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2017 COLLEGE FOOTBALL – 2017 WEEK 4 BIG GAMES

AWAY QUICK THOUGHTS HOME
Computer Hope Mississippi St. faced off against the best defense they’ll see all season save Alabama and all the Bulldogs did was score 37 on LSU en route to a 30-point win. Hail State beat 3 ranked teams in a row (#8 LSU, #6 Texas A&M & #2 Auburn) back in 2014 before ascending to #1. They’ll get 3 this year (LSU, Georgia & Auburn) and the first domino has already fallen. Both teams have a chance to make a big national mark with a win here no question. Computer Hope
Computer Hope With Texas opening up 1-2, it would seem the Big XII’s top-3 teams are Oklahoma, Oklahoma St. & TCU. This is first tilt between two of these three teams. I think this game will depend on which TCU defense shows up. Is it the stifling D that held Arkansas to 7 points in Fayetteville or will the defense that gave up 36 at home to SMU!? Oklahoma St. is bringing a breathtaking offense to the field so TCU will have to play excellent defense and hope. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Kentucky rolling into South Carolina & beating the Gamecocks transform the East quite a bit. With Florida coming off a stunning last play win over Tennessee, you’re left wondering how the Gators will handle the following week after such an emotional win. Kentucky hasn’t played particularly well, but they’ll be difficult to beat at home & their rush defense is tight. A win here would place Kentucky as a prohibitive favorite in the East with Georgia. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Colorado brought back only 3 starters on defense from their 10-4 season a year ago so there was some thought that the Buffs might struggle a bit to contain teams, but so far Colorado has allowed just 27 points in their first 3 games en route to a 3-o start. It’s true they haven’t really played anyone of note outside a decent Colorado St. squad, but we’ll get a good feel for how good the defense is when they go up against the Huskies. UW wins this big. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I think Iowa gets exposed here. The Hawkeyes have played pretty well to start and QB Nate Stanley looks great, but a deeper look at the stats show that Iowa cannot get loose off the edge on defense. Josey Jewell is going to go up against Saquon Barkley which is going to be a FANTASTIC match-up, but I think Trace McSorley is going to get loose a bit. One thing that is interesting is Iowa’s O-Line. If it controls the trenches, Iowa keeps it close. Computer Hope
Computer Hope NC State has rebounded nicely after losing a stunner to South Carolina to open the season. The D-Line hasn’t gotten as loose as many of us thought going into the season, but this is a big ACC game now that Florida St. has lost Deondre Francois but also because of the rest they might have had after missing the last two weeks of games. QB James Blackman is going to have a hard time against a D-Line as fierce as NC State, but FSU has talent. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Both teams are coming off odd losses. UCLA to Memphis and Stanford to San Diego State. I think both teams are on the cusp of either an abyss or possibly getting their seasons back on track. A win for the Cardinal might show that the SD State loss was a fluke & they still have a shot at the Pac 12 North. A win for UCLA means they are still players in the South. A loss for UCLA might mean the season goes down in flames. It’s a huge contest. Computer Hope
Computer Hope This will be an interesting test for Notre Dame. The Spartans always play the Irish tough and Sparty has gotten off to a  nice 2-0 start after heading into the season thinking it would be a rebuild year. They are going to play tough up front so if the Irish can run the ball on Michigan State then you could maybe make an argument that ND made some adjustments after Georgia. If MSU wins, however, then the Spartans will get more attention. Computer Hope
Computer Hope UCF has a pretty nice offense led by QB McKenzie Milton, but they’ve been hampered a bit by the hurricane season so this is their 2nd game instead of their 4th. With Texas going into USC and taking the Trojans to double-OT, things for Maryland get a bit more interesting. If Texas keeps playing well & Maryland keeps winning, then the Terps make a big case for ranking pretty high. A tricky game for the Terps but I think they’ll prevail here. Computer Hope
Computer Hope The Red Raiders picked up a big win this past week beating Arizona State in Lubbock to improve to 2-0. The slate this week is a little weak in college football, but I think this is an under the radar game. Texas Tech is 2-0 while Houston has started 2-0 as well. I thought Kliff Kingsbury’s seat was a little warm going in, but starting 3-0 would be a great start for the head coach & a win at Houston would be a big one. A win & 7-5 is on the table for TT. Computer Hope
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September 17, 2017 Posted by | AAC, ACC, Big 10, Big Games, Big XII, Colorado, Florida, Florida St., Georgia, Houston, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan St., Mississippi St., Must See Games, NC State, NCAA, Notre Dame, Oklahoma St., Pac 12, Penn St., SEC, Stanford, TCU, Texas Tech, UCF, UCLA, Washington, Week 4 | Leave a comment

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!?

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

NCAA POWER 25 – 2017 WEEK 2

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

DROPPING OUT

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

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

NCAA POWER 25 – 2017 WEEK 1

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

DROPPING OUT

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

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

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

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

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

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

NCAA POWER 25 – 2017 PRESEASON

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

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

2017 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 OL FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

THE BIG UGLIES!!! One thing that is incredible about learning as much as you can about football is realizing how important the O-Line play is. If your team can’t block then it’s screwed. I think the evolution of talent evaluation and where it ranks in building a team roster is interesting though. As teams become more pass heavy, it’s important to realize how to build a winning team. You always have to build your team up with a QB, but for the longest time the thought was that after QB, your LT was the most important position. I think in recent NFL drafts you have seen that change in that teams will now be more likely to build their teams at QB first, but then start in with edge rushers, corners and interior defensive linemen. In an odd way this legitimizes just how important the offensive lineman are, because if teams are valuing D-Linemen at an all time high, then the O-Linemen needed to block them must be equally as important.

One things seems certain. You might be able to have a bad team with a good offensive line because you haven’t properly surrounded that particular O-Line with the right pieces, but it’s practically impossible to have a good team with a bad O-Line. This should illustrate just how important these positions are.

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 Jonah Williams/6’5/301lbs/SO: Williams immediately stepped into the starting role at right tackle as a true freshman and didn’t disappoint earning 3rd Team All-SEC honors playing opposing Cam Robinson who was himself a 1st Team All-American. According to Alabama statistics, Williams actually graded out as a better O-Lineman than Robinson which is crazy. Earned Alabama’s offensive player of the week 5 different times. Didn’t allow a sack in games against LSU or Texas A&M! Williams looks like a 1st Rd. pick.
Computer Hope Frank Ragnow/6’6/319lbs/SR: Ragnow is the best center in college football and should have no problems being a 1st Team All-American. He’s incredibly smart and will be an NFL starter sooner rather than later. In what has to be one of the most amazing stats of current college football players, Ragnow hasn’t allowed a QB sack for two straight seasons! Arkansas should be a lot better on the O-Line this year with 4 starters returning. Devwah Whaley should run well & Austin Allen will be well protected by Ragnow.
Computer Hope Braden Smith/6’6/305lbs/SR: Smith turned down overtures from the NFL last season to return to Auburn for his senior year. A big nasty on the interior of the Tigers O-Line, Smith will kick out to right tackle this year to help protect new QB Jarrett Stidham, the transfer from Baylor. Smith was a 3rd Team All-American as a junior. He was a 2nd Team All-SEC player as a sophomore and made the All-SEC freshman team as a true frosh. He’s made 27 straight starts. He’ll have no trouble moving to RT this year.
Computer Hope Mitch Hyatt/6’5/295lbs/JR: Hyatt stepped in as a freshman in 2015 and started at LT for 15 starts, protecting Deshaun Watson’s blindside as Clemson barely lost to Alabama 45-40 in the national championship game. He did the same as a sophomore except this time Clemson closed the deal and beat the Crimson Tide 35-31. In two seasons as a starter at LT, Clemson is 28-2 during Hyatt’s tenure. Hyatt was a freshman All-American in 2015 and was 1st Team All-ACC in 2016. He’ll be an integral part for Clemson.
Computer Hope Martez Ivey/6’5/305lbs/JR: An outstanding talent, Ivey was considered the best O-Line prospect in the 2015 high school recruiting class by Phil Steele. The Florida native chose the Gators over practically ever other program in the country. Has made 20 starts at LG over his first two seasons but Florida is finally moving him to LT where they had hoped he would eventually wind up. Ivey should handle the transition well. He earned 2nd Team All-SEC honors last season. Florida has yet to not win the SEC East with Ivey.
Computer Hope Will Clapp/6’3/309lbs/rJR: Clapp was an outstanding interior O-Lineman last year for the Tigers helping Derrius Guice and Leonard Fournette combine to rush for 2230 yards & 23TD! Those numbers aren’t a typo! Clapp earned 1st Team All-SEC honors last year at LG and will make the switch to C after Ethan Pocic moved on to the Seattle Seahawks. Pocic was a 2nd Team All-American and I’ve read reports where quite a few people felt Clapp outplayed Pocic at times in 2016. If true, Clapp is in for a monster year.
Computer Hope Maea Teuhema/6’5/315lbs/JR: Big and nasty! Teuhema hasn’t gotten a ton of national attention just yet but I think that is about to change as he’s a legitimate All-American candidate who is going to pave the way for Derrius Guice to have a monster year that should put him in the Heisman discussion. Teuhema was a freshman All-American back in 2015 when he started at LG. Last year he kicked out to RT as a starter but should kick back in to RG this year as his run blocking is outstanding. He could be a 1st Rd. pick.
Computer Hope Mason Cole/6’5/305lbs/SR: Mason Cole became the first player in Wolverines history to start a season opening game on the O-Line back in 2014. Cole has bounced around a bit on Michigan’s O-Line being a tackle in 2015 before being move to center in 2016 an earning 1st Team All-Big 10 honors. Cole will bounce back out to LT this season as the most veteran offensive lineman on Michigan’s line. He’s started in every Michigan game since arriving in Ann Arbor. Cole will be extremely important this year for Michigan.
Computer Hope Brian Allen/6’2/305lbs/SR: Allen is somewhat of an undersized interior lineman who has spent most of his career playing guard for the Spartans but will slide into the center’s role in 2017 for a Michigan St. squad that should be pretty young. Allen is very smart and plays with a mean streak which you see oftentimes in the Big 10 with their interior linemen. He’s been a 2nd Team All-Big 10 lineman the last two seasons. The Spartans will need an outstanding leader on the O-Line and Allen should provide that for Michigan St. in ’17.
Computer Hope Greg Little/6’6/332lbs/SO: Little is HUGE at 6’6/332lbs and has the athleticism and quickness to stick at LT despite his weight. Little really started to get attention in Ole Miss’ 29-28 win at Texas A&M when he held Myles Garrett to just one tackle. Little was considered the best O-Lineman in the 2016 high school class according to Phil Steele and eventually became the starting LT for the Rebels over their last 5 games. He’ll have the responsibility of protecting Shea Patterson’s blindside in what will be a trying season for Ole Miss.
Computer Hope Martinas Rankin/6’5/305lbs/rSR: Rankin came from the junior college ranks to Starkville and didn’t waste much time making an impression. He became the Bulldogs’ starting LT after 3 games and did a great job pass protecting for MSU QB Nick Fitzgerald who had a great season. Rankin also did a solid job in a highly effecting MSU rushing attack. He tested the NFL waters after last season but was given a 2nd round grade so Rankin decided to come back to Mississippi St. and try to improve his draft stock.
Computer Hope Mike McGlinchey/6’8/312lbs/rSR: Amazingly enough Mike McGlinchey never played LT until last season and wound up a 3rd team All-American. McGlinchey is a natural left tackle with a mean streak. He has great size at 6’8 and almost 320lbs. Has elite athleticism and arm length combined with heavy hands. He loves to run block and I’ve read reports where some scouts think he’s quite a bit better than his former teammate Ronnie Stanley who was the 6th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. He can get even better.
Computer Hope Quenton Nelson/6’5/329lbs/rJR: Big and nasty, Nelson is arguably the best guard in college football. He’s huge at 6’5/330lbs and has done a great job opening up holes on the defense during his tenure with the Irish. Nelson has somewhat of a mean streak and is incredibly smart. He’s good in pass protection as well and has had excellent coaching from Notre Dame OL coach Harry Hiestand. Combined with McGlinchey, the Irish have two potential All-Americans who could be 1st round picks. I think he’ll get better.
Computer Hope Billy Price/6’4/312lbs/rSR: Price isn’t flash but all he’s done since arriving in Columbus is start every game for the Buckeyes during a 3-year period in which Ohio St. posted a record of 37-4 and was the starting LG for the national championship team of 2014. Price is moving to center and Phil Steele makes him a 1st Team All-American in his annual, putting him above Arkansas’s Frank Ragnow. He’s gotten much better in pass protection and is already an outstanding run blocker. Price is extremely valuable.
Computer Hope Orlando Brown/6’8/360lbs/rJR: Not quite as big as Washington St.’s Cody O’Connell but Brown is enormous at 6’8/360lbs. Brown had a banner year last season earning 2nd Team All-American honors and being named the Big 12’s offensive lineman of the year. Brown will be a tricky NFL grade. He’s outstanding for the Sooners protecting Baker Mayfield in their high octane offense but he has trouble being in a 3-point stance and is obviously not very quick at the point of attack. Gotta love his size though.
Computer Hope Connor Williams/6’6/288lbs/JR: Immediately started at LT for the Longhorns as a true freshman and earned Freshman All-American honors. Followed that up last season as a sophomore by become only the 4th player in Texas history to be a 1st Team All-American as a true sophomore! Williams will be immensely important in Texas’s ability to compete in the Big XII because he needs to keep QB Shane Buechele upright. He needs to put on a bit more weight to his frame, but he’s probably NFL ready right now.
Computer Hope Scott Quessenberry/6’4/315lbs/rSR: Quessenberry has racked up 30 career starts for the Bruins and is the most veteran lineman for UCLA’s squad this season. I think Quessenberry is going to be an integral part of UCLA’s season because of the return of Josh Rosen. Rosen needs to have a huge season after his disappointing 2016 campaign and obviously having a great center would be important. Quessenberry is a smart savvy player on the interior and should do a great job quarterbacking the O-Line for UCLA.
Computer Hope Trey Adams/6’8/320lbs/JR: Adams enters the 2017 collegiate football season as arguably the best O-Line prospect in college football. He’s ENORMOUS at 6’8/320lbs with the athletic ability to play LT. Last season Adams was a 1st Team All-Pac 12 lineman and also garnered 2nd Team All-American honors. Adams really got noticed with how well he played against Alabama’s fantastic edge rushers in last year’s playoffs. He has great athleticism for his size & should continue to get better. He’s a top-5 pick in the NFL Draft.
Computer Hope Cody O’Connell/6’8/370lbs/rSR: When your nickname is “THE CONTINENT” you belong on a Terrific 20 list! O’Connell is obviously enormous and it’s interesting that he plays guard in the sense that he’s so tall at 6’8 that most coaches feel that a man of his size would clog up the passing lanes. Oddly enough Luke Falk had no problems passing for almost 4500 yards with almost 40TDs! He’s obviously not athletic enough to play in the NFL at a tackle spot but he was a 1st Team All-American guard last year!
Computer Hope Beau Benzschawel/6’6/316lbs/rJR: A kid from Wisconsin with the name Beau Benzschawel is simply destined to play on the offensive line for the Badgers. Benzschawel started in all of Wisconsin’s 14 games last year at RG and earned 2nd Team All Big 10 honors. Benzschawel is a terrific interior lineman with excellent size at 6’6 and almost 320lbs. He’s got a real chance to be a 1st Team All-American this year & make himself into a 1st Round NFL Draft pick. Wisconsin always turns out solid O-Lineman.

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

Alex Leatherwood/Alabama/6’6/327lbs: Arguably the best O-Lineman in the 2017 recruiting class, Leatherwood enrolled early at Alabama and is now the projected starting RT for the Crimson Tide going into the season. Leatherwood was a Parade All-American as a HS senior and also an Under Armour All-American. It’s not like Alabama’s depth chart is devoid of talent. There are high school All-Americans everywhere so the fact that Leatherwood immediately steps into the starter’s role means something. It means even more considering Alabama is the odds on favorite to win the national championship. Leatherwood should move to LT when Jonah Williams moves on and I’m guessing that Leatherwood is a 1st round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Foster Sarell/Stanford/6’7/320lbs and Walker Little/Stanford/6’7/315lbs: It feels wrong to have a Terrific 20 list of offensive linemen and not see anyone from Stanford or Iowa make the list. Sarell and Little could rectify that problem for the Cardinal as soon as this year. According to Phil Steele, Sarell was the best O-Line recruit in the 2017 class while Little was considered a top-10 O-Lineman. Both immediately become the most talented O-Linemen on the Stanford roster the minute they hit campus and I can’t help but think they won’t get significant playing time early. Both are tall. Both have the requisite bulk to play at the collegiate level so neither should require any redshirting to get their size up enough to play in the Pac 12. David Bright is the projected starting LT this year but Bright is 6’5/299lbs and spent time at left guard last season. The projected RT is AT Hall who is 6’3/287lbs, hardly the right size to play a mauling tackle position on the strong side. Hall started 13 games at tackle last year with 11 of them coming on the left side, but he’s projected to slide right. I wouldn’t be shocked if Sarell and Little take over the tackle spots at some point this season.

Jack Anderson/Texas Tech/6’5/315lbs: A Texas Tech legacy, Anderson was a high school All-American who turned down offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami-FL, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Stanford, Texas, Texas A&M and UCLA for a chance to play for the Red Raiders. He was the crown jewel for Kliff Kingsbury’s 2017 recruiting class and is projected to start right away fro the Red Raiders at guard. Anderson is an incredibly smart and intense O-Lineman that likes to maul. Guard suits him well and that is probably where he will wind up in the NFL, but at Texas Tech I could see him eventually move to RT. I think it’s a big year for Texas Tech. They break in a new starter at QB after Pat Mahomes left for the Kansas City Chiefs, but if Anderson works out then the O-Line should be really good with 3 starters returning at WR. Kingsbury & Texas Tech need to get to a bowl. Anderson could be a big part of that up front on the interior line.

Tommy Kraemer/Notre Dame/6’6/313lbs: Kraemer is arguably the most talented O-Lineman in the 2016 recruiting class but actually redshirted last season because the Irish O-Line depth was so deep. Mike McGlinchey & Alex Bars were the starting tackles. Quenton Nelson & Collin McGovern were the guards while Sam Mustipher held down the center position. Bars is moving to RG because ND can’t keep Kraemer down any longer and he’s projected to be the right tackle. The Irish are in a unique situation because in reality they could have as many as 4 potential All-Americans on the O-Line in McGlinchey, Nelson, Bars & Mustipher. ND also has a TREMENDOUS amount of weapons on offense with guys like Josh Adams, Alize Mack, Durham Smythe and Equanimeous St. Brown, Miles Boykin, CJ Sanders, Chase Claypool and Dexter Williams. What will be interesting is the play of QB Brandon Wimbush who is coming off a redshirt year watching Deshone Kizer. The left side of the O-Line has McGlinchey & Nelson. Those guys are going to hold up, but that leaves Kraemer on the right side. If he can hold up his end then Wimbush should have all day to do whatever he wants with the weapons around him.

Obinna Eze/Memphis/6’8/283lbs: Eze is a name probably a bit off the beaten path but I thought this situation was intriguing. Memphis returns practically their entire team except the LT spot which is open. Eze seems like an ideal candidate to red shirt seeing that he’s 6’8/283lbs which is HUGE but light for sure. He could stand to gain 40lbs and he’d still be fairly thin for a guy 6’8. Even so, he’s the most talented O-Lineman on the Memphis roster and right now the projected LT is Harneet Gil who is pretty light himself at 6’7/277lbs. Gil is also coming off a redshirt so he has as much playing time at Memphis in 2016 as Eze does. Memphis is going to score and they are going to score a ton with guys like Riley Ferguson, Dorland Dorceus, Tony Pollard and Anthony Miller. Whoever plays LT for the Tigers will be responsible for Ferguson’s blindside which is going to be very important. If Eze becomes that guy, he’ll have a significant impact on how good Memphis can be in 2017.

August 16, 2017 Posted by | Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, LSU, Memphis, Michigan, Michigan St., Mississippi, Mississippi St., NCAA, Notre Dame, Offensive Linemen, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Predictions, Preseason, Previews, Stanford, Terrific 20, Texas, Texas Tech, UCLA, Washington, Washington St., Wisconsin | Leave a comment

TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 TE FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

Tight Ends!!! BIG SKILL!!! I love the tight end position because these guys are some of the most important positions on the field. When you look back at great QBs in the history of football, one of the reasons they’ve been great is that a lot of these QBs have had fantastic TEs to throw to. They are a fantastic safety net and to be honest, these guys can be almost impossible to cover when in one on one situations against LBs and safeties. The standard right now is Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski who at 6’6/260lbs is a physical freak that is pretty much unstoppable when he’s healthy. His size alone makes him brutally hard to defend because he can high point the football. Throw in his ball skills and you are seeing a Hall of Fame tight end. This is true at the collegiate game as well. Last year you saw Clemson have Jordan Leggett who was highly productive. The year before Alabama had OJ Howard. In 2013 Florida St. relied heavily on Nick O’Leary being a weapon. In 2011, TE Brad Smelley led Alabama in receiving TDs. Believe me when I tell you that these guys are important.

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 Hale Hentges/6’5/251lbs/JR: Like the receivers, Alabama’s TEs don’t get a ton of run time. OJ Howard was the best TE in college football last season and wasn’t Alabama’s primary weapon given their prodigious running attack. Howard still caught 45 balls for 595 yards & 3TD. Hentges barely has any run time, but he was an outstanding TE recruit with a huge frame and good hands. I think QB Jalen Hurts being in his second year will be more comfortable and while Alabama will still keep running, I think Hentges can be effective.
Computer Hope Blake Mack/6’3/245lbs/SR: Mack flashed last year as a junior for the Red Wolves leading Arkansas St. in receiving with 34 catches for 652 yards & 3TD. That’s an amazing 19.2ypc which is incredible for a TE! It was Mack’s first real run time down in Jonesboro and he made the most of it. He even caught 3 balls for 49 yards (16.3ypc) against Auburn early in the years showing he can flash against the big boys. Arkansas St. returns Justice Hansen at QB so I’m interesting to see what he & Mack can do for an encore season. Will be fun.
Computer Hope DeAndre Goolsby/6’4/244lbs/SR: Goolsby showed some promise back in 2015 as a sophomore when he caught 17 balls for 277yds/1TD with a 16.3ypc. He followed that up last year with more volume catching 38 balls for 342yds/3TD but his average was just 9.0. Goolsby is a better athlete than this & Florida should be able to open the game up with him with a lot of focus going toward Jordan Scarlett & Antonio Callaway. The Gators still have some QB issues to work through, but the offense should be better & Goolsby should play well.
Computer Hope Ryan Izzo/6’5/245lbs/rJR: Back in 2014, TE Nick O’Leary caught 48 balls for 618yds/6TD for a 13-1 FSU team. The year before when the ‘Noles won the BCS Championship, O’Leary was an even bigger big play/red zone threat. Florida St. wants to use their TE and Izzo is the heir apparent to O’Leary. In 2015 FSU had Everett Golson at QB & Izzo was just a rFR. Last year FSU had a frosh QB in Deondre Francois. This season Izzo returns as a rJR and Francois has a season now under his belt. I think FSU gets back to using their TE like in 2013 & 2014.
Computer Hope Isaac Nauta/6’4/246lbs/SO: Nauta flashed last year as a true frosh catching 29 balls for 361 yards & 3TD. The 3TD was 2nd on the team behind Isaiah McKenzie’s 7. Nauta also had a true frosh QB throwing to him in Jacob Eason. According to Phil Steele, Eason was the best QB in the 2016 recruiting class. Nauta was the best TE in the same class. With Nick Chubb & Sony Michel coming back, teams are going to have to play a lot of attention to Georgia’s running game which should allow the receivers to have a field day. Nauta will go off.
Computer Hope C.J. Conrad/6’5/245lbs/JR: The Wildcats stole Conrad out of the state of Ohio and are reaping the benefits. Conrad hasn’t been a high volume player but last season he caught 19 balls for 262 yards & 4TD averaging 13.8ypc. He’s a huge target at 6’5/245lbs and has already started 20 games for UK in his first two seasons. He also flashes big play ability as evidenced by his 72-yard TD catch against New Mexico St. last season. Kentucky averaged 30PPG and return a lot of starters on offense. Everyone will be a lot better & I think Conrad benefits here.
Computer Hope Adam Breneman/6’4/250lbs/rSR: How does arguably the best TE prospect in the 2013 draft class end up at UMass? Breneman originally committed to Penn St. and during his true freshman season he eventually became the starter. Injuries derailed his next two seasons but Breneman graduated from Penn St. in 3 years & transferred to UMass for his remaining 2 seasons. Last year he led all TEs in catches (70) and yards (808) and scored 8TD. Breneman is one of the best TEs in the nation & a naturally gifted athlete. He’ll be an NFL draft pick.
Computer Hope Ryan Smith/6’4/278lbs/SR: The first thing that jumps out about Smith is that he’s a TE that is 6’4 which isn’t unusual but the fact that the kid is pushing 280lbs is CRAZY! Even crazier is that Smith is productive. Last year he caught 31 balls for 356yds/5TD averaging 11.5ypc! Even cooler is that Smith had his best game last year against Mississippi St. where he caught 7 balls for 72 yards & a TD! He’s not a big play threat obviously but he can wall defenders off with ease. Miami returns Gus Ragland at QB & I think Smith can catch 40-50 balls.
Computer Hope Tyrone Wheatley/6’6/276lbs/rSO: Wheatley is a GROWN MAN at 6’6/276lbs! You know Jim Harbaugh wants to play smash mouth football out of a 2-TE set and Wheatley is going to be one of those TE who is going to catch the football. Last year Jake Butt caught 46 balls for 546 yards & Wheatley is going to try and match those numbers now that he’s in his 3rd year under Harbaugh. This guy is a matchup nightmare and almost impossible to defend in the red zone given his size. The Wolverines are awfully young on offense the talent is great.
Computer Hope Alize Mack/6’5/251lbs/rSO: Mack will have to battle Durham Smythe a little bit to get on the field, but his big play ability is incredible & that is going to lead Chip Kelly & OC Chip Long to get Mack on the field if nothing else to force the defense to respect his big play ability. Mack ran into academic troubles last year which led to a redshirt season, but those troubles seem to be behind him. ND should have a great running attack & Equanimeous St. Brown is an outstanding WR. Mack should should see a lot of single coverage which = big plays!
Computer Hope Marcus Baugh/6’5/250lbs/rSR: You never really know how much run time a TE might get in Urban Meyer’s offense. Nick Vannett seemed like a guy who could fill it up but never really was showcased a ton. Jeff Heuerman however had a monster 2013 season. Baugh didn’t do much in his first two season but last year flashed a bit catching 24 balls for 269yds/2TD. He’s tOSU’s leading returning receiver and QB JT Barrett could look to him early and often. Baugh is big with a lot of talent & I could see him being featured in this offense.
Computer Hope Mark Andrews/6’5/253lbs/rJR: In his first two years at TE for Oklahoma, Andrews has been a 1st Team All-Big XII selection. He checks every box you’d want for a TE. Big play ability? Check (64-yard long reception). Red zone threat? Check (14TD in his first 2 seasons). Big play ability? Check (averaged 15.8ypc in 2016). Size? Check (Kid is 6’5/253lbs). Andrews enters 2017 as the best TE in college football. Baker Mayfield is still QB at Oklahoma and the Sooners return their entire O-Line. Andrews should be even better & is a 1st Rd. NFL pick.
Computer Hope Mike Gesicki/6’6/253lbs/SR: If there is a TE who will challenge Andrews for title of best TE in college football, it’s Penn St.’s Mike Gesicki. He essentially did everything Andrews did last season catching 48 balls for 679yds/5TD while averaging 14.1ypc. Like Andrews I think Gesicki is in play to be a 1st Rd. NFL Draft pick in 2018. He’s huge at 6’6/255lbs and he can obviously make plays with the football. Penn St. brings back both Trace McSorely & Saquon Barkley so opposing defense are going to protect the run leaving Gesicki to make plays!
Computer Hope Cole Herdman/6’4/245lbs/rJR: I listed Purdue QB David Blough in my Terrific 20: QB post, and I think Herdman is going to be a significant factor this year as well. Herdman is Purdue’s leading returning receiver. He was more volume last year catching 35 balls for 344 yards/3TD but he also had a 53-yard catch showing he can get loose on occasion. New HC Jeff Brohm has been wildly successful thus far with QBs & I think Blough is going to improve. We know Blough is going to sling it around and I think Herdman is in line to benefit from that.
Computer Hope Hayden Hurst/6’5/253lbs/JR: Hurst was a big dude who originally was a professional baseball player in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. Spent two years with the Pirates and then walked on at South Carolina. No flash his freshman year but last year Hurst broke out catching 48 balls for 616yds/1TD. Hurst obviously has the size and athleticism to play great football. I think what separates him is that the game is not too big for him & I think QB Jake Bentley is going to be special. That means more opportunities for Hurst at TE.
Computer Hope Mitchell Wilcox/6’4/250lbs/rSO: After sitting out a season to bulk up, Wilcox didn’t waste any time becoming USF’s starting TE and garnering 2nd Team All-AAC honors after catching 12 balls for 278yds/2TD with an incredible 23.2ypc average! Wilcox also made a big 52-yard grab during the season showing his big play ability. Quinton Flowers returns at QB or the Bulls along with a lot of the same players save RB Marlon Mack who moved on to the Indianapolis Colts. Given Wilcox big play ability & athleticism, I think he becomes a focal point.
Computer Hope Dalton Schultz/6’6/240lbs/rJR: If you are a TE at Stanford, chances are you are going to be pretty good. Recently the Cardinal has produced Zach Ertz, Coby Fleener, Austin Hooper, and Levine Toilolo. Schultz is next in line and should be ready to have his breakout season. Phil Steele noted Schultz to be the best TE prospect in the 2014 class. He’s got great ball skills and elite level size. Stanford has someone of a QB mess on their hands, but whoever emerges is going to have a great safety valve in Schultz being able to create space & make big plays.
Computer Hope Ethan Wolf/6’6/245lbs/SR: I think Wolf is sometimes the forgotten man when you look at TEs in the SEC and that’s because I think he’s been consistently good for a long time. Wolf already has 35 starts in his career with Tennessee and he’s been steady the entire time. He has great size at 6’6 and almost 250lbs. He doesn’t need to be taken off the field for overt running plays & he does a good job of getting open. There is always a lot of talent at Tennessee but the Vols lost some significant playmakers on offense from 2016 so Wolf could emerge here.
Computer Hope Daniel Imatorbhebhe/6’4/245lbs/rSO: When you have Sam Darnold throwing you the football, you immediately become a factor because you are going to be put into positions to succeed. Imatorbhebhe was just a rFR last year and caught only 17 passes but 4 of them were for TDs and he averaged 14.7ypc. He’s a big time redzone threat for the Trojans and you can imagine the comfort level between he and Darnold has only solidified since last season. With JuJu Smith gone, somebody will have to get some of his balls & Imatorbhebhe gets them.
Computer Hope Troy Fumagalli/6’6/249lbs/rSR: With Gesicki, Wheatley & Baugh getting a lot of love, it’s easy to forget that Fumagalli was 2nd Team All Big 10 last season with 47 catches for 580yds/2TD. Fumagalli is a big target and I think Wisconsin is going to make him a bigger factor in the redzone given his size & skillset. Last year QB Alex Hornibrook had just 9 passing TDs, but Corey Clement has departed for the NFL & Wisconsin might rely a bit more on Hornibrook’s arm in 2017. If that is the case then Fumagalli is going to get a lot more looks to make plays.

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

Matt Dotson/Michigan State/6’5/234lbs: One of the best TEs in the 2017 high school class, Dotson comes in at 6’5 and almost 240lbs meaning he won’t need a redshirt season to bulk up to play at the collegiate level. He enters a good situation in East Lansing as TEs Josiah Price and Jamal Lyles have moved on creating quite a vacuum at the position. A vacuum that Dotson could immediately step in and fill from the moment he gets to campus. I believe a big part of freshman success is opportunity and there should be a pretty big one for Dotson. The one caveat is that Michigan St. is in the midst of a complete rebuild with the program. Jim Harbaugh has woken a sleeping giant in Ann Arbor and James Franklin has Penn St. WAY AHEAD of schedule as far as bringing that program back to prominence. Ohio State under Urban Meyer is incredible meaning Michigan State has quite a bit of work to do to get the Spartans back on top. Is there enough talent around Dotson that will allow him to flourish as a freshman? That might be the biggest question regarding what impact he can have in 2017.

Jimmy Jaggers/UCLA/6’4/245lbs: Jaggers comes into a good situation at UCLA seeing how last year’s TE Nate Iese has graduated and there is pretty much a wide open race for the starting TE spot with Jaggers being the most talented TE on the roster. It also helps that Jaggers is the biggest TE! I think UCLA QB Josh Rosen has a lot to prove this year after having missed significant time last season and not really building upon his solid freshman season back in 2015. Jagger is also unique in that he gives Rosen his first real threat at TE. UCLA didn’t really employ a TE when Rosen was a freshman and last season the Bruins had both Iese and Austin Roberts as their primary weapons at the position. The problem is that Iese was a converted LB and Roberts is more of a WR at 6’2/230lbs. Jaggers enrolled early so his chemistry with Rosen should be better than it would if Rosen had waited to step on campus in the fall. I think he’ll get opportunities to showcase as a freshman and I think the opportunities are what matters in situations like these. I think Jaggers could be a key piece for UCLA if they hope to challenge USC for Pac 12 South supremacy.

Chase Allen/Iowa State/6’6/235lbs: Allen was a huge get for new Iowa St. head coach Matt Campbell. The Missouri native picked Iowa St. over Nebraska and Michigan to start his collegiate career but the fun was only just beginning. Right before the start of last season Allen was hit by a car that resulted in injuries that caused Allen to have over 100 stitches placed in his body. He then contracted the mumps during his true frosh season and things never looked more bleak. Allen has to redshirt last season which means technically he’s still a freshman so I’m listing him here. Allen is a DYNAMIC athlete having been a 3-sport star in high school and comes from a football family where his dad had been a college head coach for at least 15 years! The Cyclones bring back QB Jacob Park and since this is year 2 of Allen being in Ames, I think he’ll have a good connection with his QB. Matt Campbell has the program headed in the right direction which means more wins which means more points which means more opportunities to shine for Chase Allen.

Parker Eichenberger/Houston/6’3/230lbs: A little bit off the radar but Eichenberger steps into a situation in Houston where the TE spot is up for grabs. Tyler McCloskey was the leading TE last year and he graduated. Last season McCloskey caught 23 balls for 233 yards & 4TD showing that while the TE spot wasn’t necessarily a high volume target for former QB Greg Ward, McCloskey was looked at in the red zone quite a bit. This year Ward is going and in comes Texas A&M transfer Kyle Allen who should be more of a pocket type passer than Ward. With Duke Catalon returning at RB and Linell Bonner commanding a lot of attention at WR, the new Houston TE should be able to create some space and take advantage of opportunities. Allen was with Houston last year as a redshirt because of transferring but new HC Major Applewhite was also the OC the last couple of seasons so Allen and he should be on the same page. Eichenberger is probably a touch small at 6’3/230lbs, but he’s playable enough and with the wide open position, I think he has the possibility to emerge and play a key role in Houston trying to win the AAC.

Hunter Bryant/Washington/6’2/241lbs: Jake Browning is going to get his opportunities to throw the football even with Myles Gaskin returning after a 1,373 yards season in 2016. Bryant might be the most highly recruited TE in Washington history or at the very least his the most talented TE recruit UW has had in my recent memory. Drew Sample started 11 games at TE last year but made just 9 catches so he clearly wasn’t a high priority in UW’s offense, but Bryant could change that. He’s a little bit short at 6’2, but already at 241lbs, he doesn’t need any time to bulk up. David Ajamu is on the depth chart but he played in 14 games last year and made one catch. Michael Neal hasn’t gotten any run time. Neither has Jacob Kizer. Bryant is the most talented TE on the roster and clearly UW doesn’t think their current stable of tight ends are the best of playmakers. There are certainly a lot of mouths to feed given who the Huskies have returning even with John Ross now suiting up for the Cincinnati Bengals. Keep in mind also the Darnell Daniels was a TE for UW that is now gone and he caught 17 balls for 307yds/3TD. I think Washington wants to use their TE more and Bryant might give them that opportunity.

August 13, 2017 Posted by | Alabama, Arkansas St., Florida, Florida St., Georgia, Houston, Iowa St., Kentucky, Massachusetts, Miami-OH, Michigan, Michigan St., Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Penn St., Predictions, Preseason, Previews, Purdue, South Carolina, South Florida, Stanford, Tennessee, Terrific 20, Tight End, UCLA, USC, Washington, Wisconsin | 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