NGSC Sports

Top 25 from NGN: Part II 6-10

As we continue to look at our top 25 for the 2013 college football season, remember that this is the way we see it. We all know that the rankings in football sway like a stiff wind would. We have taken a look at the top five teams, so now let’s look and see what we have with the next five.

6. Notre Dame

Last year the Fighting Irish were not picked to make a great impact on the season. They were not being mistaken for one of the best teams in the land. So they worked hard all year and ended up playing Alabama for the national championship. It all went wrong in that game as the Tide rolled all over the Irish for their second straight title.

Now it’s a new year and Notre Dame can look ahead. Head coach Brian Kelly did not leave for the money and glory of the NFL and has his hands full in 2013. He will try to help his team get over the loss and move forward.

 

The QB spot was one that was a battle between Everett Golson and Tommy Rees. Now that Golson is gone, Rees has the keys to himself. He has shown at times that he can shine when the moment comes. On the other hand, he has shown that he can make the big mistakes that costs teams wins. He came up big in a win over Stanford, but was too inconsistent when given the opportunity. If Rees cannot make major changes to his style of play, the Irish will have a long season.

At the running back spot they find themselves thin. Gone are Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick. Kick returner George Atkinson is good at his craft but has not shown that he can be a feature back yet. Amir Carlisle is a transfer from USC that came in with all the hype. Unfortunately, he has not panned out to this point. Cam Daniel can chip in from time to time, but the real gems are the two freshmen. Tarean Folston and Greg Bryant are also coming in with that hype. Bryant will pile up yardage and Folston will get you the big one from time to time.

 

At tight end, they lost Tyler Eiftert to the NFL. With one of the best in the land gone, the Irish will take a look at a few other guys to see if they can fill the bill. Troy Niklas will try to do the honor, but he will be used more as a blocker than a receiver. Durham Smythe and Mike Heuerman are two phenomenal talents that may be asked to contribute right away.

 

The receiving corps is one that will open some eyes. TJ Jones will look to be the top dog amongst the group. He comes back with more experience and understands the offense. SR Daniel Smith has the size and potential to make a huge impact this year. He will get help from DaVaris Daniels, a deep ball threat at any time.

 

The defense lost the likes of Manti Te’o, but most experts would agree that Stephon Truitt was the team’s best player on defense. He is another player that came in with all the hype, but he lived up to it last year. He recorded 12 sacks and 13 tackles for loss. He was all over the field and looks to really show out this season.

 

The defensive line is stacked with guys like Steven Elmer, Colin McGovern, and Hunter Bivin to name a few. The rest of the line is all systems go as well. Sr. Louis Nix will look to have the best year of his career. He is great against the run and can get into the backfield too.

 

Again, if Rees can put together a solid year and other players step up, the Irish might not fall that far. Coach Kelly will have his hands full but it looks like Notre Dame Football is back to its old ways.

 

7. Ohio State

Head coach Urban Meyer says that he needed to take time off to be with his family. With that he left the University of Florida to the land of retirement. That lasted all of one year and he landed in Big 10 country.

Last year Ohio State enjoyed their first undefeated season since 2002. If not for being ineligible, the Buckeyes might have found themselves in the BCS title game.

 

It all starts with QB Braxton Miller on the offense. He may be the best quarterback ever seen at Ohio State with his running and throwing ability. His downside is his game management. Miller has the tendency to make bad decisions and over compensate with his legs. Still, with the cast he has around him, the Buckeyes look to play for the title this year.

 

RB Carlos Hyde will be one of the best backs in the land. He runs with power but has good feet under him. He shows a good burst off the snap through the hole. He will fight for yardage and though he may not crack 100 yards as much as you would like, he is steady. Rod Smith and Bri’Onte Dunn will help Hyde when they can. They will be depended on to make the most of their chances.

 

The real heart of the Buckeyes is the offensive line. Jack Mewhort and Andrew Norwell are two of nine returning starters on offense. They are some of the best in the business and have allowed Braxton and Hyde to shine from the backfield. Fellow seniors Corey Linsley and Marcus Hill finish one of the most experienced lines in the country.

 

The receiving corps is one of the most dangerous in the country. Even though they ranked very low in yards per game last year, they have players with lots of potential. Philly Brown and Devin Smith showed they could be counted on to make the big play. After these two the pickings get slimmer with Evan Spencer and Michael Thomas. They will need to provide help for Smith and Brown and take some pressure off of them. Hey have a talented bunch of young players in Corey Smith, Jalin Marshall and James Clark. Each is blessed with talent and the ability to make the big play. If either one of these freshmen can get up to speed, the receiving corps of the Buckeyes will make teams pay dearly.

The defense line is another story in itself as they lost all four starters from last year. Now they have to see what players will make the grade and become the new set of starters. Jr. Michael Bennett showed at times that he has the stuff to be solid. Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence enter their sophomore season with high expectations. They each had a pretty good freshmen year and look to anchor down the end positions.

 

One of the best linebackers in America is Ryan Shazier. The problem is, he does not have much help on the field with him at this time. There will be battles for the other spots, but all in all, it will take a lot of work on the defense if Ohio State is to make a BCS run.

 

8. Louisville

When you are a football program looking for an identity, you might want to start with a new coach. In 2010, the Cardinals hired Charlie Strong and the change began. Right from the start he began making believers out of players and staff. Now Louisville finds its way in a lot of top 10’s across the country. 

The offense goes as QB Teddy Bridgewater goes. He became a star last year after throwing for over 3700 yards, 27 touchdowns with only eight interceptions. This kid found his groove in this offense and he will just get better in 2013.

In the backfield they hope they get a healthy Sinorise Perry back. He ran for 705 yards and 11 scores last year and those numbers are expected to go up if he can come back from a torn ACL. Dominique Brown and Corvin Lamb are going to have to carry a better load to help a backfield lacking depth. Without a healthy Perry, look for the Cards to go with a running back committee.

The wide outs include DeVante Parker and Damian Copeland. Parker is an All-Big East player with plenty of skills. He had a breakout year last season with 40 catches, 744 years and 10 touchdowns.  Copeland needs to find the end zone some more, but will get his hands on the ball and get yards after the catch. He became the big play guy time after time last year. He will Charles Gaines will need to make a huge improvement this year. He ran into some trouble that helped keep him off the field and must correct this.

The offensive line is the anchor of this team. They have three starters coming back in LG John Miller, RG Jake Smith and RT Jamon Brown. The LT spot should be manned this year by Nacho Garcia, while Kameron Joyer is the leader in the clubhouse for the center position. They will have to get up to speed right away if this line is to improve on a great year last season. The line was the main reason players like Bridgewater and Hyde were able to roam around like they did. If the new guys can get acclimated quickly enough, this offense could help the Buckeyes to the BCS title.

On defense, there will more work to do. The Cardinals lost ground in the running game last year. They went from 10th in the nation in run defense to 49th. They also saw a dip in sacks and tackles for loss as well. They appeared to less aggressive and suffered from injuries too.

DE Marcus Smith returns to try and improve on some weak stats from last year. He had only 29 tackles, seven for loss and just four sacks. Mind you, he was a quarterback and then a linebacker. The thing is, he has so much potential that he has yet to live up to. On his opposite side is Lorenzo Mauldin, another player with a lot of upside. He has good speed off the edge and his motor is always running. Brandon Dunn, Jamaine Brooks and B.J. Dubose are the rest of the line. Brooks is going to be depended on the stop the run and Dubose can play a couple of positions.

 

The LB’s are led by Preston Brown, who was asked to fill in for a departed All-Big East player in Dexter Heyman. He did that and more as he became the anchor of the group. He will look for help from fellow senior George Duran, a walk-on that has come a long way. He will make an impact as he continue to improve by leaps and bounds. James Burgess and Keith Brown will chip in when called upon.

The secondary is stout with Hakeem Smith, a three-time All-Big East player and Calvin Pryor, an All-Big East second team selection. These two guys are physical and will be all over the field making tackle after tackle.  The corners of Terell Floyd and Andrew Johnson will hold their own with anyone in the land. They make up for lack of certain skills with their hearts and desire.

 

It will be a year to see how this team will do with high expectations. If the lines hold up and Bridgewater and Hyde perform as expected, Louisville will be one of those teams still standing at year’s end.

 

9. South Carolina

For the Gamecocks, it’s another year with expectations of winning the East. They have the talent and the coach in Steve Spurrier to help them win an SEC title. They will have to get past Florida and Georgia to accomplish that, so let’s take a look at their chances.

 

At quarterback will be Connor Shaw, who has been an effective leader to this point. He is one of those QB’s that pose a dual threat to teams with his passing and running ability. It has been some ride with Shaw as he has gone through his ups and downs. Still, he is the best option that knows the offense and can lead the team to a possible East title. Behind him will be Dylan Thompson, a kid with a cannon for an arm. He will bring the more traditional style offense to his team. Next up on the chart is freshman Connor Mitch. Word has it that he is the next big thing in S.C.

 

The offensive line has game, but needs to gel as a unit more than anything else. A.J. Cann and Brandon Shell are the stalwarts on this line. They are good blockers that will provide time for the running and passing game. Cody Waldrop, Mike Matulis and Corey Robinson will try to compliment the line. D.J. Park is a massive freshman that will be building block to this line for the next four years. Whether he will play this year or not is to be seen.

 

The backfield is getting ready for a new era after Marcus Lattimore. It begins with Mike Davis, as he has put himself ahead of the pack this spring. He is a downhill runner that can also hurt you in the open field. If he can stay healthy all year, the Gamecocks running game will not lose too much. Brandon Wilds will spell him from time to time. He has not played in many games, but he has performed well this spring. He will work best on short yardage situations and he excels getting through the gaps. Shon Carson, a speedster good in passing downs, Devin Porter and Kendric Staley round out the rest of the backs. As long as they all know their roles, the South Carolina run game with stay strong.

 

The receiving corps is stacked with talent. Shaq Roland and Bruce Ellington will be the prime targets this year. Neither one is the clear cut number one, but either can claim the role. Roland appears to be the more complete player of the two. He gives you a reliable target from anywhere on the field and Ellington is more of a field general leading by example. Picking up the slack will be the likes of Damiere Byrd. He has blazing speed and will make defenses pay if they don’t play him tight. Shamier Jeffery, younger brother of Alshon, is still a work in progress.

 

K.J. Brent is the lanky receiver that will cause an issue with matchups. Nick Jones is still improving his game, as was evident this spring.

 

The offensive line has game, but needs to gel as a unit more than anything else. A.J. Cann and Brandon Shell are the stalwarts on this line. They are good blockers that will provide time for the running and passing game. Cody Waldrop, Mike Matulis and Corey Robinson will try to compliment the line. D.J. Park is a massive freshman that will be building block to this line for the next four years. Whether he will play this year or not is to be seen.

 

When you think defense here, you say Jadeveon Clowney. He is one of the best defensive forces we have seen at the college level in quite some time. He is a game changer and will almost certainly be the first pick in the 2014 NFL draft. J.T. Surratt and Kelcy Quarles are not too shabby either. These two guys are best on the line and excel at rushing the passer.  Two more pass rusher that will help out will be Chaz Sutton and Gerald Dixon. Each is another big and strong defensive asset.

 

The linebackers will be the biggest problem this spring. They are inexperienced, but are not lacking talent. T.J. Holliman is the man in charge on defense. He is a born leader and makes sure everyone is where they are supposed to be. Kaiwan Lewis and Cedrick Cooper anchor the middle. Sharrod Golightly looks to be a starter and Jordan Diggs will put in work.

 

The secondary is led by Victor Hampton, one of the best cover corners in the country. A good spring could vault him to the top of his position. He is aided by Jimmy Legree, another real thing at cornerback. The rest of the crew include Ronnie Martin, Sidney Rhodes and Ahmad Christian. All have the potential, but lack the work to make an impact right away.

 

There is only one goal with the Ole Ball coach and that is an East title. After that, is an SEC title this team of capable of winning. With a good roll of the dice and some work ethic, they could actually achieve those goals.

 

10. Florida

Another season begins for head coach Will Muschamp and the Gators. It has been an adjustment period after the AT&Tebow era. Jeff Driskel has been giving it his all, to some extent. He is entering his junior year as the number one. He will have to avoid the injury bug and be more consistent if the Gators are to compete in the East. With Jacoby Brissett gone, Tyler Murphy will compete for the backup job with Skyler Mornhinweg. Word has it that Murphy has won that battle in the spring. The bottom line is, Driskel must get the job done if Florida stands a chance at winning the East.

 

The offensive line is filled with experience with C Jonotthan Harrison and G Jon Halapio. Max Garcia, D.J. Humphries and Tyler Moore try to fill in the line. Garcia is a transfer from Maryland who is ready to play now. Humphries is an exceptional athlete with size to boot. Moore has played tackle at Nebraska, but we have to see how he adjusts after a year in the community college game. The thing this unit needs to concentrate on is keeping Driskel on his feet. They still need work in technique to improve the pass blocking.

 

The running game will not be the root of any problems this year. There were the heart and soul of the Gator offense last season. Matt Jones will fit the bill in place of Mike Gillislee with his pound and bruise style. He will be the workhorse in the backfield and will not disappoint. Kevin Taylor is a freshman with a lot of talent. He is very agile and fits Muschamp’s style of the ground and pound running game. Trey Burton will get his share of snaps as well, as he gives the Gators a good change of pace back. By the time the season ends, this group will have accounted for chunks of the yardage.

 

The receivers are starting to come into their own for the 2013 season. Quinton Dunbar is a receiver with the knack for getting open. He will not blaze past you on the fly, but he will be open and make the catch. If you need a first down, this is your guy. Damarcus Robinson is a promising young freshman with size and good hands. He lacks the experience, but he will be counted on to step up on unit that lacks depth. After that, it is a pick em type situation. Andre Debose, Solomon Patton and Latroy Pittman are just not ready for primetime yet.

 

The defensive line will be one the best in the SEC this coming year. Dominique Easley is ready to have a breakout year. He has the athleticism and burst off the snap that causes havoc for opposing linemen. Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler need more experience, but they are very impressive young linemen nonetheless. The depth on this unit will not be a problem either. There is plenty of young talent on this team.

 

The linebackers will be led by Antonio Morrison, who has not hit his full potential yet. He loves to hit and does not mind being hit. He has a tendency to get into a bit of trouble, so he will need to curb that to play. Ronald Powell will make his impact be felt with his abilities. Alex Anzalone and Daniel McMillan will be expected to get into the groove right away and make plays.

 

It will be one hard road for the Gators if they wish to be the top dog in the East. They will have to hold court at home and get a few big road wins. The time has come for Muschamp to make his presence known in the conference. The days of Tim Tebow have been long gone and Gator fans are aching to win big again.

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