JP25 - Outsiders

Before I get too far into this, here are the three teams that just missed making my preseason top 25:

#26 BYU
Bronco Mendenhall has brought toughness to this program with consistently solid play on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Max Hall and running back Harvey Unga pace the offense behind the lead blocking of tackle Dallas Reynolds. The underrated defense - Mendenhall's specialty - loses a lot of key players, especially in the secondary. They'll continue to perform though thanks to solid recruiting and a front seven led by returnees Jan Jorgensen (DE) and David Nixon (MLB).

#27 Michigan State
Here's a prediction: Michigan State WILL be in next year's preseason top 25. Mark Dantonio is a fantastic coach and has this program on the rise. The loss of playmaker Jonal Saint-Dic on defense will be tempered by the addition of Cincinnati transfer Trevor Anderson. Also consider that Dantonio is a defensive specialist and many backups gained experience in 2007 due to a liberal substitution pattern. Offensively, you can bet on Javon Ringer getting in the end zone more than 6 times again. He's the bell cow on offense and Dantonio learned from Jim Tressell about how far a good, time-burning running game can take you. Ringer is one of the best backs in the land.

#28 Pittsburgh
To round out this trifecta of teams to watch outside the top 25, I'll inject yet another team paced by a fantastic running back and a defensive minded head coach. Dave Wannstedt enters his fourth year needing a winning season, and this looks like the team to do it. Sophomore LeSean McCoy dazzled as a freshman in 2007 with his vision and agility. He'll carry the load again, but there will be much better balance offensively in '08. Whoever wins the quarterback derby (Junior Bill Stull is the front-runner) will benefit from the return of wideout Derek Kinder, who led the team in receiving in 2006, but missed all of '07 with an injury. Defensively the Panthers have to replace departed sack-man Joe Clermond (10.5 sacks in '07), but that will be made all the easier due to the return of tackling maching Scott McKillop (151 tackles in '07) in the middle of the linebacking corps. They do lose defensive coordinator Paul Rhodes, who took the same job at Auburn, but replace him with the more than capable Phil Bennet. Don't forget that before he was the head coach at SMU he was Bill Snyder's defensive coordinator at Kansas State.

1 comment:

B.Pike said...

My Outsiders are:

#26 Michigan Wolverines-It will be a rough first few games but I think Rich Rodriguez will get things going back at the big house.

#27 Notre Dame-Almost made my Top 25 and with the adversity the program went thru last year it will bring it back this year.

#28 Wake Forest- I really like the speed on this team and with a Riley Skinner and Josh Adams and a 9 returning starters on defense what is not to like.