DraftNasty.com weighs in on teams from Preseason Top 25
August 28th, 2012 By De'Angelo Bryant
Over the last week many people have asked us our thoughts on both the Coaches and AP Preseason Top 25 rankings. This year there are a ton of teams that enter the college football season loaded with talent. Can USC wide receiver Robert Woods (#2 pictured) help the Trojans reach new heights in 2012?
The USC Trojans enter the 2011 season with one of the most explosive offensive attacks in the country. Even after the departure of OT Matt Kalil, the Trojans return two experienced and finesse offensive lineman in OC Khaled Holmes and RT Kevin Graf. Both players were a big reason why QB Matt Barkley was sacked just eight times in '11.
Speaking of Barkley, what a remarkable show he put on last season. The three-year starter appears to be a guy turning the corner and he was most impressive with his touch passes on fade and seam routes when distributing the football to his explosive wide receivers.
Some teams would be lucky enough to have just one receiver eclipse the 1,000-yard mark. However, the Trojans were fortunate enough to have two. Robert Woods led the Trojans in every major receiving category and became a nationally known figure because of his playmaking ability. His counterpart Marqise Lee displays freakish athleticism and physicality versus defensive backs. He's a player that doesn't mind contesting for the football in traffic. The last addition to the puzzle is former RB George Farmer, who returns to the receiver position in 2012. Farmer could be the wild card out of the bunch.
Lane Kiffin didn't waste any time capitalizing on the misfortunes of the Penn State football program. With the new addition of Silas Redd, the Trojans running backs resemble the 2005 backfield of Reggie Bush and Lendale White. However, both Curtis McNeal and Redd present different running styles than Bush and White. They both have the speed and quickness to take it the distance each time they touch the football. Both players combined for 2,267 yards, but just 13 rushing touchdowns in 2011. Add those numbers into the their offensive equation and tell us how difficult it may be to slow them down.
Reason for Concern
Monte Kiffin is an architect of the Tampa Two defense, but last year the Trojans' defense was nowhere near championship caliber. The Trojans ranked 54th in the nation in total defense and 102nd in pass defense. We take into consideration they were a young group, but we do not anticipate a big jump statistically to compliment their explosive offense. The bottom line is, the Trojans could have problems with explosive and balanced offenses such as Stanford, Oregon, and Todd Graham's Arizona State Sun Devils.
Despite not being chosen number one, could the LSU Tigers be the favorites to capture the title? On the heels of a disappointing loss to Alabama in the National Championship game, it could be the case. It's no secret the Tigers have a star-studded defense beginning with DEs Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo. However, after the embarrassing performance in the BCS Title game, the Tigers are looking for more answers on offense to prevent a repeat of the '11 season. Former Georgia transfer Zach Mettenberger steps into the QB role and will look to improve an offense that finished 106th nationally in passing yards per game a season ago.
The loss of Chuck Bednarick Award winner Tyrann Mathieu could hurt the Tigers more from a playmaking and presence standpoint this season. Countless times, Mathieu gave the offense a spark by (i.e. SEC Championship vs. UGA '11) changing the field position for its unit. If the Tigers don't have anyone to fill his void, the offense will have to work double time to improve its results from last season.
Solid as a Rock
The road to the national title has to go through the defending champion Alabama. Nick Saban and his ball club enter the 2012 season with eleven returning starters on offense and defense. QB A.J. McCarron has something to build off of after completing nearly 68% of his passes versus LSU's defense in the national title game. They do have big shoes to fill with the loss of first round draft picks Trent Richardson, Mark Barron, and Dont'a Hightower. No worries, if it is one thing Saban and his staff does well it is replenishing talent at every position on the field. The biggest question is can the Tide leave out of Arkansas, Tennessee, and LSU with a wins this season?
Over the last several seasons, Florida State has failed to reach the caliber of play that once made them national contenders during the 90's. Each year the Seminoles bring in top rated recruits, only to find themselves disappointed by year-end. At what point does the hype stop? It's time for the Seminoles to turn the corner and reign atop the ACC once again.
The Seminoles should have momentum moving into ACC play after opening up with Savannah State and Murray State in the first two home games. However, their next three-game stretch involves teams that have been an enigma whenever or however the Seminoles are ranked. Wake Forest, Clemson, and South Florida are early season losses waiting to happen if the Seminoles aren't on their A-game. The Seminoles can't afford to look ahead at any point during the season.
West Virginia could be this year's darkhorse team after moving to the Big 12. The only difference between USC and West Virginia is that the Trojans are equipped with two 1,000-yard rushers. West Virginia did manage to cause six more turnovers than USC and finished in the plus turnover margin in 2011. QB Geno Smith is surrounded with weapons and he will look to build on his 4,385-yard passing performance from a season ago. Be aware, Dana Holgorsen and his players have high expectations coming into 2012.
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