NCAA Football News

Ohio State Football: Why Dontre Wilson Will Be Buckeyes' X-Factor in 2014

Ohio State's offense has operated at a record-breaking pace under Urban Meyer, but with Dontre Wilson in a featured role, the Buckeyes could be even more explosive in 2014.

The 5'10", 185-pound blazer out of DeSoto, Texas, is primed for a breakout year after a quiet freshman season.

Meyer recruited Wilson to bring speed and playmaking ability to a group of skill-position players that desperately needed it. The former 4-star all-purpose back piled up 2,645 yards of total offense and 46 touchdowns as a high school senior—showcasing the versatility the Buckeyes coveted.

Wilson committed to Ohio State in February 2013 and flashed his potential during fall camp, but when the season kicked off, his opportunities were limited.

Meyer had one of the best pairs in college football with Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde. With that pair sharing a backfield, Wilson was used mainly as a decoy to distract the defense away from the real action.

“I just didn’t feel like I was that involved,” Wilson said, according to Daniel Rogers of The Lantern, Ohio State's student newspaper. “Basically most of the plays I was pretty much just faking and fly sweeping and the defense would bite and we would throw it downfield."

He still found ways to produce.

Wilson rushed for 250 yards and hauled in 22 receptions for 210 yards to complement three total touchdowns. On most occasions, Ohio State would move him around pre-snap to take a defender out of the box. A few times a game, however, Miller found him in space.

The Buckeyes will need much more from him this year.

Ohio State must replace its leading rusher in Hyde, who ran for 1,521 yards and 15 touchdowns in just 11 games. The Buckeyes also need someone to step up in place of Corey Brown, who graduated after leading the team in receiving yards in each of the last two seasons.

Replacing that production can't be put on the shoulders of one player, but the coaching staff is turning its attention to Wilson in order to reshape the team's offensive identity.

Last year, the Buckeyes leaned on Hyde and four senior starters along the offensive line to grind things out on the ground. This year, the Buckeyes are strongest on the perimeter, where speed abounds.

With that speed, Meyer is implementing new wrinkles to the offense, according to Kyle Rowland of Eleven Warriors.

As bad as we want an offensive line like we had last year, it’s going to take a while to develop that. I think at some point because we recruited well and our line coach that it’ll happen. But we’re going to have to lean on some perimeter ways of getting first downs, where last year when you rush for 300-plus yards a game it’s because that offensive line was so good. We have other weapons, but it will have a different taste to it than last year.

Wilson, who won the starting H-back position during spring practice, is ready to become Ohio State's most lethal weapon. Wide receivers coach Zach Smith feels that he's ready for that role.

"That's what our offense does - gets the ball to great players," Smith said, via Ari Wasserman of The Plain Dealer. "Dontre will hopefully fit that mold because he has the ability to be a great player and he is taking strides toward that."

 

All stats via NCAA.com. All recruiting information per 247Sports.com.

David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report.
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412

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College Football's Top QB-RB-WR Combinations for 2014 Season

The concept of the "Big Three" is more familiar to basketball fans than it is to football fans, but that doesn't mean the latter can't incorporate it.

Although some teams' two best players play the same position, though, the greatest "Big Threes" are the ones like the San Antonio Spurs': evenly balanced at different spots. Having Tony Parker at point guard, Manu Ginobili/Kawhi Leonard on the wing and Tim Duncan in the post is the basketball equivalent of having a quality performer at quarterback, running back and wide receiver.

That got us thinking about the best offensive "Big Threes" in college football. Based solely on their top QB, RB and WR—not their depth at those positions—which teams are best set up for success in 2014?

The "in 2014" is an operative part of that sentence. This is a projection of how each unit will perform next season, not a forecast toward the following years. LSU and Texas A&M, for example, have a couple of blue-chip true freshmen being counted on at quarterback, running back and wide receiver. That might make them dangerous in 2015 and 2016, but next season it is more likely to result in growing pains.

Also bear in mind that the quarterback position, by virtue of being the most important on the field, was weighted more heavily than running back and wide receiver. A great quarterback can compensate for a merely decent supporting cast in a way that a great supporting cast cannot compensate for a merely decent quarterback.

Ultimately, the guiding principle for this list was: Assuming you know nothing about your team's defense, offensive line, coaching staff or depth, which triad of players would you feel more comfortable starting a team with from scratch for the upcoming season?

Sound off below, and let me know where you disagree.

 

Note: Unless otherwise cited, all recruiting information courtesy of the 247Sports composite rankings in 201120122013 and 2014.

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Georgia Football: Why Leonard Floyd Will Be the Bulldogs' X-Factor in 2014

Georgia’s struggles on defense in 2013 were just as well-documented as the attrition that has plagued the unit’s secondary this offseason.

That degree of negative sentiment is in direct conflict with the optimism surrounding the arrival of new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, and the end result is a general uneasiness concerning the defense.

Fortunately for the Bulldogs, rising sophomore Leonard Floyd is braced for impact in 2014 and if the season goes as many experts anticipate, Floyd will prove to be the Dawgs’ X-factor this season.

 

Fantastic Freshman

Floyd arrived in Athens last summer as the nation’s fifth-best prep school product, according to the 247Sports Composite. It didn’t take long for his size and athleticism to catch the eye of coaches and fans alike. In fact, he registered his first of eight starts in the season opener at Clemson.

When his productive freshman campaign was complete, he’d tallied 55 total tackles (including 6.5 sacks), intercepted one pass and forced two fumbles. Not surprisingly, he was selected to the SEC All-Freshman Team.

 

Breakout Season Ahead

Now, Floyd is preparing to have an even bigger sophomore campaign, and his new defensive coordinator may enable him to do so. While Pruitt’s arrival has been hailed as a coup for a defensive secondary in desperate need of relief, his new scheme will also benefit players like Floyd.

“I love it,” Floyd told Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald about Pruitt’s new system. “[I] Don’t have to think as much. All I’ve got to do is think about rushing.”

For a player whose greatest physical attributes are speed, explosiveness and an ability to use length to create leverage, focusing on chasing the quarterback has to be a welcomed change. And now Floyd, who will line up at both defensive end and his typical outside linebacker post, will get to do just that. 2014 will bring less dropping into coverage and more chasing the passer for Floyd.

 

Great Expectations

Apparently the promise Floyd showed as a freshman and his newly simplified (but more aggressive) role under Pruitt has captured the attention of a number of experts and their preseason award lists.

Athlon Sports named Floyd to its All-SEC second team as an outside linebacker. Meanwhile, prognostication guru Phil Steele named Floyd as a Preseason All-America selection, according to GeorgiaDogs.com.

Such high praise is likely not a surprise from his teammates. Fellow linebacker Amarlo Herrera told Seth Emerson of Macon’s The Telegraph simply, “Floyd, he’s so fast, and so athletic.”

Defensive end Ray Drew offered more detail to Weiszer, saying, “Leonard Floyd is a man. He’s awesome. Violence off the ball with his hands. For an offensive lineman, he’s a nightmare. He’s quick, he’s powerful. He’s a presence off the edge, great in this defense.”

 

Great for This Defense

The hope, of course, is that Floyd isn’t merely great in this defense but that he is great for this defense.

The woes of the secondary will remain a factor until on-field performance proves otherwise. For the time being, one full-time starter (Damian Swann) returns to a mediocre secondary that will be looking to fill vacancies with veterans who failed to take ownership of starting spots in years past and green newcomers.

To be sure, the tutelage of Pruitt and the simplification of the scheme will help, but the defense’s weakness will be in the secondary.

If Floyd can develop into one of the nation’s most elite pass-rushers, some pressure will be taken off the fragile defensive backfield. If he can terrorize quarterbacks with relentless pursuit and consistently collapse pockets with his potent combination of size, speed and tenacity, he will give the secondary time to develop.

For a Georgia team with very few questions on offense and a plethora of talent returning in the front seven of the defense, development of the secondary could make or break the entire 2014 campaign. Ironically, it could be up a hybrid linebacker/defensive end who enables that to happen.

A lot hinges on Leonard Floyd this season.

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Florida Gators Football: Incoming Freshmen Most Likely to Start This Season

The Florida Gators are just one of many teams that have benefited greatly off of true freshmen making an impact right away. Last season, Vernon Hargreaves and Kelvin Taylor made a splash as starters. The year before that, Dante Fowler and Matt Jones picked up a few starts and helped the Gators win games.

You can only expect the same thing to take place this season with another solid recruiting class stepping on campus. Florida has two defensive backs and a handful of offensive players who are sure to see the field early and often.

Here are a few Florida freshmen who have a good chance to start at least one game this season.

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