/233lbs/rSR: Motuapuaka has been a productive player for awhile but really came alive in 2016 after being somewhat of a whipping boy for Hokie Nation during the 2015 season. Motuapuaka racked up 114 tackles including 3 interceptions in earning 2nd team All ACC honors a year ago. Like Jermaine Carter listed above from Maryland, the New Zealand native doesn’t have exceptional size but he’s got a knack for being around the ball and making plays. Doesn’t have great top end speed, but that hasn’t mattered much in Blacksburg.
Computer Hope Azeem Victor/6’3/225lbs/rSR: Victor missed for games last year for the Huskies and still racked up 67 tackles which was 4 fewer than team leader Budda Baker. In 2015, a fully healthy Victor led UW in tackles with 95 while also recording 6 tackles for loss along with 4 passes broken up. I like Victor a lot for Washington. He’ll be a HUGE piece of their defensive puzzle and a key contributor in getting the Huskies past USC and getting back to the college football playoffs. He’s a potential All-American and a 1st Rd. NFL prospect. I’d like to see him play the WIL more.
Computer Hope Jack Cichy/6’2/235lbs/rSR: Like Victor, Cichy missed time last year but instead of 4 games, Cichy missed half the season and still amassed 60 tackles which was 4th on the Badgers! A no-nothing prospect out of Minnesota, Cichy walked on to the Badgers squad and then earned a scholarship before the 2015 season. He earned it because in 2015 Cichy logged 60 tackles, 8 tackles for loss and 5 sacks. You can’t miss Cichy on the field. He’s everywhere and if you only watched Wisconsin, you might think Cichy is the best football player to ever play. One of my favorites!
Computer Hope T.J. Edwards/6’1/246lbs/rJR: Cichy and Edwards are the kinds of guys that make Wisconsin look so smart and the rest of college football look so dumb. Cichy was a walk-on and Edwards had other offers from Toledo, W.Michigan and Wyoming! Now both guys are potential All-Americans who could easily wind up being Pro Bowl type players in the NFL! Edwards does everything. Last year as a sophomore he led Wisconsin in tackles but also had 3 picks and 8 tackles for loss. He and Cichy are why the Badgers could win the Big 10 title game!

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

Avery Roberts/Nebraska/6’1/230lbs: Roberts had an impressive offer sheet including invitations from Clemson, Louisville, Miami-FL, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn St., Stanford, Tennessee and Virginia Tech, but he committed to the Cornhuskers and Mike Riley fairly early in the process. The Delaware native is actually the first player committed to Nebraska from the Blue Hen State since 1974! I think Roberts is going to get an opportunity in Lincoln. Nebraska is going to run a 3-4 and Dedrick Young is going to start at one of the ILB, but the other is fairly open. Roberts enrolled early and has been with the Huskers since January so he should be familiar enough with the defensive calls to succeed. At 6’1/230lbs, Roberts is big enough to step in and play immediately without needing a year to bulk up. Bob Diaco is the new DC and he was wildly successful as the DC at Notre Dame. The Nebraska faithful would love nothing more than a return to the days of the BLACK SHIRTS!!!!

Anthony Hines/Texas A&M/6’3/220lbs: The Aggies like to play somewhat of a 4-2-5 nickle package. With Otaro Alaka returning but Shaan Washington moving on, the Aggies have a hole at one of their ILB spots that Hines could fill. Arguably the best LB in the 2017 high school class, Hines enrolled early at Texas A&M so has been with the team since January. He very well could be behind Tyrel Dodson who is only a sophomore himself but Hines can make an argument that he is the most talented linebacker in College Station so he could easily find his way onto the football field. With Alaka sort of playing the WIL LB spot, Hines would move more into the MIKE, but he’s got high end top speed for a LB so it’ll be interesting to see what he can do when dropping into coverage at the collegiate level along with his ability to take and give out punishment on the inside. I think he’ll have an opportunity which is what freshman need.

Dylan Moses/Alabama/6’3/240lbs: Amazingly enough Moses might have to wait awhile before getting on the field but I wanted to mention him anyway because the guy is FULLY FORMED at 18 and enrolled early meaning he’s had quite a bit of time with the Tide already. What’s amazing about Alabama is just how many INCREDIBLE LBs they already have. Rueben Foster could play because he was behind Reggie Ragland. Rashaan Evans had to backup because he played behind Foster. Moses can’t play right away because he is behind Evans, but Moses also has Mack Wilson ahead of him. A consensus 5-star player who Phil Steele ranks as the best LB in the 2017 class, Moses only EQUALS Wilson’s credentials as Wilson too was a consensus 5-star player who Phil Steele ranked as the best LB in the 2016 class!!!! I don’t know how much run time Moses will get if any this year, but if you are looking for a 1st Rd. Alabama LB in the 2020 or 2021 draft, you will probably find Dylan Moses!

Baron Browning/Ohio State/6’4/230lbs: The Buckeyes return 6 of their front-7 from last year’s 11-2 squad that made it to the college football playoffs. The one position that doesn’t return is the SAM LB after Raekwon McMillan was a 2nd round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins earlier this year. That leaves a hole that could potentially be filled by Browning. The Buckeyes are also looking at Dante Booker and Keandre Jones, but neither player has done anything to stand out so Browning could walk into a situation that is very advantageous. Browning is big enough to play on the strong side and opposing offenses are going to have difficulty with Ohio St.’s front 7 because the talent is INCREDIBLE. I can’t imagine Browning not being in one on one situations for most of the year and keep in mind that tOSU’s D-Line is going to be MORE than good enough to occupy the O-Line which leaves Browning room to hunt or get to the QB because running backs are the ones likely to pick up him. Backs on Backs leads to Sacks. Browning could be walking into an incredible situation.

Bruce Jordan-Swilling/Georgia Tech/6’1/209lbs: Jordan-Swilling comes to Atlanta to play for the Ramblin Wreck and immediately becomes the most decorated defensive recruit on the team. The New Orleans native must LOVE engineering because he had offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida St., Miami-FL, LSU, Michigan, Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas A&M, UCLA and USC but still picked the Yellow Jackets! In fact, Jordan-Swinning has huge family connections to GT with his father and brother playing football for the Jackets. I don’t know how Jordan-Swilling will fit in with GT this season. He didn’t enroll early and he’s got the build of one of those hybrid/WIL type of LBs so there might not be a redshirt in his future. Right now Terrell Lewis has that role for GT, but he’s not a returning starter so it’s still possible that Jordan-Swilling could step in right away and play. Georgia Tech also plays a lot of 4-2-5 so throwing in another WIL/S hybrid probably wouldn’t be bad. The more I look at the roster the more I think Jordan-Swilling could have a significant impact on GT’s season.

August 6, 2017 Posted by | Alabama, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Linebackers, Maryland, Miami-FL, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oregon, Predictions, Preseason, Previews, South Carolina, Terrific 20, Texas, Texas AM, USC, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Washington, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 WR FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

Up next in my Terrific 20 series are the wide receivers! The more I looked at the receivers this year the more excited I got. There are some definite big names like Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk, James Washington and Dante Pettis, but there were quite a few smaller school guys along with some younger kids too. It’s a solid mix that I think will provide plenty of excitement on Saturday’s this season.

A quick reminder, the 20 players are listed alphabetically by their team. As I’ve said before, I don’t try to actually rank the top-20 because I’m not entirely sure how much value added I’d receive by doing so. The margins are fairly thin between some of the players.

TEAM COMMENTS
Computer Hope Calvin Ridley/6’1/190lbs/JR: Ridley has been dominant in Tuscaloosa in his first two seasons. In that span, Ridley has caught 161 passes for 1,814 yards including 14TD. Ridley’s numbers as a sophomore were down compared to his freshman totals, but you have to keep in mind that Alabama employs a run heavy offense and Ridley had to get used to a freshman QB last season. Despite that he still was a 2nd Team All SEC player. He should be a 1st Team All-American this year and eventually a 1st Rd. draft pick.
Computer Hope Cedrick Wilson/6’3/188lbs/SR: After spending two years at the junior college level, the lanky Wilson got his shot with Boise St. and didn’t disappoint in his first go around grabbing 56 balls for 1129 yards & 11TD! Having Brett Rypien throwing the pigskin probably made Wilson even better and it’ll be interesting to see what Wilson does now that he’ll be the undisputed #1 receiver as Thomas Sperbeck moves on. Wilson averaged a ridiculous 20.2ypc last season! He could be a bit heavier, but he’ll play big.
Computer Hope Deon Cain/6’1/210lbs/JR: The defending national champions lost a lot at WR with Mike Williams, Jordan Leggett and Artavis Scott moving on from the collegiate ranks, but don’t be surprised when Clemson doesn’t miss a beat at receiver because of Deon Cain. Cain is a big play MONSTER and led the Tigers in yards per catch last season at 19.1! He’s managed 14TD over his first two seasons even with being at best the 3rd option! Cain could very well elevate his game so much that he’ll be a 1st Rd. draft pick.
Computer Hope Antonio Callaway/5’11/197lbs/JR: From a naturally gifted standpoint, there might not be a more natural WR than Callaway, but his first two seasons in Gainesville have been interested. As a freshman he was a 3rd team All-American punt returner showing what a dangerous play maker he is. He was suspended from the team until the opener his sophomore season but still managed to turn in a good year last year with 54 catches, 721 yards & 3TD. Has all the tools to be the best wide receiver in all of football.
Computer Hope Simmie Cobbs/6’5/223lbs/rJR: Cobbs missed all of last season with an ankle injury, but the Hoosier wideout had a breakout 2015 season in which he averaged 17.3ypc on 60 receptions which resulted in 1,035 yards along with 3TD. Cobbs is healthy & should be in for another great season especially after fellow WR Nick Westbrook had a banner year himself. Opposing defenses shouldn’t be able to lock in on Cobbs leaving the match-up nightmare in one on one situations he should be able to take easy advantage of.
Computer Hope Allen Lazard/6’5/223lbs/SR: One of the most highly touted wideouts in the 2014 class, Lazard was a huge get for Paul Rhoads and his staff. Lazard is huge at 6’5/223lbs but he’s more of a possession type of #1 receiver. Lazard didn’t come in an dominate his freshman season, but he’s gotten progressively better in his 3 years in Ames. Last season he caught 69 balls for 1018 yards & 7TD. If he keeps improving, this season he could go for 85 balls, 1400 yards & 13TD. That’s a huge season that get Lazard drafted.
Computer Hope Jaylen Smith/6’4/220lbs/JR: Smith flew somewhat under the radar as a high school receiver. At 6’1/200lbs, Smith didn’t garner a ton of interest although he did get an offer from his home state school Ole Miss and Nebraska showed some interest. He spurned both to join forces with Bobby Petrino and he’s blossomed into a 6’4/220lbs nightmare who averaged 22.2 yards per catch last season with 6TD! He should be the Cardinals #1 receiving option this season & he does have a Heisman winner as his QB!
Computer Hope Anthony Miller/5’11/190lbs/rSR: Almost completely ignored out of high school, Miller chose to stay in his hometown and be a member of the Tigers. His career at Memphis didn’t get off to a great start having to redshirt his first year and then missing his rFR season with an injury, but Miller made up for lost time last year catching 95 balls for 1434 yards & 14TD! Miller is an exceptional athlete with huge big play making ability. The Tigers return 9 starters on offense including their QB! Miller should encore!!
Computer Hope Ahmmon Richards/6’1/190lbs/SO: Richards freshman season couldn’t have gone any better as the Florida native led the Canes with 934 receiving yards and averaged a ridiculous 19.1ypc! He broke Michael Irvin’s freshman receiving record when he went for 117 yards against NC State. Richard wound up a freshman All-American and a 2nd Team All-ACC player. Richards has solid size and elite play making ability with break away speed. He is the unquestioned #1 receiving target for Miami-FL this year. Incredible.
Computer Hope Richie James/5’9/178lbs/rJR: Arguably the best WR in college football you don’t know about, James already ranks 2nd on MTSU’s all time receiving list and will take over as their most storied receiver after their first game against Vanderbilt on Sep. 2nd. James was a 1st Team All-CUSA his rFR season and then a 3rd team All-American his rSO year! He’s got a chance to be a first team All-American if he can improve on his numbers from last year (105/1625/12)! James also ran for 339 yards & 4TD last year!
Computer Hope J’Mon Moore/6’3/205lbs/rSR: Missouri hasn’t been very good the last two seasons so it might be easy to gloss over how good J’Mon Moore has been for the Tigers. He’s led Mizzou in receiving yards the past 2 seasons but last year Moore really broke out with 62 catches for 1,012 yards & 8TD including a 82 yard TD catch. Moore has a solid connection with QB Drew Lock who should be better this season as Missouri returns 10 starters on offense. With excellent size at 6’3/205lbs, Moore should have a great year.
Computer Hope Equanimeous St. Brown/6’5/204lbs/JR: St. Brown didn’t get much run time his freshman season with the Irish because of a shoulder injury, but the 6’5 wideout bounced back to lead Notre Dame in receiving last season with 961 yards & 9TD while averaging 16.6ypc! The talent here is without question and St. Brown has ELITE size at 6’5. He could stand to gain another 20lbs, but as it stands, he’s one of the most physically gifted receivers in college football. He’s an All-American if Notre Dame gets him the ball.
Computer Hope James Washington/6’0/205lbs/SR: I’d really like to see Washington push for Oklahoma St.’s all time receiving yards mark. Currently Washington has 2,923 career receiving yards which is 1,491 yards short of Rashaun Woods’ career mark of 4,414. A huge year and Washington could get there. The Cowboys return RB Justice Hill, QB Mason Rudolph and WR Jalen McCleskey so defenses won’t be able to key in only Washington which should free him up. This situation gives Washington a chance at 1491!
Computer Hope Jester Weah/6’3/210lbs/rSR: Weah had an incredible season in 2016 nabbing 36 balls for 870 yards & 10TD! That’s some amazing efficiency considering Weah averaged 24.2 yards per catch and scored a TD on every 3.6 receptions! Pittsburgh didn’t really utilize their passing attack much, but with RB James Conner off to the NFL and the Panthers bringing in grad transfer Max Browne to play QB, you have to figure they might throw the ball more. It’ll be interesting to see how productive Weah can be if used.
Computer Hope Courtland Sutton/6’4/220lbs/rJR: Sutton put the country on notice in 2015 when the fully formed 6’4/220lbs receiver caught 49 balls for 862 yards & 9TD averaging 17.6ypc. Proving that was no fluke, Sutton followed it up last season with 76 catches for 1246 yards & 10TD averaging 16.4ypc. The Mustangs return 9 starters on offense including QB Ben Hicks. HC Chad Morris is in his 3rd season which means his philosophies are entrenched. Sutton could very well have his best season & be a 1st Rd. NFL draft pick.
Computer Hope Taj Williams/6’4/193lbs/SR: I think more people should be talking about Williams as a potential All-American this season. He’s got a similar build to former TCU WR Josh Doctson who ended up being a 1st Rd. Draft pick of the Washington Redskins. A junior college player, Williams led the Frogs in receiving last season with 702 yards averaging 18.0ypc! From that you could argue Williams has a bit more big play ability than Doctson. Given all that TCU returns on offense, Williams should have a field day in 2017!
Computer Hope Devin Duvernay/5’11/205lbs/SO: Duvernay didn’t quite have the true freshman season that Ahmmon Richards had in Coral Gables, but the Longhorns wideout did well in his own right catching 20 balls for 412 yards & 3TD. He averaged 20.6ypc and had an 80 yard TD reception. Compact at 5’11/205lbs, Duvernay has track star speed and elite play making ability. He’ll be a bigger focal point of the Longhorns attack under new HC Tom Herman & with Shane Buechele throwing the ball, expect big things to happen!
Computer Hope Christian Kirk/5’11/200lbs/JR: Kirk in College Station has been every bit as good as Calvin Ridley at Alabama over this first two years with the Aggies. In those 2 seasons, Kirk has caught 163 passes for 1,937 yards & 16TD! Kirk has also been a solid punt returner which led him to being a 1st Team All-American last season. Texas A&M has a lot of new faces on offense this season but Kirk should be a leading voice and the Aggies will need to get him the ball as often as possible in the hopes he makes something.
Computer Hope Cody Thompson/6’2/200lbs/SR: Thompson came into his own last season for Toledo by catching 64 passes for 1269 yards & 11TD while averaging 19.8ypc! Thompson isn’t your typical possession type of receiver out of a MAC school. He’s got solid size at 6’2/200lbs with some serious big play ability. The Rockets return QB Logan Woodside so you can imagine what Thompson and he can do in an encore season! With TE Michael Roberts moving on, Thompson should be an even bigger redzone threat for TDs.
Computer Hope Dante Pettis/6’1/192lbs/SR: Jake Browning is a legitimate 1st Team All-American threat with a real shot at winning the Heisman Trophy. His top target will be Pettis who came into his own in a major way last season catching 53 balls for 822 yards & 15TD! Pettis was mostly UW’s second option behind John Ross so it will be interesting to see how Pettis will do now that he’s the #1 option for Browning. If you believe Browning is going to throw for 4000 yards & 50TD, a lot of that is going to Pettis’s way!

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

Jeff Thomas/Miami-FL/5’10/175lbs: Thomas didn’t enroll early so he’s a bit behind, but the 5’10/175lbs speed burner steps into a situation that is pretty amazing. Miami-FL’s projected starting 3 wide receivers are Ahmmon Richards (6’1/190), Darrell Langham (6’4/220) and Lawrence Cager (6’5/220). All 3 are big boys which leaves the slot open for a smaller, speedier receiver like Thomas. The Hurricanes bring back a ton of experience on the O-Line, and they also return their starting RB Mark Walton who rushed for over 1100 yards last season. Given the experience on the O-Line and the size Miami-FL brings to their outside wideouts, Thomas should find himself with tremendous space underneath to exploit out of the slot. Note also that the Hurricanes lost their QB Brad Kaaya to the NFL this past spring and will bring in Malik Rozier to play QB. New QBs love having those little dump off routes to TEs and slot receivers. Opportunity plays such a big role for freshman to dominate, and Thomas walks into a situation where he should have an outstanding year should he get the opportunity and take advantage of it.

Jerry Jeudy/Alabama/6’1/184lbs: Alabama has a recent history of freshman receivers putting up big numbers. In 2015, Calvin Ridley led the Crimson Tide in receiving with 89 catches for 1,045 yards & 7TD. In 2012, Amari Cooper led Alabama in receiving with 58 catches for 999 yards & 11TD. In 2008, Julio Jones led the Tide in receiving with 58 catches for 924 yards & 4TD. Jeudy was one of the most sought after wideout recruits in the 2017 class and he enrolled early meaning he’s had time to learn the play book and develop a relationship with QB Jalen Hurts. Alabama is run heavy for sure and there is no question that Hurts is going to look to get the ball to Calvin Ridley at every opportunity, but Jeudy has big play ability with speed to burn. He’ll get plenty of opportunities to make plays especially with defenses keying in on Ridley. This is Alabama so everyone is good and the Tide have no shortage of receivers on the depth chart, but I think Jeudy could be the next in line of big time Alabama receivers.

Donovan Peoples-Jones/Michigan/6’2/190lbs: A consensus 5-star recruit and the best WR in the entire 2017 class, Peoples-Jones stayed close to home and will suit up for Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines. An absolute burner with tremendous ball skills, Peoples-Jones should start immediately for the Wolervines and is already the most talented player on the depth chart. Michigan lost their top-3 receivers last year (Amara Darboh, Jake Butt and Jehu Chesson) so Harbaugh and returning starting QB Wilton Speight will look for someone to fill the void. Peoples-Jones enrolled early and went through spring practice with the Wolverines so he should be ready to go from the very first down played. It’s interesting to look at Jim Harbaugh and the offense he employs. He’ll run a lot of 2-TE sets which is obviously run heavy. If you go back to his days at Stanford, Harbaugh didn’t really have ELITE wideouts, but he also wasn’t able to recruit guys like Peoples-Jones or fellow freshman WRs Nico Collins and Tarik Black. The trio of Peoples-Jones, Collins and Black was the best WR class in some time for a program and you have to wonder if Harbaugh and his staff have a lot of plans to open up the offense. I think Peoples-Jones starts that transition this year by having a monster season as true frosh.

Joseph Lewis/USC/6’2/205lbs: The Trojans depth chart is starting to look more and more like an NFL draft room dry erase board! Lewis was one of the most highly sought after wideouts in the 2017 class and he comes on the heels of last year’s two huge recruits, Michael Pittman and Tyler Vaughns. Lewis should be able to outproduce what those guys did in their first year. Lewis is projected to start for the Trojans right away and because he is a freshman opposing defensive coordinators won’t key on him right away. Also helping Lewis is having arguably the best passing QB in college football, Sam Darnold, tossing him TD passes! RB Ronald Jones also returns giving USC a complete and balanced attack offensively. If Lewis gets an opportunity (he enrolled early and has been with the team since January) I think he’ll take it and run with it. As I’ve said countless times when discussing freshman, a lot depends upon opportunity and given Lewis’s early enrollment along with the Trojans losing their top 2 receivers, Lewis could easily slide into that #1 receiver role and start producing right away.

Tyjon Lindsay/Nebraska/5’9/160lbs: Originally an Ohio State commit out of California, Lindsay changed his mind and opted to join the Huskers and take his talents to Lincoln! He joins Keyshawn Johnson & Jaevon McQuitty as other top flight WR commits Mike Riley and his staff convinced to come to Nebraska and it was an impressive haul indeed. Lindsay is LIGHTNING fast with big play ability written all over him. He’s obviously a smaller WR so he’ll be more of a slot/#3 WR sort of player, but I think this plays to his strengths and will give Nebraska a lethal weapon as the Cornhuskers should be completely entrenched in Riley’s pro style offense he likes to run. QB Tanner Lee is an NFL prospect with solid size at 6’4/220lbs. Lee transferred to Nebraska last season from Tulane and say out last year although this will be his 2nd year in Riley’s system. Lindsay was a huge get for Coach Riley. I think he’ll be used early and often and he’ll provide a spark to the Nebraska offense we haven’t seen in some time.

July 30, 2017 Posted by | Alabama, Boise St., Clemson, Florida, Indiana, Iowa St., Louisville, Memphis, Miami-FL, Michigan, Middle Tennessee St., Missouri, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma St., Pittsburgh, Predictions, Preseason, Previews, SMU, TCU, Terrific 20, Texas, Texas AM, Toledo, USC, Washington, Wide Receivers | Leave a comment

TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 INTERIOR DL FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

I always think it’s interesting to note that when we talk about the absolute best defensive players in the NFL the last couple of years we also begin and end the conversation with JJ Watt and Aaron Donald. They aren’t corners and they aren’t edge rushers but rather interior defensive linemen! To me this is a position that is sometimes overlooked, but it is the position that drives the defense. Having outstanding players up front that can collapse the pocket from within and control the running game between the tackles is almost indispensable when chasing down a national championship. You’ll note that both of Clemson’s starting DTs from a year ago find their way onto my list of Terrific 20 interior defensive linemen. Alabama ALWAYS has 1st round talent at DE and NT. Washington made the playoffs last season. Their starting DTs? Yep, both made my Terrific 20 list this season.

It’s also interesting to note sexy picks for the 2017 playoffs. Florida State is expected to make a playoff run. They look to have exceptional DTs. Miami-FL is experiencing a resurgence that some might think could propel them into the playoffs as early as this season. They have both starting DTs on my Terrific 20 list. There is a lot of flash on the defensive side of the ball. Who doesn’t like edge rushers who can flat get out after the QB? There isn’t much more exciting to me on defense than a bone crushing safety who lays the wood on suspecting WRs over the middle, but who are also exceptional ball hawkers. A shutdown corner has as much flash as anyone, but as is always the case with the game of football, if you want to win, you have to have the big uglies!

A quick reminder, the 20 players are listed alphabetically by their team. As I’ve said before, I don’t try to actually rank the top-20 because I’m not entirely sure how much value added I’d receive by doing so. The margins are fairly thin between some of the players.

TEAM COMMENTS
Computer Hope David Moa/6’3/270lbs/rJR: Coming out of high school, Moa was a 6’3/235lbs 2-star DE from San Diego that didn’t draw much attention. Having redshirted a year and then continuing to grow, Moa has turned into a 6’3/270lbs DT for the Broncos who had a standout rSO season with 8.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss! Still a little light at 270lbs, Moa has some solid first step quickness & he has room to get bigger. He should be a 1st team All-MWC and he’ll be interesting to watch for the 2019 NFL Draft.
Computer Hope Dexter Lawrence/6’5/340lbs/SO: Lawrence is going to make a solid case for being the #1 overall draft pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. He’s a MONSTER at 6’5/340lbs with uncanny athletic ability. Big enough to be a legit 2-gap daddy as a NT in a 3-4 scheme, Lawrence was a manchild in Clemson’s 4-3 racking up 7 sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss & 6 QB hurries all as a true freshman all the while being an important cog in a national championship run! Even more impressive possibly? Kid racked up 78 tackles!
Computer Hope Christian Wilkins/6’4/310lbs/JR: Wilkins was a 3rd team All-American last year as a junior and potentially deserved better. Like Lawrence, Wilkins does everything right as a DT. He gets incredible inside pressure and if you watch Wilkins a lot, he is a natural interior DL who always has his hands up to deflect passes. Last year he broke up 10 passes which is an amazing rate. His 13 tackles for loss was 3rd on the team and he still has upside as some of those tackles for loss could turn into QB sacks.
Computer Hope Derrick Nnadi/6’1/312lbs/SR: I love Derrick Nnadi’s game. He’s not overly huge at 6’1, but at 312lbs he definitely typifies the “dancing bear” stereotype of ultra athletic big men. Nnadi does everything well up front. He generates tremendous inside pressure but is also a space eater in the middle that will make tackles and clog up opponent’s running games. I think Nnadi has some more upside as well as Brian Burns, Josh Sweat & Demarcus Christmas should all be better in 2017 alleviating some pressure.
Computer Hope Trenton Thompson/6’4/295lbs/JR: According to Phil Steele, Thompson was the best defensive lineman in the 2015 recruiting class and last year Thompson finally showed that promise with a standout sophomore campaign that saw the big man record 5 sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss and 7 QB hurries! Thompson even won the Liberty Bowl MVP last year after Georgia beat TCU 31-23 to finish 8-5. Thompson has outstanding upside and hasn’t gotten as much run time as he’ll get this year. Expect big things.
Computer Hope Ed Oliver/6’2/290lbs/SO: The numbers are staggering. Last year as a true freshman Oliver recorded 66 tackles, 5 sacks, 23 tackles for loss, 9 passes broken up and 7 QB hurries! He was without question the best interior D-Lineman in the country in 2016. Did I mention he was a true freshman!? Already a 1st Team All-American, what does Oliver do for an encore? Like Dexter Lawrence, Oliver could be the #1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Losing Tom Herman is tough, but Oliver keeps Houston relevant.
Computer Hope Daniel Wise/6’3/290lbs/rJR: It is somewhat amazing that Kansas has a player on my Terrific 20 for both edge rushers and interior defensive linemen. Wise had an outstanding rSO year last year racking up 38 tackles along with 10 tackles for loss. The Jayhawks have a pretty solid D-Line and you have to give credit to David Beaty and his staff. Beaty recruited Dorance Armstrong to come to Lawrence and his staff has done a great job developing Wise as a solid DT. KU could win 4-5 games this year.
Computer Hope R.J. McIntosh/6’4/293lbs/JR: You know the ACC is being put on notice with “THE U” starts churning out top flight defensive linemen. McIntosh didn’t do much as a freshman, but came alive in his sophomore campaign with 2.5 sacks & 9.5 tackles for loss. That isn’t too bad for a young guy feeling his way through his first year starting. McIntosh has great size at 6’4 and almost 300lbs. Miami-FL has an outstanding D-Line coming back this year that I think only will make McIntosh that much better. Scary!
Computer Hope Kendrick Norton/6’3/312lbs/JR: Like McIntosh, Norton was also a first time starter last year at DT and put up pretty solid numbers with 2 sacks and 10 tackles for loss. I’ve seen some reports of Norton’s weight being as high as 320lbs so he’s a significant space eater in the middle who has quite a bit of upside when it comes to getting to the QB. Both McIntosh and Norton spent a lot of time in opposing backfields and it it’s just a matter of when (not if!) they start getting to the QB before he releases the ball!
Computer Hope Rashan Gary/6’5/293lbs/SO: I almost put Gary on my Terrific 20: Edge Rushers, but at 6’5 and almost 300lbs, he’s more of a 4-3DT or really a 3-4 DE. He didn’t get a ton of run time last year as a true frosh yet still managed 5 tackles for loss & 7 QB hurries. The QB hurries is the stat to watch. Gary didn’t get a ton of time so those 7 QB hurries could be closer to 17-20 if he starts 14 games and doesn’t get taken out. Some people are thinking Michigan might take a step back, but Gary might not let that happen.
Computer Hope Maurice Hurst/6’2/282lbs/rSR: Hurst took a huge step forward last year which his ability to get to the QB and generate interior pressure for the Wolverine defense. Some of that could have been defenses keying on Michigan’s other D-Linemen because they were a formidable bunch led by Taco Charlton, Ryan Glasgow & Chris Wormley, but I think Hurst’s improvements are for real and he’ll play a significant role this season. I think Hurst will be able to take advantage of Michigan having elite pass rushers.
Computer Hope Steven Richardson/6’0/300lbs/SR: Richardson is a little unheralded because he’s only 6’0 and he plays for Minnesota, but he put up a great year last year with 7 sacks, 11 tackles for loss and 2 QB hurries for a 9-4 Minnesota team that enjoyed their best season since 2003 when the Gophers finished 10-3. It was also Minnesota’s best defensive effort since 1999 and Richardson was a 3rd Team All-Big 10. With PJ Fleck around, confidence should be at an all-time high & Richardson should be good again.
Computer Hope Freedom Akinmoladun/6’4/270lbs/rJR: The scary thing about Akinmoladun is that the kid is still learning to play defense. Nebraska originally recruited him to play TE, but quickly abandoned the idea given Akinmoladun’s ability to add weight and retain his athleticism. The Cornhuskers are playing him as a 3-4DE, but he had 4 sacks, 5 tackles for loss and an incredible 10 QB hurries last season. It would be interesting to see him turned loose as an edge rusher or make him a 3-4 OLB on passing downs. I like him.
Computer Hope Kevin Givens/6’1/285lbs/rSO: Givens probably isn’t on anyone’s radar just yet but MASSIVE amounts of credit needs to go to James Franklin and his staff for getting in on this guy. Givens came out of high school as a 6’1/235lbs LB, but after a redshirt year he’s now bulked up to 290lbs with exceptional first step quickness. He’s not slated to be a starter this year & he didn’t start last year either but he racked up 4.5 sacks and 7 tackles for loss in very limited time. Don’t be shocked when he busts out in 2017!
Computer Hope Harrison Phillips/6’4/285lbs/rJR: Phillips road has a been a bit bumpy to his point. He didn’t get a ton of run time in 2014 as a true frosh and then had to redshirt in 2015 due to injury. Finally given the green light in 2016, Phillips didn’t disappoint racking up 46 tackles, 6.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss all from the DT position in Stanford’s 3-4 scheme. He’s a bit miscast as a NT, but he’s highly effective up the middle and should have no issues being an All Pac 12 player. He has double digit sack upside in ’17.
Computer Hope Zaycoven Henderson/6’2/305lbs/SR: Lost in all the Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall hype last season, Zaycover Henderson put together a pretty remarkable season for an interior D-Lineman recording 3 sacks and 10 tackles for loss along with 2 QB hurries. Sort of like Maurice Hurst, you wonder if Henderson will be as good now that offenses will key on him, but he’s got solid size at 6’2 and 305lbs and I think he’ll keep playing well. He should be a 1st Team All-SEC guy meaning he’s one of the best in the nation!
Computer Hope Rasheem Green/6’5/280lbs/JR: One of the most highly touted prospects in the 2015 class, Green is a monster with incredible size at 6’5/280lbs. As a true frosh, Green played in every game for the Trojans which is no easy task given the depth chart & became a full fledged starter as a true sophomore. Green led USC is sacks last year and was also 4th in tackles showing an outstanding ability to limit the run as well as the pass. Green is a big reason why the Trojans could end up being the national champions!
Computer Hope Lowell Lotulelei/6’2/317lbs/SR: Utah seems like a DT assembly line and Lotulelei is the latest edition. You can make a good argument his teammate Filipo Mokofisi deserves to be the on this list but I went with Lotulelei because the guy has been a model of consistency since he arrived in Salt Lake City. Of all the players on this list, if you were looking at bets as to who would reach their ceiling this year, I think Lotulelei would be the safest bet. Not a ton of flash but great size at 6’2/317lbs and he gets the job done.
Computer Hope Andrew Brown/6’4/285lbs/SR: A 5-star recruit out of Chesapeake Virginia, Brown elected to stay close to home and commit to the Wahoos over teams like Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Michigan, Ohio St., and Georgia. Brown had been hampered by injuries over this first two seasons in Charlottesville, but last year was able to stay on the field & ended the season with 6 sacks and 13 tackles for loss which is amazing considering how bad the defense was for UVA. The talent here is undeniable if healthy!
Computer Hope Greg Gaines/6’2/321lbs/rJR: I really like Gaines’ game. Washington plays sort of an odd ball 3-3-5 base defense or nickle package using a couple of huge DTs which one edge rusher and then hoping to get help via one of their outside LBs. This means that the Huskies need their DTs to generate a lot of inside pressure and Gaines does that. Gaines came to UW at 6’1/290 but has grown and inch and put on almost 30lbs. He had 8 tackles for loss and I think there is a lot more upside to his game going forward.
Computer Hope Vita Vea/6’5/344lbs/JR: Vea is an absolute BEAST physically at 6’5 and almost 350lbs! Vea is even bigger than Dexter Lawrence even if marginally so! Vea is an extremely unique player in that he’s a legit 2-gap daddy as a 3-4 NT, but he also gets tremendous pressure, finishing 2nd on the Huskies last season sacks with 5. He’s the reason UW can play the kind of defense they want because he takes up so much space and commands double & triple teams. He’s an All-American candidate that is also a top-10 NFL pick.

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

Marlon Tuipulotu/USC/6’3/305lbs: Tuipulotu should get significant playing time and this is one of those instances where talent meets opportunity. The Trojans should have a dominant D-Line with starters Porter Gustin, Rasheem Green and Uchenna Nwosu. That should leave Tuipulotu with plenty of one on one opportunities in the trenches to make an impact. Opposing defenses are most likely going to key on known variables such as the 3 other starting D-Linemen along with other Trojan players like Cameron Smith and Ajene Harris. There is some concern going forward about the overall depth chart of the D-Line, but for the most part I think Tuipulotu gets significant playing time and makes an impact because he’ll be more of an afterthought for opposing offensive coordinators. It’ll be interesting to see how effective the true freshman can be, knowing this and getting quite a bit of playing time.

Jordan Scott/Oregon/6’1/340lbs: I’m really excited to see what Scott can do for the Ducks this season. Just a 3-star DT out of Florida, Scott wasn’t highly recruited by the big boys. He did have an offer from Florida State, but not much outside of that. He chose to go all away across country to Oregon where he seems like a more natural fit in the Ducks 3-4 scheme. Scott couldn’t walk into a better situation. He’s a space eater at almost 350lbs and should command double teams. He’s also in a unique position because DE Jalen Jelks is a returning starter and the other DE looks to be Clemson grad transfer Scott Pagano. That’s a lot of experience up front. Oregon also returns both inside LBs in Troy Dye and Kaulana Apelu meaning Scott is either going to take up a lot of space allowing the LBs to hunt or he’s going to get faced with a lot of one on one opportunities where he can shut down any type of interior running game while collapsing the pocket on opposing QBs. We are used to seeing dominant 3-4 DEs out of Oregon such as DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead. Scott might be a legit 3-4 NT for the Ducks that carries around 350lbs.

Marvin Wilson/Florida State/6’4/330lbs: Just a bit smaller than Dexter Lawrence, Wilson enters the 2017 NCAA football season as the most highly touted DL recruit in the 2017 class. Wilson has massive bulk and does everything well in the trenches. He’s exceptional at getting pressure on the QB while also being able to take up space and shut down running games. He demands double teams so it’ll be interesting to see if collegiate offensives will allow him to go one on one with a guard or center. The only issue I think Wilson will have his first season is finding playing time. Derrick Nnadi is one of the best DTs in college football and FSU also returns Demarcus Christmas as their other DT starter. HC Jimbo Fisher is also bringing in Ja’len Parks and Cory Durden. That is a massive amount of talent up front for the Seminoles. Wilson is going to play and I think he’s going to make an impact but it’ll be interesting to see if he makes the same kind of impact Dexter Lawrence made because of the logjam up front in Tallahassee.

Langston Murray/New Mexico/6’2/335lbs: As I’ve written many times, sometimes a player can make himself a household name because of opportunity and I think Murray steps into an interesting situation with the Lobos. Murray has tremendous size at 6’2/335lbs. New Mexico under HC Bob Davie employs a base 3-4 and there isn’t much returning at NT from last season meaning if Murray can step in and be effective, he’ll earn significant playing time. Murray is also big enough already that he won’t need a redshirt year trying to add bulk to his frame. There isn’t any doubt that New Mexico is a work in progress this season after a mass exodus of players from the defensive side of the ball, but that means opportunity for a guy like Murray. I’m not sure he’ll cash in that opportunity, but a legit 3-4NT who can eat up space makes the 3-4 defense flow and you can be sure that the New Mexico coaching staff understands this. The Lobos are going to run the ball and take up time. That’s for certain so the defense will get plenty of rest. If Murray can eat up space then the other defenders can hunt, making an otherwise rebuilding defense, highly effective. Let’s see if Murray can seize the opportunity.

Quinnen Williams/Alabama/6’4/285lbs: Williams is a rFR, but I wanted to get a guy from Alabama on this list because how can you talk about interior defensive linemen and not mention Alabama!? Regardless of who Alabama loses to the NFL Draft, they always have dominant D-Lines and I think Williams is going to be a star in 2017. Williams had an outstanding spring game for the Tide and he’s projected to be the starter along with NT Da’Ron Payne and DE Da’Shawn Hand. Payne & Hand could easily be All-SEC type of players meaning Williams as a relative unknown should have his way early on. That won’t last because he’ll be dominant, but Williams should be able to capture enough momentum early on to propel himself through the season and make people notice for the 2019 NFL Draft after his redshirt sophomore season. The only downside to Williams is the incredible amount of talent in Tuscaloosa, but if he can get playing time and remain in the starting lineup, I think Williams emerges as an All-SEC type of player.

July 22, 2017 Posted by | Alabama, Boise St., Clemson, Florida St., Georgia, Houston, Interior DL, Kansas, Miami-FL, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, Penn St., Predictions, Preseason, Previews, Stanford, Terrific 20, Texas AM, USC, Utah, Virginia, Washington | Leave a comment

TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 EDGE RUSHERS FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

EDGE RUSHERS!!!!! The most exciting position in football in my opinion! This position was tough because there were quite a few edge rushers who probably deserved to be included yet missed the cut since I limited my selections to the top-20. One thing that stood out is that the SEC & ACC have tremendous pass rushers this season. Catching those conference games almost ensures you’ll see a couple of elite pass rushers. What also stuck out is that you could make a decent argument that Ohio St. has 4 of the top-20 edge rushers in the nation! If there is going to be a single reason why the Buckeyes could potentially win a national championship, it’ll be because of the RELENTLESS pass rush their edge rushers can generate! It should be mind boggling.

A quick reminder, the 20 players are listed alphabetically by their team. As I’ve said before, I don’t try to actually rank the top-20 because I’m not entirely sure how much value added I’d receive by doing so. The margins are fairly thin between some of the players.

TEAM COMMENTS
Computer Hope Harold Landry/6’3/250lbs/SR: Landry didn’t play much as a freshman, but flashed quite a bit as a sophomore as he tied with LB Matt Milano for the BC lead in tackles for loss in 2015 with 11. That was a harbinger for things to come as Landry exploded last year racking up 16.5 sacks which led all of college football! While a 4-3DE for Boston College, Landry projects as a 34OLB at the NFL level. Regardless, the Eagles are going to get back to a bowl this year & Landry will have an incredible season.
Computer Hope Clelin Ferrell/6’5/265lbs/rSO: It was easy not to concentrate so much on Ferrell last year during Clemson’s run to a championship because the defense had guys like Ben Boulware, Kendall Joseph, Carlos Watkins, Cordrea Tankersley, Dexter Lawrence & Christian Wilkins, but Ferrell was a huge part of the success racking up 6 sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss and a team leading 9 QB hurries. Oh by the way he was only a rFR! He returns with a ton of supporting players. He’ll go double digit sacks.
Computer Hope Jabari Zuniga/6’3/245lbs/rSO: Like Ferrell, Zuniga was another redshirt freshman having a helluva year. Zuniga finished the season for the Gators with a team leading 5 sacks, which also happened to be the most sacks by a freshman since 1987! Zuniga wasn’t highly thought of coming out of high school, but he proved to be an incredible get. In limited time last season he still managed the 5 sacks and an astonishing 11 QB hurries. If those hurries turn into sacks, Zuniga becomes an All-American.
Computer Hope Brian Burns/6’5/218lbs/SO: Burns has perfect height to be a 4-3 DE at the next level, but he’s a little light at 218lbs so it’ll be something to watch moving forward. While he might not have ideal bulk at the moment, it’s impossible to overlook the numbers the true frosh put up last season. In limited time, Burns recorded 9.5 sacks which was 2nd on the team to DeMarcus Walker’s 16. With Josh Sweat on the opposite end, Burns should be in for another huge year in what should be a playoff run for Florida State.
Computer Hope Josh Sweat/6’5/250lbs/JR:Opposing teams are screwed with FSU’s edge rushers because Burns and Josh Sweat make the list. Sweat is more of a complete package seeing that he’s 250lbs although his ceiling might not be as high as Burns. Sweat really came on down the stretch in FSU’s last 3 games against Syracuse, Florida & Michigan. In those 3 games, Sweat had 4.5 sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. If Sweat keeps that momentum going in 2017 and improves from his ’16 campaign, then look out!
Computer Hope Davin Bellamy/6’5/240lbs/rSR: Bellamy is almost the ideal size for an NFL 4-3 DE. At 6’5 and almost 250lbs, Bellamy has elite physical size, but one thing that he hasn’t been able to do is transform his QB hurries into sacks. In 2015 Bellamy had 9 QB hurries yet only 3 sacks. Last season he recorded a ridiculous 17 QB hurries but manged only 5 sacks! Those numbers should be reversed! Georgia is a big time threat to win the SEC East and you’d have to think Bellamy could be a deciding factor in the SEC East.
Computer Hope Lorenzo Carter/6’6/242lbs/SR: Everything I wrote above about Bellamy is somewhat true about Carter as well. Despite his IDEAL size for a 4-3 DE, Carter has had trouble converting QB hurries to sacks. In 2015 he had 6 QB hurries but no sacks. Last year he recorded 13 QB hurries but just 5 sacks. Neither Carter or Bellamy show up on first round mock drafts for 2018 so something is up. I’m betting on both of them. The upside is simply too strong there for me to ignore them. I think they both dominate.
Computer Hope Dorance Armstrong/6’4/256lbs/JR: There wasn’t a lot to be excited about regarding Kansas football last year but along with the win over Texas, Dorance Armstrong was a HUGE bright spot for the Jayhawks campaign. Armstrong wasn’t fantastic in 2015, but he exploded last season with 10 sacks and 20 tackles for loss! Armstrong was consistent all season & he put up big numbers against some very tough offensive lines. He could be KU’s 1st first team All-American since CB Aquib Talib back in 2007.
Computer Hope Jaylon Ferguson/6’5/255lbs/rJR: Guys like Ferguson are always interesting because you wonder who exactly they got to where they are. Ferguson is from St. Francisville, LA which is about 30 or so miles north of Baton Rouge. How in the world did this guy NOT grow up an LSU fan, and how in the world did LSU NOT want to recruit the guy? It doesn’t look like LSU even offered the guy so maybe it was never on the table. Ferguson exploded last year with 14.5 sacks! He’s an All-American candidate for 2017.
Computer Hope Arden Key/6’6/255lbs/JR: Speaking of Ferguson to LSU, could you imagine the LSU defensive line if it has Ferguson and Key coming off the edge!? Good grief! How in the world would opposing QBs not get killed!? Key is a MONSTER! HC Ed Orgeron is already saying can be as good if not better than former Texas A&M, and #1 overall NFL draft pick, Myles Garrett! Those are lofty words, but Key is fully formed & is an outstanding pass rusher. Coming off shoulder surgery, let’s hope it doesn’t hinder him.
Computer Hope Joe Jackson/6’5/258lbs/SO: I wavered on throwing Jackson on this list because he’s not even projected to be a starter for THE U at DE. The Canes have seniors looking to start in Chad Thomas & Trent Harris. Both are solid players, but it’s hard to ignore what Jackson did last season as a true freshman. He led Miami in sacks with 8.5 and recorded 11.5 tackles for loss which also led the team. Jackson has incredible size at 6’5/260lbs. I’d be shocked if Jackson doesn’t get a ton of reps & net double digit sacks.
Computer Hope Marquis Haynes/6’3/222lbs/SR: Haynes doesn’t have ideal size as a 4-3 DE, but he fits the position well and has a ton of natural pass rushing ability. It’s hard to ignore his production. As a sophomore Haynes posted 10 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss. Last year as a junior Haynes had 7 sacks & 11 tackles for loss but also had 8 QB hurries. It was somewhat of a surprise to see him come back for his senior season, but Haynes has the ability to post numbers that could make him an All-American candidate.
Computer Hope Marcell Frazier/6’5/265lbs/rSR: Incredible size for a DE, Frazier could think about gaining 25lbs and becoming a 3-4 DE who could provide pocket pressure off the edge. He’ll have no problem taking over for the departed Charles Harris who the Miami Dolphins took in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Frazier might be one of the most important players in college football this season because if he provides significant pressure, Missouri has a chance to shock a lot of people given their schedule.
Computer Hope Bradley Chubb/6’4/275lbs/SR: Chubb flashed enormous potential for the Wolfpack as a sophomore netting 5.5 sacks & 12 tackles for loss. Those numbers are gigantic but Chubb ranked 2nd on the team in tackles which is amazing for an edge rusher. Last year Chubb flashed for real, racking up 10.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss along with 7 QB hurries. Chubb has tremendous bulk at 275lbs, but he’s got a lot of speed for that size. There are a lot of very good edge rushers in the ACC, but Chubb is the best.
Computer Hope Sam Hubbard/6’5/265lbs/rJR: Hubbard didn’t go nuts last year with his stats with only 3.5 sacks and 8 tackles for loss, but he’s roundly considered a first round draft pick and if you watch Ohio St. for very long, it’s not hard to see why Hubbard has as much hype surrounding him as anyone. What could prevent Hubbard from having a huge statistical season is Ohio St. having so much depth on the edge. This will be true for Tyquan Lewis as well but Nick Bosa & Jalyn Holmes are going to need reps too!
Computer Hope Tyquan Lewis/6’4/265lbs/rSR: Lewis has always been an elite pass rusher but playing in the shadow of Joey Bosa, it isn’t easy to get noticed for you own play. In his first season without Bosa, Lewis led the Buckeyes in sacks with 8, in tackles for loss with 10.5 and in QB hurries with 5. He didn’t get to come out of the Bosa family shadow for long though as little brother Nick came in and had a fantastic true frosh season. Like Hubbard, Lewis is a 1st round NFL DE, but his reps won’t be as high because of depth.
Computer Hope Breckyn Hager/6’3/227lbs/JR: KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR THIS GUY! Hager had an outstanding sophomore campaign for the Longhorns despite only making 5 starts. Hager made the most of his opportunities finishing 2nd on the team in tackles, 1st in sacks and first in tackles for loss. He has a relentless motor and is constantly on the move regardless of play/position. Hager is a little light but Texas is moving to a 3-4 base defense which forces Hager to a 3-4 OLB spot which he’s more suited for. Scary!
Computer Hope Porter Gustin/6’5/260lbs/JR: Gustin didn’t get a ton of run time as a true frosh back in 2015, but he flashed hard last season for the Trojans picking up 5.5 sacks and a team leading 13 tackles for loss. Gustin is an edge rusher with incredible size at 6’5/260lbs, but he’s quick off the line and he does a great job holding the edge and containing the running game. He’s not a one trick pony to be sure. USC is this close to being back to the glory years under Pete Carroll. Gustin is a big part of that as the defense is solid.
Computer Hope Tremaine Edmunds/6’5/236lbs/JR: A 3rd team All-American last season, Edmunds is a scary sight off the edge down in Blacksburg. Giving Bud Foster an ELITE edge rusher is a thing of beauty. The last time VT had an edge rusher the caliber of Edmunds was back when Jason Worilds was playing in 2008-2009, but Worilds isn’t as good as Edmunds, wasn’t as big or have near the upside. Edmunds only had 4.5 sacks last year but 18.5 tackles for loss! He has the potential to reverse those numbers.
Computer Hope Duke Ejiofor/6’4/275lbs/rSR: Ejiofor was a big part of Wake Forest getting to a bowl game last year for the first time since 2011 and winning a bowl game for the first time since 2008. The 2008 season was also the last time Wake had a winning season before the 2016 campaign. Ejiofor got spot duty his first couple of seasons after redshirting but flashed last year when he became the starter. He led the team in sacks with 10.5 and recorded 17 tackles for loss. The ACC has a lot of outstanding edge rushers.

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

Jaelan Phillips/UCLA/6’6/250lbs: A consensus 5-star defensive end out of Redlands, CA, Phillips is a man-child at 6’6/250lbs which is already IDEAL size as a 4-3 edge rusher. Phillips enrolled early at UCLA and was on campus for spring practice. The Bruins hardly have anything coming back as far as pass rush is concerned so Phillips could get some run time early getting a chance to show the coaching staff that he can be an impact player right away. The only downside to Phillips potentially is his size. The kid is already 6’6/250lbs and UCLA runs a 4-3 defense. If he gains 25-30 pounds then Phillips will be a prototypical 34DE at 6’6/280lbs! There isn’t much by way of production last season in front of Phillips and opportunity is half the battle for these newcomers. I think Phillips gets a chance to shine as a true freshman.

A.J. Epenesa/Iowa/6’5/270lbs: I wanted to mention Espnesa because he is the most highly decorated recruit that committed to Iowa that I can remember. Typically the Hawkeyes don’t nail down too many no doubt 5-star studs, especially on the defensive line, but the Illinois native signed with the Iowa and Kirk Ferentz couldn’t be happier. I think opportunity is what is key for freshman contribution and that isn’t easy to see with Epenesa in Iowa City this year. Iowa already has a solid 3-man rotation at edge rusher featuring Parker Hesse, Matt Nelson and Anthony Nelson. What makes it so intriguing however, is that the Hawkeyes could easily make that a 4-man rotation by adding Epenesa  making their D-Line deeper and even more talented. It would also be incredibly BIG! Matt Nelson is 6’8/285lbs. His younger brother Anthony Nelson is 6’7/260lbs. Hesse is 6’3/260lbs and Epenesa is already 6’5/270lbs! Pass rush counts for a lot in football and because of this 4-man rotation, Iowa has a shot at the Big 10 West. I think Epenesa gets a chance to help Iowa.

Jake Lawler/North Carolina/6’3/220lbs: Lawler is a little light for an edge rusher but he’s a true freshman so you’d have to think the weight will come at some point. That being said, Lawler looks like a prime candidate to redshirt, but as I’ve said repeated times, opportunity is a good sign a freshman might have an impact and Lawler might have a shot to get solid reps. The Tar Heels have Malik Carney returning who will be their primary pass rusher, but UNC is a little thin on the opposite side which is where Lawler could come into play. You could make an argument that Lawler is the most talented edge rusher on the squad so that might garner him some opportunities. Admittedly this might be a bit of a stretch, but it’s worth noting because Lawler enrolled early and Carolina needs the help on the edge.

Drew Jordan/Duke/6’2/255lbs: Staying on Tobacco Road, Jordan as a true freshman immediately steps into the starting role for Duke and is easily the most talented edge rusher the Blue Devils have heading into 2017. Typically a team like Duke (or Vanderbilt or Indiana or Northwestern) can sometimes get a solid blue chip recruit along the O-Line or at QB. Even LB, but getting a blue chipper as an edge rusher is a rare thing, yet HC David Cutcliffe managed to pull this off with Jordan, a Georgia native. Jordan has ready make bulk at the collegiate level at 255lbs and to be honest, he’ll need to figure out a way to keep his weight under control unless he shoots up to 6’4-6’5. One thing I like about the impact Jordan could have is that it improves Duke’s pass rush from the edge because the Blue Devils do a pretty good job getting QB pressure from their LBs. Joe Giles-Harris and Ben Humphreys get after it a big and a solid edge rusher like Jordan could open up lanes for the LBs to swarm a little bit better. If Jordan gets a lot of reps and his numbers don’t look great, but Giles-Harris & Humphreys get big bumps, it’ll be because Jordan freed them up a bit.

Bryan Jones/Houston/6’5/245lbs: It’s a different coaching staff at Houston with Tom Herman going to Texas, but what sticks out to me about Jones is the presence of Ed Oliver. Jones is a fully formed 43DE at 6’5/245lbs and he was a highly recruited DE. Oliver as a true frosh last season was a 1st team all-american and he’ll be clogging up the middle while Jones is on the edge. Jones is the most talented edge rusher on the Cougars team and it’s not even close. He should get opportunities and Houston’s front-7 is good enough that Jones should see a lot of one-on-one matchups on the edge which could lead to some big plays. Given how well Oliver did as a freshman, I wonder if Jones can come in and have a similar impact especially with Oliver coming back for his sophomore season. Houston lost both of their starting edge rushers from a season ago so competition should be wide open.

July 13, 2017 Posted by | Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Edge Rushers, Florida, Florida St., Georgia, Houston, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana Tech, LSU, Miami-FL, Mississippi, Missouri, NC State, North Carolina, Ohio St, Predictions, Preseason, Previews, Terrific 20, Texas, UCLA, USC, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest | Leave a comment

RANKING POWER-65 COLLEGE FOOTBALL COACHES – #19 to #11

Now we are inside the top-20! What’s interesting about these guys to me is that all of them could make moves that would land them inside the top-10 if they had a championship caliber season, which for most of them is the last hurdle they need to overcome to get into that very elite category. As I wrote previously picking from #19 to #11 is probably based more on preference, but if you keep reading, there are some very interesting story lines with these guys that could affect their rankings going forward. Every coach/team mentioned here definitely has a story line that will be scrutinized in 2017. If you need to catch up, here are the links the previous articles in this series:

#50-#65
#49-#40
#39-#30
#29-#20

#19 – Bill Snyder – Kansas State

Coach Snyder is a tough one to rank because on the one hand you can argue he’s one of the all time great coaches in college football history. He’s unique in that he got the Kansas State job and kept it for as long as he wanted. He even came back after leaving at the conclusion of the 2005 season. In today’s football world, a coach at a school like Kansas St. would have bolted for another opportunity if they had had the success that Snyder has had at KSU. From 1995-2000, Snyder posted a 63-12 record with a 39-8 mark in Big XII play which included 3 Big XII North titles. Any other coach would have bolted for Georgia or Clemson or Auburn or Miami-FL. What keeps Snyder a bit lower is that he hasn’t won a ton at Kansas St. nationally. He’s never won a national championship. He’s only won the Big XII twice in 25 years of coaching. He’s 8-10 in bowl games. That mostly speaks to the ceiling of Kansas St. football. Snyder came back to Manhattan because Ron Prince lowered the standards. Snyder raised them again, but he can’t quite get KSU to national prominence. His hope was that Prince could do it. His hope when he retires is that the Wildcats get it right the 2nd time.

#18 – Mike Gundy – Oklahoma State

Gundy might be underrated by a long shot. Remember that Gundy has to go up against Oklahoma within his own state and Texas in his own region. Those are two college football Goliaths that are almost impossible to beat on the recruiting trail yet Gundy over the last 7 seasons has failed to win at least 10 games only twice. Gundy is coming off back to back 10-3 seasons and has posted 10-3 seasons in 3 of the past 4 years. Gundy almost won a national championship in 2011. If the Cowboys don’t completely blow it late in the year against Iowa St., then they would have played LSU in the national championship game that year instead of Alabama. The Tide beat LSU 21-0 in a revenge game after LSU beat the Tide earlier 9-6 in Tuscaloosa, but you’d have to think Oklahoma St. would have had a good shot at upending the Bayou Bengals. Oklahoma St. finished #3 in the rankings, but you have to wonder where the program could have been catapulted to had they brought home a national championship. What sticks out about Gundy to me as well is that he almost accomplished what Jimmy Johnson thought was impossible with Oklahoma State, namely winning a title. Gundy is about as Oklahoma St. as you can possibly get. He’ll be there forever if he wants and I can’t see him leaving which makes him quite a bit like Bill Snyder. Because of 2011, I’m not sure there is a ceiling to OK State football, so it’ll be interesting to see if Gundy can get over the hump and win a title.

#17 – Gus Malzahn – Auburn

It’s easy to forget that Malzahn led War Eagle to a national championship game his first season as head coach of the Tigers. That was a tall order beating a Jameis Winston led Florida St. squad so you can’t exactly blame him for losing. Malzahn has caught quite a bit of heat the past couple of seasons because he hasn’t replicated the success of that 12-2 squad from 2013. Malzahn is an offensive savant, but people forget just how good Auburn’s defense was in 2013. They didn’t create a lot of turnovers but they got after the ball quite a bit with quite a few sacks and tackles for loss. The O-line was dominant giving Tre Mason & Nick Marshall plenty of room to run. The defense & O-Line took a step back in 2014 and in 2015 Malzahn really didn’t have a QB as Jeremy Johnson wasn’t the answer. He entered 2016 with the same problems and Auburn struggled early, but when Auburn finally settled on Sean White, they reeled off 6 straight wins and won 6 of 7 after starting 1-2. The season didn’t end well with losses to Alabama & Oklahoma, but losing to Alabama in Tuscaloosa is hardly cause for concern and by season’s end Oklahoma was a top-5 team. Malzahn recruits extremely well and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Auburn really take off. Malzahn has his system in place and there is loads of talent here. Sean White is the unquestioned starter now and I”m willing to bet that Auburn gets back to double digit wins. In the SEC West, that is an incredible coaching job.

#16 – Pat Fitzgerald – Northwestern

What Fitzgerald has done at Northwestern is nothing short of amazing. Over this last 9 seasons, he’s lead the Wildcats to 7 bowl games. In the 114 seasons before Fitzgerald got to Evanston, Northwestern played in a total of 6 bowl games! It’s almost impossible for Northwestern to recruit on any major level unless some kids simply want to wind up in Evanston or have ties to Northwestern. While the Wildcats might not necessarily have it as bad as Vanderbilt because the Commodores play in the SEC, that might change given how good the coaching in the Big 10 is getting. I guess it could be worse and Northwestern could be in the Big 10 East, but Nebraska, Wisconsin & Iowa are pretty darn good. Lovie Smith is recruiting better to Illinois and Purdue & Minnesota just hired solid young coaches. It’ll be interesting to see how Fitzgerald adjusts to an influx of talent in the coaching ranks. He’s never gotten Northwestern to the Rose Bowl the way Gary Barnett was able to but he’s won 10 games in 2 of the past 5 years. Regardless of what happens around him, I have a feeling that Fitzgerald is going to keep winnings games. One thing I do want to mention about Fitzgerald and Northwestern is that if I had to pick any place for my son to go to college and play football, Northwestern would be in the discussion along with Michigan and Stanford. There really isn’t a better compliment to pay a head coach.

#15 – James Franklin – Penn State

From semi-mess to Rose Bowl in 3-years!? Franklin has more than earned ranking this high even if hadn’t took the Nittany Lions to a Big 10 championship in year 3. Franklin didn’t necessarily inherit the mess that descended upon Happy Valley in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, but Bill O’Brien was never going to be a long term solution and bolted for the NFL the first chance he got. Franklin didn’t shy away from the task of making Penn St. nationally relevant again and in just 3 years he had the Lions playing the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2008 and ranked inside the top-10 in the final AP poll for the first time since 2009! Franklin recruited at a high level immediately when taking the job, but he’s been able to sustain that success despite having a couple of 7-6 seasons to start his tenure. That success would only seem to increase the more Franklin wins because as a football purist, there isn’t many places more special to play than at Penn State! The only wild thing about Frankin’s success will be his ability to keep it going. He’s ranked #15 on this list which is fantastic, but he’s just 4th among coaches in the Big 10 East. That division is without a doubt the most feared and difficult division in all off football with Penn St. emerging as a national threat. Michigan St. isn’t always going to have off years and it’ll be intriguing to see what Franklin can do once Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State are firing on all cylinders. I think Franklin can handle the difficulty.

#14 – Kyle Whittingham – Utah

Did you know that Whittingham is 10-1 in bowl games since taking for Urban Meyer as HC of Utah!? That’s downright amazing and if I’m not mistaken that is the best record of any FBS coach in bowl games that have coached at least 6 of them. All Whittingham does is win football games, but what is most impressive about him is the transition Utah made into the Pac 12. In their last 3 years in the Mountain West, Whittingham guided the Utes to a 33-6 record including their perfect 13-0 year in 2008 which saw Utah finished ranked #2 in the nation! The transition to the Pac 12 was never going to be easy and Utah took some lumps early going 9-18 in conference play in their first 3 seasons. Their next 3 seasons have seen a complete turnaround as Utah has posted a 28-11 record from 2014-2016 with a conference mark of 16-11, winning a share of the Pac 12 South in 2015. A by product of playing in a better conference and winning is that recruiting has massively improved for the Utes since 2014 and the program has a lot more talent on hand to compete with other Pac 12 schools. Last season Utah almost broke through expoentially. The Utes finished 9-4 with a bowl win over Indiana, but their 4 losses came by a total of 19 points! The year before (2015) Utah finished 10-3 with 2 of their losses coming by a combined 15 points. Utah & Whitingham win their fair share of close games as well, but winning a lot more of those games than you lose is a clear indicated of a great coach, which is exactly what Whittingham is.

#13 – Mark Richt – Miami-FL

Richt is another tricky coach because of perception versus reality. There is a lot of sentiment that Richt was somewhat of a disappointment at Georgia despite coaching in Athens for 15 years and averaging 10 wins a season while also averaging a 6-2 conference record during those 15 seasons! Did I mention Georgia plays in the SEC? That’s outstanding but at Georgia that’s only close. During those 15 seasons, Richt won just 2 outright SEC titles and hadn’t one one since 2005 when Georgia parted ways with him after the 2015 season. Richt is a tremendous coach and a tremendous recruiter. There can be no doubt about that, but what’s interesting about Richt’s time in college football is that he got to Georgia in 2001. Urban Meyer got to Florida in 2005. Richt won 2 SEC titles from 2001-2005 and 3 SEC East divisions. It’s also worth noting that Nick Saban was at LSU from 2000-2004 and then at Alabama from 2007 to present. Richt is fantastic. Everyone would agree, but Meyer & Saban and absolute Hall of Fame locks. Saban is arguably the greatest college football coach of all time and Meyer is easily in the top-5 if not #2 behind Saban. Richt’s only real crime is being born at the wrong time, between Saban (9-years later) and Meyer (4-years prior). Richt will do an outstanding job at Miami-FL. Recruiting will be fantastic. He already went 9-4 in his first season and came pretty close to winning the ACC Coastal. He’s not in the Atlantic with FSU & Clemson so the real story here is can Richt take Miami-FL a step further than he took Georgia? Do that and he leaps into the top-10 of these rankings. Stay 10-3 every year and Richt is a top-15 coach for sure, but not quite elite of the elite.

#12 – Gary Patterson – Texas Christian

It took Patterson a couple of years to figure out the Big XII, but once he did, the Horned Frogs started dominating in much the same fashion that destroyed the competition in the Mountain West. From 2014-2015, TCU posted a 23-3 record with a couple of top-10 finishes and a share of the Big XII title in 2014. The 2014 season stung a bit as TCU dropped a 3 points game in Waco to Baylor which nailed their coffin for a shot at the college football playoffs. Florida St. was going to be in as they were 13-0 and defending champions. Alabama was 12-1 and SEC Champs. They weren’t being left out regardless. Ohio St. is Ohio State. At 12-1 they weren’t going to be left out. They had won 11 straight games and was coming off a 59-0 beating of Wisconsin in the Big 10 championship. The one team TCU could have argued against is Oregon, but Baylor might have had a better argument as Baylor beat TCU, but the Bears also lost to West Virginia. The thought was that if TCU can’t win the Big XII outright, should they be in the playoffs? I don’t know who they bump out and I don’t know how TCU would have fared, but that was a tremendous team and Patterson showed that he could take TCU from the Big XII and make them legitimate national title contenders. Last year was a bump in the road for Patterson and the Frogs and you could sense some let down after the Trevone Boykin/Aaron Green/Josh Doctson era ended on offense. TCU has a lot coming back in 2017 and my guess is Patterson jumps back into the top-10 of these rankings.

#11 – Mark Dantonio – Michigan State

I think we can all agree that Dantonio is a helluva football coach and is deserving of this ranking and maybe #11 is too low, but I do think there is a trend here that needs to be looked at because it involved Dantonio going forward. Dantonio really started to up his value as a HC starting in 2010 when he led the Spartans to an 11-2 record with a share of the Big 10 title. From 2010 to 2015, Michigan St. went 65-16 (39-9) with 3 Big 10 titles and 3 Big 10 division titles. Sparty won the Rose Bowl in 2013 and finished ranked in the top-14 in five of the 6 seasons and in the top-6 from 2013 to 2015! The 2010 to 2014 era is significant because of what was going on at Michigan during this time. From 2010-2014, the Wolverines were 38-26 (21-19). Michigan wasn’t Michigan in those 5 seasons and historically speaking, Michigan St. took on the role of Michigan while Michigan took on the role of Michigan State. What happened in 2015? Jim Harbaugh showed up in Ann Arbor! You could argue that the 2015 season showed that Dantonio could handle both Ohio State and Michigan, but that is tough because Michigan St. won a road game over Michigan when the Wolverines game it away. They also beat Ohio St. in Columbus in a game they shouldn’t have and then beat Iowa in the Big 10 championship in a game Iowa should have won. The playoffs exposed Michigan St. a bit when Alabama beat them 38-0, but maybe the Tide would have beat Ohio St. and Michigan by 40 points too! The proof might have come in 2016 when Michigan St. fell off considerably and finished 3-9 with a 1-8 mark in Big 10 play which included losses to Indiana, Northwestern, Maryland and Illinois. Winning those games would have pushed MSU to 7-5 potentially which would have gotten them bowl eligible at least with a shot at 8-5.  Maybe Connor Cook was that important!? Recruiting was down in 2017 for the Spartans while Michigan dominated. The trick with Dantonio is staying relevant while Michigan starts to dominate under Harbaugh. I think geography plays a role here. Auburn and Alabama can coexist as superpowers because they are in Alabama and the southeast. Florida and Florida St. can exist because they reside in Florida. The state of Michigan can’t resemble that type if relationship between it’s two football powers. Is Dantonio an outstanding head coach who can weather a bad year and get right back to the top of the Big 10 East or is he merely a solid head coach who took advantage of Michigan being down?

May 20, 2017 Posted by | ACC, Auburn, Big 10, Big XII, Coaching, Kansas St., Miami-FL, Michigan St., Northwestern, Oklahoma St., Pac 12, Penn St., Rankings, SEC, TCU, Utah | 1 Comment