NCAA Football News
Every team needs a strong recruiting class, as stocking talent on an annual basis is a major component for success in college football. However, depending on the situation, several programs may face more pressure than others in a given recruiting cycle.
Some programs have coaches who are coaching and recruiting for their jobs in 2013. Others are coming off solid seasons and need to strike while the iron is hot. And there are always programs who need a strong class because their previous one was, well, weak.
A pair of programs who are moving to new conferences must continue adding good talent to be well prepared for their transitions. It is time for another program that changed conferences last year to begin to consistently land higher-quality talent. Also, another program saw its rival have a breakthrough class in 2013, so it must respond strongly in 2014.
One of the most unique aspects of Notre Dame's historic tradition is playing one of the nation's most challenging schedules, and the Irish's 2013 slate has only reinforced that notion.
Per college football expert and ESPN Insider Phil Steele, Notre Dame ranks 13th nationally in preseason strength of schedule.
Factoring into that ranking are the four preseason AP Top 25 teams among the Irish's 12 regular-season opponents—No. 24 USC, No. 17 Michigan, No. 16 Oklahoma and No. 4 Stanford.
How Notre Dame fares against that quartet of ranked foes will be a telling factor in the team's postseason fate, which, also per Steele, is a return trip to the BCS.
For a forecast of those four matchups, as well as the other eight contests, follow along.
In the midst of significant change, Michigan’s offensive line has the potential to be a valuable strength or glaring vulnerability this season.
Touting one of the finest left tackles in the game, the offensive front boasts All-American Taylor Lewan, a senior who will be an early first-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft. Lewan has a rare level of talent and gives the Wolverines an incredibly strong left side.
The right side, though, is a concern. But it could also be reliable, primarily because of senior right tackle Michael Schofield, who along with Lewan, serves as an elder statesmen for a line welcoming Kyle Kalis, Ben Braden and Jack Miller to the fold.
According to Scout.com, Kalis, a 6’5”, 297-pound redshirt freshman, is behind Joey Burzynski, a junior, in the race for the No. 1 right guard position. However, multiple reports and sources have suggested Kalis should start in light of Patrick Omameh’s graduation. It’s likely he will.
Miller, a sophomore, is slated to take the starting job at center. Graham Glasgow, a sophomore walk-on, is listed at No. 2. The clock is ticking; a decision is on its way.
At 6’6” and 314 pounds, Braden, a redshirt freshman, stands to take the left guard position vacated by Ricky Barnum, who started there 13 times in 2012. However, a true frosh, Logan Tuley-Tillman, could challenge for starting reps as well.
Not completely settled at the moment, the line appears to be a puzzle with interchangeable parts, not necessarily components that fit in one spot.
Analyzing Depth at Tackle
First and foremost, the potential of injury to Lewan has to be addressed. He was banged up in 2012, but his play didn’t indicate there was much of a problem. Holding his own in an elite one-on-one battle, Lewan handled defensive end Jadeveon Clowney during Michigan’s 33-28 Outback Bowl loss to South Carolina.
A candidate for several major postseason awards, Lewan’s importance can’t be stressed enough. So what happens if he falls?
Schofield, who has played on the left side of the line, would be an adequate replacement. In 23 career starts, he’s played left guard 10 times. He’s experienced enough to handle the move.
Lewan’s taken care of, but what about Schofield? Who’d get bumped to right tackle in his absence?
Erik Gunderson, a 6’8”, 312-pound senior, will likely be Schofield’s reliever. In 2012, he appeared in five games as a reserve lineman. In 2011, he debuted at right tackle.
Just like riding a bike, right?
Analyzing Depth at Guard and Center
Reserve action. That’s all Miller has on his resume. However, each of his 12 appearances have come at center. That has to be reassuring for head coach Brady Hoke, who has plenty of young but relatively inexperienced talent on his roster.
Right guard lacks experience. That’s all there is to say about that. Kalis, a former 4-star recruit per 247Sports, was one of the gems of Hoke’s 2012 class. He redshirted a year ago. No in-game snaps for him.
In 2011, Burzynski got his feet wet at left guard. He’s taken the field 12 times for Michigan as a reserve.
With Braden, a redshirt freshman, at left guard, the two positions straddling the center are the biggest areas of concern. A year ago, Tuley-Tillman, the apparent No. 2, played high school football.
That leaves Mateus, a three-time substitute at left tackle and Lewan’s backup, to fill in where needed. Since he’s a left-sider, it’s possible he could slide over to guard if the situation was presented.
Luckily for Michigan, there are two leaders willing to help make the several other underclassmen the best.
Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81
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As the countdown to the 2013 season opener winds down, the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide are gearing up to make a run at their third consecutive BCS National Championship.
Nick Saban’s club returns a number of stars off the squad that pummeled previously unbeaten Notre Dame 42-14 in the BCS title game. Although the Tide lost nine players who were selected in April’s NFL draft, there’s more than enough young talent ready to take over in critical spots this fall.
The Tide’s schedule, while appearing lighter than the slates in previous years, still has its share of challenges.
The season opener against ACC power Virginia Tech kicks things off on Aug. 31 in the Georgia Dome.
Showdowns with SEC West powers Texas A&M (Sept. 14) and LSU (Nov. 9) will be tough, but the Tide have the luxury of a bye week preceding each of those contests.
How does the rest of the schedule play out, and can the Tide run the table and produce their second unblemished season under Saban?