NCAA Football News

SEC Football: Surprises from the Week 1 Opening Lines

It's June, and you're probably yearning for the fall to roll around so you can head to your favorite campus, fire up the grill and enjoy the opening weekend of the college football season.

Here's a little tease.

The offshore site 5Dimes released early lines for most Week 1 games this week, and included are several somewhat surprising spreads.

Which lines from Week 1 are most surprising?

 

Lots of Faith in Auburn and QB Jeremy Johnson

It shouldn't be that much of a surprise that Auburn is a favorite over Louisville in a game being played inside a Georgia Dome that Auburn routinely fills when it plays in the building. 

Nearly two touchdowns though? That's a bit much.

I'm more bullish on Auburn than most, but the Tigers still have to show off their more balanced attack with quarterback Jeremy Johnson at the helm against a Louisville pass defense that gave up just 199.6 yards per game through the air last year and had the fifth-best opponent passer rating (105.65) in the country.

On the other side of the ball, Will Muschamp was a fantastic hire for head coach Gus Malzahn, but a miraculous turnaround isn't what's expected of him nor is it necessary.

It especially shouldn't be expected in Week 1, when the Tigers are taking the field for the first time under Muschamp. You can practice all you want against the same team, but things are different when the lights come on and the jersey on the other sideline changes.

Auburn's defense only needs to be adequate for it to be in the title mix and anything more than that will be a bonus. There will be some growing pains early and that might prevent Auburn from truly hitting its stride till later in the season.

I think Auburn will win, but 13 points is way too high right now. I thought it'd be somewhere around seven, with 10 being the absolute max. That's a lot of faith in Johnson against a really good Louisville defense.

 

Do We Suddenly Trust South Carolina's Defense?

The South Carolina defense was a disaster last year, as it posted just 14 sacks—fewest in the SEC—and gave up 212.23 yards per game on the ground and 220.5 yards per game through the air.

Yet there the Gamecocks are, 5.5-point favorites over North Carolina on a neutral field.

Say what?

Is the presence of co-defensive coordinator Jon Hoke and junior college transfer defensive end Marquavius Lewis really going to flip the script and allow South Carolina to slow down a North Carolina offense that averaged 429.8 yards per game a year ago and returns a ton of weapons?

I'll believe that when I see it.

When South Carolina has the ball, it will be a matchup between a Gamecock unit that's a virtual unknown against a Tar Heel defense that has more holes than Swiss cheese. 

There's far too much uncertainty in this game for 5.5 points. If I had to pick right now, I'd probably pick South Carolina to win, but I'm surprised that the Gamecocks are more than a field goal favorite.

 

Nobody Knows What to Make of Texas A&M

The goal for oddsmakers is to get money on both sides, and Texas A&M being a four-point favorite over Arizona State screams "we don't know what to do."

If you get three points for being at home from Vegas, playing a Pac-12 team in a "neutral site" game in Houston just down the road from College Station should be worth at least 1.5 to the Aggies, right?

If you like high-scoring fun, this game will be for you.

Texas A&M has been the one of the most fascinating teams this offseason, after head coach Kevin Sumlin lured defensive coordinator John Chavis away from LSU and quarterback Kyle Allen has had to deal with the giant shadow of incoming freshman quarterback and Texas high school legend Kyler Murray.

As Phil Savage of the Reese's Senior Bowl and SiriusXM notes, that game could be the best one on the docket on opening weekend.

Because both offenses can move seemingly at will and both defenses are questionable at best, the four-point spread is basically the oddsmakers saying that they don't know what to do, will give Texas A&M a slight nod for being close to home and having Chavis on board, and will move it based on where the money goes.

 

Alabama's 'Holes' Are Changing the Public's Perception

The number stands out like the bat signal calling for help.

Nine new starters on offense, including a new quarterback for the Alabama Crimson Tide.

That uncertainty is a big reason why Alabama is less than a two-touchdown favorite over Wisconsin in the AdvoCare Cowboys Classic, despite the Crimson Tide boasting one of the best defensive front sevens in the country and Wisconsin undergoing a coaching change and the loss of three starters on the offensive line.

Those 13 points might seem too high, but the perception of the Crimson Tide has changed over the last two seasons. Suddenly, after high-profile losses in major bowls, they're no longer invincible, and pesky little problems like replacing 5-star players with other 5-star players is a major issue in the minds of bettors.

Don't fall into that trap.

Even if Alabama's offense doesn't come out clicking on all cylinders against the Badgers, its defense will be just fine and allow the Tide to post at least a two-touchdown win even if it has to ride its own defense to get there.

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Ben Bredeson to Michigan: Wolverines Land 4-Star OT Prospect

Offensive tackle Ben Bredeson has become the latest top recruit to make his future decision public. The Arrowhead High School star will reportedly attend Michigan.  

Bredeson took to Twitter to announce his choice Wednesday: 

Coming from the offensive line capital of the world in Wisconsin, Bredeson will follow a long line of players from the state with the talent to make an impact at the college level. High-profile names like Joe Thomas and Kevin Zeitler were from the state and wound up having careers in the NFL. 

While there is still a long way to go before Bredeson reaches that point in his career, he certainly has the right background to become a star.

Oh, he's also one of the best players at his position in this class, ranking fourth on 247Sports' offensive tackle list for 2016. 

Josh Helmholdt of Rivals.com noted on Twitter that Bredeson is the highest-ranked player to come out of Wisconsin in nearly a decade:

The only significant flaw for Bredeson coming into college is his size. He's certainly tall enough for an offensive tackle at 6'5", but he is still at an age in which he's growing into that frame at 270 pounds. He's going to get bigger and more physical, allowing him to match college defensive ends in the strength department. 

Bredeson is also learning to control his height at the point of attack. His size makes him intimidating to high school players, but he will have to play with a lower setup at college or else defenders will be able to get around him easier. 

Even with those minor flaws, Bredeson is a dazzling offensive lineman who brings versatility. He could start at guard, where there's less pressure, before moving to tackle as he gets experience and grows into his body. The young Wisconsin native is a superb athlete with agility who can be the face of an offensive line soon. 

 

Recruit star ratings and rankings via 247Sports, unless otherwise noted.

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Notre Dame Stat Projections: Will Malik Zaire Put Up Dominant Numbers in 2015?

With the departure of Everett Golson, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a new starting quarterback in Malik Zaire. 

Bleacher Report's College Football Analyst Adam Kramer joined Stephen Nelson as they projected Zaire's stats. 

What type of numbers will Zaire put up in 2015? Check out the video and let us know! 

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Georgia and UCLA Set Future Home-and-Home Football Series

While it's a decade away from happening, college football fans can look forward to another pair of high-profile games between the SEC and the Pac-12.

On Wednesday, Georgia and UCLA announced a home-and-home series for the 2025 and 2026 seasons. The two teams will open their campaigns in Los Angeles on Aug. 30, 2025 and then in Athens on Sept. 5, 2026.

The news was first reported by the Athens Banner-Herald's Marc Weiszer.

"This home and home series provides an opportunity for our students and fans to enjoy a great matchup of two tradition-rich football programs in two of the most iconic venues in sports the Rose Bowl and Sanford Stadium," Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said in a statement. "These games will attract significant national attention on the opening weekend of the college football season, and we are thankful to our peers at UCLA for making this series happen."

The two teams have met only twice in their history, with Georgia holding a 2-0 record over UCLA. The Bulldogs defeated the Bruins 9-0 in the 1943 Rose Bowl and 19-8 in Athens in 1983.

UCLA now has three home-and-home series scheduled against SEC opponents. The Bruins play Texas A&M in 2016 and 2017 and then pick up a series against LSU in 2021 and 2024.

This Georgia-UCLA series will be another in a growing list of notable matchups between the SEC and the Pac-12 over the next decade, which includes a couple of one-off neutral-site games.

A spike in scheduling between the two conferences is partly due to a new SEC rule. Starting in 2016, each SEC team will have to play at least one nonconference opponent from a Power Five league.

While a lot can change between now and 2025—the players who will face off in this series are currently in elementary and middle school—a series pitting two Power Five teams who are consistently in the Top 25 is definitely good news for fans of the Bulldogs, Bruins and college football.

 

Justin Ferguson is an on-call college football writer at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.

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Projecting 2015 MVPs for Power 5 College Football Conferences

Here's the good news for college football fans in 2015: There are a ton—and we mean a ton—of amazing players who are returning. For every Jameis Winston who's gone, there's a Joey Bosa who's coming back. Bosa, along with several other well-known names, is an early favorite to be his conference's most valuable player. 

In many instances, the projected offensive and defensive MVPs among the Power Five conferences are returning players. That tells you just how strong the top of the game is this season. 

Players were chosen based on performances from previous seasons, stats included, as well as elements and circumstances for the upcoming season. 

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Elysee Mbem-Bosse's Details Top 7 Schools and Plan for Life After Football

The TV commercials featuring "The Most Interesting Man in the World" are well-known. The quotes that support the claim for him holding the title are epic.

Linebacker Elysee Mbem-Bosse would make for an excellent candidate for "the most interesting recruit of the 2016 class." Although he made news on Monday by announcing a list of his top seven schools, it may be his life off the football field that draws people to him.

For starters, he is of Cameroonian descent. He can converse with someone in English and French. Mbem-Bosse (full name pronounced eh-LEE-suh em-BO-say) thinks about life after football about as much as he thinks about his future football career.

Mbem-Bosse said that he's looking to earn a double major in forensic psychology and electronics upon college graduation. Additionally, he reads his Bible every day, and Chapter 6 of the book of Ephesians features his favorite verse—one that discusses the "full armor of God" being the "helmet of salvation."

There's that side of Mbem-Bosse, and then, there's the athlete many have seen on the football field. At 6'2" and 227 pounds, he's a player with good speed, a high motor and an ability to make the big hit. There's a reason he had more than his share of offers, and he's excited about where he is with his seven finalists.

"It's been a difficult process, but through the grace of God, I've managed to get through it and get to a top seven," said Mbem-Bosse, an inside linebacker from Cedar Grove High School in Ellenwood, Georgia. "I have 40-plus offers, and instead of having 40 different coaches to focus on, I wanted to shift my focus and just narrow my choices to seven. That way, I can make it an easier decision."

So who is Mbem-Bosse? The way he describes himself, Mbem-Bosse is a player who's all about achieving success. He's someone who not only makes it a priority to stay away, but also views life with a big-picture perspective.

"I'm just a guy who, whether it's on a Friday night or a Tuesday, you won't have to worry about doing anything he shouldn't be doing," Mbem-Bosse said. "I'm always where I'm supposed to be. I always try to be responsible and a great leader and not the guy who will bring down anybody."

Spending significant time in the weight room or on the practice field training isn't anything new for him. In addition to running a 4.5-second 40-yard dash, he also bench presses 325 pounds. As the nation's No. 13 inside linebacker, Mbem-Bosse is a downhill defender who finished his junior season with more than 80 tackles, along with three sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Mbem-Bosse said he would make a decision after he visits the schools on his list, and he said he plans to visit all seven. He said Tuesday evening that he will visit Notre Dame this weekend.

Mbem-Bosse said all seven schools have something intriguing about them. Wake Forest was the first school to offer, and he's a fan of the school's academic reputation. Notre Dame, also an academically sound institution, has a great coaching staff, led by Brian Kelly, and Mbem-Bosse feels it's a place he will fit in easily.

Choosing Alabama, Mbem-Bosse said, would mean playing for what he dubbed "Factory U." He likes how Nick Saban and the coaching staff develop players to the next level. He also likes the program's history of great linebackers. Ole Miss, Mbem-Bosse said, has a great atmosphere that "always feels like home." He likes the facilities, and he values the energy Hugh Freeze brings to the table.

Former Cedar Grove defensive end teammate and Oregon incoming freshman Gus Cumberlander has told Mbem-Bosse a lot about the Ducks. Reuniting with a former teammate is something Mbem-Bosse has thought about. He added that the West Coast attracts him, which is one of the reasons why USC also made the cut. The Trojans, he said, play an infectious style of football, and they've been one of the programs to recruit him the hardest. 

And then there's Auburn, the school that some feel has the inside edge in landing the 3-star linebacker. Mbem-Bosse called Auburn a "dream school," as it's been a place he's been fond of for quite some time. He visited the campus at the end of last month, and he's a big fan of defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, as well as the overall atmosphere.

All seven schools are considered legitimate candidates in landing him. He said academics will play a role in his decision, as will early playing time and overall comfort with a campus' environment.

Wherever he ends up, look for him to use the scholarship to get the best education possible.

"Knowledge is something that can never be taken away from you," Mbem-Bosse said. "The average time playing in the league [NFL] is about three-and-a-half years. That means I'll have 50 or 60 more years in my life. I want to be able to grow up, have a beautiful wife and kids and say I was able to get a good education.

"There are way too many kids who go to college and don't have a plan B, and they end up bankrupt and struggling through life. Even if I don't make the league, I want to say I was successful."

Mbem-Bosse wants to be a player known as the guy with a good head on his shoulders. He also wants to be a contributor on a team that wins conference championships. The road to narrowing down his top seven—and furthering his career on and off the field—starts this weekend.

 

Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles

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College Football Won't Have an Early Signing Period, for Now

College football's hierarchy opted to sideline discussions about an early signing period Wednesday morning, leaving the issue in limbo for at least another year.

While many anticipated the approval of a proposed three-day December signing window, the Collegiate Commissioners Association won't make a decision that impacts this current class of rising high school seniors:

If approved, the proposal would've permitted class-of-2016 prospects to sign a national letter of intent with college programs of their choice from Dec. 16-18. That's seven weeks shy of the national signing day college football fans have become accustomed to following on the first Wednesday of February.

The opportunity to sign early isn't an alien concept in NCAA sports. Basketball, baseball and lacrosse athletes are among those who are already allowed to seal the deal months in advance.

It's been a hot-button issue for years among college football administrators, coaches, prospects and reporters:

It can be difficult to find common ground on the subject among folks who cover recruiting from afar. Perhaps it shouldn't have come as a surprise to see those on the inside also struggle to reach a solidified solution.

The issue was weighed by commissioners from all 10 FBS conferences, with an anticipated vote occurring before noon Wednesday. Ratification would've locked in a two-year trial and 2017 follow-up evaluation.

Momentum seemed to be trending toward that result.

"I anticipate it to pass, but I also anticipate a robust and spirited debate," Mid-American Conference commissioner Jon Steinbrecher told Jeremy Crabtree of ESPN earlier this week. "With the two-year look-in that's part of the proposal, I think many of us are ready to say, 'Let's move forward or not move forward. Let's get away from being in limbo.'"

Instead, a resolution remains elusive:

Some argue the December signing period simply isn't early enough. It would be better served in late summer, so recruits can take care of collegiate matters before the start of their senior seasons.

However, this time table would certainly necessitate further alterations to the recruiting calendar, like an earlier starting point for official campus visits (beginning spring of junior year, perhaps?) and wiggle room for athletes who've signed a letter of intent with programs that undergo coaching changes later in the year.

For some, the solution is much simpler—tear it all down and start fresh:

Concern from both ends of the spectrum is understandable. Some see the current recruiting system as a circus that would become even crazier with another signing period thrown into the equation.

We perennially watch a collection of recruits commit to at least three different schools during the process, though that is and should remain their prerogative.

Verbal commitments are nonbinding. Things get trickier when teenagers put pen to paper.

There's plenty for collegiate commissioners to sort through during the next 12 months, and they must be diligent here. It should be high priority for them to seek out input from players who've already experienced a modern-day recruitment, gauging what works, what doesn't and what could be a welcome addition to the process.

In the end, these efforts will require some give and take from both sides of the argument, and a two-year trial run isn't a bad way to approach the situation. There simply seems to be too much demand for an early signing period from college programs and prospects for something not to get done down the road.

The implementation of an early signing period is just a matter of time. Clearly, we aren't there yet.

The short-term result of Wednesday's announcement is how it impacts this current recruiting class. The latest crop of college prospects must still wait until February to formally sign, which is likely to induce mixed emotions from players who've kept tabs on the possibility of an early period.

"Honestly, in my opinion, I feel like it's a good thing," top-ranked 2016 safety Brandon Jones told Bleacher Report in April. "It gives players who know for sure where they want to go the luxury of just being able to focus on that one school and do what they can earlier on to get a spot on the field in college."

Naturally, as in all discussions on this matter, there's a counterpoint.

"I disagree with the early signing, because what if you sign early and you change your mind? There's no way you can get out of it," All-American defensive tackle Marvin Wilson told Bleacher Report. "Athletes should look into their options as long as possible so they can see what's best for them."

Ultimately, determining what's best for student-athletes is supposed to fall into the hands of college football's leaders. Clearly, they weren't comfortable making the case for what is currently on the table and the repercussions that would follow an approval.

Perhaps they will be next year. Until then, the debate continues.

 

Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Damon Sayles contributed to this article.

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Surprises and Disappointments for Alabama's 2016 Recruiting Class

The Alabama Crimson Tide have been a recruiting powerhouse for many years now. In terms of their 2016 cycle, what do they need to improve on and what are they doing well? 

Bleacher Report's College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down the Alabama class in the video above. 

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Notre Dame Football: 5 Freshmen Who Could Make Instant Impacts

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame football’s incoming freshmen arrived on campus over the last week, and summer classes began Monday.

With the full ensemble in town, let’s take a look at five true freshmen who could make immediate impacts on the field for the Irish in 2015.

The Irish have welcomed 23 freshmen to the mix, including the four early enrollees who have already logged their first semesters.

 

Justin Yoon

Specialists aren’t usually the flashiest members of a recruiting class, but Notre Dame kicker Justin Yoon is likely the most important rookie to suit up for the Irish in 2015.

With Kyle Brindza gone, Yoon will take over the placekicking duties. Tabbed as the No. 2 kicker in the country, Yoon will step right into the spotlight in the season opener against Texas.

“The thing that stood out was his strength and accuracy,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said on national signing day. “He's a hockey player, as well, and gave up hockey to concentrate this year strictly on his kicking, and I think he proved himself pretty good in the All-Star games this year. But I think you'll see him as being one of the real stars in this class in terms of impacting right away.”

Yoon buried three field goals in the Under Armour All-American Game in January, including a 47-yarder.

 

Jerry Tillery

Early enrollee defensive lineman Jerry Tillery took to college quickly, standing out in spring practice and even studying abroad in South Africa recently with seven of his teammates.

At 6’6.5”, 300 pounds, Tillery has the natural ability to provide value on the defensive line amid a cluster of options for new defensive line coach Keith Gilmore. Kelly highlighted the Shreveport, Louisiana, native as an early story of the spring, praising the rookie’s technique with his hands, among other traits.

Tillery earned first-team reps during spring ball, and he could be counted on as a rotation player in 2015, even when nose tackle Jarron Jones (foot) returns to full form.

 

Alize Jones

Tight end Alize Jones arrives with plenty of hype at a position without proven past production for Notre Dame.

Irish redshirt sophomore Durham Smythe is at the front of the line to replace NFL draftee Ben Koyack, while Tyler Luatua, Nic Weishar, Chase Hounshell and Mike Heuerman could factor into the mix, as well.

Jones, the No. 1 tight end in his class and the No. 62 overall player in the country, is a pass-catching tight end. He whetted the appetite of Irish fans in the spring with videos of one-handed snags.

“He will be a threat catching the football,” Kelly said on signing day. “You will not be able to put a linebacker on him. You're going to have to use a safety to cover Jones.”

 

Shaun Crawford

The Irish receive a definitive boost with cornerback KeiVarae Russell’s return. However, Notre Dame is still unproven at the position beyond Russell and returning starter Cole Luke.

Freshman cornerback Shaun Crawford could compete for playing time in the secondary with the likes of fellow corners Devin Butler and Nick Watkins. Even if he doesn’t crack the sub-package rotation, the athletic Ohio native is not far away from the two-deep.

It’s also worth noting Kelly mentioned Crawford’s “dynamic” return ability on signing day.

 

Brandon Wimbush

Freshman quarterback Brandon Wimbush might not take a single snap in 2015, but the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback and No. 45 player in his class isn’t as far down the depth chart now that Everett Golson has departed for Florida State.

Quarterback DeShone Kizer, who redshirted last season, enters his second year in the system. Wimbush arrived on campus this past weekend.

“We have to prepare him as if he could compete and has to be ready to compete,” Kelly said last week. “I don’t think we have the luxury that we look at him and say, ‘Alright, you’re a redshirt. Don’t worry about it.’ It clearly is a different situation [than with Kizer last year].

“I think we have to find out what he will know when we throw it at him the first time," Kelly added. "And what he can absorb is gonna be important to see over the next couple of weeks.”

Though he may not see the field in 2015, Wimbush’s proximity to the top of the depth chart and the overall lack of experience at the quarterback position warrants a mention.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting stats and information courtesy of 247Sports.com and all quotes obtained firsthand. Star ratings reflect 247Sports composite rankings. 

Mike Monaco is the lead Notre Dame writer for Bleacher Report. Follow @MikeMonaco_ on Twitter.

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Surprises and Disappointments for Ohio State's 2016 Recruiting Class

The Ohio State Buckeyes have long been a recruiting heavyweight, and the 2016 cycle has been no different.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down what has gone both right and wrong for the Buckeyes' recruiting class thus far.

 

Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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8 Players We Want to See at SEC Media Days

SEC Media Days—and the unofficial kickoff to the college football season—are right around the corner, and several SEC stars will stroll through the Hyatt Regency Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Alabama, in mid-June to preview the upcoming season.

The conference finalized the schedule for the four-day extravaganza this week, so now fans know which schools will be making the rounds on each day.

The three players each school will bring won't be finalized until the week or two prior to the event, but why wait? 

Here are the players who must come to Media Days based on talent, personal story and national intrigue.

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12 Best Comeback Games in College Football History

We’ve all experienced it, for better or for worse. You’re watching your favorite college football team, and everything’s going perfect. You have a huge lead with time running low, and the opponent scores a touchdown. Then another. Then, they recover an onside kick, drive down the field and ruin your week (and maybe the season) with a magical, stunning comeback victory. Or, maybe that comeback makes your year, or more, depending on the opponent.

Comebacks are part of college football lore, and although they’re less stressful when you’re not emotionally involved in the game, they can be incredibly fun to watch.

Here’s a look at 12 of the best comebacks in college football history. Consideration was given for the size of deficit overcome, as well as the importance of the game. Every game covered here involved a deficit of at least 20 points.

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Georgia Football: 10 Best Players in Bulldogs History

The Georgia Bulldogs have been playing football since 1892, which means there have been a lot of players that have worn the red jersey and sliver britches (or white britches, depending on the coach). So a list of the 10 best Bulldogs of all time would be difficult to produce, right?

It’s not an easy task, but fans love to debate who the best players in the history of college football programs are. And when coming up with a list like this, there are many factors to consider, such as on-field production, team success during a player's tenure and how much of a lasting impact they made. There are more than 20 Bulldogs notable for all three of those things, but 10 stood out more than the rest.

So here’s a look at the 10 best players in the history of Georgia Bulldogs football. And if the list is not in your favor, please don’t kill the messenger.  

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Is a RB or QB More Likely to Win 2015 Heisman?

The Heisman Trophy was a running back trophy by design.

It's true in a literal sense. Former New York University running back Ed Smith struck the famous pose for trophy sculptor and childhood friend Frank Eliscu in 1935.

It's also true in a historical sense. The award was mostly given to running backs during its first half-century. From 1973 to 1983, only running backs received the trophy.

But the Heisman's status as mainly a running back trophy started to fade, and then the 21st century completely wiped out that notion. 

Since Ron Dayne won the award in 1999, only one running back has won the Heisman Trophy—Mark Ingram, the offensive star of Alabama's 2009 national championship season.

With the exception of that year, every other Heisman Trophy in the 2000s and 2010s has gone to a quarterback. Thanks to efficient pro-style passers and dual-threat scoring machines, the game and its most famous individual prize have transitioned to a quarterbacks club.

But as college football heads into a campaign following the offseason departures of the last two Heisman winners—Florida State's Jameis Winston and Oregon's Marcus Mariota—is this the year a running back loosens the quarterbacks' grip on the Heisman?  

 

The results

Since Ingram won the award in 2009, 10 of the 50 top-10 finishes in Heisman voting have gone to running backs.

But how close were these backs to knocking the quarterback off the top of the vote? Here are the best finishes by running backs in the last five years.

By comparison, 29 of the 50 top-10 finishes of those Heisman votes have gone to quarterbacks.

So running backs are in an uphill battle to not just win the Heisman Trophy, but to get a high finish in the voting for it. 

The five top-five finishers in that list—Melvin Gordon, Trent Richardson, LaMichael James, Montee Ball and Andre Williams—all finished in the top five nationally in rushing yards per game for their respective seasons. Each of them played for a Power Five team and also had at least 18 touchdowns.

The running back who has come the "closest" to winning the Heisman in terms of place is Gordon, who just missed out on breaking Barry Sanders' all-time record for rushing yards in a single season last year.

And, even with that historic accomplishment, Gordon had 751 fewer first-place votes than Mariota.

Simply put, this century hasn't been kind at all to running backs in the Heisman race.

 

The contenders

While none of the three finalists for last year's Heisman Trophy are back for 2015, the quarterbacks still have a built-in head start over the running backs in college football.

Four of the top-10 Heisman vote-getters from last year—three quarterbacks and one linebacker—will play this season. TCU's Trevone Boykin (fourth in 2014), Ohio State's J.T. Barrett (fifth) and Mississippi State's Dak Prescott (eighth) are all back on campus.

Boykin is the early 2015 favorite by a landslide, and Prescott has been mentioned by many as a potential contender. If Barrett returns from injury and becomes Ohio State's No. 1 quarterback again, he has a great chance to be firmly in the Heisman race all this fall. If not, Cardale Jones or Braxton Miller will take his seat on the hype train.

And one can't forget about the other quarterback candidates on many Heisman lists such as USC's Cody Kessler, Clemson's Deshaun Watson, Michigan State's Connor Cook, Florida State's Everett Golson and even Auburn's Jeremy Johnson, who hasn't been a full-time starter yet in his college career.

But one of the most intriguing aspects of the early Heisman buzz is the amount of running backs making their way onto lists, despite the quarterbacks' dominance of the award.

According to Odds Shark, the top 10 Heisman contenders in Las Vegas this month are split evenly between quarterbacks and running backs—and Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott has even better odds from Vegas than Boykin:

Each of these five running backs brings strong cases to the table for 2015.

Elliott exploded toward the end of the 2014 season and for more than 200 yards in each of Ohio State's three postseason wins. Leonard Fournette had a breakout true freshman year with more than 1,000 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Nick Chubb joined elite company last season and averaged more than seven yards per carry while backing up Todd Gurley.

Down the list, Derrick Henry is a physical freak and should be the No. 1 running back for national title contender Alabama this fall. And then there's Paul Perkins, who was the Pac-12's leading rusher in 2014.

Then there's still plenty of room for Oklahoma's Samaje Perine, Wisconsin's Corey Clement or a wild-card running back to break into the race. But remember—it's a lot easier for a quarterback to do the exact same thing.

 

The pick

Although several of the best running backs from 2014 are gone, this upcoming season seems to have more intriguing non-quarterback candidates than in years past.

However, history is going to be hard to shake for many of the backs, especially the ones who haven't gone through a whole season of being in the spotlight. 

As Bleacher Report's Ben Kercheval wrote last month, running backs have the extra burden to do more than their quarterback brethren—and that might not even be enough:

Unless there's a down year for quarterbacks, they'll have to get more involved somehow. Last season, Elliott caught 28 passes for zero touchdowns, and Chubb recorded only two receiving touchdowns. 

Those two players might be elite every-down backs who will go on to have lengthy pro careers, but their Heisman chances (and the chances of all the players like them) realistically go up in one of two ways:

They do more, or quarterbacks do less. Perhaps a little bit of both doesn't hurt. 

The Heisman potential of an Elliott or a Chubb is intriguing, but they both have huge mountains to climb compared to players such as Boykin, who has already stood out in the media as "the guy to beat" and is also on a strong national title contender.

This could be the year a running back turns back the clock and joins Ingram in the Heisman fraternity.

But the forerunners and the field say the much safer pick is still going to line up at signal-caller.

 

Justin Ferguson is an on-call college football writer at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ohio State Football: 5 Bold Predictions for the Incoming Freshmen

Just four short months ago, Urban Meyer was putting the finishing touches on Ohio State's 2015 recruiting class, which surged on national signing day to finish No. 7 in the final recruiting rankings.

Over the weekend, that crop of freshmen reported to campus for the official start of their collegiate careers. 

With summer conditioning and fall camp fast approaching, these first-year players will have a limited opportunity to make an impression on the coaching staff.

Who will step up and prove they're ready to make an instant impact this fall?

 

Mike Weber Will Beat Out Bri'onte Dunn for the Backup RB Spot

Ezekiel Elliott will need the occasional breather this fall. 

After closing out the 2014 season by amassing 696 rushing yards and eight touchdowns during Ohio State's three postseason victories, Elliott established himself as the country's most explosive returning running back and a Heisman Trophy candidate for 2015.

The Buckeyes will need a reliable backup for Elliott, though, after moving last year's secondary ball-handler (Curtis Samuel) to wide receiver. 

Bri'onte Dunn emerged as a candidate to fill that role this spring, receiving a bulk of the carries in spring practice while Elliott recovered from minor wrist surgery. 

But by the midway point of the season, Mike Weber will surpass Dunn on the depth chart.

The 5'9.5", 219-pound wrecking ball of a runner was rated as a 4-star prospect and the No. 9 running back in the 2015 class. He has the vision to navigate through traffic, the strength to break through arm tackles and the speed to run away when he hits the second level. Those are all assets that will help him thrive in Ohio State's offense this fall and beyond. 

 

Nick Conner Will Earn More Playing Time than Justin Hilliard and Jerome Baker

Five-star linebacker Justin Hilliard and 4-star athlete/linebacker Jerome Baker were the highest-rated prospects in Ohio State's 2015 class, but they're already a step behind fellow freshmen Nick Conner.

The crown jewels of the Buckeyes' class reported to campus last weekend, but Conner has been at Ohio State since January after enrolling early. He took part in the Buckeyes' spring camp, and that time proved to be pivotal as he emerged as a legitimate playmaker on defense.

That much became clear during Ohio State's spring game. Conner was one of the bright spots defensively, registering a game-high seven tackles (four of which were solo) to complement a forced fumble, an interception and a pass breakup. 

"[Conner]’s going to be good,” offensive lineman Billy Price said after the spring game, according to Tim May of The Columbus Dispatch. “He’s tough … he’s raw, and to have the kind of guys he has in his unit (to bring him along), things are going to get good for him.”

Conner's head start should get him on the field before Hilliard and Baker, but Meyer set realistic expectations for the spring game star.

“We had high expectations for him," Meyer said, via May. "Hope he doesn’t redshirt and gets involved in the kicking game. He had a very good day (in the spring game). He’s a tough guy who plays hard; good qualities to have.”

 

K.J. Hill Will Contribute at Wide Receiver

Even though the Buckeyes lost two key contributors to their wide receiver corps with the departures of Devin Smith and Evan Spencer, Meyer will have plenty of talent on the perimeter this fall.

Ohio State returns key wideouts Michael Thomas, Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson and Corey Smith, and young guys such as Johnnie Dixon, Parris Campbell and Samuel should factor in as well.

But that bevy of talent won't keep K.J. Hill off the field.

Rated as the No. 152 prospect overall for the '15 class, Hill was a signing-day surprise for Ohio State. He brought his 6'0", 188-pound frame and elite playmaking ability to Columbus last weekend, and it won't take him long to make an impression on the coaching staff.

He won't be a starter, and it may take him a while to find his footing, but Hill will be making plays for the Buckeyes offense by season's end. 

 

Two Offensive Linemen Will Crack the Two-Deep Rotation

Ohio State's biggest priority for the 2015 recruiting cycle was to secure as many offensive linemen as possible. 

Meyer came through, getting six linemen to join the ranks in Columbus on signing day. And by the end of the season, two of those freshmen will be listed on the two-deep depth chart. 

After giving the current backups a long look this spring, Meyer came out of spring camp disappointed with his depth up front.

“The area (of worry) is the offensive line. That’s the problem,” Meyer said, according to Ryan Cooper of The Lantern. “And once again, not the starters, because I feel good (about them) … I’m very alarmed by the second group of offensive linemen right now.”

His incoming freshmen will provide instant depth. Four-star standout Isaiah Prince will be backing up Chase Farris at right tackle, and 4-star guard Matthew Burrell will be right behind Pat Elflein at right guard.

 

Robert Landers Will Emerge as a Budding Star at Defensive Tackle

The Buckeyes have had steady play at the defensive tackle position over the last few years with the likes of Johnathan Hankins and Michael Bennett clogging the middle. 

Both are suiting up in the NFL, and now, Ohio State is looking for their next star defensive tackle.

The Buckeyes may already have that in Robert Landers.

The 6'2", 295-pound run-stuffer was only rated a 3-star prospect and the No. 476 prospect overall for the class of 2015. But the Buckeyes have made a habit of finding diamonds in the rough over the last few recruiting cycles—Darron Lee in 2013 and Elflein in 2012—and Landers could be next in line.

Adolphus Washington and Tommy Schutt will start and play a majority of the snaps inside, but Landers will factor into the rotation.

 

All recruiting rankings and information via 247Sports.

David Regimbal covers Ohio State football for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Tennessee Football: Ranking the 5 Most Consistent Players on the Volunteers

One of the biggest catch phrases Tennessee football coach Butch Jones loves to use over and over again when talking to his team and to the media is "consistency of performance."

It's something every coach harps on, but Jones dissects it so much during film study that he points out breakdowns in mechanics repetition from play to play.

It's a cornerstone of playing winning football, he believes.

Considering how young the Vols have been (and still are) over the course of Jones' three years in Knoxville, it hasn't always been an easy aspect to teach. But entering a season where UT is expected to at least compete and possibly contend, it'll be scrutinized even more closely.

So, who on Tennessee's roster has proved to be consistent forces for the Vols? There are several, and it's no surprise that the vast majority of those deserving to be on this list are upperclassmen.

One factor that was weighed heavily in devising this list was proving consistency over the course of time. Most players on this list have done it for years, and they are just perfecting their crafts as they mature. The one underclassman who made the list belongs because of his uncanny consistency of excellence.

These guys may not always get the headlines as being the biggest stars on the team, but Tennessee can count on them every time they step on the field.

You may not always hear safety Brian Randolph's name, but at times when he hasn't been on the field, the Vols have missed him desperately. Also, you don't hear Cameron Sutton's name a lot because of the position he plays.

Let's take a look at the five most consistent players on Tennessee's roster.

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Texas Football: 10 Best Players in Longhorn History

It's been a tough few years, but Texas football has no shortage of candidates for the top-10 players of its long history.

The Longhorns have come a long way since their first team played four games in 1893. They've won four national championships with 32 conference titles and had two players hoist the Heisman Trophy. 

The road to those accomplishments were paved by a long line of great football players, starting with Bobby Layne in the 1940s, then extending all the way to Vince Young and Colt McCoy in the 2000s.

Some of them won national awards and shattered school records, others displayed amazing consistency in helping their teams achieve greatness as a whole. But they all made their mark on the history of the program and set the standard for every future player who wants to enjoy similar success.

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Michigan Football: How Jedd Fisch Can Perfect Wolverines' Passing Attack

Someone has to get production from the Michigan Wolverines’ wide receivers, tight ends and quarterbacks. Evidently, one offensive coordinator—Tim Drevno—wasn’t enough, so head coach Jim Harbaugh decided to bring along Jedd Fisch to handle the finer points of the aerial game.

Tabbing Fisch as the passing game coordinator was the correct move.

With collegiate experience dating back to 1999, Fisch has accumulated quite the resume while working with some of the game’s most respected coaches and coordinators.

Prior to joining Harbaugh in Ann Arbor, Fisch handled offensive coordinator duties with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Despite the team’s struggles, he found ways to improve quarterbacks Blake Bortles, Chad Henne and Denard Robinson.

And, really, he didn’t only “improve” Robinson—he flipped “Shoelace” from a quarterback into a running back/receiver. That proved to be another correct move. Robinson, who missed three games due to injury in 2014, rushed for 582 yards and two scores. He also caught 23 of 31 intended passes for 124 yards.

Small adjustments can make a difference.

Fisch's resume could stand up to any comparable coach's track record in the game.

And, yes, he’s done great things on both sides of the ball with a few players, teams and high-profile coaches, such as Seattle's Pete Carroll (QB), then-Houston's Dom Capers (assistant to the coach) and then-Denver's Mike Shanahan (WR). His knowledge of offense and defense has been enriched at every stop of his career.

Part of having success is knowing and exploiting the opponents' weakness(es). It's safe to say that Fisch is well-versed in that regard.

But none of that will matter if he can’t squeeze every ounce of potential from—and form genuine relationships with—Jake Rudock, the assumed starting quarterback, and a stable of pass-catching options which include but aren’t limited to receivers Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson, Freddy Canteen, Brian Cole and Maurice Ways, and tight ends Jake Butt, Ian Bunting and A.J. Williams.

 

Cruise with Rudock

As the situation stands today, Rudock seems to be Michigan’s most obvious game-ready option for Sept. 3 against the Utah Utes at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

Of course, the circumstances could change during camp, but Rudock has certainly cemented himself as the Wolverines’ mid- to late-June starter.

In 2010 and 2011, Fisch, then the Miami Hurricanes’ offensive coordinator, recruited Rudock, who was then a star at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

A wise man would assume that Fisch and Harbaugh surveyed the situation at hand—the lack of a seasoned signal-caller—and viewed Rudock as the ideal game manager, prompting them to lure the graduated senior from Iowa to Ann Arbor this past spring.

As a guy who does a lot of things at a satisfactory level but not many in exemplary fashion, the 25-game starter has enough poise to serve as a base for Fisch.

Although most Michigan fans probably want to see Fisch air out the ball each Saturday, keeping things simple with Rudock and the receivers may be the best call.

For example, remember the game plan devised by Al Borges for Shane Morris during the 2013 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: It was the one that allowed Morris, then a freshman, to play at a relatively comfortable pace without having to do too much.

It may sound odd to cite Borges at this time, but there is a method to the madness.

In terms of how to insert a quarterback into a shaky situation, Borges nailed it. While different at its core, this year’s quarterback situation is also shaky.

With that said, using a slightly revised, more energetic approach based on the same principles may do the trick with Rudock, who would rely on pass-catchers to make plays rather than playing the role of hero.

Again, the term “game manager” certainly applies. Just check out the supporting numbers provided by Chad Leistikow of Hawk Central:

Rudock leaves Iowa as its No. 8 all-time passer with 4,819 yards in 25 career games, all as a starter while compiling a 14-11 record. He was intercepted just 18 times, or on 2.6 percent of his 691 career attempts—a ball-security stat that Harbaugh was known for as a player and now as a coach.

Rudock's five interceptions last fall (on 345 attempts) were the fewest by any Big Ten starter.

Should Michigan's No. 1-ranked experience, per Phil Steele, show up on the offensive line, Rudock could end up having a career year with Fisch.

For the sake of space, the following is a breakdown of situations in which Rudock thrives, per his ESPN.com splits from the 2014 season:

  • Manageable third/fourth downs: He threw seven of 16 touchdowns when the Hawkeyes needed three to eight yards to move the sticks.
  • Playing vs. the Big Ten: He threw 11 touchdowns with just three picks and completed 60 percent of his passes against conference foes.
  • The second half: Although his yards per attempt was nearly two yards lower than in the first half, he threw 10 touchdowns during the third and fourth quarters this past season.
  • Get going in the first: Rudock completed 66.3 percent of his passes in the first half (8.06 YPA).
  • Goal-line stands: He was sacked zero times and rushed for three touchdowns in goal-to-go situations, demonstrating the ability to remain cool during crunch time. He also threw eight touchdowns compared to one interception (costly red-zone pick in loss to Nebraska).

Now to balance the equation, the following is a list of what stalled Rudock in 2014:

  • Red zone: He threw 12 touchdowns while inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, but he also completed just 51 percent of his passes.
  • On 3rd-and-long (8-10 yards): Rudock completed just 48.3 percent of his passes and had zero touchdown passes.
  • Third-down picks: Rudock threw three of five interceptions on third downs.

As always, stats are open to interpretation and can be skewed to make a point. What happened with Rudock at Iowa won’t necessarily transpire in Ann Arbor.

Meanwhile, Fisch likely knows all about Rudock’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as when and how to utilize him. It’s also likely that some of these examples have been discussed between them.

 

Recognize Weaponry

If all goes well, Butt could end up having a monstrous junior year. That'd be one way to kick the passing game into gear right from the start.

Previously hampered by a pair of ACL injuries, the 6'6", 248-pounder is Michigan's largest target. And since Rudock is decent in goal-to-go situations, Butt could become a powerful force with the game on the line.

Whether as the red-zone safety net or the go-to option on third downs, Butt could become Rudock's Michigan version of Jake Duzey, a similarly sized tight end who caught 36 passes for 392 yards and three touchdowns for Iowa in 2014 (10.9 yards per catch).

Together, Darboh and Chesson have made 46 appearances for the Wolverines. There's no need to do the math—that's a lot more than anyone else on the roster, times two or three.

Due to their experience, they need to be main features of the offense. At 6'2" and 216 pounds, a chiseled Darboh is designed for securing the deep ball, but he's a reliable inside option, too. At 6'3" and 207 pounds, Chesson works best while flashing inside and outside. During spring availability, he said that the receivers were picking up on Fisch's teachings and getting comfortable with quarterbacks.

That was said prior to Rudock's arrival, so it'd be fair to assume that the addition of a more experienced arm would help expedite the learning process.

With guidance from Fisch, Darboh and Chesson could avoid fizzling out in the second half. Per ESPN.com, Darboh caught 18 passes in each half this past season. However, he averaged 16.9 YPC prior to halftime and just 9.3 afterward. Chesson caught 10 passes in the first half compared to four in the second.

In the not-so-distant past, Michigan actually had a viable one-two punch. That was Devin Funchess, the big-play guy, and Jeremy Gallon, the speedy slasher.

Butt looks like the big-play guy, but the Wolverines remain in search of a slot threat. Developing Canteen, Cole or even Drake Harris for the job is imperative.

Things don't have to be perfect for Fisch, but he needs at least one serviceable athlete at each position in order to implement his system. A coach can't install it if he doesn't have the players.

 

On the Same Page

As mentioned above, relationships will be for Fisch, the staff and the players. It's a buzz-phrase, sure, but "getting on the same page" pretty much covers the bases, which in turn should tie together the loose ends.

For the past three years, Michigan's offensive line has been one of the worst in all of college football. Considering the levels of perceived talent and experience, that shouldn't have been the case.

Drevno is known for crafting O-lines. His 11-year relationship with Harbaugh should pay dividends this season. Harbaugh likes power football, and power football needs an O-line. Fisch needs an O-line to set the course for Rudock and beyond.

The sooner Fisch and Drevno become buddy-buddy, the better for the program. It's all about continuity, and establishing an open line of communication with Jay Harbaugh wouldn't hurt, either.

Transitions don't happen overnight. Typically, they don't happen within a year, either. But just like he did in Jacksonville, per John Oehser of Jaguars.com, Fisch is constantly assessing the who, what, when, where and why with his personnel in Ann Arbor.

The who, when, where and why will fall together in time. But as of now, Fisch absolutely knows what he must do, and that's rekindle the fire of a passing offense that finished No. 14 in the Big Ten and No. 112 among FBS programs.

"It's not the easiest thing in the world, obviously, it's something you have to work at," Fisch told MGoBlue.com (h/t MLive.com's Nick Baumgardner). "It starts with the quarterback, and then pass protection. We'll constantly emphasize precision, that's where it starts and stops.

"Everyone has to be on the same page, and we'll be very detailed."

 

Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and references were obtained firsthand by the writer via press conference, press release or other media availability.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ranking the Top 50 Must-Watch College Football Games of 2015

It's never too early to plan your weekends for this fall, is it?

If those plans happen to involve camping out in front of the TV to watch college football, then you're in luck. While many kickoff times and channel slots haven't been set yet, we do have the full rundown available for the 2015 college football season. And with that, we can start blocking out chunks of time that will be occupied with tracking all the action.

The 2015 campaign has one fewer week during the regular season, but that just means the action is more packed in. Every week from early September until early December has at least one big game on the schedule, and some are just overflowing with potentially big matchups.

These are the 50 must-see games of 2015 (regular season only), ranked in order of their national appeal as well as how much they should impact the playoff race.

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Why Offensive Improvement Is Texas Coach Charlie Strong's Biggest Goal in 2015

Defense is what got the Texas Longhorns to a bowl game in head coach Charlie Strong's first year in 2014. Offense is what might have to do the job this time around. Considering the Longhorns could barely move the ball at times last season, improving the offense dramatically is Strong's biggest goal for 2015. 

His own job security likely depends upon it, as if you needed any more proof that being the head coach at Texas is that demanding. 

Let's start at the beginning. On national signing day in early February, Strong promised Longhorn fans a more wide-open offense going forward, noting that it behooved the program to run something similar to what high schools across the state did. That made sense; Texas is a recruiting hotbed, and the flagship program no longer had a kung-fu grip on the best in-state talent. Promising more excitement on offense is one way to fix that. 

At the very least, though, Texas needed a change after finishing last in the Big 12 in passing offense and ninth in points per game. 

There's no doubt the offense had to be shaken up—Les Koenning and Bruce Chambers, two offensive assistants, were shown the door as well—but now the question remains whether the changes will spark any, um, change. 

Preseason magazines are around for entertainment purposes first and foremost. Their job is to bide the time until real football begins. That said, it's telling that well-known sources such as Phil Steele and Athlon Sports have one offensive Longhorns player—offensive lineman Sedrick Flowers—as a first-team Preseason All-Big 12 selection.

Combined. 

Running back Johnathan Gray, who might be Texas' most well-known offensive player, was a third-team preseason selection by both publications. (Gray, of course, suffered an Achilles injury late in 2013 and was never quite the same last year.) 

These types of preseason all-conference teams are put together with last year's production and offseason rumblings/reports in mind. What they tell us about Texas is that few Longhorns are getting attention on offense. 

Long gone are the days of Vince Young, Colt McCoy, Jordan Shipley and Jamaal Charles. This year, Strong's checklist includes: sorting out the quarterback competition between Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard; developing the offensive line, which was crushed by attrition last year; and finding a reliable receiving corps after losing their top two wide receivers from 2014—John Harris and Jaxon Shipley. 

It's going to be up to Strong and this offensive coaching staff to develop a lot of under-the-radar talent. That's not a line you expect to write about Texas. Ever. 

But at least there's some experience returning on offense. That's important because the Horns might not be able to rely on their defense like they did a year ago. There are a couple of staples in place—defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway and cornerback Duke Thomas, for example—but there will be a lot of new starters and new players being broken in on that side of the ball. 

"This is probably going to be one of those years where we’re going to have to go coach, and we’ll just see how good of coaches we really are," Strong said, per Rod Babers of 247Sports

Strong and his staff are good coaches. One look at the players Louisville has put into the NFL draft over the past few years is a reflection of that. In time, Texas' defense will be stout again (at the very least, the defensive line should lead the way). But if you want to know if Strong is going to make it as Texas' coach, let's see what he can do with the offense.  

Strong is regarded as one of the brightest defensive minds in college football, and his assistant coaching staff reflects that expertise. As such, changing the tune and putting a priority on offense in '15 is going to test Strong's flexibility as a head coach. 

It brings to mind what Gary Patterson did at TCU. Patterson, another defensive-minded coach, went outside of his comfort zone and hired two co-offensive coordinators, Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham, for the '14 season. As it turned out, there may not have been a better set of hires than that all year. 

That's not to compare TCU to Texas, but it does show that great coaches are willing to change things up and go in a direction that's different for them. Strong has already started down that path by promising to modify the offense.

Will he get the results to go along with it? That will be his biggest test. If he doesn't, people could get anxious heading into year three.  

Put it this way: Strong was listed at "3" on Dennis Dodd's recent hot seat-o-meter. A "3," means "Starting to feel the pressure." Spinning off that rating, Max Olson of ESPN.com recently wrote "Strong's status on this list is debatable, I guess, but I get it: If you're the head coach of Texas and you're coming off a losing season, you're going to feel at least a little pressure."

That little bit of pressure will be a lot of pressure if Texas has two straight losing seasons. If the offense doesn't take a major step forward, that could very well be the case.

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. All stats courtesy of cfbstats.  

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

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