Tonight a champion was crowned but after the confetti and parades are done the real work begins for the National Champion Florida State Seminoles to defend their crown. Winning back-to-back titles will be more difficult than ever due to the 4-team playoffs which is debuting next year.
Although the Seminoles return Heisman winner Jameis Winston, we learned tonight that titles are won and lost in the trenches and in the secondary. The Seminoles will certainly be everyone’s Pre-Season #1 but who will be their biggest challengers in 2014?
- Florida State Seminoles: Why? Jameis Winston Why not? No Jernigan, Joyner, Green, or Shaw. Biggest reason: 4-team playoff.
- Oregon Ducks: Why? Marcus Mariota. Why not? Stanford Cardinals
- Auburn Tigers: Why? Marshall will only get better. Why not? Defensive coordinators having an entire off season to prepare.
- Ohio State: Why? Braxton Miller. Why not? Braxton Miller
- Oklahoma Sooners: Why? Budding star Trevor Knight. Why not? Saunders and Shepard are out of elgibility.
- Alabama Crimson Tide: Why? Nick Saban and Derrick Henry. Why not? No AJ Mcarrons, a questionable secondary and no pass rush.
- Stanford Cardinals: Why? Coach Shaw and the Stanford O-line. Why not? Arizona State, UCLA, USC, Oregon, and no playmakers besides Montgomery.
- Baylor Bears: Why? Coach Briles and Bryce Petty. Why not? Defense still wins championships
- Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Why? Everett Gholston returns. Why not? Stephon Tuitt, Louis Nix, and Zack Martin drafted in first round
- UCLA Bruins: Why? Brett Hundley and Coach Mora. Why not? Barr first pick in 2014 NFL Draft
- Georgia Bulldogs: Why? Marshall, Gurley, and experienced o-line. Why not? Aaron Murray graduated and Todd Grantham is still the DC
- LSU Tigers: Why? OC Cam Cameron and DC John Chavis. Why not? Ego Ferguson, Anthony Johnson, Jeremy Hill, Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham play for pay in 2014
- Michigan State Spartans: Why? Connor Cook and DC Pat Narduzzi. Why not? No fly zone loses Darqueze Denard whose drafted by the New York Jets.
- Florida Gators: Why? 4-8. Why not? 4-8.
- Arizona State Sun Devils: Why? Taylor Kelly and Coach Graham 10-4. Why not? Will Sutton and Coach Graham
- Kansas State Wildcats: Why? Coach Snyder, Jake Walters, and All American Tyler Lockett. Why not? Scheme do not replace size and speed
- USC Trojans: Why? Embarrassment of riches. Why not? Coach Sarkistan is no Pete Carroll
- South Carolina Gamecocks: Why? No Jadaveon Clowney. Why not? No Conor Shaw.
- Texas A&M Aggies: Why? Coach Sumlin. Why not? No Jake Matthews, Johnny Manziel or Mike Evans. Can’t win if you can score and stop the other team from scoring
- Wisconsin Badgers: Why? All-American RB Gordon returns. Why not? Lose top 4 wr to graduation.
- Clemson Tigers: Why? OC Chad Morris. Why not? DC Brett Venables
- Oklahoma State Cowboys: Why? I’m a man, I’m 40. Why not? Coach Gundy.
- Ole Miss Rebels: Why? Bo Wallace, and the band of freshman get bigger stronger, smarter, faster. Why not? LSU, Alabama, Texas A&M
- Washington Huskies: Why? Coach Peterson. Why not? Coach Peterson
- Missouri Tigers: Why? Matt Mauk, Doriall Green-Beckham, and edge rushers galore. Why not? May sack the quarterback but can not stop the run
The game called the rematch, Texas A&M vs. Alabama exceeded expectations, and it appears that a new rivalry has been born. Although Coach Nick Saban survived the Manziel Magic his reputation as a defense stalwart took a huge hit surrendering over 628 yards of total offense.
Despite having an embarrassment of riches and a bevy of five star recruits, the defense looked average. Do not get me wrong, the defense was disciplined and schematically sound, but the Tide have NO play-makers on the defensive side of the ball. No reliable edge rusher to terrorize opposing quarterbacks; No shutdown corner to keep offensive coordinators up at night; and no space eater that stops the run.
In a winning effort the defense got exposed as imposters living off of the glory and reputations of past teams who dominated on the defensive side of the ball. Although Saban is relieved that he survived, he and everyone in Roll Tide Nation should be very nervous. Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart must do something to address his secondary and lack of a consistent pass rush, because SEC teams like LSU, Ole Miss, and Georgia are licking their chops biting at the bit to take down the reigning BCS Champions.
Against the Aggies, Coach Saban looked completely helpless, with no clue how to stop or thwart one Manziel heisman moment after another. Historically, Saban has struggled with containing mobile quarterbacks and spread offenses in days past and all of the teams who are considered serious threats to the Crimson Tide dynasty all have mobile quarterbacks, run elements of the spread offense, and possess play-makers who stretch the field and that frequently make mince meat of man-to-man coverage.
Although it is ludicrous to write the Crimson Tide as a title contender, their shootout this past Saturday revealed a chink in the armor that could give opposing teams a fighting chance in defeating the reigning BCS Champions. After giving up 628 yards of total offense, what will the Crimson Tide defense do for an encore? Their challengers are waiting. Stay tuned… I know I will #rolltide
Anthony Denmark is a writer for eatdrnkslpsprtz.com. Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. Listen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio Subscribe to podcast
Road to the BCS Championship
Although the euphoria of March Madness has consumed the time of the common man my true college football fans have already began the countdown to kickoff for their favorite teams. I have frequently given pre-season polls a hard time because it fails to account for injuries and the eligibility of college football’s biggest stars who either ruin a team’s chances due to their selfishness and poor attitude.
For true college football fans pre-season polls provide us with an opportunity to speculate on the endless possibilities that await our favorite teams as we grow one step closer to 17 weeks of excitement, mayhem, and upsets. And without further adieu here is my Pre-season College Football Top 25 spring edition: (1-5)
- Alabama Crimson Tide (13-1): The Tide must replace three key members of their offensive line and former five-star recruits will have to step up to account for losses in the secondary. The Tide return Heisman candidate quarterback and sophomore running back TJ Yeldon and wide receiver Amari Cooper who will likely contend for All-American honors.
- Ohio State Buckeyes (12-0): Now eligible for postseason play the Buckeyes welcome back quarterback Braxton Miller who is a favorite to contend for the Heisman. Coach Urban Meyer has recruited sec-like speed into a defense that is high on talent but low on experience. Due to a week non-conference schedule and with the Big Ten experiencing a down year an unblemished regular season appears likely and is expected.
- Stanford Cardinals (12-2): The Cardinals have found their next star quarterback in Kevin Hogans whose athleticism and in-game moxie conjured up memories of Andrew Luck. Cardinals will continue to rely heavily on their run game which has its fare share of bull-dozers. All-American linebacker Shayne Skov appears to be fully recovered from his torn ACL a year ago and will lead a dominant defense that led the nation in sacks last year.
- Texas A&M Aggies (12-2): The Aggies return reigning Heisman winner Johnny Manziel and a bevy of weapons on the offensive side of the ball. Although the Aggies will have little trouble scoring points the defense must fill a lot of key position.
- Oregon Ducks (12-1): Although the Ducks lost head coach Chip Kelly to the NFL the Ducks explosive offense should not miss a beat lead by quarterback Marcus Mariota who ranked top ten in the country in passing efficiency. The Ducks lose a lot of talent and senior leadership on a defense that lacks experience. Their offense will score enough points to allow the defense time to mature in time for November 7th match-up at the Farm against the Stanford Cardinals.
(6-10 on Thursday)
Anthony Denmark is a writer for eatdrnkslpsprtz.com. Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. Listen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio Tues/Thurs 630 PM EST & Sat 1030 AM EST