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Topic: ELA 130 Team Countdown

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Brutus Buckeye

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #70 on: March 26, 2018, 09:25:16 AM »

Those Beavers were really getting pounded last year. 
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

847badgerfan

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #71 on: March 26, 2018, 10:25:07 AM »
Having Mike Riley as assistant HC is going to help OrSU in the short term - not long term though.
U RAH RAH! WIS CON SIN!

ELA

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #72 on: March 26, 2018, 04:51:11 PM »
95. BYU Cougars
Independent

With Tanner Mangum under center, and four decades of consistency, nobody could have possibly seen 2017 coming for the BYU football program.  A 4-9 season, giving the Cougars their first 9 loss year since going 1-9 in 1955, when LaVell Edwards was a 25 year old high school football coach.  4-9 doesn't even tell the full story, with the wins coming against an FCS school and three sub-.500 Mountain West teams.  The problem was an anemic offense, which was held to 10 or fewer points 5 times, and only managed 17 on East Carolina, the worst defense in the FBS.  Fomer Cougar legend Ty Detmer, who had never before coached in the college ranks, seemed in over his head with his first job at the level being offensive coordinator.  He is replaced by Jeff Grimes, who has been the run game coordinator at several stops, including Arizona State, Colorado and LSU, but never full offensive coordinator.  One might think the change from Detmer to Grimes signals a change in philosophy, but Detmer was not the pass happy coordinator one might expect.  One thing Grimes will have the advantage of, is Detmer's discovery of Squally Canada during the stretch run last year.  After running for a combined 107 yards (21.4 ypg) on 29 carries, with no scores, in the first 5 FBS games, Canada missed a pair, and then closed out the season with 503 yards (100.6 ypg) on 75 carries, with 5 TDs over the Cougars final 5 games.  BYU, who had lost their first 7 FBS games, went 3-2 over the final 5, and put up their three highest point totals.  They also stopped playing LSU, Utah, Wisconsin, Boise State and Mississippi State, and started playing UMass, and MWC bottom feeders, but still.  The 2018 schedule looks a touch easier, with Arizona, Cal, Wisconsin and Washington surrounding McNeese State in the front half, and Boise State and Utah in the back.  So the Power 5 opponents aren't quite as good, but BYU may still be so bad, it won't matter.  Sophomore Joe Critchlow, who saw plenty of action late last year enters spring as the presumptive starter, but redshirt freshman Kody Wilstead will be given a shot after Critchlow's underwhelming freshman campaign.  They simply have to hope the steady decline of BYU's offense from #43 to #62 to #121 in S&P+ over the past three years was due to Detmer's inexperience, because no obvious help is on the way.
Key Players
RBSqually Canada, Senior
TEMatt Bushman, Sophomore
TThomas Shoaf, Junior
-
DECorbin Kaufusi, Senior
DESione Takitaki, Senior
CBDayan Ghanwoloku, Junior

ELA

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #73 on: March 27, 2018, 10:52:07 AM »
94. Connecticut Huskies
#10 in American

Randy Edsall built UConn up from nothing once, and it's amazing how quickly it fell back to being nothing once he left.  The talent simply isn't there.  All 5 classes comprising the current UConn roster ranked in the bottom 3 of the AAC, and the highest ranked one nationally peaked at #99.  The have exactly one player on the roster who ranked among the top 1000 nationally in his class, sophomore guard Cam DeGeorge.  It's going to be a long road, but what Edsall does have this year is plenty of experience on the offensive side of the football.  The problem is that offense a year ago mustered only 23.6 ppg.  The advanced metrics look a little bit better, and if they can get the run game going, the offense could grow by leaps and bounds in 2018.  David Pindell was not the full time starter a year ago at quarterback, but saw action in 7 games, and started the final 3 after Bryant Shirreffs was lost to injury, so the transition there should be ok.  The biggest loss on offense will be OC Rhett Lashlee jumping to conference rival SMU after only one season.  Edsall tried to update his offense by hiring Lashlee, who had coached under Gus Malzahn at several stops, including the previous 5 years as OC at both Arkansas State and Auburn.  But it sort of shows UConn's place, even within the AAC pecking order, losing him to a conference rival.  Hired to replace him is John Dunn, who was a position coach for Edsall at Maryland, and spent the last two years in the NFL with the Bears, but has never been a coordinator before.  His first goal is to boost a running game that gained only 3.6 ypc, and contributed to a 3rd down offense that was 2nd worst in the conference.  Kevin Mensah provided a boost in the second half of the season, and hopefully, behind 4 offensive linemen returning with starting experience, that will improve.  The defense is where the major question marks lie, with cornerback Tyler Coyle being the only sure thing returning.  This may be the first prediction where I may be way off from what the computers say.  UConn is #124 in Projected S&P+, but I have faith in Edsall, as an experienced coach, getting a little more out of an experienced bunch, and that the quarterback dropoff in lost production that S&P is factoring, won't actually exist.  But it doesn't change the fact that recruiting has been horrible, even by mid-major standards.  Edsall is no longer an up and coming 40 something coach with a program to sell.  He's a retread who failed at his one shot in the Power 5.  I don't see this working out long term, but I also think for this year at least, they can be not awful.
Key Players
RBKevin Mensah, Sophomore
WRHergy Mayala, Senior
TMatt Peart, Junior
.
LBMarshe Terry, Junior
LBOmar Fortt, Sophomore
CBTyler Coyle, Sophomore

ELA

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #74 on: March 28, 2018, 08:33:04 AM »
93. Tulsa Golden Hurricane
#9 in American
A pair of bowl games after a two year hiatus suggested Philip Montgomery has the program stabilized, but then the bottom fell out in 2017.  The question remains whether Tulsa can compete for titles in the American, or if they are in just slightly over their depth.  The program won 5 division titles in 8 years from 2005-12, but since the move to the American in 2014, the Golden Hurricane have only once posted a winning conference record.  The mounting injuries last year contributed to the derailment of the season, but that also means the experience, particularly on offense, is off the charts this year.  Montgomery was brought in because of his supposed offensive prowess.  He had coached under Art Briles beginning as a high school QB coach at Stephenville HS in Texas in 1999, and was hired by Briles on his first staff at Houston.  But in three years at Tulsa, the offense has regressed every year.  Now D'Angelo Brewer, and his 145 ypg, moved on, but there is plenty of talent in the backfield, with the hope that Ramadi Warren, can finally get eligible.  Warren redshirted his freshman year, was a backup his sophomore year, and has been academically ineligible the past two seasons.  But when he's played, he has looked like a star in the making.  Shamari Brooks also returns after averaging nearly 6 ypc in a backup role as a true freshman last year.  But the passing game has to get going.  Chad President started the first half of the season, before giving way to redshirt freshman Luke Skipper.  Both quarterbacks return, and Skipper certainly did not play well enough to assume he will be given the starting job.  Whoever it is, has some solid targets on the outside to work with.  Justin Hobbs looks like a guy who will be playing on Sundays in 2019.  He has a 6'4 frame, and his coming off an all-conference season.  He was amazingly consistent, recording at least 3 catches in every game he played, but one, and at least 5 catches in 7 of his 11 games.  At 6'4" he needs to become a bigger target in the red zone.  He only scored 3 touchdowns last season, and none in the red zone.  Tulsa had the 2nd best red zone offense in the conference, but with a staggering gap of 31 of their 32 red zone touchdowns being on the ground.  So why only marginal improvement?  The defense should be just as lousy after ranking last in the conference in both run defense and pass efficiency defense.  Perhaps moving out 6 senior starters will help with things, but if there were better options on the roster, they would have been playing last year.  Tulsa graduated all but 1 sack from 2017, and all but 4 interceptions.  And that was from a defense that generated the 2nd fewest sacks, and third fewest interceptions in the American last season
Key Players
WRJustin Hobbs, Senior
GEvan Bowling, Senior
CChandler Miller, Senior
.
LBCooper Edmiston, Junior
LBDiamon Cannon, Junior
SMcKinley Whitfield, Senior

ELA

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #75 on: March 29, 2018, 10:21:18 AM »
92. Illinois Fighting Illini
#14 in Big Ten
A couple of changes to the coaching staff this offseason has resulted in an uptick in recruiting for the 2019 class.  The question is whether any portion of this coaching staff will be around to actually coach them.  Lovie Smith brought an NFL pedigree with him, but has never looked fully engaged on the sidelines in Champaign, and he has a 5-19 record (including 2-16 in Big Ten play) to prove it.  2017 ended on a 10 game losing streak, and they have a 12 game Big Ten losing streak dating back to November 5, 2016.  Getting a healthy Mike Dudek on the field opposite Malik Turner was supposed to mean big things for the Illini offense, but that couldn't have been farther from the truth.  The two COMBINED for under 600 receiving yards, and had one touchdown between them.  Part of the problem was absolute abysmal quarterback play.  The Illini rolled through three quarterbacks, and each was ineffective, completing under 50% of their passes, with 8 touchdowns to 19 interceptions.  Lovie eventually decided to pull the plug on passing the ball, going with the worst passer of the three, being Cam Thomas and his 42% completion rate and 0 to 5 TO:INT ratio, simply because at least he could run.  Jeff George Jr. (transfer) and Chayce Crouch (retired) both left the team, leaving no doubt that it's Thomas' team in 2018.  He didn't play enough to qualify, but his 39.1 Total QBR would have been worst in the Big Ten.  Illinois ranked #76 in the FBS in S&P+ on standard downs.  Nothing to get excited about, but not horrific either.  But on passing downs, it plummeted to #118.  Going with Thomas doesn't figure to change that.  Freshman Mike Epstein led the team in rushing, despite a season ending injury in the fifth game.  With him back, and Thomas' legs, the Illini offense has pieces, but if you get them behind the chains, it looks to be just as nightmarish as 2017.  Lovie has decided to redesign the offense to fit the talent, something not enough coaches are willing to do.  But he also knows, with Thomas only entering his sophomore year, he may be the last quarterback he gets to coach in Champaign, if he doesn't make it work.  So he went and hired Rod Smith, who was Arizona's OC before the RichRod fallout.  Smith had coached under RichRod since 2007, his OC for his whole tenure in Tucson.  He coached Pat White, Denard Robinson and Khalil Tate.  So if you are looking to design an offense around a mobile quarterback, with no arm, Rod Smith is your guy.  Lovie is all in on the style, getting a commitment from 5* ATH Isaiah Williams for 2019, beating out favorites Michigan and Oklahoma, by offering him as a quarterback, something neither Michigan or Oklahoma was willing to do.  So while this is unquestionably Cam Thomas' team for now, if he doesn't take a major step forward, Williams will challenge him for that spot on Day 1 in 2019.
Key Players
RBMike Epstein, Sophomore
WRMike Dudek, Senior
GNick Allegretti, Senior
.
LBDel'Shawn Phillips, Senior
SStanley Green, Junior
PBlake Hayes, Sophomore

CatsbyAZ

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #76 on: March 29, 2018, 08:49:47 PM »
94. Connecticut Huskies
#10 in American

Randy Edsall built UConn up from nothing once, and it's amazing how quickly it fell back to being nothing once he left.  The talent simply isn't there.  All 5 classes comprising the current UConn roster ranked in the bottom 3 of the AAC, and the highest ranked one nationally peaked at #99.  The have exactly one player on the roster who ranked among the top 1000 nationally in his class, sophomore guard Cam DeGeorge.  
UCONN's uphill battle when it comes to recruiting is nearly hopeless. They just don't have the facilities or fan support (half of whom wear Patriots gear to the home games) to impress outsiders and within their own Northeast region they are at the bottom of the pecking order when facing local battles against Boston College, Rutgers, and Syracuse (though they do better than UMASS). Even though they are in a tweener conference the best they can usually hope for is a better than average MTN West or Conf USA signing class. It's not all hopeless though; if they can exercise patience they'll do very well with a coaching staff that emphasizes slowly developing a well rounded roster.

ELA

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #77 on: March 30, 2018, 07:49:26 AM »
91. Baylor Bears
#9 in Big XII
If Baylor stays healthy in 2018, they are going to make this prediction look very stupid.  I’m not entirely sure Matt Rhule knew just how bad the situation he was walking into was, but after a 1-11 season, which included losses to Liberty and UTSA, he was aware.  In fact, since a 6-0 start in 2016, that saw the Bears reach #8 in the polls, Baylor has been 2-17.  A quick fall from grace in the wake of the Art Briles fallout.  The situation was exacerbated by the fact that so many recruits were able to jump ship after the scandal, that it left Baylor exceedingly thin on talent.  Matt Rhule has begun to stabilize the program, and while many of us see Baylor returning to its rightful place in college football, he is selling a program, that prior to last year, last missed a bowl game when the current class of recruits was in third grade, not the one we all remember going 15 years without a winning record (only winning more than 4 once) prior to that.  That’s how he was able to sign a recruiting class that ranked #30 nationally and #4 in the Big XII.  He is adding that to a young core that returns 9 starters on each side of the ball.  But I get back to staying healthy.  The talent is there, more than a team ranked this low would suggest, but it’s young and thin.  The post-Briles attrition is still very apparent.  Even with so many returning starters, only 6 projected starters for 2018 are seniors.  But the young pieces are there, led by Charlie Brewer.  Brewer was an SMU commit, who flipped to Baylor at a time when their recruiting was desperate, immediately following the Rhule hire.  Brewer didn’t see this field until the sixth game of the season, and didn’t start until the eighth, but in those five starts, he showed enough to win Big XII Newcomer of the Year.  The first Baylor player to do so since Robert Griffin.  He has Denzel Mims, possibly the best receiver in the Big XII to throw to.  Even still, the Bears finished 9th in the Big XII in scoring, something they were not accustomed to in recent years.  The problem was a run game that mustered only 3.4 ypc, and a Big XII worst 10 touchdowns.  It was supposed to be JaMycal Hasty and Terence Williams’ backfield, but Hasty missed 4 of the first 5 games, and Williams missed the first three, and it never got on track.  Williams decided to transfer, but the hope is a healthy Hasty combined with freshman Jon Lovett gives them more balance.  With good luck, Baylor could surprise and get back to a bowl, but they are probably still a year away, despite more talent than a team that has lost 17 of their past 19 would be expected to.
Key Players
QBCharlie Brewer, Sophomore
FBKyle Boyd, Junior
WRDenzel Mims, Junior
.
DTIra Lewis, Senior
LBClay Johnston, Junior
CBHarrison Hand, Sophomore

ELA

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #78 on: March 31, 2018, 11:33:59 PM »
90. Air Force Falcons
#6 in Mountain West
Air Force isn’t built to sling the ball around the yard, but in recent years they had used it just enough to keep defenses off balance, and it was effective when they went to it.  They ranked #18 in the FBS in passing efficiency in 2014, #5 in 2015 and #15 in 2016.  Last year that fell to #72.  What had distinguished Air Force from the other military academies was their ability to pass.  But last year, their yards per attempt fell by about 2.5, and their completion rate was at 48%.  Per usual, the Falcons spread the ball around on the ground, with 8 different players running for over 200 yards on the season, but on only 4.8 ypc, their worst in four years.  Most concerning was Arion Worthman’s drop from 5.2 ypc to 3.8 ypc at the quarterback position, their worst production at the position since the 2-10 year in 2013.  The triple option really isn’t triple, if the quarterback can’t run.  There is likely no threat he loses the job, his only competition coming from Isaiah Sanders, who showed last year to be an even worse passer.  Defensively, the Falcons need to force more turnovers.  Their defensive numbers were pretty good, and they got teams off the field at a good rate, but the 10 turnovers they generated on the year was worst in the Mountain West by a wide margin.  The need to create those big plays on defense will be even larger this year, with most of the returning production coming on the back end of the defense.  The returning starters in the front seven tallied a total of two sacks a year ago, and while Cody Gessler returns at nose guard, at only 260 pounds, he is not the ideal stopper in short yardage situations in a 3-4 scheme.
Key Players
QBArion Worthman, Senior
WRMarcus Bennett, Senior
GGriffin Landrum, Senior
.
LBLakota Wills, Sophomore
SKyle Floyd, Senior
SJames Jones, Junior

89. Western Michigan Broncos
#6 in MAC
Western Michigan is a classic case of the difference between returning starters and returning production.  They return 13 starters, but among the 9 starters lost include 7 all-conference players, including 4 first teamers.  So that’s how a team with 8 returning starters on offense, winds up #89 in FBS in returning production.  The offensive will driven by the line play, with 4 starters returning, but with the gaping hole being the graduation of Chukwuma Okorafor, who turned down Big Ten offers to play for P.J. Fleck, and lived up to his recruiting billing.  Jon Wassink returns as quarterback after a broken collarbone ended his season with four games remaining.  Reece Goddard did nothing to create a quarterback controversy in his extended audition, although the 1-3 finish wasn’t his fault either.  The offense average 29.3 ppg in those four games with Goddard starting, but the defense collapsed down the stretch, allowing 31.7 ppg.  Not that the defense had set a high bar all season, primarily due to struggles in the secondary.  An absolute electric player like Darius Phillips is a once in a generation talent at a school like Western Michigan.  He was poised to break a big play on nearly every down, both on defense and on special teams.  He had both a 67 yard fumble recovery touchdown and a 100 yard kick return touchdown last year in the game against Michigan State, accounting for all of the Broncos points against the Spartans, and also recorded an interception for good measure.  But he was also a liability at times in coverage.  He was responsible for creating 3 turnovers in the first two game, against USC and Michigan State, but only 2 more the rest of the season combined.  A secondary that is more consistent in coverage, and less reliant on the big play should help the unit overall.
Key Players
QBJon Wassink, Junior
GLuke Juriga, Junior
CJohn Keenoy, Senior
.
DETony Balabani, Junior
CBSam Beal, Senior
SStefan Claiborne, Sophomore

ELA

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #79 on: April 01, 2018, 01:46:22 PM »
88. North Carolina Tar Heels
#14 in ACC

No team in college football last year, hell no team from my memory banks has ever been hit harder by injuries than North Carolina was last year.  The result was North Carolina’s worst season in over a decade, a 3-9 finish.  But where that leaves them going into 2018 is tough to determine.  Yes, they technically return only 3 starters on offense, graduating a starting quarterback, 4 offensive linemen, and their best two receivers, plus a tight end.  The truth is there is starting experience all over the roster.  But when called upon last year, they were not ready.  Was it simply being too green, or is the talent not there?  The offense did seem to start figuring things out late in the year.  The Tar Heels averaged 12.3 ppg during a six game losing streak in the middle of the season, which was boosted by a 19 point explosion in the final game of that streak.  But in winning two of their final three (albeit over a 5-7 Pitt team, and FBS Western Carolina) they put up 40.0 ppg.  An uptick came when Fedora switched from Chazz Surratt to Nathan Elliott under center.  But that has not determined who gets first crack in 2018, and Fedora has said it will be a position battle going into spring.  Considering the schedule opens with a cross country trip to Cal, then a game against defending national champion* Central Florida two weeks later, before opening ACC play the following week, they do not have the luxury of allowing the competition to continue into the fall.  While the defense was not immune to the injury bug, they were certainly far healthier, which makes their performance more head scratching.  The entire defensive line returns, so hopefully the ACC’s worst run defense is a little better, but the only two stars on that side of the ball, pass rusher Andre Smith, and lockdown corer M.J. Stewart, are gone.  Fedora brought in Henry Baker from Rutgers to coach defensive backs, but the problems last year were on the line.
Key Players
RBJordon Brown, Junior
WRAnthony Ratliff-Williams, Junior
TCharlie Heck, Junior
.
DEMalik Carney, Senior
LBCole Holcomb, Junior
SMyles Dorn, Junior

ELA

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #80 on: April 02, 2018, 03:37:25 PM »
87. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
#6 in Conference USA
Expectations were high last year for the Blue Raiders, to win their first Conference USA division championship, and have a chance to play for their first conference title since a share of the Sun Belt championship in 2006.  Middle Tennessee failed to get traction, and wound up in the Camellia Bowl after a 6-6 regular season.  But there is real reason to believe they could be Florida Atlantic's biggest challenger in 2018.  After a 3-5 start, Middle Tennessee won 4 of 5 to close, the lone loss being a triple overtime game on the road at Western Kentucky.  That five game finish coincided with starting quarterback Brent Stockstill returning from an injury during the six preceding games, in which Middle Tennessee went 2-4.  With Stockstill starting, Middle Tennessee was 5-2, with a win at Syracuse.  Health wasn't just an issue at quarterback, but at receiver too, where Richie James, who had combined for nearly 3,000 yards on over 20 receptions, with 25 touchdowns, over the previous two seasons, was injured in the third game of the year (after accounting for 18 receptions, 208 yards and 2 TDs in only two games).  After trying to return midseason, he was shut down for the season.  He has decided to go pro, but in his absence Ty Lee took his game up a level, and he will be back.  Middle Tennessee isn't going to change who they are, particularly with a senior starting quarterback, who happens to be the coaches son.  But the emergence of a running game late last season may held Stockstill cut down on the interceptions.  It's probably no coincidence that the boost came at the same time that sophomore running back Terelle West saw his role increase.  After not seeing the field in the first 5 games, then getting 9 touches combined over the next 5 games, over the final 5 games, he got 48 carries.  West responded, with 282 yards, on 5.9 ypc.  This for a roster that finished 11th in Conference USA in rushing, and averaged only 4.3 ypc on the year.  The ceiling for Middle Tennessee looks to be just as high as last year, in a vacuum.  Last year did expose their lack of depth, but maybe the 2018 version will be better for it.  The problem is while last year their division looked wide open, now it's unclear if Middle Tennessee's best is good enough to catch Marshall, let alone Florida Atlantic.  So even a healthy, good, season, may fall short of expectations, simply because of that.  By October 6, we'll know everything we need to know.  While there is an FCS game mixed in, Middle Tennessee also plays road games at Vanderbilt and Kentucky.  They also open Conference USA play against the toughest teams in their division, Florida Atlantic, and a Road trip to Huntington to face Marshall.  With a road game at Kentucky late, just getting to 8-4 would seem like a massive overachievement.
Key Players
QBBrent Stockstill, Senior
WRTy Lee, Junior
TRobert Behanan, Senior
.
DEWalter Brady, Senior
LBKhalil Brooks, Junior
SJovante Moffatt, Senior

ELA

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #81 on: April 03, 2018, 05:17:43 PM »
86. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
#5 in Conference USA
Just by shear luck, you would expect Louisiana Tech to improve in 2018.  The Bulldogs had their worst season since 2013, losing 6 games; however, they were just a bounce here and there from being 10-2.  They lost in lopsided fashion to Mississippi State and Florida Atlantic, but no shame there.  But then there other 4 losses came by a combined 3 points in regulation.  Three 1 point losses, and a triple overtime loss to Southern Miss.  The problem is, the stats you generally look at, to find teams who are primed to flip their records in close games, Louisiana Tech did well in.  Their +13 turnover differential led Conference USA, and they were the third least penalized team in the conference.  The passing game has the weapons to put up big numbers, and the losses in the run game may necessitate it.  They need a more consistent J'Mar Smith, but five of their top 6 wideouts return, bolstered by hopefully the healthy return of Rhashid Bonnette.  Bonnette had put up nearly 250 receiving yards in the two games before getting injured against South Alabama.  After missing some time, it took him a little while to regain that form.  There's no excuse for Smith not to improve on his 55% completion rate.  He showed flashes at times.  In their near upset of South Carolina, Smith completed 70% of his passes, for 281 yards.  The running game was just starting to gel at the end of last year.  Boston Scott ran for over 100 yards in each of Louisiana Tech's final three games, three of only four such performances on the season.  Unfortunately, not only did Scott graduate, but so did Jarred Craft, who split time with Scott for most of the year.  The job is probably fourth year junior Jaqwis Dancy's to lose.  He ran for 262 yards on 6.7 ypc last year, but really the bulk came in a 15 carry, 135 yard performance in a reserve role against a terrible UTEP team.  Aside from that, he's accumulated only 129 yards on 26 carries, over three seasons.  The defense is just as experienced, and returns all-conference players at all three levels.  The best thing they have going for them is that they play in the West Division, so they don't have to be better than Florida Atlantic for three months, just for one afternoon.  They were three games out of first last year, and I still have them behind North Texas and UAB on paper.  But that margin is razor thin, and I think those two schools suffering a major correction after overachieving last year, remains a distinct possibility.
Key Players
WRTeddy Veal, Senior
WRRhashid Bonnette, Junior
GO'Shea Dugas, Senior
.
DEJaylon Ferguson, Senior
LBDae'Von Washington, Senior
CBAmik Robertson, Sophomore

ELA

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #82 on: April 04, 2018, 10:26:07 AM »
85. Marshall Thundering Herd
#4 in Conference USA
After his worst season at the helm at Marshall in 2016, the Thundering Herd had a nice bounceback in 2017, even if losing 4 of their final 5 regular season games took some of the shine off.  The team was primed for a run at Holliday's second Conference USA Championship in 2018, but Chase Litton surprised everyone by leaving early for the NFL Draft.  Litton, who has been the starter since the first game of his freshman year leave a big hole on a roster that started only two seniors a year ago.  There are three quarterbacks in spring ball, but the only one who has ever played is redshirt sophomore Garet Morell, who played in two games back in 2016 when Litton was hurt, and put up a QBR of 6.8 in those games, worst in the nation of any quarterback with at least 25 attempts (he had 67).  He redshirted last year, when no player but Litton attempted a pass.  So let's say he's not a lock to win the job.  Holliday did sign the #2 recruiting class in Conference USA, but it did not include a quarterback.  The answer may come in grad transfer Alex Thomson from Wagner.  The kid did have Tennessee and Baylor offers, but he is an FCS transfer who had injury issues last season, and began as a walk on punter.  So it's not a sure thing, although he's probably the favorite.  Marshall put up over 3,000 passing yards a year ago though, and while Litton is gone, only one receiver who caught a pass last year graduated, and the entire offensive line returns, including three players who started as only freshmen a year ago.  They will have to figure it out under new coordinators, as both left the program.  Tim Cramsey will be running the offense, coming over from Sam Houston State, who was the top offense in the FCS.  Cramsey also previously coordinated a great Montana State offense.  The only concern is that is one previous trip into the FBS, with Nevada in 2016, was not successful.  For defense, Holliday stayed within the program, promoting linebackers coach Adam Fuller.  That move also makes sense, for a unit returning 9 starters fresh off arguably the best defense Holliday ever fielded at Marshall, finishing 2nd in the conference in scoring defense, led by the conference's best run defense.  That run defense could be scary good with the entire front seven returning, and 12 of 14 from the two deep.  Marshall has the talent to be pretty good this year, but those key losses of the starting quarterback and both coordinators might be too much, too many decision makers gone, despite the return of plenty of playmakers.  This was a team that had too many penalties and too many turnovers last year to afford those types of losses.  The gap between Florida Atlantic and everyone else in the East right now may have made this a non-issue anyway, but this looks like another good, but not great, team in Huntington.
Key Players
WRTyre Brady, Senior
WRMarcel Williams, Senior
CLevi Brown, Junior
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DTRyan Bee, Senior
LBChase Hancock, Senior
SMalik Gant, Junior

CatsbyAZ

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Re: ELA 130 Team Countdown
« Reply #83 on: April 05, 2018, 03:09:42 AM »
88. North Carolina Tar Heels
#14 in ACC

No team in college football last year, hell no team from my memory banks has ever been hit harder by injuries than North Carolina was last year.  The result was North Carolina’s worst season in over a decade, a 3-9 finish.  But where that leaves them going into 2018 is tough to determine.  

Considering the schedule opens with a cross country trip to Cal, then a game against defending national champion* Central Florida two weeks later, before opening ACC play the following week, they do not have the luxury of allowing the competition to continue into the fall.
Key Players
RBJordon Brown, Junior
WR
TCharlie Heck, Junior
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DEMalik Carney, Senior
LBCole Holcomb, Junior
S
I have hopes for UNC to get back into the bowl season. Besides injuries last year the Tar Heels couldn't get a break with the schedule. This year's schedule has a lot more winnable games, the type of trap teams that can be counted on to get baited and dragged down if the Tar Heels coaching staff can be more assertive. 
With Fedora's seat white hot what's the bar for keeping his job? 7-5 going into a bowl? 

 

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