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Topic: ELA 130 Team Countdown

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Cincydawg

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #280 on: May 20, 2018, 11:59:16 AM »
Interesting analysis.  Purdue popped out last year, it will be fun to see if they can build on that, or drop to 3-9.  That early game with Mizzou might show something.

ELA

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #281 on: May 21, 2018, 05:57:50 PM »
36. Texas Longhorns
#6 in Big XII
Last year in this write up I told people to pump the brakes on Texas.  I feel like I'm right back in that same place.  Tom Herman did a lot of good behind the scenes, and a lot of the roster clean up that needed to take place, did take place.  One thing is for certain, he didn't cut corners to win now.  That is a guy who is confident that he won't be on the hot seat in 2019, even with another mediocre 2018.  Because right now, I think another mediocre season looks very possible, if not probable.  The talent is there, but talent has never been a problem in Austin.  The question is whether the talent is ready to produce.  There was plenty of "talent" on last year's team.  Hell, six guys left early for the NFL Draft, tied with Florida State and LSU for the most in the nation.  The problem is that only four got drafted.  When you have more early entrants as a program than you probably have a bit of a locker room issue.  Just how much better Texas gets in 2018 depends on finding consistent quarterback play, finding any semblance of a running game, and how quickly the 2018 class is ready to go.  If it seems like just yesterday that Shane Buchele was the savior of Texas football, it's because it was just 2016 when he was a true freshman throwing for over 500 yards in his first two games, with 7 touchdowns to go with one interception, and a double overtime home win over Notre Dame in his first game on campus.  The problem was his regression from 2016 to 2017 was pretty staggering.  His completion percentage was up slightly, and his yards per attempt were down, which make sense given the system change.  He failed to ever be a threat running the ball though, which is a must for the quarterback in Tom Herman's system.  Yes, he won a national championship with Cardale Jones, but unless Zeke Elliott is walking through that door, he needs some running from his quarterback.  Sam Ehrlinger gave him that..sort of.  He was the team's leading rusher, but that's not saying a whole lot at 385 rushing yards.  He was able to avoid sacks at a much better clip, behind a dismal offensive line.  Tom Herman has to hope what separates his quarterbacks this year is not who is best able to avoid the constant pressure that our offensive line doesn't nothing to slow.  While I did say Tom Herman has not taken short cuts, the running game is in such desperate need for help, that he brought in a couple of grad transfers to help ease the short term burden.  First is tackle Calvin Anderson from Rice, who created one of the biggest grad transfer recruiting battles since the rule change, ultimately picking Texas over Michigan.  The other is running back Tre Watson from Cal, who was a very good #2 back in 2015 and 2016, with 1,213 yards on over 5.0 ypc, and scoring 12 touchdowns.  He may not be the most talented back on Texas' roster but he's immediately the most proven commodity.  Not the most talented because incoming freshman Keaontay Ingram should immediately challenge for playing time.  The 4* recruit, ranked as the #6 running back in the country, is only the 13th highest rated recruit in Herman's 3rd ranked class nationally.  While Georgia and Ohio State were engaged in their much publicized battle for the mythical February recruiting national championship, it was Texas, not Alabama or Clemson, who slid in behind them.  Herman is trying to recruit the right fits, both system and personality, and he doesn't seem to be making talent sacrificed to do it.  But they still look a year away from competing for a Big XII championship to me.  By the end of the season though, they could be very dangerous.
Key Players
WRLil'Jordan Humphrey, Junior
GPatrick Vahe, Senior
KJoshua Rowland, Senior
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DEBreckyn Hager, Senior
DECharles Omenihu, Senior
CBKris Boyd, Senior

ELA

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #282 on: May 22, 2018, 11:06:43 AM »
35. Iowa State Cyclones
#5 in Big XII
Even a November swoon could do little to dampen the excitement of a quick turnaround in Ames that saw the Cyclones beat two AP Top 4 teams (#3 Oklahoma and #4 TCU) in the same month, and reach as high as #14 in the polls themselves.  New head coach Matt Campbell had already generated plenty of buzz on the recruiting trail, and now he has some actual results to sell.  The two biggest "additions" to the 2018 roster weren't additions at all, but retentions.  First, was Campbell.  Granted in the grand scheme, an 8-5 season, with a Liberty Bowl win didn't turn the college football world on its head, but the rate the coaching carousel turns these days, it wouldn't have been surprising at all for a bigger name program to swoop him up.  It was still the program's best season since 2000.  Hell, one 7-6 season at Oregon, a place with FAR more recent success, got Willie Taggert the Florida State job.  The other was Kyle Kempt being granted a sixth year of eligibility.  Jacob Park was a lot of fun to start the year, but had his own issues, both on and off the field, which once again derailed the one-time blue chip prospect's career.  It was when Kyle Kempt took over at the start of October that things turned for the better.  He'll have to develop new targets, with Allen Lazard off to the NFL, and Trever Ryan, who was second on the team in receptions, as the sure handed possession target, graduated.  That starts with Chase Allen, who might have already been the best blocking tight end in the conference as a freshman, which granted isn't saying much considering the use of tight ends in the conference, but needs to become more of a weapon in the passing game.  David Montgomery was third in the Big XII in rushing, but far more due to quantity than quality.  His 258 carries was more than any Big XII back except for Justice Hill, and his 4.4 ypc carry was worst among the top 10 rushers in the Big XII, over a yard per carry worse than all but one.  Returning three starters on the line for the first time in three years is a start after a total lack of continuity the past few seasons.  Defensively the strength will shift from the linebackers to the line.  It should be a deeper unit across the board than a year ago, but lacking in big time playmaekrs, like last year had in Joel Lanning.  Marcel Spears, who had 107 tackles last year, needs to step up and be the leader.  With Lanning no longer drawing constant double teams, can Spears elevate his play?  The schedule is insanely front loaded.  With a home game against Oklahoma, plus road trips to Iowa, TCU and Oklahoma State, all four of whom could be ranked in the top 20, in the first six games, it's on Campbell and Kempt to keep this team together through what could be a rough (record-wise) start.
Key Players
QBKyle Kempt, Senior
RBDavid Montgomery, Junior
TEChase Allen, Sophomore
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DEJaQuan Bailey, Junior
LBMarcel Spears, Junior
CBBrian Peavy, Senior

FearlessF

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #283 on: May 22, 2018, 11:56:25 AM »
Go Clones!!!
"Courage; Generosity; Fairness; Honor; In these are the true awards of manly sport."

betarhoalphadelta

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #284 on: May 22, 2018, 01:03:43 PM »
Interesting analysis.  Purdue popped out last year, it will be fun to see if they can build on that, or drop to 3-9.  That early game with Mizzou might show something.
ELA nailed it. Purdue wasn't where they needed to be offensively last year, and better than anyone expected defensively. 
Offensively we were trying to recover from 4 years of mismanagement of our offensive line, and put together a functional at best line. We also had major problems at WR--we probably had 1-2 more wins on the schedule if WR had caught a few balls they missed. At QB we had Blough who was accurate but sometimes INT-prone, and we had Sindelar who threw 100 mph--even when it was supposed to be a screen pass to an RB 5 yards away. Those things all improved throughout the year (Sindelar actually learned to throw with some touch), but 2018 should be when a lot of those things start to come together. The OL should be stable, the QB's are both seasoned (but due to injuries it'll be interesting who gets the most run), and we've had some upgrades at WR with some dynamic players coming in. 
Defensively we had a lot of upperclassman, and Holt decided he was going to play balls-out attacking defense. He took the risk that we might get burned from time to time (and Arizona took advantage of that), but overall the defense ended up winning more of those battles than they lost. But now all of those upperclassmen are gone, and we're going to be young on defense. We can hope that Holt, with an extra year in the system, can make those young guys perform. But even if the defense overperforms, it's still likely a regression relative to last year due to youth. 
So perhaps some steps forward on offense, and some steps backward on defense. I don't see a 3-9 season, but as I said with our schedule I think the O/U of 5 wins is fair. 6-6 regular season or better is possible (I see opportunity for upside relative to the O/U if the offense takes those positive steps), but 8-4 or better is probably a <5% chance, if even that. This isn't going to be the "breakout" year. He needs a little more time for that.

CatsbyAZ

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #285 on: May 22, 2018, 04:35:26 PM »
Go Clones!!!
Been waiting to see where/when Iowa State shows up. 35th is a fair start but I fully expect them to spend a lot of time in the Top 25 once the season gets rolling with a predicted win over Iowa. Campbell has upgraded the roster to the competitive likes of the bigger Big 12 names and after last year taught them how to win I expect more mental toughness and consistency. This is a good team that will contend for the conference title.

Brutus Buckeye

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #286 on: May 22, 2018, 04:46:47 PM »
1919, 20, 21, 28, 29, 31, 34, 35, 36, 37, 42, 44
WWH: 1952, 54, 55, 57, 58, 60, 61, 62, 63, 65, 67, 68, 70, 72, 74, 75
1979, 81, 82, 84, 87, 94, 98
2001, 02, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19

ELA

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #287 on: May 23, 2018, 07:52:28 AM »
34. Florida Atlantic Owls
#1 in Conference USA
You don’t have to like him, plenty don’t, but after spending years failing up, Lane Kiffin finally had to hit the career reset button, and did so with resounding success.  After getting his feet wet, with a 1-3 start, the Owls won 10 in a row, including 9-0 in conference play.  They weren’t even particularly challenged, winning their division by 3 full games, including beating 2nd place FIU by 28 points; then winning the Conference USA Championship Game and their bowl game by a combined score of 91-20.  The best part for Lane was that his team was still pretty young, only graduating 5 starters.  They had five underclassmen make FIRST TEAM all-conference, among 11 returning players earn some sort of all-conference honor.  So how good can Florida Atlantic be?  S&P+ loved them last year, ranking them #11 overall, and #6 offensively.  With only one graduating senior, it’s not surprising they return 90% of their defensive production, 8th best nationally.  The offensive numbers look low, but that’s solely based on starting quarterback Jason Driskel deciding to retire.   The replacement options are both talented and troubling.  That seems to be the de facto Last Chance U that Lane is running in Boca Raton.  De’Andre Johnson and Chris Robison are vying for the starting job, after beginning their college careers at Florida State and Oklahoma, respectively, and both getting kicked out.  This is why this may all work out, this seems like the type of program Kiffin is ok running, at Florida Atlantic is just about the best FBS school to try to run it at.   As efficient as Driskel was, the offense was led by the run game.  Devin Singletary finished 4th in the nation with 1,796 yards, as only a sophomore, and the Owls as a whole, finished 6th with 283.2 ypg.  The five teams in front of them were the three service academies, Georgia Tech, and Arizona.  Florida Atlantic is the heavy favorite to win the conference again, but after doing that easily last year, the target is now higher.  They want to compete for a spot in the New Years Six, and while they won’t get the boost in conference play that they would in the American or Mountain West, they do face both Oklahoma and Central Florida on the road in September.  So a chance to get that marquee victory is there.
Key Players
RBDevin Singletary, Junior
TEHarrison Bryant, Senior
TReggie Bain, Senior
.
LBAzeez Al-Shaair, Senior
CBShelton Lewis, Senior
SJalen Young, Senior

CatsbyAZ

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #288 on: May 23, 2018, 10:39:53 AM »
Predicting it now: FAU upsets an overrated, downgraded Sooners team.

3 of the 4 latest teams to be ranked - Purdue, Iowa State, now FAU - are ranked uncommonly high AND kept their current coaches from being poached - Brohm, Campbell, Kiffin.

ELA

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #289 on: May 24, 2018, 11:20:17 AM »
33. Duke Blue Devils
#9 in ACC
While at first this seems high, this is a Duke team that finished on a 3 game winning streak, and 4 of their 6 losses were by one score, all but one of those 6 losses being to bowl teams.  Duke did it last year with defense, and there's a chance for this year's to be even better.  They finished third in the ACC in scoring defense, and bring back eight starters on that side of the ball, joining only Clemson as teams returning multiple first team all conference players.  The secondary, in particular, has a chance to really be outstanding.  A year ago they were 2nd in the ACC, only allowing 50.6% of opponents passes to be completed, but still gave up 7.1 ypa, which put them in the bottom half of the ACC.  From there, it doesn't take a Duke math major to figure out that their yards allowed per completion was not great.  Defending down the field needs to improve.  Offensively, they need to attack down the field more, a lot more.  Daniel Jones was a completely unheralded recruit, out of Charlotte.  A smart kid, he gambled on himself by taking a walk on spot at Duke, rather than the more direct path to a starting job at Princeton.  He was a starter at Duke as a redshirt freshman, and a kid who big things were expected out of for his sophomore campaign last year.  Instead his completion percentage dropped by 7%, his yards per attempt by 0.7 yards, his touchdowns were down, and his interceptions were up.  Things may have ticked up at the end.  Aside from the FBS opener against Northwestern, his three best games of the year came in the final 3, all Duke wins, completing 64% of his passes (compared to 53% previously), averaging 258.3 ypg (up from 166.4 previously), and had 9 total touchdowns to 3 interceptions, which included 2 of his 3 highest rushing totals of the season.  That gives a lot of hope going into 2018, particularly with a guy with David Cutcliffe's reputation for developing quarterbacks leading him.  It's hard to imagine a David Cutcliffe offense finishing 11th in passing in the ACC, and last in yards per attempt, in back to back seasons.  If the offense is back to even average, the defense is good enough to put them in a position to be in the ACC Championship Game for the first time since 2013.  The number of tough opponents they draw on the road this year may prevent them from anything more than like an 8-4 type ceiling.  They face Northwestern and Baylor on the road out of conference, then have Georgia Tech, Pitt, Miami and Clemson as their ACC road games.  When 4 of your 6 road games are against teams I haven't gotten to in this countdown yet, that's not a recipe for rising above your station.
Key Players
QBDaniel Jones, Junior
RBBrittain Brown, Sophomore
WRT.J. Rahming, Senior
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LBJoe Giles-Harris, Junior
CBMark Gilbert, Junior
SJeremy McDuffie, Senior

ELA

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #290 on: May 25, 2018, 09:25:16 AM »
32. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#8 in ACC
If TaQuon Marshall can take a major step forward as a passer, Georgia Tech has a chance to be one of the major surprise teams in 2018.  That's a huge if though.  Nobody is going to confuse this for an air raid attack, but the Yellow Jacket passing game needs to do just enough to keep you a little honest, and be able to hit when they pick their spots.  Marshall wasn't able to do that last year, completing a horrific 37.1% of his passes, worst ever for a Paul Johnson quarterback, and worst in the nation by over 8%.  The flip side is that he ran for 1,146 yards, the most any quarterback at Georgia Tech has ever run for.  He combined with KirVonte Benton (1,053 yards) to give Johnson his first 1,000 yard duo since Joshua Nesbitt and Jonathan Dwyer in 2009.  It's an offense that typically spreads the carries out, but Johnson rode his two workhorses hard, for a combined 451 carries, no other player topping 36.  So even with that ultra effective 1-2 punch, the Wreck's overall rushing numbers were not where they needed to be, compared to years like 2012, where no player hit 700 rushing yards, but six had at least 430 and all had over 50 carries.  The guy they need to figure out how to get touches to is Nathan Cottrell, who averaged over 8 ypc, as is a home run threat every time he touches the ball.  The problem is his small frame, he doesn't generate much on the plays in between.  Defensively Johnson decided to make a change after the defense wilted down the stretch last year, surrendering 40 points to Virginia, 43 to Duke and 38 to Georgia, all in November, and all losses.  Those numbers are particularly unforgivable when you consider how the offensive style limits possessions.  So defensive coordinator Ted Roof is out, and replacing him is Nate Woody, who comes over after spending the last five years as defensive coordinator at Appalachian State.  This is Woody's first go in big time football, as the past five years at Appalachian State were his first five in the FBS.  He had spent his entire playing and coaching career at Wofford prior to that.  It's a late move to the big time for a 57 year old coach, but he brings an entirely new philosophy, switching to a 3-4.  It should be an interesting change for a defense that will rely heavily on it's linebacking duo.  Brant Mitchell manned the MLB spot last year, and in the new formation, Victor Alexander probably slides over and joins him as the other ILB.  It does leave a major question initially about pass rush.  It was almost non existent last year, and unless some new rush linebackers emerge, it could get even worse this year.  With those two in the middle, plugging up the run game, expect teams to throw often.  It could be a case of Georgia Tech having to simply win a bunch of shootouts.  Which, if Marshall can even get up to between 45% and 50% as a passer, they will be fully capable of doing.
Key Players
QBTaQuon Marshall, Senior
RBKirVonte Benson, Junior
GParker Braun, Junior
.
LBVictor Alexander, Senior
LBBrant Mitchell, Senior
PPressley Harvin, Sophomore

Cincydawg

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #291 on: May 26, 2018, 03:43:54 PM »
I doubt they win more than 6.

ELA

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #292 on: May 26, 2018, 09:19:44 PM »
31. Oregon Ducks
#5 in Pac XII
How often does promoting the popular coordinator to head coach work at a school that has enough sway to be conducting a real search?  Seemingly never.  Ask LSU fans how happy they are right now.  Oregon is only in this predicament because they failed last time they promoted a coordinator, in Mark Helfrich.  After Willie Taggert left for Florida State the Ducks now have their third head coach in three years.  This for a program that has played for two national championships in the last eight years.  After falling off a cliff to 4-8 in 2016, Oregon slightly bounced back last year to at least go 7-6 and reach a bowl game.  Mario Cristobal was wrongly fired at FIU, but I don’t think he deserves this job.  Maybe it’s universal karma or something.  The graduation of Royce Freeman is a massive loss, after finishing 2nd in the Pac 12 in rushing, but the return of quarterback Justin Herbert should be huge.  We could see what we haven’t seen in Eugene since the days of Joey Harrington, a pass happy offense.  It wasn’t just Freeman who graduated, but also Kani Benoit, the duo totalling over 2,000 yards in 2017.  Tony Brooks-James is the only experienced returning back, and he didn’t show nearly the pop of those two guys.  When Justin Herbert played, Oregon was 6-2, and averaged 49.1 ppg.  In the 5 games he missed, the Ducks were 1-4 and averaged 15 ppg.  This 34 ppg back might help?  They add Wake Forest transfer Tabari Hines to a deep group of wide receivers.  It should be the best Oregon passing attack we’ve seen in a long time.  But Taggert brought defense with him, and that is how Oregon will get back into the Pac 12 North title discussion.  They return 7 starters from a defense that finished top 4 in the conference in total defense.  They took a big hit this week with the dismissal of senior linebacker Fotu Leiato who was the star of the spring game on that side of the ball, but there was also no guarantee he was even going to be a starter.  That’s how deep this Oregon defense looks on paper.  Really the only reasons this isn’t a top 15 team is because of the questions with the coaching staff, and the fact that they are going to have to look so far outside their program identity offensively to win.
Key Players
TEJake Breeland, Junior
CJake Hanson, Junior
GCalvin Throckmorton, Junior
.
DEJalen Jelks, Senior
LBTroy Dye, Junior
SUgo Amadi, Senior


30. NC State Wolfpack
#7 in ACC
2017 was arguably as talented an all around team as NC State has ever fielded, and yet after reaching as high as #14 in late October, losses in 3 of 4 sent them right back out of the polls.  They wound up having seven players selected in the NFL Draft.  Only Alabama had more.  So where does the program go from here, now without those 7 Draftees, considering they managed a 9-4, Sun Bowl season, with them?  Dave Doeren has clearly built stability in Raliegh.  They have now been to four straight bowl games for the first time since 2000-2003.  Their final AP Poll ranking of #23 last year was the best since #12 in 2002, and the second best for the program going back to 1994.  But can they take that next step?  For a program that will be “celebrating” the 40th anniversary of their last conference championship next season, that has been the ongoing question.  The answer for this year, is probably not.  The 2014 and 2015 classes that make up the bulk of the upperclassmen were Doeren’s top two rated classes to date, so the depth is there, even if we don’t know all the names yet.  Offensively, even without Nyheim Hines and Jaylen Samuel, they should still be ok because Ryan Finley is back, but will have to shoulder more of the load.  Considering he was third in the conference in passing yardage, while finishing second in attempts, that feels like a weird thing to say, but those were a lot of safe throws.  He was also second in completion percentage, and had the lowest interception rate, but the 7.4 yards per attempt needs to get up over 8, and they need to trust him more in the red zone, because there are certainly questions in the running game.  There is no reason, with as much as he threw the ball, and having a mismatch like Samuels, for him to only have 17 passing touchdowns.  The Wolfpack had only 9 passing touchdowns in 60 redzone trips, part of the reason they were worst in the ACC, and #119 nationally, in red zone offense.  The defense is littered with question marks, which will happen when your entire defensive line is drafted.  They will lean more on a secondary, which got picked on quite a bit last year, mainly because of how good the front was against the run.  The overall numbers don’t look great, but teams were also throwing the ball 35.6 times per game against them, second most behind Wake Forest.  Was that because of how good the run defense was, or how vulnerable the secondary was?  They better hope it was the former.
Key Players
QBRyan Finley, Senior
WRKelvin Harmon, Junior
CGarrett Bradbury, Senior
.
LBGermaine Pratt, Senior
SJarius Morehead, Junior
PA.J. Cole, Senior

ELA

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #293 on: May 27, 2018, 01:27:55 PM »
29. TCU Horned Frogs
#4 in Big XII
After back to back AP Top 7 finishes in 2014 and 2015, giving them 5 in 8 years, TCU dropped to 6-7 in 2016, only the second time the program had lost 7 games in a season in Patterson’s 16 years at the helm.  How do you get a bounceback?  A quick infusion of talent, which is exactly what they got.  Transfer Kenny Hill gave them a spark at quarterback, while Horned Frogs also took home the Big XII awards for Defensive Newcomer (Ben Banogu), Offensive Freshman (Jalen Reagor) and Defensive Freshman (Ross Blacklock).  If not for Will Grier at West Virginia, Hill may have given TCU a clean sweep.  So how can Patterson pull it off two years in a row.  Hill is gone, as are half of his two headed backfield, two of his four starting receivers, and three starting offensive linemen.  TCU and Patterson should be in a position of trust now, they are with me, that he can figure it out.  He’s a defensive guy at heart, and he’ll have to get back to his roots this year, because that’s where the talent is heavily weighted.  That’s what he got back to last year, and they should be even better on that side of the ball this year.  IN an offensive minded league, TCU was the one school playing defense last year, leading the conference in scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense, passing defense and sacks.  Their red zone defense was particularly stifling, at 69.4%, second best nationally.  Granted some of that was luck, with opponents converting an atrocious 9 of 16 red zone field goals against them.  Don’t try and credit them either, they blocked one kick all year, of any kind.  I can’t even confirm that one block was even a field goal, let alone a red zone field goal.  Still they locked down in tight.  They only surrendered 16 red zone scores all year, and only 5 on the ground.  Only Clemson, and their all world defensive line, allowed fewer.  After back to back wins over Oklahoma State and West Virginia early in the year, TCU lost their final three regular season games against ranked teams, including twice to Oklahoma, by a combined 42 points.  Last year, they won with defense, but had enough offense when they needed it.  They put up 44 and 31 on Oklahoma State and West Virginia, when their defense allowed 31 and 24.  I’m not sure they have quite the offense to do that, and you can’t win every single week with just defense in the Big XII.  TCU had the conference’s best, and they still surrendered over 30 points 5 times in 13 games.  So it feels like a half step back year, not a full step back like in 2016 though.
Key Players
RBDarius Anderson, Junior
WRKaVonte Turpin, Senior
WRJalen Reagor, Sophomore
.
DEBen Banogu, Senior
LBTy Summers, Senior
CBJeff Gladney, Junior

 

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