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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

RANDOM NCAA FOOTBALL THOUGHTS AFTER 2 WEEKS

I thought it would be interesting to go over some random thoughts about the college football world  now that we are 2 weeks into the season. What has been surprising? Disappointing? Unusual? Let’s take a look by conference.

SEC

  • I’m surprised that Kentucky has had as hard a time as they have in their first two games against Southern Miss & Eastern Kentucky. EKU gave the Wildcats all they could handle before Kentucky pulled away late, but so far Kentucky has outscored both of their opponents 51-33. Benny Snell has not run the ball well and Denzil Ward has not been nearly as dominant off the edge as I thought he’d be. Getting South Carolina this week on the road could expose Kentucky.
  • Missouri QB Drew Lock went from completing 62% of his passes for 521 yards & 7TD in Week 1 against Missouri St. to completing 44% of his passes for 245 yards & 1TD including 2 picks in Week 2 against South Carolina. Lock can be a very good QB, but we might want to pump the brakes on his Heisman candidacy. He learned quickly that Missouri St. doesn’t exactly play SEC style defense. With that said, Missouri could win 6 games and get to a bowl which should set up a monster 2018 season for the Tigers.
  • He’s not getting attention but Ole Miss’s Shea Patterson has had an incredible first two games. The QB has completed 77% of his passes for 918 yards including 9TDs to only 1 interceptions. Over 12 games that equates to 5,508 passing yards & 54TD. You have to allow for competition as the Rebels have beaten South Alabama & UT-Martin, but given the distractions around the program the last few months, Mississippi has to be thankful for this kind of start and seeing how good Patterson can be.
  • They aren’t ranked yet but South Carolina is a real threat to win the SEC East. Their first two wins over NC State and Missouri are impressive considering neither were home games & SC did a great job in each game. Against NC State the Gamecocks scored 30+ against one of the best D-Lines in the nation. Missouri was coming off a 70+ point scoring effort against Missouri St. and the SC defense held the Tigers to 13 points & made Drew Lock look bad. SC QB Jake Bentley is the best QB nobody is talking about.
  • It was very disappointing to see Arkansas have such a hard time running the ball effectively against TCU. They didn’t look all that explosive against Florida A&M in Week 1 either meaning this could be a long road ahead for the Razorbacks. Seeing Bobby Petrino take this program to the brink of playing for a national title has only hurt Bret Bielema. Arkansas has road games against Alabama, LSU & South Carolina. All are almost certain losses meaning AT BEST Arkansas can go 7-5, but that assumes they can beat Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Auburn. Lose 2 of those 3 and Arkansas doesn’t make a bowl. Can Bielema survive?

BIG 10

  • The dominance of Michigan’s defense has to be an incredible surprise to many. You knew Michigan was going to be good but over their first two games, the defense is allowing just 1.4 yards per rush and opposing QBs are completing just 43.9% of their passes and have thrown for only a single TD while being picked off twice. The Wolverins are +4 in sack differential, +2 in tackles for loss differential, and +1 in TO margin. Those differentials show that Michigan could get even better.
  • I’m surprised at Iowa so far. The Hawkeyes did a good job of shutting down potential NFL 1st Rd. pick QB Josh Allen when the Hawkeyes opened up with a 24-7 win over Wyoming. There was every reason to think Iowa was going to lose their rivalry game against Iowa State, but the Hawkeyes pulled out a huge win in OT on the road to get to 2-0. Akrum Wadley is running well and QB Nate Stanley has been EXCEPTIONAL! He’s on pace for 50+TD passes which is amazing from an Iowa offense! LB Josey Jewell is playing out of his mind. He on pace for almost 140 tackles this season & is playing like a 1st Team All-American.
  • Maybe I shouldn’t be, but I’m surprised at Wisconsin and how dominant they’ve been. Granted they’ve only played Florida Atlantic and Utah State, but the defense has been outstanding. What surprises me most about the Badgers is how much they lost from last year’s team and the squad seemingly hasn’t missed a beat. Losing guys like TJ Watt, Vince Biegel, and Jack Cichy would impact the defense. I thought losing Corey Clement would be hard, but Wisconsin has absorbed these losses and looks even better than they did in 2016!
  • Completely surprised with Maryland! The Terrapins opened up on the road against Texas and beat the Longhorns in Austin 51-41 behind HUGE games from RB Ty Johnson, QB Tyrrell Pigrome and WR DJ Moore. Pigrome had to miss Week 2, but Maryland barely noticed as they took down Towson 63-17. I knew Johnson was a home run hitter at tailback but how could you see what was coming? Johnson is on pace to rush or over 1600 yards while averaging 15+ypc! Texas might stink and I’m sure the Terps are going to be tested more fiercely but right now the team is averaging 57PPG & you can be sure they won’t be intimidated in any situation after winning at Texas.
  • How good really is Ohio State? They lost the 1st half to Indiana in Week 1 by the score of 14-13 before blowing the Hoosiers out in the 2nd half. In Week 2, the Buckeyes hosted Oklahoma and had the doors blown off. If you look at quarters, Ohio St. has basically lost 6 of the 8 quarters they’ve played. JT Barrett doesn’t look good and you have to wonder how far Ohio St. can run this year. The Oklahoma loss doesn’t hurt too much if Ohio St. can run the table, but with Michigan progressing much faster than expected and Penn St. being Penn St., Ohio St. might have a very difficult road ahead.

BIG XII

  • Utterly shocked is the best way I can describe what is going on at Baylor. I’m sure when Matt Rhule left Temple for Waco, he didn’t imagine opening up the season with back to back losses to Liberty & UT-San Antonio, but the absolute worst case scenario has played out for the Bears and now they sit at 0-2 and that record could easily run to 0-8 before they get a road game against Kansas that might not be a victory at all. It would be insane to think Baylor could finish 0-12 and the odds are against it because going 0-12 isn’t easy, but it’s in play.
  • It’s one thing for Baker Mayfield to be a good QB. It’s completely another for the guy to be completing 84% of his passes and being on pace for 5,000 yards & 50TD. As good as Lamar Jackson has been for Louisville, if Mayfield completed 80% of his passes and the Sooners finish 13-0, then I don’t see how he’s not the Heisman Trophy winner. The Big XII has been incredible so far, but right now it looks as if Oklahoma is a notch ahead of anyone. They won’t face a defense as tough as Ohio State’s in conference play and the Sooners absolutely shredded the Buckeyes in Columbus.
  • Speaking of great QBs, Mason Rudolph of Oklahoma St. is completing 73% of his pass attempts and is on pace for 4,000 yards & 40TD. Rudolph might even be posting bigger stats through the passing game if it wasn’t for RBs Justice Hill and JD King who are running the ball extremely well. The Mayfield shadow is so big that Rudolph gets swallowed up by it, but the Oklahoma St. QB is a legit 1st Rd. NFL QB playing for a team that has a tremendous shot at getting to the playoffs. How in the world does a QB like this get overlooked!?
  • I’m not completely shocked by TCU’s 2-0 start but the Frogs absolutely dominated Arkansas in Fayetteville this past week. I think QB Kenny Hill has to play better for the Frogs to challenge either Oklahoma or Oklahoma State, but TCU has a real shot at 10-2 and a possible 11-2 season with a bowl assuming they lose to both Oklahoma & Oklahoma State. Having those two games on the road is a schedule nightmare, but TCU’s defense has been unbelievable so far so who knows. TCU’s defense has been off the charts when it comes to statistics. They’ve only played Jackson St. & Arkansas but right now they look like the best defense in college football.
  • I’m really surprised at how good West Virginia has played. They shouldn’t have lost their opener to Virginia Tech and they followed that up by absolutely destroying East Carolina. QB Will Grier has been amazing and West Virginia can really run the football behind Justin Crawford & Kennedy McKoy. The Mountaineers need to play a bit better on defense, but that is a common theme among Big XII teams. It does seem though that WVU might be able to air it out with anyone if Grier can keep up this pace. Dana Holgorsen is an exceptional HC. I’m very curious to see if he ever gets a top-10 job because the guy can win national championships. Of course it would be awesome if he did so in Morgantown.
  • Overall I’m really impressed with how competitive the Big XII is. Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Kansas St., TCU and West Virginia are really good teams. Texas is super talented although the Maryland loss is a bit rough. Iowa St. probably should have beaten Iowa given they were playing at home & the Hawkeyes gave them plenty of chances. Baylor has had it extremely rough and we don’t really know too much about Texas Tech & Kansas yet, but the Big XII has the chance to go 6-7 deep possibly and that is a lot more than most other conferences.

PAC 12

  • How about the play of the two stud QBs in the Pac 12!? Josh Rosen is on fire. So far this season he’s led the Bruins to a 2-0 mark including an INCREDIBLE come from behind victory over Texas A&M! He’s thrown for 820yds/9TD without a pick while completing 68% of his passes! Rosen is on pace to throw for 5,330 yards with 59TD! Sam Darnold of USC has been pretty darn good too. Darnold had thrown for 605yds/4TD with 4 interceptions while completing 75% of his passes. Darnold shredded a great Stanford defense & re-established USC has a national title contender after a difficult outing against Western Michigan to open up the season. Darnold has been plagued by drop passes and bad routes as well so his numbers could be even better. There is a good shot these two guys are the first two taken in the 2018 NFL Draft. I’d say it’s even likely.
  • I’m pretty surprised at UCLA’s defense. The pass defense is allowing opposing QBs to complete just 47.8% of their passes and are allowing just 4.7 yards per pass attempt. The Bruins are +1 in sack differential and +4 in tackle for loss differential. They are -2 in TO margin which outlines a couple of tendencies with the defense. They don’t create a lot of turnovers and their rush defense is absolutely horrible giving up 6.3ypc! If UCLA can fix those issues then this team could compete with USC for the Pac 12 South.
  • I’m pretty surprised Arizona State has looked as bad as they have. They were able to open up the season with 2 home games against New Mexico State and San Diego State. They got by New Mexico State, but by only 6 points. They were dominated by San Diego St. for the most part losing 30-20. RB Kalen Ballage has had a tough time getting off rushing for only 3.7ypc without facing any real stud defenses. Todd Graham was on the hot seat coming into the season, but I don’t see how he survives it. The Sun Devil defense is atrocious and if Ballage has a rough time this year, I can’t see them winning many games. I think 0-10 is a real possibility before the finish the season up against Oregon State and Arizona. Wow!
  • I was shocked to see Stanford get destroyed by USC. I don’t know if that was a blip or just one of those game where everything goes wrong, but Stanford matches up well with the Trojans & yet were dominated. The loss doesn’t kill Stanford as they are more  than capable of winning out (They get Washington in Pao Alto) and meeting USC again in the Pac 12 championship but they have a couple of tricky games the next two weeks playing San Diego St. (who just thrashed Arizona St.) and UCLA who has proven extremely dangerous no matter the situation. I didn’t see any of this coming.
  • I think everyone has to be pleasantly surprised with the job Justin Wilcox has done so far at Cal. I don’t think anyone really expected Cal to go to Chapel Hill and beat North Carolina, but they did and then followed that up with a shaky win against Weber State. Carolina wasn’t awful against Louisville so if you extrapolate, California could be more competitive than we initially though. QB Ross Bowers is playing well. RB Patrick Laird was dominant against Weber St. and the Bears have a real talent at WR in Demetris Robertson. The Bears are also +3 in TO margin which certainly helps.
  • I do want to mention Oregon. I thought their 2nd half against Nebraska was a disaster but the Ducks were playing not to lose & barely held on to that one. If they can get consistent defensive play, Oregon is going to be factor in the Pac 12 North if anything because they’ll be hard games for Washington & Stanford, but QB Justin Herbert is for real and Royce Freeman can run the ball. I’m not sure I thought this team could win 10 games before the season began, but I think that win total is in play.

ACC

  • Look we knew the Clemson defense was going to be good, but that defense is insane. The D-Line completely bottled up Auburn last week which has to be a harbinger for things to come. I honestly don’t think there is a team in the nation outside of Alabama & Oklahoma and I’m not sure that is going to be enough. I don’t want to minimize the the loss of Deshaun Watson because it was a huge loss, but Kelly Bryant looks more than up for the task. I’d be surprised at this point if Clemson doesn’t finish 13-0 especially with Deondre Francois out for the year at Florida State.
  • I’m not sure there has been any real thoughts on the ACC outside of Clemson’s incredible start defensively. We haven’t really gotten to see Florida St. or Miami-FL outside of their first games because of hurricane issues and neither team will play this week. UNC getting beat by Cal is a bit surprising but it’s a rebuild year in Chapel Hill. Louisville having a hard time against Purdue & North Carolina is a bit troubling but Lamar Jackson has been outstanding. Duke’s start is incredible but they haven’t played anyone yet. At best I think we can say we have an incomplete grade on the ACC thus far.

September 13, 2017 Posted by | ACC, Arizona St., Arkansas, Baylor, Big 10, Big XII, California, Clemson, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Oregon, Pac 12, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, TCU, UCLA, USC, West Virginia, 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

2017 COLLEGE FOOTBALL – WEEK 2 BIG GAMES

AWAY QUICK THOUGHTS HOME
Computer Hope In some ways this is a lot like Alabama/Florida St. in that a loss here isn’t a complete killer. There is some definite revenge factor in play for the Sooners as Ohio St. came to Norman last season & beat OU convincingly 45-24, but I do think last year’s Oklahoma team was better than this year’s & this year’s Ohio St. squad is better than last year’s version. That doesn’t bode well for Oklahoma. OU’s O-line vs. tOSU’s D-line determines this one. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I don’t care if USC is playing at home, if the Trojans play this week the way they did last week against W. Michigan, then USC is going to see their first loss since September 23rd of last season! I have these teams meeting in the Pac 12 title game so this should give us a little preview. At this point I’m not sure USC matches up well. They gave up a lot of rush yards to WMU & Bryce Love should have a field day. Stanford’s TE will be too much. Computer Hope
Computer Hope We are going to find out an awful lot about Auburn in this one. Last week’s game against Georgia Southern couldn’t have went better for Auburn from an offensive execution standpoint. The same can be said for Clemson in their opener against Kent State. New QB Kelly Bryant has to be brimming with confidence. Clemson has arguably the best D-Line in the nation along with Kendall Joseph in the middle. Will Auburn be able to run on them? Computer Hope
Computer Hope Georgia in South Bend doesn’t come around very often so expect fireworks in this one. Notre Dame showed out last week against Temple, but the Bulldogs are a completely different type of team. To me this feels like a measuring stick game for Notre Dame against an extremely talented SEC squad. Can the Irish block the edge? Can the running game be effective against Trenton Thompson? Can the secondary improve? Lots of questions. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Boise opened with an uninspiring home win over Troy 24-13, but now face a Wazzou team that believes it can be a factor in the Pac 12 North. Last year the Cougars went to Boise and lost 31-28 to start the season 0-2 before winning 8 straight to put themselves in position to win the Pac 12 but faltered to Colorado & Washington before completing tanking against Minnesota in a bowl game. I’d like to see if Wazzou can avoid an early loss. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Oregon gave up quite a few yards last week to an FCS school. They were also pretty sloppy & undisciplined with a couple of turnovers and 12 penalties. BUT GOOD GRIEF THE OFFENSE looked fantastic scoring 77 points! Nebraska’s D gave up 36 points last week to Arkansas St. which means this one could get ugly early. I think we are all waiting for Nebraska to reemerge & I really like Tanner Lee here, but the black shirts need to show up fast! Computer Hope
Computer Hope TCU looked like a team that could be a dark horse playoff contender last week when they beat Jackson St. 63-0. Leaving competition aside for the moment, TCU did EVERYTHING well. Arkansas looked pretty good too in their 49-7 win over Florida A&M but not nearly as dominant as the Frogs. They established the run game well which is what they want to do. I think this game will tell us quite a bit about TCU. A big win changes the Big XII. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Here is the thing. Drew Lock, Damarea Crockett & J’Mon Moore are legit ballers for Missouri! Lock threw for 521yds/7TD last week in Mizzou’s 72-43 win over Montana State! Crockett ran for over 200yds & Moore had 187yds/2TD on just 4 catches! The rub here is that Mizzou gave up 43 to Montana St. while South Carolina put up 35 on a nasty NC State defense. I think SC wins big & starts getting national attention. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Battle for the Cyhawk Trophy! One of my favorite rivalry games, Iowa travels to Ames to tackle their in-state rivals. I thought Iowa did a good job last week beating Wyoming 24-3 & proving the Josh Allen hype train might have been a bit too big. Josey Jewell was an ABSOLUTELY monster on defense & Akrum Wadley was steady running the football. Iowa St. also won last week 42-24 over N.Iowa. I think this tells us more about Iowa. Computer Hope
Computer Hope HOLY WAR! I was really surprised last week by just how thoroughly dominated BYU was by LSU in the Cougars opening 27-0 loss. Granted the game was in New Orleans, but BYU looked like a high school team which was surprising. Utah opened with a 37-16 win over North Dakota. If BYU can bounce back & win it certainly tells us that Utah isn’t very good and that the rebuild this season might be worse than what they hoped for. Computer Hope

September 6, 2017 Posted by | Arkansas, Auburn, Big Games, Boise St., BYU, Clemson, Georgia, Iowa, Iowa St., Missouri, Must See Games, NCAA, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Stanford, TCU, USC, Utah, Washington St., Week 2 | 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

TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 CB FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

Almost finished! I cover cornerbacks today and all I have left with are safeties. Corners are really interesting to watch considering how important these players have become given how pass happy most offenses have become both at the NFL and NCAA levels. I think to a certain degree with the advent of 7-on-7 camps and practices, the skill position players on offense have gotten so good that only ELITE level athletes can do a good job with the corner position meaning the players need size AND speed AND coverage ability AND run support ability AND being able to be a sure tackler! You get a guy like that and he’s in consideration for the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. Go ask Jalen Rasmey about this. For these reasons I think corners become a fascinating position given all the responsibilities they have.

This position also is interesting from a roster construction perspective. I’ve written before about roster construction and where corners play into the equation. In my estimation, corners fall behind quarterbacks and edge rushers, but a team wanting to build their squad around ELITE level defensive backs isn’t going about it in a wrong way. For all their faults, the New York Jets made some interesting moves by taking Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye with their first two picks in the 2017 NFL Draft, both safeties that should be able to anchor their secondary for years to come. Whether or not this turns into victories will yet to be determined but if the Jets can get one of the best college QBs in the 2018 draft, you can hardly fault them for going with a talent like Adams followed by a QB the following year. Granted we are talking about safeties instead of cornerbacks, but the gist is the same in that drafting coverage ability isn’t foolhardy even if you don’t have a QB in place.

I think my Terrific 20: Cornerbacks has a lot of potential 1st round NFL talent. I even had to leave quite a few corners that deserve to be recognized. This is a talented group we’ll get to watch 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 Anthony Averett/6’0/185lbs/rSR: Alabama is a CB factory and Averett is next in line. Averett didn’t have a great start to 2016 but righted the ship pretty fast and ended up as an excellent coverage CB with 8 passes defended. Teams don’t pass against the Tide for obvious reasons so Averett didn’t see a ton of balls. He’s a little bit shaky in run defense although to be fair he doesn’t mind mixing it up with opposing runners. With Minkah Fitzpatrick sliding over to safety, Averett is Bama’s #1CB so he makes the list.
Computer Hope Tony Brown/6’0/198lbs/SR: Brown ran primarily as Alabama’s nickle CB last season. Like with Averett, it’s always difficult to tell how good the Alabama corners are considering last year the Tide’s starters were Marlon Humphrey (1st Rd. pick in 2017) and Minkah Fitzpatrick (will be a 1st Rd. pick in 2018). Brown checks all the boxes to be sure and is a tremendous instinctive DB that can do a variety of things. He’s fast and at 6’0/200lbs is really just now coming into his own as a CB with Fitzpatrick moving to safety.
Computer Hope Carlton Davis/6’1/202lbs/JR: With so much talent in the secondary among SEC squads, it’s easy to overlook Carlton Davis who wasn’t that highly touted coming out of high school. He has ELITE size for a corner &  all he’s done since stepping foot on campus is produce. He became a starter his freshman season and has started 19 games in his first two seasons & has recorded 21 passes defended! He hasn’t had an interception yet, but he can develop his ball skills then Davis will be a FORCE to be reckoned with.
Computer Hope Trayvon Mullen/6’2/185lbs/SO: Mullen wasn’t overly productive last season, but he was just a true frosh playing on a national championship team that also featured CB Cordrea Tankersley. Mullen is an ELITE athlete with ELITE size at 6’2 and 185lbs. He’s a bit lean at this point but it explosive and I think he’ll be a key cog in Clemson’s defense this season preparing him for potentially being a 1st Rd. pick in 2019. The thing to watch for is whether or not Mullen eventually winds up at safety due to his size.
Computer Hope Isaiah Oliver/6’1/190lbs/JR: Oliver played behind Chidobe Awuzie & Ahkello Witherspoon last year and both of those guys were NFL draft picks so Oliver didn’t get as much run time as he could have. In that limited time however, Oliver was fantastic with 7 pass defended & a pick. He’s got solid size to go up against #1 wideouts. He’s got great balls kills and coverage skills. Oliver is an incredible athlete as he also is a competes in the decathlon for Colorado’s track team! I think he’ll be in for a huge year with Colorado!
Computer Hope Chauncey Gardner/5’11/204lbs/SO: I could have went Duke Dawson here if I wanted a Florida CB, but I went with Gardner because last year the true frosh was freakish recording 32 tackles with 3 passes defended & 3 interceptions. Gardner should be a 1st Rd. pick in the 2019 NFL Draft and now that he’s going to get significant run time in 2017, I’d expect him to put up crazy numbers & shut opposing receivers down. I love his ball skills so it’ll be interesting to see if other QBs try to test him on deep balls.
Computer Hope Tarvarus McFadden/6’2/198lbs/JR: McFadden has TREMENDOUS ball skills as evidenced  by his 8 interceptions which lead the nation. He’s a big time press man corner that NFL teams will drool over making him an almost guaranteed 1st Rd. pick. He plays reckless at times though as well. The 8 picks are sometimes due to how much teams testing him & McFadden isn’t the best tackler despite his size. A 1st Team All-American last season, McFadden can get A LOT better which is nuts given how good he already is.
Computer Hope Rashard Fant/5’10/175lbs/rSR: Along with LB Tegray Scales, Fant was a big reason the Hoosiers saw such a dramatic improvement in their defensive numbers going from allowing 37.6PPG In 2015 to 27.2PPG in 2016 & also allowing 509YPG in 2015 to allowing 380YPG! Fant was the very definition of a shut down corner recording 17 passes defended along with 3 picks. Not a huge guy, Fant needs to tackle better because offensive skill players can get away from him at times, if they can get the ball!
Computer Hope D.J. Reed/5’9/188lbs/JR: The smallest guy on the list, Reed spent his freshman year at a junior college after hardly generating any interested as a high school player. He then transferred to Kansas St. and EXPLODED on the scene with 16 passes defended & 3 picks in his first year garnering 1st Team All-Big XII honors. Reed also was 2nd on the team with 75 tackles showing his ability to wrap up despite being smaller in size. Reed is a legitimate All-American candidate that projects as a nickle CB in the NFL.
Computer Hope Jaire Alexander/5’11/192lbs/JR: Alexander is almost an exact replica of Tarvarus McFadden of Florida State. Alexander was outstanding in coverage last season & he has exceptional ball skills. Alexander had 9 passes defended with 5 interceptions although he wasn’t targeted as much as McFadden so his big play ability on deep passes might be even better than anticipated. Like McFadden, Alexander could get a lot better with his tackling, but he’s a legitimate All-American candidate that can take over games.
Computer Hope Kevin Toliver/6’2/193lbs/JR: Toliver is a beast at 6’2/193lbs. One of the most touted DBs in his high school class, Toliver hasn’t seen as much of the field as you’d like to see. He made 8 starts as a freshman back in 2015, but last year was plagued with injuries that limited him to 5 starts. Off the hoof, Toliver is everything you’d expect from an ELITE corner playing for LSU. He has that elite size/speed combination that has scouts envisioning him being a 1st Rd. NFL draft pick. LSU needs him healthy this season.
Computer Hope Denzel Ward/5’11/191lbs/JR: It’s crazy to think this since Ohio St. just sent Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker & Gareon Conley to the NFL, but Ward might be a better DB than any of those 3. The Buckeyes have ENORMOUS talent on defense so Ward gets overlooked a bit, but he has ELITE SPEED and exceptional coverage & ball skills. Ward had  9 pass defended yet no picks last season. That will change fast in 2017. Don’t be surprised if he’s a first team All-American & a 1st Rd. NFL Draft pick in 2018.
Computer Hope Jordan Thomas/6’0/186lbs/SR: Like his conference mate DJ Reed up at Kansas St., Jordan Thomas had a fantastic year for the Sooners despite playing in the pass happy Big XII. Thomas recorded 17 passed defended along with 2 interceptions & 49 tackles. Thomas has made 28 starts at Oklahoma & was a 1st Team All-Big XII CB last season after being a 2nd teamer the year before. Thomas has a chance at being a 1st Team All-American on an Sooners defense that should be their best in quite some time.
Computer Hope Jordan Wyatt/6’0/192lbs/rJR: Wyatt is a thinner CB but he’s unique in that he likes to mix it up and get in on tackles. He’s solid in run support and also possesses solid coverage skills. Wyatt also hardly allows any yards after the catch so if a receiver does manage to make the grab, he’s not making a big play out of it. Wyatt recorded 7 passes defended last year along with 4 picks showing his solid ball skills. Wyatt could maybe add a couple of pounds but this is a complete corner in all phases of the game.
Computer Hope Jamarcus King/6’1/186lbs/SR: Horribly overlooked, King had an outstanding junior season for the Gamecocks after coming out of the junior college ranks. King has great size and speed at 6’1/186lbs and showed off his solid coverage & ball skills with 9 passes broken up along with 3 picks. King is big enough to help support the rush defense as well as evidenced by his 56 tackles which was 6th on the team last year. The SEC has a lot of cornerback talent to be sure, but King is one of my favorites & can be All-SEC.
Computer Hope Quenton Meeks/6’2/204lbs/JR: I could have went with Alijah Holder here too and maybe I should have put both Stanford CBs here. I went with Meeks because teams avoided him like the plague last year & Holder dealt with injuries. Meeks doesn’t have a lot of counting stats (6PBU, 2INT) but that’s because he completely shut down his side of the field. He has ELITE size at 6’2/204lbs and is very twitched up. He could become a better force against the running game so he still has a chance to get much better. Scary!
Computer Hope Nick Harvey/5’10/185lbs/SR: Another overlooked SEC corner, Harvey finally got a chance to start last season for the Aggies and cashed in recording 66 tackles, 10 passes defended & 1 interception. Harvey even had a couple tackles for loss. Not overly huge, Harvey has great athleticism and can man up on another team’s #1 WR. Texas A&M loses a lot up front on the D-Line which I think is going to put a bit of pressure on the corners to hold their coverage longer. I think Harvey will be able to hold it down.
Computer Hope Parry Nickerson/5’11/180lbs/rSR: Not a household name by any stretch and Tulane won’t be outstanding this season but Parry Nickerson might be the best CB you haven’t heard of….yet! All the Louisiana product has done since arriving on campus is produce. Last season he had 9 passes defended with 4 picks. He’s a coverage nightmare & a pretty good tackler as well. He has 34 career starts & leads a veteran Tulane defense this year although the Green Wave’s schedule isn’t the easiest. He’s a big time CB.
Computer Hope Iman Marshall/6’1/200lbs/JR: Phil Steele rated Marshall as the #1 DB in the 2015 high school class and with Adoree Jackson moving on to the NFL, he becomes the man in the secondary for the Trojans. He won’t have problems. Marshall has great size/speed and has done nothing but produce becoming a starter as a true frosh. Over his first two seasons Marshall has 17 passes defended & 6 interceptions. Marshall also doesn’t getting dirty. He has 118 tackles over his first 2 seasons & likes to hit.
Computer Hope Brandon Facyson/6’2/197lbs/rSR: Facyson has big size on the edge for the Hokies and that is part of his game for sure. He likes to get nasty and wrap up running backs which certainly helps Virginia Tech defensively. He uses his size to man up receivers but does get  prone to giving up big plays. If he can keep receivers from taking the top off, he’s a shutdown corner. Facyson along with teammate Adonis Alexander are listed as corners, but you almost wonder if they aren’t safeties at the next level given their skill set.

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

Darnay Holmes/UCLA/5’11/190lbs: HC Jim Mora did a good job with this recruiting class especially on defense as he brings in arguably the best pure pass rusher in the class in Jaelan Phillips but also arguably the best corner in the class in Darnay Holmes. Holmes is expected to start immediately for the Bruins and there is no doubt that both he and Phillips could have a significant impact on the fortunes of the UCLA defense. UCLA has an interesting opening week game against Texas A&M and it would be interesting to see Holmes go up against an incredible receiving talent like Christian Kirk. The true freshman would probably get schooled, but you can be sure he’d take those lessons and get better. A freakishly athletic DB, Holmes will get a lot of opportunities to shine this season & that is as much as you could ask for with a freshman.

Jamyest Williams/South Carolina/5’9/174lbs: Williams was an Under Amrour All-American last year as a HS senior and I think he could have a significant on South Carolina’s defense. This size makes him an obvious nickle CB in the slot and that actually makes sense with the Gamecocks because they have two senior CBs returning in  Jamarcus King & Chris Lammons. They also have JUCO transfer Kaleb Chalmers who was originally a Clemson commit in the fold. That is a lot of high level experience for Williams to learn from. There is something about this South Carolina team and I think a lot of people are sleeping on them. They’ll get a HUGE test in Week 1 when they play NC State but I think they can win that one. Offenses will surely be paying massive amount of attention to King, Lammons and safety DJ Smith meaning Williams could be in for some big plays. That is until offenses catch on that he’s something to worry about.

Byron Murphy/Washington/5’11/177lbs: Murphy is actually a rFR so this and is Murphy’s 2nd year with the Huskies, but his role couldn’t be bigger as he’s penciled into start. Washington loses a TRUCKLOAD of talent from their secondary from a year ago as CB Kevin King, CB Sidney Jones and S Budda Baker are now playing in the NFL. Washington definitely has national championship aspirations now that they’ve reached the playoffs and have a lot returning. If you were pointing to a weakness of the team however, it would have to be cornerback especially considering the passing attacks Washington will see from teams like Arizona St., UCLA, Washington St., Oregon and potentially USC in the Pac 12 championship game. This means Murphy’s play is going to be immensely important meaning he could make a significant impact on Washington’s hopes and dreams in 2017.

Thomas Graham/Oregon/5’11/188lbs: Graham could make an impact in much the same way Murphy can, but it might be even more pronounced in Graham’s case. He’s coming to Eugene as a true freshman and he’s going to see even more prolific passing offenses than even Murphy & Washington. Graham gets Nebraska & Wyoming in non-conference play meaning he’s going up against QBs Tanner Lee & Josh Allen. Allen is already being talked about as a potential #1 pick in the NFL Draft and don’t be surprised if Lee sneaks his way into the first round as well. Beyond those two teams, Graham will have to face Luke Falk (Washington St.), Manny Wilkins (Arizona St.), Keller Chryst (Stanford), Josh Rosen (UCLA), and Jake Browning (Washington). GOOD GRIEF! If you think Oregon can win the Pac 12 North then you can also potentially add Sam Darnold (USC) to the mix! Oregon has a tremendous amount of talent coming back this season and new HC Willie Taggart has won wherever he’s been. Their schedule isn’t the easiest with road trips to UCLA, Stanford, Washington & Arizona State, but Oregon is going to be a difficult team to beat given their roster and Thomas Graham could be a HUGE part of their success if he can have a big year in coverage. Huge opportunity for the true freshman.

Lamont Wade/Penn State/5’9/193lbs: Wade is interesting in my opinion because of his size. At 5’9 he’s a bit smallish at CB but he is exceptionally talented and enrolled early for the Nittany Lions meaning his familiar enough with the schemes to make a difference. What’s interesting about his size is that Penn St. returns one starting CB, Grant Haley. Haley himself is 5’9/183lbs. If Wade finds himself as the corner opposite Haley or even as the nickle in sub-packages, it gives Penn St. some corners that are very short. Contrast this with Michigan’s and Ohio St.’s receivers who are very tall. Those are matchup problems and it’ll be interesting to see how Penn St. plays given their size limitations. Maybe it won’t matter and Penn St. has MORE than enough offense to keep pace with anyone, but the Lions gave up over 25PPG last season and there does seem to be a hole there for other teams to exploit. It’ll be interesting to see if Wade plays bigger than  his size and can help PSU neutralize some very good receivers who are very tall.

September 2, 2017 Posted by | Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Colorado, Cornerbacks, Florida, Florida St., Indiana, Kansas St., Louisville, LSU, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn St., SMU, South Carolina, Stanford, Texas AM, Tulane, UCLA, USC, Virginia Tech, Washington | Leave a comment

2017 PAC 12 PREVIEW AND PREDICTIONS

When I think of the Pac 12 this season the word that I can’t escape is “TRANSITION”. When you take a look at the Pac 12 South, you find that 3 of the coaches find themselves on the hot seat. UCLA HC Jim Mora has done an excellent job of recruiting talent for the Bruins, but last year UCLA finished 4-8 in a year that saw star QB Josh Rosen miss time due to injury. The year prior, UCLA finished 8-5 meaning the Bruins are 12-13 over the last two seasons which is far below their expectation given the amount of talent walking on campus. Arizona HC Rich Rodriguez looked to have Arizona headed in the right direction after starting with back to back 8-5 seasons before improving to 10-4 with a Pac 12 South division title in 2014. The last two seasons have seen the Wildcats regress to 10-15 including last year’s 3-9 disaster. It’s also trending down for Arizona St. HC Todd Graham who was saddled with injuries all season long as Arizona St. just missed out on a bowl and finished 5-7 but was humiliated by a terrible Arizona squad in the season finale.

On the flip side, Colorado’s HC Mike MacIntyre massive overachieved with the Buffaloes last season netting Colorado a Pac 12 South title and a double digit win season at 10-4. USC also transitioned heavily during the season. After starting 1-3, the Trojans put Sam Darnold in as the starting QB and ripped off 9 straight wins including an incredible 52-49 win over Penn St. in the Rose Bowl. USC finished 10-3 and ranked #3 in the nation! USC hitting stride this early can only mean dire consequences for the rest of the Pac 12 because as we’ve seen recently in the Pete Carroll days, when USC is going well, they are practically an unbeatable college football program.

The Pac 12 North is a little more stable, but there is also quite a bit of transitioning happening in that division as well. Both California and Oregon have new coaches & both squads have track records of success when things are going well, especially in Oregon’s case as the Ducks feature a football program that have proven good enough to win national championships. Oregon St. is still transitioning under HC Gary Andersen who enters his 2nd year with the Beavers. Andersen has a proven track record of success so it only seems like a matter of time before Oregon St. become a factor in the North. In certain ways both Washington & Washington State have been transitioning. It’s easy to forget but Chris Petersen is entering just his 4th year with the Huskies and let’s not forget that UW was a combined 15-12 in Petersen’s first two years before last year’s 12-2 breakout that resulted in Washington getting to the playoffs yet losing to Alabama 24-7 in the Peach Bowl. Mike Leach enters his 6th year in Pullman, but Leach is starting to hit his stride as the Cougars are 17-9 over the last 2 seasons as compared to their 12-25 record over Leach’s first 3. Some of that is due to Luke Falk I’m sure, but more is probably due to Leach finally having implemented his brand & culture of football.

Stanford of course is the mainstay. David Shaw consistently turns out winners and this year will be no different for Shaw and the Cardinal, but if you are looking for great story lines in the Pac 12, look for the transitions of the teams and how each program is progressing on their paths. These stories are a bit more subtle in nature, but very interesting. The Pac 12 is an interesting conference that probably should get more media scrutiny but is hurt because of their time zones. It could look much different in 2018 than it does right now in 2017 and that is the exciting part heading into the season.

# TEAM PAC 12 SOUTH
1 Computer Hope USC isn’t back to their Pete Carroll/Matt Leinart/Reggie Bush days but they are a lot closer than they’ve been coming off a Rose Bowl win over Penn St. & finishing 2016 ranked #3! QB Sam Darnold returns & is arguably the best QB in college football. So does RB Ronald Jones. USC needs to break in a lot of starters on the O-Line & at receiver, but the talent is there. On the defensive side of the football, USC returns 7 starters led by DE Porter Gustin, LB Cameron Smith & CB Iman Marshall, all guys who could be All-Americans. The Trojans are legitimate championship contenders & they get Stanford at the Coliseum!
2 Computer Hope The schedule makers didn’t do UCLA any favors this season giving them road games against Stanford, Washington, Utah & USC while also getting a home game against Oregon! HC Jim Mora has done an incredible job recruiting for the Bruins so talent shouldn’t be an issue. QB Josh Rosen is healthy & is playing with a bit of a chip on his shoulder which could be a scary proposition. Defensively UCLA has some big shoes to fill as Tak McKinley & Eddie Vanderdoes are now playing on Sunday, but the secondary should be a strength & talent is plentiful. The catch for UCLA is turning all that talent into productive victories.
3 Computer Hope There might not be a better looking team coming off the bus than Arizona St,. but HC Todd Graham & the Sun Devils haven’t been able to do much the last couple of seasons as ASU has gone 11-14 in that span. This year ASU should be explosive on offense with QB Manny Wilkins returning along with skill players Demario Richard, Kalen Ballage & N’Keal Harry. The O-Line returns 3 starters so points will be scored. Defensively I love Arizona St. because they are so aggressive & blitz heavy. It can get you beat, but it’s NASTY when working. I think Jojo Wicker has a huge year. The schedule isn’t easy, but ASU gets back to winning.
4 Computer Hope On the one hand, Colorado had a MASSIVE year last season finishing 10-4 with a Pac 12 South title. On the other, Colorado got exposed against Michigan, Washington, USC & Oklahoma State, the best 3 teams they faced all season. A 10-5 win at Stanford really cemented Colorado’s year & they came close to winning at USC but against ELITE talent, Colorado was outscored 145-63! The Buffaloes return 9 starters on an offense that averaged 31.1PPG last year so I think they get better. The problem is that UC returns just 3 starters on defense losing 8 of their top 11 tacklers. The defense will be key for Colorado to keep trending up.
5 Computer Hope It’s so difficult to call for Utah to have a down year because it seems like no matter what happens from year to year, HC Kyle Whittingham gets the Utes to 9-10 wins. I think this year resembles more of 2012-2013 as Utah returns just 9 total starters & loses RB Joe Williams. They do return QB Troy Williams, but I think he’s a limited QB having completed just 53% of his passes last year with a 15:8 TD:INT ratio. Utah also has 4 new starters on the O-Line. Defensively Lowell Lotulelei returns, but the losses are HEAVY including Hunter Dimick, Marcus Williams & Pasoni Tasini. It feels like Utah is going into transition mode.
6 Computer Hope Arizona returns 14 starters from a 3-9 squad including QB Brandon Dawkins. On some level I think the Wildcats should be in for an improved season, but that 3-9 is very troubling. Arizona wasn’t even competitive outside of their first 4 games. Yes they beat Arizona State, but the Sun Devils were so injury depleted at the time that Arizona was essentially beating the 2nd team & they still allowed ASU to score 35pts. Take that game out & you have an Arizona squad with wins over Grambling & Hawaii! That’s it. HC Rich Rodriguez isn’t recruiting that well & you have to wonder if he can survive another season with 3-4 wins?

 

# TEAM PAC 12 NORTH
1 Computer Hope A lot of people have Washington winning the North but I’m going with Stanford. The Cardinal return a truckload on offense. I think QB Keller Chryst has a great year given his returning weapons: WR Trenton Irwin, WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside & TE Dalton Schultz. I think RB Bryce Love picks up where Christian McCaffery left off & the OL returns 4 starters. Defensively the Cardinal returns DT Harrison Phillips who could be a 1st Team All-American & a 1st Rd. NFL draft pick. They also return 8 of their top-10 tacklers including the entire LB corps led by OLB Peter Kalambayi. Stanford gets UW at home which gives them the North.
2 Computer Hope Almost impossible to pick against Washington & HC Chris Petersen but the road date against Stanford is the game that hurts UW’s playoff hopes. Offensively the Huskies should be just as good as last season despite losing WR John Ross. QB Jake Browning, RB Myles Gaskin, WR Dante Pettis & LT Trey Adams all return & all are outstanding with Browning be a legit Heisman contender Defensively UW returns 6 starters but will also get a full year from LB Azeem Victor who is one of the best LB in the nation. The corners are raw & Washington needs to figure out their pass rush, but this is a helluva football team.
3 Computer Hope QB Luke Falk surprised some people when he decided to return to Pullman for his senior season after having a 2016 year that saw him pass for almost 4500 yards, complete 70% of his pass & throw 38TD to just 11INT. Wazzou can score. They can score a lot & they’ll continue to do so as they have a solid rushing attack behind James Williams & Jamal Morrow long with a solid O-line. What puts the Cougars over the top for me is they return 9 starters on a defense that allowed 26PPG last year. They’ll need to replace Shalom Luani but the defense gets better. Beat Stanford & Wazzou could be playing for a playoff spot against UW!
4 Computer Hope Oregon gets Washington St. at home so it might be folly for me to have Oregon in 4th instead of 3rd, but I think the new transition to HC Willie Taggart costs them a game & pushes them behind the Cougars. The cupboards are certainly not bare in Eugene. The Ducks return 17 starters from a HORRIBLY underachieving 4-8 team from 2016. The Ducks return QB Justin Herbert who is going to be outstanding along with 5 starters on the O-Line, their top-2 receivers & RB Royce Freeman! Defensively Oregon returns 9 starters from a terrible unit but new DC Jim Leavitt is outstanding so the D should improve.
5 Computer Hope HC Gary Andersen is one of the best HCs in college football so it’s easy to see how he could take a middling Oregon St. program & have them on the rise. Andersen went 2-10 in his first year Corvallis and improved that to 4-8 last year in his 2nd season. It’s not inconceivable to think the Beavers could get to 7 wins this year although the schedule isn’t easy & they’ll have to win a couple of tough road dates. Offensively Oregon St. improved by 7.2PPG from 2015 to 2016 and the defense improved by 6.5PPG. If that happens again in 2017, Oregon St. would average 33.4PPG on offense & allows just 24.0PPG on defense. Nice!
6 Computer Hope New HC Justin Wilcox takes over a Bears program that hasn’t been that relevant since 2008. Phil Steele ranks California’s schedule as the 2nd most difficult in the nation this year which means Wilcox & his staff need to brace for a tough go. Cal does have an ELITE WR in Demetris Robertson but the Bears will need to put something around him to keep defenses from honing in on him on every down. Wilcox came up as a defensive coach & he’ll be sorely needed as Cal allowed 42.6PPG a year ago! There is some talent in different spots but Wilcox simply needs to find ways his players can succeed & keep building the roster.



PAC 12 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

NORTH PAC 12 CHAMPIONSHIP SOUTH
Computer Hope This one is going to be amazing! Interestingly enough, Stanford travels to USC on September 9th so by the time this game comes around the two teams should be significantly different in execution and rhythm considering it’ll almost be 3 months since they played. The key here will be how USC transitions through the year. Right now I’d give the edge to Stanford because on paper I think the Cardinal are better, but USC has Sam Darnold & if the offense & defense gel, then the Trojans are SO TALENTED. I still say Stanford finds a way to win. Computer Hope

August 23, 2017 Posted by | Arizona, Arizona St., California, Colorado, NCAA, Oregon, Oregon St., Pac 12, Predictions, Preseason, Previews, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington St. | 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 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 QBs FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

Back with my “Terrific 20”! This time we are looking at quarterbacks. Remember that I’m not ranking the top-20 QBs, but rather listing them in alphabetical order by team. As I outlined in my Terrific 20: RB post, it was simply too difficult to try and distinguish between the top-20, and even if I did, I’m not sure there is any real value added to that discussion.

TEAM COMMENTS
Computer Hope Jalen Hurts/6’2/214lbs/SO: It was fairly remarkable what Hurts was able to do at Alabama as a true freshman. He might have added to Nick Saban’s number of gray hairs at times, but Hurts was nothing if not exciting. There are certainly some things Hurts can work on. He was flat out terrible against Florida, Washington & Clemson in Alabama’s last 3 games. He wasn’t that great in the 4th quarter or in 3rd down. He’ll improve in all those areas and I could see him going for 3000/1000 in 2017.
Computer Hope Deondre Francois/6’2/205lbs/rSO: Francois took a beating all season long and still managed to play in every game and lead Florida St. to a 10-3 record including a bowl win over Michigan in what was considered a “down” year for the Seminoles. He’s essentially the successor to Jameis Winston and I wouldn’t be against Francois leaving FSU with a title the way Winston did. The rFR was outstanding on 3rd down throwing 10 touchdowns to zero picks. That shows that he won’t beat himself.
Computer Hope Lamar Jackson/6’3/200lbs/JR: Jackson was incredible last year on his way to a Heisman Trophy by throwing for 3,543 yards and rushing for 1,571 yards with a combined 51TDs! It was an easy pick although the Cardinals faded considerably down the stretch losing their last 3 games. Jackson has some room to improve. He wasn’t great on 3rd down & struggled against top flight competition. Louisville loses quite a few starters on offense so it might be difficult for Jackson to repeat last year.
Computer Hope Brent Stockstill/6’0/223lbs/rJR: You simply can’t argue with Stockstill’s numbers. In his first two years he’s thrown for 7200+ yards with 61TD to 16INT. Stockstill was lethal in the 4th quarter & on 3rd down last season and even made himself into more of a running threat. The Blue Raiders finished 8-5 but that was more due to a defense that couldn’t stop anyone because Stockstill guided the offense to almost 40PPG. He should become MTSU’s all time leading passer at some point in 2017.
Computer Hope Gus Ragland/6’1/211lbs/rJR: Miami-OH started the 2016 season 0-6 before HC Chuck Martin inserted Gus Ragland into the starting lineup afterwards going 6-0 to become bowl eligible and losing a nail biter to Mississippi St. in the St. Petersburg’s Bowl 17-16. Ragland was outstanding finishing the season with 17TD to just 1INT! Ragland completed 82% of his passes in the 4th quarter and on 3rd down he threw 6TD to 0INT. There wasn’t a single think Ragland wasn’t good at doing last year at QB.
Computer Hope Nick Fitzgerald/6’5/230lbs/rJR: You might not think Fitzgerald is much of a runner with him being 6’5/230lbs, but the MSU QB ran for 1,375 yards & 16TD while averaging 7.1ypc! He’s more of a running threat than Dak Prescott ever was although at this point Prescott was the much better passer. Prescott was able to lead the Bulldogs to the #1 ranking and I could see Prescott being able to follow suit if he can keep improving as a passer. The size/speed combo is scary, but he needs to be accurate.
Computer Hope J.T. Barrett/6’2/220lbs/rSR: You don’t get much more experience than 5th year senior JT Barrett who has to be the single biggest reason why the Buckeyes are big favorites to win the national championship this season. Barrett is a big time two way threat that rarely if ever beats himself. He’s going to throw for 2600-2800 yards. He’s going to rush for 700-900 yards and he’s going to score 35-36 combined TDs. He could be a bit better in the 4th quarter, but the games are usually over by then for him.
Computer Hope Baker Mayfield/6’1/218lbs/rSR: If you are looking for a Heisman favorite that isn’t Lamar Jackson, then Mayfield is probably your best bet. Mayfield almost threw for 4,000 yards last year with 40TD while completing 71% of his passes! He won’t be able to pass Landry Jones for OU’s all time leading passer but he should finish his career just behind him. I think it’ll also be interested to see where Mayfield goes in the 2018 NFL Draft. He’ll have tons of experience with outstanding accuracy which is key.
Computer Hope Mason Rudolph/6’5/230lbs/SR: Rudolph is going down as Oklahoma St.’s all time leading passer and it should take him a couple of games to get there. Almost overlooked a bit because he plays in the same conference as Mayfield, Rudolph has had an outstanding career and has the physical tools to get plenty of NFL looks. I’d like to see him beat Oklahoma his senior season. Rudolph actually beat the Sooners in 2014 when he was a frosh, but has been downright awful the last two seasons.
Computer Hope Justin Herbert/6’6/225lbs/SO: Herbert wasn’t supposed to be the starter last year, but after Dakota Prukop struggled, Herbert took over. He needed a couple of games to warm up but in back to back games against Cal & Wazzou, Herbert threw for 747 yards & 10TD to 1INT! He’s only win a couple of games, but for a true frosh to complete 64% of his passes with a 19:4 TD to INT ratio, you can’t help but be impressed. Herbert has huge size & a big arm. He’s poised to have a monster year for the Ducks.
Computer Hope Trace McSorley/6’0/204lbs/rJR: I’m listing the best 20 QBs this year in college football and I think McSorley is one of them. With that said, his advanced metrics aren’t promising. McSorley completed just 49% of his passes on 3rd down. He only completed 58% in the 4th quarter. It’s hard to argue with the statistical season McSorley put up last season, but he threw up a lot of prayers that were answered. If he gets significantly better with his accuracy, then Penn St. literally walks into the playoffs.
Computer Hope David Blough/6’1/200lbs/rJR: Tough not to think of the Drew Brees comparisons as 6’0 QBs from Texas who play at Purdue. Blough is a BALLER! His game wasn’t pretty at times (5 picks against Cincy) but in a 4-game stretch against Iowa, Nebraska, Penn St. and Minnesota, Blough went 118/200 (59%) for 1439yds & 13TD to 4INT! He needs to cut down on his mistakes but the kid is fearless and if he sticks in West Lafayette for his last two seasons, he has a chance to be Purdue’s historical leader.
Computer Hope Quinton Flowers/6’0/215lbs/SR: Last season Lamar Jackson passed for 3543 yards. Flowers passed for 2812. Last year Lamar Jackson ran for 1571 yards. Flowers ran for 1530. Last season Lamar Jackson combined for 51 passing & rushing TDs. Flowers had 42. Last year Lamar Jackson led Louisville to a 9-4 record. Flowers led USF to an 11-2 mark. If a non-Power 5 guy can win the Heisman, it might be Flowers because he’s going to put up big numbers and USF has a legit shot at finishing 13-0.
Computer Hope Shane Buechele/6’1/205lbs/SO: Buechele was the best passer I saw all of last season. Has a great arm with outstanding touch. Sure his numbers weren’t as good as Sam Darnold’s or Baker Mayfield’s, but as far as tossing the ball around, I thought Buechele showed the most upside. Buechele was in a tough situation to begin with in Austin playing for a coach on his way out, but he still managed to completed 60% of his passes & throw for almost 3000 yards. He’ll get a lot better which is scary.
Computer Hope Logan Woodside/6’2/201lbs/rSR: Like Gus Ragland above, Woodside is another MAC QB who simply didn’t do a thing wrong last year under center. Woodside was outstanding against winning teams. He was outstanding in the 4th quarter. He was outstanding on 3rd down. He dominated conference play. He ended up with 4000+ passing yards & 45TD! The Rockets are going to be MAC East favorites, but given how amazing Woodside was in 2016, it’s hard to imagine posting better stats!
Computer Hope Josh Rosen/6’4/220lbs/JR: Rosen battled a lot of injuries last season and the Bruins simply weren’t very good, but when you look at some of Rosen’s advanced stats, he played extremely well. Rosen played really well in Pac 12 play and was more than good on 3rd down & in the 4th quarter. His accuracy isn’t fantastic although it’s far from bad. I think what’s keeping him back is getting his accuracy in that 65-66% range. It probably doesn’t help that HC Jim Mora is on the hot seat so we’ll have to see.
Computer Hope Sam Darnold/6’4/225lbs/rSO: Right now Darnold is the odds on favorite to be the #1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft! His redshirt freshman season was nothing short of amazing as Darnold threw for almost 3100 yards & 31TD while completing a staggering 67.2% of his passes! His situational football was outstanding & most important, Darnold was dominant against ranked teams. Darnold elevated his game when the lights were brightest and this year he gives USC a chance at a national championship!
Computer Hope Jake Browning/6’2/205lbs/JR: Browning is a guy with a lot more to prove than most people think and you can be sure that both he and UW HC Chris Petersen are aware. Browning put together a great statistical season, but you can make an argument that USC, Colorado & Alabama were the 3 best team’s Washington faced last season and Browning went a combined 46/98 (47%) for 527 yards with 4TD & 4INT. Washington went 1-2 in those 3 games. Browning needs to play well against elite teams.
Computer Hope Luke Falk/6’4/225lbs/rSR: It’s easy to put Falk on any list of great QBs in college this year because his statistics are incredible and Wazzou is turning into a top-20 team. Falk earns it though. He’s was extremely good last year in conference play, in the 4th quarter and on 3rd down. Falk also flashes at times against elite competition showing he can get it done in a variety of ways. He’ll become Wazzou’s all time leading passer this season and give the Cougars an outside show at the Pac 12 North title.
Computer Hope Mike White/6’4/225lbs/rSR: If you want a good reason to be very high on David Blough, just take a look at the kind of QB White morphed into under HC Jeff Brohm’s watch down in Bowling Green. White was outstanding last season for WKU but what really sticks out to me is White’s ability limit his mistakes. Playing in CUSA, White didn’t really get to tee it up against ELITE competition although he did play against Alabama and wasn’t dreadful. White has a real shot at leading WKU to a 13-0 season.

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

Hunter Johnson/Clemson/6’4/200lbs: Johnson was the #1 QB in the 2017 class according to Phil Steele and with Deshaun Watson now playing for the Houston Texans, the starting job is up for grabs with the defending national champions. Junior Kelly Bryant looks to be the odds on favorite to win the starting job, but Johnson might get some opportunities and he enrolled in the spring so he’s had more time than most true freshman to learn the offense. Clemson lost a lot of impact skill players but returns an outstanding offensive line that would provide quite a safety net for a freshman QB. At the very least I think Clemson will run some sub-packages for Johnson early and see how he performs.

Nick Starkel/Texas A&M/6’3/205lbs or Kellen Mond/Texas A&M/6’2/200lbs: Starkel is a rFR while Mond is a true frosh, but this is tricky with senior QB Jake Hubenak coming back to College Station. Hubenak backed up Trevor Knight last year but didn’t do bad in mop up duty and even started 3 games. HC Kevin Sumlin is on the hot seat a bit as the Aggies have posted 3 straight seasons of 8-5 ball along with bowl losses the last two seasons. Starkel & Mond are more talented QBs than Hubenak is, but Hubenak brings an air of veteran leadership to a team and coach that needs to win desperately. How Sumlin decides between veteran leadership and big play upside might determine if he’s around in 2018. Remember that A&M plays road games against UCLA, Florida, Ole Miss & LSU. Having a senior going into hostile environments might not be a bad thing.

Feleipe Franks/Florida/6’6/220lbs: Another redshirt freshman, Franks was one of the most highly touted QBs in the 2016 class. He’ll have to beat out Luke Del Rio for the starting job, but my guess is at some point Franks takes the reigns as Florida’s upside potential with Del Rio under center is somewhat limited. It’s also worth keeping in mind that this year sets up exceedingly well for Florida in regards to scheduling. They have 3 true SEC road games against Missouri, South Carolina & Kentucky! They avoid both Alabama & Auburn out of the West. They do have tricky games against Michigan to open the season and Florida St. to end the season, but at worst the Gators are probably 10-2 and SEC East champions this year. Franks is a big story if he guides Florida to the SEC championship game, HC Jim McElwain’s 3rd in as many years.

KJ Costello/Stanford/6’5/216lbs: Keller Chryst is supposed to be the starter, but Chryst tore his ACL in last year’s Sun Bowl win over North Carolina which could open the door for Costello who is a rFR and is actually entering his 2nd year at Stanford. A huge recruit out of the 2016 class, Costello has a lot of size and arm strength. He has the ability to really thrive at Stanford this season given what is coming back. Sure the Cardinal lose Christian McCaffery but Bryce Love will do a solid job while Stanford brings back an excellent O-Line and plenty of receivers. It really should be a coming out party for Chryst because Stanford has a team that could potentially get into the playoffs if things break right, but that could be Costello if Chryst isn’t ready to go.

Joshua Jackson/Virginia Tech/6’1/211lbs: The Hokies QB situation is a little muddy with Jackson coming off a redshirt season and with AJ Bush transferring in from a junior college after initially being a Nebraska recruit. Hendon Hooker is also a true frosh who should be in the mix. Jerod Evans is a pretty big loss, but I think Virginia Tech has some interesting upside. Defensively we should see vintage Hokies football led by DC Bud Foster. I think Justin Fuente’s offensive schemes work perfectly well with this so the Hokies could be in line for a lot of wins if they get significant QB play from Jackson who could benefit in this situation. It’ll be tough to get by Florida St., Clemson or Louisville from the Atlantic, but winning a Coastal division title would be pretty great for the freshman.

July 4, 2017 Posted by | Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida St., Louisville, Miami-OH, Middle Tennessee St., Mississippi St., Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Oregon, Penn St., Predictions, Preseason, Previews, Purdue, Quarterbacks, South Florida, Stanford, Terrific 20, Texas, Texas AM, Toledo, UCLA, USC, Virginia Tech, Washington, Washington St., Western Kentucky | Leave a comment