The college football season is just days away and I feel it’s now time to reveal my top 25 pre-season poll now that training camp is over and game preparation is underway.
5 Florida State
7 South Carolina
10 West Virginia
13 Ohio State
19 Michigan State
21 Oklahoma State
22 Kansas State
Things of note:
LSU: Losing the honey badger is a huge blow for the Tigers. Without him, they only have four returning starters on defense, and likely a freshman punt returner in Paul Turner. Coach Miles has his work cut out for him, especially with the rise of the Georgia Bulldogs. Not much experience, but they’re still the returning National Champions and as you can see, still a top 15 team in the country.
Florida State: The Seminoles hogs up front battled the injury bug in 2011, which is what coach Fisher is attributing to the 9-4 finish. Because of those injuries, Sr. LG Jacob Fahrenkrug and Jr. C Bryan Stork return with two experienced sophomores (Josue Matias and Austin Barron) behind them. Their depth has been improved and should cause EJ Manuel to be even more comfortable in the pocket. Something he’s been criticized of.
The battle for 24 and 25: The back end of the poll is sometimes the most difficult. I had six teams in consideration for the last two spots. I chose the two local teams because of their defenses. Utes DT Star Lotulelei is all over the pre-season award watch lists and first round draft boards but he’s not alone on the front seven. Look for Utah’s D to surprise the Pac-12. The only question marks on offense are the 25 year old offensive coordinator, and former 2009 Sugar Bowl winning Quarterback Brian Johnson, and the very quarterback who succeeded him, Jordan Wynn.
There has to be a learning curve for Johnson’s youth in the booth, and Wynn has suffered injuries throughout his career, causing him to miss practices in camp. With John White, and a pool of talent at receiver, the Utes have potential. But not having a healthy confident quarterback is huge, coupled with Johnson’s first year in the booth.
BYU has one of the most underrated defenses in the country. Linebacker Kyle Van Noy headlines the group, and USC transfer Sr. Uona Kaveinga looks to compliment Van Noy’s “all over the place” style of play. The Cougars also have arguably the most talented defensive backfield in years. The only question mark with this team is running back. They have a playmaking senior quarterback with an exceptional core of receivers. With that much talent coming off of a 10 win season, they are pre-season top 25 team.
Just missed the cut
Washington – Coach Sarkisian has 11 total returning starters, and his team is young. There is a bright future for this squad and Jr. quarterback Keith Price has his work cut out for him. His favorite target is sophomore TE Austin Saferian-Jenkins, but he needs more weapons. If the Huskies have more options for Price emerge, looks for this team to climb up the polls throughout the season.
Virginia Tech – This is probably the biggest surprise of my poll. Yes I realize I kept them out. They weren’t overlooked, and were in the hunt for one of the last spots. I am prepared for the heat I will take for it, but this offense only has three returning starters. Their Jr. quarterback Logan Thomas is one of them. Other than that, the cupboards are bare on the offensive side of the ball. They probably do belong in the poll, as they have one of the best defenses in the ACC, returning eight starters, but until the O proves themselves, this D will be on the field a lot. I just don’t see enough balance for this team to belong in the poll right now.
Missouri – The Tigers return Jr. quarterback James Franklin and his favorite target T.J. Moe, but there are holes on the offensive line, and Sr. defensive end Brad Madison will be surrounded by inexperienced youth on the D-Line. They have enough talent to be considered, but not enough of it to make my cut.
Louisville – Behind the Hokies, Louisville was probably the most deserving team that I left off. Their entire secondary returns, but most of the rest of the defense is inexperienced. They have a sophomore quarterback Tedd Bridgewater, with a solid offensive line in front of him, but his receiving core is full of youth. They have weapons, but I see too many question marks for them to respresent the Big East in the top 25.