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Topic: ELA 130 Team Countdown

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ELA

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #378 on: June 14, 2018, 09:59:21 AM »
9. Penn State Nittany Lions
#4 in Big Ten
How often can a team lose it’s all-American running back, along with its best receiver, and best tight end, and still feel really good about it’s offensive personnel?  Well, Penn State this year for one.  Trace McSorley makes the whole thing work, and he’s back for his senior year.  Miles Sanders was a 5* recruit, and the #1 running back in the nation coming out of Pittsburgh two years ago, but Barkley was simply so good, Sanders simply didn’t get the touches he expected.  Now that he will, I expect him to show why he was so highly regarded as a high school star, averaging 7.0 ypc on limited touches a year ago.  Don’t be surprised to see him have a big year, and then become a 1st round NFL Draft pick next year with a frame oozing with talent, without the wear and tear of most comparable backs.  Wideout Juwon Johnson emerged down the stretch last year, making himself the 1B to DaeSean Hamilton’s 1A.  After tallying more than four catches in a game only twice in the Nittany Lions’ first nine games, he closed the season by doing so in four consecutive games.  He needs to make himself more of a redzone target though.  There is no excuse for a guy with his 6’4” frame, and the number of targets he got, to have only one touchdown, total, on the season.  In fairness that one was a pretty memorable red zone touchdown to beat Iowa on the final play of the game in Iowa City.  Penn State had the top red zone offense in the Big Ten, and Johnson needs to be a big part of maintaining that, particularly without Gesicki.  The concerns are how Franklin replaces Joe Moorhead, and how far of a step back the defense takes.  After a 16-14 start to his Penn State career, and opening 2016 at 2-2 with a loss to rival Pitt, and a humiliating 49-10 loss at Michigan, Franklin was closer to getting fired than being locked up for as long as he wanted to stay.  In Franklin’s first two years in Happy Valley, the Nittany Lions finished 13th in the Big Ten in total offense both years.  The next two years, with Moorhead running the show, they finished 2nd both years.  Moorhead took the head coaching job at Mississippi State, and Franklin promoted tight ends coach Ricky Rahne, only 37, to his first coordinating job.  Rahne first coached under Franklin as a grad assistant at Kansas State in 2006, and was one of Franklin’s first hires when he got the head coaching job at Vanderbilt.  But he was also the quarterbacks coach who severely underdeveloped Christian Hackenburg before getting moved to tight ends.  Will loyalty burn Franklin here?  He himself is an offensive guy, but the jury is out on whether it continues at the same pace without Moorhead.  The defense quietly was quite outstanding last year as well, finishing second in scoring to Wisconsin.  They lost 8 starters though.  They have pass rushers at both levels, but the defense up the middle, particularly against the run is very raw.  The cornerbacks could be a pleasant surprise.  Amani Oruwariye led the team in interceptions, despite technically being a reserve, and John Reid, who was supposed to be a starter last year, returns after missing all of 2017 with a knee injury.
Key Players
QBTrace McSorley, Senior
WRJuwon Johnson, Junior
TRyan Bates, Junior
.
DEShareef Miller, Junior
LBKoa Farmer, Senior
CBAmani Oruwariye, Senior

ELA

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #379 on: June 15, 2018, 08:18:17 AM »
8. Washington Huskies
#1 in Pac 12
Considering that prior to Washington’s 2016 Pac 12 championship and College Football Playoff appearance it had been 16 years since the program had won a conference title or lost fewer than 4 games, and 15 years since they finished ranked in both polls, it’s hard to get too disappointed about a 10-3 season and a Fiesta Bowl appearance.  It was the Huskies first consecutive major bowl appearance since going to three straight Rose Bowls from 1990 to 1992.  But considering all of the offensive talent they had, the performance on that side of the ball was greatly disappointing.  Jake Browning was being talked about as a top 10 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Myles Gaskin was arguably the best running back in the Pac 12, and Dante Pettis was as dangerous a player as there was in the country.  Pettis didn’t disappoint, with 4 punt return touchdowns.  Gaskin was just as good.  But Browning was simply not the elite quarterback he was in 2016.  His completion percentage was way, up, but his yards per attempt fell, and particularly over the second half of the season, his scoring production plummeted, leading to a 10 point drop in his Total QBR.  This kid threw for 43 touchdowns in 2016, but just 18 in 2017, only 4 of which occurred over the second half of the season.  He had four games without a passing touchdown over a 6 game stretch, after going 20 consecutive games throwing one (with multiples in 17 of them).  Washington fnished 5th in rushing and 8th in passing...in the Pac 12.  They were eyeing those types of numbers on a national level.  The upside is it means Browning and Gaskin are both back.  The offense loses a lot in the passing game with Pettis and tight end Will Disly graduating.  #2 wideout Aaron Fuller and backup tight end Hunter Bryant are about it as far as experience goes, and they only had 42 catches for 560 yards and 1 touchdown last year, COMBINED.  The defense returns a lot, but also loses some key players from a group that was surprisingly national championship caliber last year.  The question is how much can big Greg Gaines handle on his own.  Gaines playing next to Vita Vea, who declared early for the NFL Draft, and was taken #12 overall, were a matchup nightmare in the trenches.  They didn’t have huge numbers, but consumed blockers and let Washington’s linebackers play free.  On one hand, the loss of Vea makes playing a 3-3-5 more challenging.  On the other hand, Peterson is going to want as many of his defensive backs on the field as possible at any time.  It’s almost certainly the best secondary in the nation.
Key Players
QBJake Browning, Senior
RBMyles Gaskin, Senior
TKaleb McGary, Senior
.
DTGreg Gaines, Senior
LBBen Burr-Kirven, Senior
STaylor Rapp, Junior

NorthernOhioBuckeye

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #380 on: June 15, 2018, 09:05:13 AM »
In regards to Penn State, I was thinking the same thing about the OC. It is not always a smooth transitioning to a new OC. However, Rahne has been in the system so it may go better than usual. But I do expect quite a bit of a drop off in offensive production losing the players they lost along with Moorhead. 

Cincydawg

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #381 on: June 15, 2018, 09:34:06 AM »
I guess Auburn is top ten?  Eh.  I suspect our projections are overly influenced by recent performance.  But, I don't know how to change that.  Somebody ranked 11-25 is going to excel.

bwarbiany

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #382 on: June 15, 2018, 10:28:46 AM »
What happened to Washington's O-line between 2016->2017, and what is the prognosis for 2018?

Any time I see a regression like that where the skill players are all intact, I immediately think O-line is the reason. Especially after such a stunning 2016 season. But I know nothing about Washington, so I can't really say if that's the case here.

CatsbyAZ

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #383 on: June 15, 2018, 04:40:53 PM »
Browning will have a bounce back year, but it still won’t be as good as his 2016 season. Part of it was how the play calling seemed pensive, especially as the season went on. 

Washington is the only dependable team in the PAC 12, meaning well rounded, able to win despite their flaws, and able to live up to the hype.

TyphonInc

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #384 on: June 15, 2018, 10:02:40 PM »
Are you sure you didn't just read that in my write up?

I said last year that if he didn't do something by season 4, he probably never would.  So for my Michigan write up I looked up the exact stat.  Only one coach Big Ten coach in the past 30 years won a Big Ten title after failing to in his first 4 years (Ron Turner).  And if you go back 50 years, it only expands to two (George Perles).  Both won in Year 5.

The Purdue coach who won it in 1967 won his first in like season 9, so he throws the whole thing off.  But since him, not much.
Definitely heard it on the radio. Maybe their stat guy visits here. 

ELA

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #385 on: June 17, 2018, 01:52:28 PM »
Saturday and Sunday

7. Ohio State Buckeyes
#3 in Big Ten
Last year was an “all in” year, and while the end result, merely a Big Ten title and Cotton Bowl win, was a bit of a disappointment, the flip side is that this looks like a “reload” type year, and really might not be much different.  They don’t have an established veteran quarterback like J.T. Barrett, but while Dwayne Haskins lacks Barrett’s career numbers, he has more pure talent than any quarterback Meyer has had at Ohio State.  That is frightening.  While he is plenty athletic, his passing accuracy looked to be vastly underrated.  He dissected a very good Michigan defense, completing 6 of his 7 passes, and reeling off a 22 yard run in leading the Buckeyes to 17 unanswered points in Ann Arbor to beat the Wolverines last season.  Behind him you have possibly the best 1-2 running back punch in the nation.  J.K. Dobbins was outstanding last year as a freshman, and behind him you have Mike Weber, who ran for over 1,000 yards as a freshman in 2016, but could never get fully healthy last year.  Rotating them in and out to stay fresh, or putting them on the field together, I’m not sure which is scarier, but Ohio State can do either.  Ohio State led the nation last year in tackles for loss, and it still seemed like the front was not all it could be.  That’s how terrifying that group looked on paper.  While any group with Nick Bosa in it is going to be a beast to handle, it doesn’t seem to be quite what it was a year ago, and the linebackers, for now, are a question mark.  There is always talent in the pipeline, so by the time they face Michigan State and Michigan in November, it should be fine, but against TCU and Penn State in September, the Buckeyes may have to go ahead and win a shootout.  That worked out for them ok last year against Penn State, and TCU is a bit less of a threat offensively than Ohio State’s September Big XII opponent last year.  If you are looking for the sneaky trap game this year, October 20 at Purdue.  If the Boilermakers are playing well, that could be an atmosphere we haven’t seen in that stadium in 15 years.
Key Players
RBJ.K. Dobbins, Sophomore
WRParris Campbell, Senior
GMichael Jordan, Junior
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DENick Bosa, Junior
DTDre'Mont Jones, Junior
SJordan Fuller, Junior

6. Georgia Bulldogs
#3 in SEC
Enjoy it rivals, this is probably the lowest you are going to see Georgia in these ratings for the foreseeable future, and I’m not even fully confident I should have them this low.  The issues are the skill position losses, and a lot of defensive turnover.  Jake Fromm more than exceeded expectations as a true freshman, pushing Jacob Eason to the side.  Eason was the 2015 Gatorade National Player of the Year, who came in and led Georgia to an 8-5 season as a true freshman.  Then he had a season ending knee injury, and he was history.  All Fromm did was take the Bulldogs to the National Championship Game, win an SEC title, while having the highest Total QBR among SEC quarterbacks, 6th nationally.  He did that while running an offense that was 12th in the SEC in passing yards though, but he was second in completion percentage and yards per attempt.  They just didn’t ask him to throw the ball a ton.  Among non option based teams, only Minnesota and San Diego State threw the ball less than Georgia last year.  Can they play like that again?  Georgia has been a running back factory of late, so I hesitate to punish them for losing both Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, but you also can’t ignore their graduations.  D’Andre Swift looks like a more than capable heir apparent, besting both of them with 8.2 ypc for 597 rushing yards.  He had 88 yards on just 7 carries in the SEC Championship Game, giving a glimpse to the future.  Fromm would do well to get Mecole Hardman involved.  The uber talented athlete is a star on special teams already, but with Javon Wims graduated, Fromm needs a new go to target.  Godwin was better last year, but Hardman has way more upside.  The secondary should continue to be outstanding, but the front seven has some major holes.  Holes you can’t get away with and make the Playoff in my opinion.  Georgia signed what was the top rated class not just in 2018, but in the history of the 247 composite rankings, which I believe go back to 2003.  While front seven guys aren’t necessarily where you tend to find instant impact, they have a number of pass rushers who should see the field quickly.  Adam Anderson, Brenton Cox, Quay Walker, and Otis Reese are all guys who should see the field early.
Key Players
QBJake Fromm, Sophomore
WRTerry Godwin, Senior
WRMecole Hardman, Junior
.
LBD'Andre Walker, Senior
CBDeandre Baker, Senior
SJ.R. Reed, Junior

5. Michigan State Spartans
#2 in Big Ten
A year after it seemed like maybe the ride was over in East Lansing, Michigan State had a bounceback season that made 2016 long forgotten.  How do you do that?  You find a quarterback and you stay healthy.  While Spartan fans were not ready to stick a nail in Mark Dantonio’s program yet, even the most optimistic figured they were so young, with so much attrition, that just getting back to a bowl game would be a solid accomplishment.  So now with all of that youth with a year of experience, but instead coming off a 10-3 season, finishing 2nd place in the Big Ten East, ahead of Penn State and Michigan, how high should Michigan State be aiming?  You look at the top of the S&P+ returning production rankings, and you see a lot of teams that pulled the plug on 2017, and were already playing for 2018 last year.  Then there is 10-3 Michigan State at #1 nationally.  Mississippi State (#8) is the only other team to finish last season ranked to be in the top 19 of returning production.  So Michigan State’s starting 22 is filled with experience, filled with contributors.  19 of 22 starters return.  So why am I cautious about even putting them this high?  Because while 2016 had other issues, the Spartans were absolutely crippled with injuries as well.  In 2017, they stayed insanely healthy, and that covered up the fact that for a team ranked this high, Michigan State still has a concerning lack of depth.  The last two offseasons have hit the program hard between transfers and dismissals.  That led to playing a lot of true freshmen the last two years, and the Spartans haven’t been able to redshirt guys, or develop much of a bench.  While Dantonio’s tenure has been marked by developing under recruited players, that doesn’t mean they all hit, and the ones that don’t find Michigan State having a two deep with MAC caliber players one injury away from seeing the field.  But the ones that do hit, continue to hit.  The front seven has bounced back with a walk on in Kenny Willikes on the line, and linebacker Joe Bachie, whose only other offers came from MAC and FCS schools, providing an all-Big Ten presence at linebacker.  It’s the secondary getting back to No Fly Zone that really keyed the defense’s return, and that unit returns in tact, with talent and experience, as the best secondary in the Big Ten.  Offensively, the passing game looks to be outstanding, but they need to develop some help for L.J. Scott in the running game.  Scott has NFL talent, but is inconsistent, and developed a fumbling issue last season.
Key Players
QBBrian Lewerke, Junior
RBL.J. Scott, Senior
WRFelton Davis, Senior
.
DEKenny Willikes, Junior
LBJoe Bachie, Junior
SDavid Dowell, Junior

Cincydawg

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #386 on: June 17, 2018, 04:49:43 PM »
Eason did not have a season ending injury medically.  He was back in three weeks, just playing second string.  The losses at LB are concerning.  The running back position is loaded.

ELA

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #387 on: June 17, 2018, 04:55:37 PM »
Yeah, I don't know why I said that immediately after saying Fromm pushed him aside.

Fromm had much better numbers than I thought too, which changed my narrative there a bit.

Cincydawg

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #388 on: June 18, 2018, 08:52:46 AM »
UGA will go as the OL goes, duh.  It really improved last season and should be solid this year.  It obviously is easier to pass off play action when your running game is a threat.  Fromm is a solid QB no doubt, but he was surrounded by a lot of tools.  The defense might take a step back because of departures.  The offense should be as good or better.

Chubb and Michel finished number 2 and 3 at UGA in career yardage.  That is pretty good, but they stayed four years, though Chubb was hurt of course.

ELA

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #389 on: June 18, 2018, 09:49:36 AM »
4. Auburn Tigers
#2 in SEC
So long as Auburn can stay out of Atlanta, they might be in pretty good shape this year.  Rolling into Conference Championship weekend, no team looked as hot as the Tigers, demolishing Georgia in early November, and then closing the game on a 16-0 run to beat Alabama.  But then in back to back games in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Auburn lost the SEC Championship to Georgia in a rematch, and then were ousted by the national champion* Central Florida Knights.  While Auburn's offense will certainly look different this year, with Jarrett Stidham under center it could actually be better.  Only Mississippi State ran the ball more than Auburn's 45.9 carries per game, but with both Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway off to the NFL, expect Malzahn to lean a little more heavily on the hyper efficient Jarrett Stidham's arm.  Stidham led the SEC by completing nearly 67% of his passes, while throwing only 4 picks.  He is throwing to a group of receivers that returns its top five performers from a season ago, with a solid mix of strong possession guys like Ryan Davis and Eli Stove, and guys who take the cover off the defense in Darius Slayton and Will Hastings, who combined to average over 22 yards per reception on 44 catches.  Hastings and Stove suffered ACL injuries in the spring, although the staff thinks at least Stove should return this season for sure.  All nine wideouts who caught a pass last year were underclassmen, and two of Auburn's top 5 recruits also play the position.  It's still a Gus Malzahn offense though, so it won't go full air raid.  Junior Kam Martin looks like the obvious choice to be the beneficiary of all of those carries out there to be had, but while he had some bright moments, he also withered near the end of the year, and was silent in the Tigers' largest games.  In Auburn's six biggest games, being their four losses, plus the big game wins over Georgia and Auburn, he had a TOTAL of 16 carries for 60 yards and no scores.  Don't write off true freshman Harold Joiner, a top 5 running back recruit nationally.  But if games are won and lost in the trenches, Auburn looks pretty darned set on defense.  The Tigers' front caused major issues last year, finishing second in the SEC in both defensive ypc allowed, and sacks.  Auburn was Top 5 nationally in every defensive metric that Football Outsiders measured, including #1 in Success Rate, Passing Defense and Standard Downs.  The team's leader in sacks, Jeff Holland, left for the NFL, but the rest of the line returns to form perhaps the best unit in the nation outside of Clemson.  To show how deep this defense was last year, their returning starters doesn't account for the fact that arguably the team's best linebacker (Darrell Williams) and cornerback (Javaris Davis) are starting in 2018 after technically being reserves in 2017.  The talent is there, it's just not necessarily in the right places for Malzahn.  Whether Auburn can get back to Atlanta, and this time win their first SEC title in 5 years depends on their ability to either find a running back, or adapt to a more pass happy version of Malzahn's offense.  Oh, and that little issue of playing three teams I have in my top 8 (Washington, Georgia and Alabama) all away from home, including that opener against Washington, right back in Mercedes Benz Stadium for the third straight game.
Key Players
QBJarrett Stidham, Junior
WRRyan Davis, Senior
WRDarius Slayton, Junior
.
DTDerrick Brown, Junior
LBDeshaun Davis, Junior
CBJavaris Davis, Junior

Brutus Buckeye

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #390 on: June 18, 2018, 10:45:06 AM »
That's a cute shade of purple-pink, for the Buckeyes. 
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

Cincydawg

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #391 on: June 18, 2018, 11:32:50 AM »
I just can't buy Auburn here at all, but great work.

 

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