Athlon ranks all 130 FBS teams [Archive] - SEC Sports Forum | SEC Basketball | SEC Football

PDA

View Full Version : Athlon ranks all 130 FBS teams



Herchel
06-15-2017, 08:48 AM
https://athlonsports.com/college-football/ranking-all-130-college-football-teams-2017?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=pick6nl20170614&spMailingID=17454861&spUserID=Mjc4MTcwMjc4MzMwS0&spJobID=1041075281&spReportId=MTA0MTA3NTI4MQS2

55. Missouri

Missouri is coming off back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 2001-02. After taking over for Gary Pinkel, Barry Odom put his stamp on the program last year by implementing scheme changes on both sides of the ball. The result? A mixed bag. The Tigers averaged 31.4 points per game under new play-caller Josh Heupel. However, that total dipped to 22.6 in SEC play. The firepower is there for another prolific year by the offense. Quarterback Drew Lock should continue to improve in his third season under center, running back Damarea Crockett (1,062 yards) returns after a breakout freshman season, and the receiving corps is among the best in the SEC. Additionally, all four starters return from a solid offensive line. While scoring points wonít be a problem, Missouriís hopes of a winning record rest with an improved defense. Odom took over the play-calling duties late last year, and this unit showed improvement in wins over Arkansas and Vanderbilt. Can that continue in 2017? With just three returning starters, itís easy to be skeptical. End Marcell Frazier (7.5 sacks in 2016) is a force off the edge, and junior tackle Terry Beckner could push for All-SEC honors with a healthy season. Question marks surround the back seven, especially at cornerback after Aarion Penton and John Gibson expired their eligibility.

48. Vanderbilt

A late-season surge last year propelled the Commodores to their first bowl game under coach Derek Mason. Vanderbilt started 2-4 but won four out of its final six regular season matchups, including SEC games against Georgia, Ole Miss and Tennessee. Masonís decision to take over the play-calling duties on defense has paid dividends over the last two years. Vanderbilt ranked fifth in the SEC in scoring defense and limited conference foes to just 5.4 yards per play in 2016. This unit should be strong once again, but standout linebacker Zach Cunningham left early for the NFL, leaving a significant void in the middle. But the cupboard is hardly bare for Mason, as lineman Nifae Lealo is poised for a huge senior year, and fellow senior Oren Burks is an All-SEC candidate at linebacker. All four starters return in the secondary, with safety Ryan White the headliner. While the defense has been steady, the late-season surge was largely fueled by the offense. Quarterback Kyle Shurmur showed progress late in the year and is poised to take another step forward in his development. Helping Shurmurís progress is an improving set of receivers, along with running back Ralph Webb, who is aiming for his third consecutive 1,000-yard season. A crossover game against Alabama and a non-conference matchup against Kansas State limit the margin of error for Vanderbiltís hopes of another bowl trip. But if Shumur takes the next step as expected, and the defense successfully replaces Cunningham, the Commodores should find a way to hit six wins once again.

46. Ole Miss

The Rebels are one of the hardest teams in the SEC to get a read on this preseason. With an ongoing NCAA investigation, and the bowl ban in place for 2017, there are a lot of dark clouds swirling over the program. Despite the question marks, Ole Miss could be a dark horse team to watch in the SEC West. The offense averaged 32.6 points per game last season and is expected to be a high-powered unit once again behind quarterback Shea Patterson. The sophomore should be one of the SECís top breakout players in 2017 and is throwing to a deep stable of receivers, including all-conference candidates A.J. Brown and Van Jefferson. Replacing tight end Evan Engram is expected to be sophomore Octavious Cooley or converted quarterback Jason Pellerin. New offensive coordinator Phil Longo is a standout hire for coach Hugh Freeze, but this unit could sputter without better play from the line and more balance from the ground attack. The return of Jordan Wilkins (academics) and Eric Swinney (injury) should provide some punch to a ground game that managed only 149.4 yards per game last fall. Change is coming to a defense that surrendered 34 points a game last fall. New coordinator Wesley McGriff has installed a 4-3 approach but is also working with a unit that is thin across the board in depth. End Marquis Haynes (seven sacks) is a force up front, with sophomore Benito Jones poised to anchor the interior of a strong defensive line. The return of cornerback Ken Webster from injury should bolster the secondary. Thereís enough offensive firepower returning to Oxford to win eight games Ė but also enough question marks on defense and the off-field issues to finish with a losing mark once again.

45. Kentucky

Mark Stoops delivered a breakthrough year in his fourth season in Lexington. Kentucky finished with seven wins, defeated rival Louisville and earned a trip to Jacksonville for the TaxSlayer Bowl. With momentum on their side, the Wildcats are aiming for a top-three finish in the SEC East in 2017. The pieces seem to be in place for Stoopsí team to possibly exceed last yearís win total but challenging for one of the top spots in the East will depend on quarterback play. Junior college recruit Stephen Johnson stepped under center and kept the offense on track after a season-ending back injury to Drew Barker in September. But Johnsonís numbers in SEC play left a lot to be desired. He only completed 50.9 percent of his throws and tossed just four touchdowns to five interceptions. Kentucky needs more out of its passing game Ė whether thatís Johnson or Barker Ė and its receiving corps this fall. Top target Jeff Badet (21.6 ypc) transferred to Oklahoma this offseason, leaving Garrett Johnson, Dorian Baker and tight end C.J. Conrad as the top weapons in the passing game. Question marks surround the passing attack, but the ground game is among the best in the SEC. Benny Snell Jr. had a breakout year (1,091 yards and 13 TDs) last fall and is set to take over the full-time job after Boom Williams left for the NFL. Clearing the way for Snell is a standout offensive line, which is anchored by senior guard Nick Haynes. Stoops was regarded for his work as a defensive coordinator prior to taking over as head coach, but Kentucky has ranked 11th or worse in scoring defense in each of the last four years. Stopping the run was an issue last fall and is likely to be a challenge once again due to a struggling defensive line. However, the secondary and linebacker units have a chance to be among the best in the SEC.

40. South Carolina

The Gamecocks showed marked improvement in Will Muschampís first year in Columbia, and this team is poised to take another step forward in the SEC East in 2017. A big reason for that optimism is the emergence of quarterback Jake Bentley. As a freshman last fall, Bentley threw for 1,420 yards and nine scores after taking over the job in late October. He should be even better in his second year under center and is poised to emerge as one of the SECís top quarterbacks. Bentley has a strong supporting cast at his disposal. Sophomore running back Rico Dowdle (764 yards) returns after a promising debut in 2016, with North Carolina transfer TyíSon Williams also in the mix. The receiving corps should be one of the best in the SEC. Junior receiver Deebo Samuel and tight end Hayden Hurst are first-team All-SEC selections by Athlon Sports. Sophomore Bryan Edwards is also another rising star to watch on offense. The Gamecocks return four starters in the trenches and improvement is a must after surrendering 41 sacks last fall. Muschamp and coordinator Travaris Robinson engineered improvement on the defensive side last season and more help is on the way with the return of linebacker Skai Moore (missed 2016 due to a neck injury). Muschamp is searching for the right combination up front and in the secondary, but there are a few promising pieces to build around, including end D.J. Wonnum, senior cornerback Jamarcus King and true freshman defensive back Jamyest Williams. With Kentucky, Florida and Arkansas coming to Columbia this season, the Gamecocks have a chance to make some noise at home and improve from last yearís six-win mark.

37. Texas A&M

Itís no secret coach Kevin Sumlinís seat is getting a little warm. The Aggies are 44-21 over the last five years but peaked in 2012-13 with 20 wins during that span. While 8-5 in each of the last three seasons isnít bad, Texas A&M has not recorded a winning mark in SEC play since 2012. Exceeding eight wins or hitting a winning record in conference action isnít going to be easy for Sumlin in 2017. Texas A&M has major question marks on both sides of the ball, starting with quarterback. Who will emerge as the answer to replace Trevor Knight? Senior Jake Hubenak is the teamís most experienced option, with freshmen Kellen Mond and Nick Starkel possessing more upside. Adding to the concerns in the passing game is a receiving corps replacing four out of its top five options. However, the one returner in that bunch is a good one Ė junior Christian Kirk (83 catches in 2016). True freshman Jhamon Ausbon is a name to remember at receiver. Until the passing game settles, expect to see a lot of running back Trayveon Williams (1,057 yards in 2016) and senior Keith Ford. Despite featurinng the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft (Myles Garrett), Texas A&Mís defense struggled to stop the run, gave up too many big plays and allowed 30.3 points in SEC games. Coordinator John Chavis had some bad luck due to injuries and better health could lead to improved results in 2017. However, make no mistake: Garrett will be missed off the edge. In addition to replacing Garrett, Chavis needs to find the right mix at linebacker and develop better play from the cornerbacks. Armani Watts is one of the best safeties in the SEC and leads the way in the secondary.

30. Mississippi State

The Bulldogs got off to a slow start in 2016 but finished with wins in four out of their last six games. Building off that momentum shouldnít be a problem for coach Dan Mullenís team. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald inherited big shoes to fill in replacing Dak Prescott last fall but eventually emerged as one of the SECís top quarterbacks. Fitzgerald gashed opponents for 1,375 yards on the ground and threw for 2,423 yards and 21 scores. In order for this offense to take another step forward, Fitzgerald has to improve as a passer after completing only 54.3 percent of his throws in 2016. Additionally, Mullen has some work to do in the supporting cast. Running back Aeris Williams returns after rushing for 720 yards and is a solid complement to Fitzgeraldís rushing ability. But who emerges to replace Fred Ross (72 catches) and help Donald Gray (17.3 ypc) in the receiving corps? The line is Mullenís biggest concern on offense with three new starters stepping into the spotlight. After giving up 31.8 points per game last fall, look for Mississippi Stateís defense to show progress in 2017. The addition of Todd Grantham as coordinator is a huge plus for this group, and Mullen dipped into the junior college ranks for instant help. Leading the charge up front will be talented sophomore Jeffery Simmons, with fellow sophomore Leo Lewis anchoring the linebacker unit. The pass defense must improve after giving up 33 scores in 2016. The cornerback spot is of particular concern, but this unit could have help in the form of a better pass rush, eliminating the time quarterbacks have to pick apart the secondary. The 2017 version of Mullenís Bulldogs are clearly better than last yearís team. But road dates against Arkansas and Texas A&M could decide whether or not this team finishes fourth or seventh in the tight SEC West.

Herchel
06-15-2017, 08:52 AM
30. Mississippi State

The Bulldogs got off to a slow start in 2016 but finished with wins in four out of their last six games. Building off that momentum shouldn’t be a problem for coach Dan Mullen’s team. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald inherited big shoes to fill in replacing Dak Prescott last fall but eventually emerged as one of the SEC’s top quarterbacks. Fitzgerald gashed opponents for 1,375 yards on the ground and threw for 2,423 yards and 21 scores. In order for this offense to take another step forward, Fitzgerald has to improve as a passer after completing only 54.3 percent of his throws in 2016. Additionally, Mullen has some work to do in the supporting cast. Running back Aeris Williams returns after rushing for 720 yards and is a solid complement to Fitzgerald’s rushing ability. But who emerges to replace Fred Ross (72 catches) and help Donald Gray (17.3 ypc) in the receiving corps? The line is Mullen’s biggest concern on offense with three new starters stepping into the spotlight. After giving up 31.8 points per game last fall, look for Mississippi State’s defense to show progress in 2017. The addition of Todd Grantham as coordinator is a huge plus for this group, and Mullen dipped into the junior college ranks for instant help. Leading the charge up front will be talented sophomore Jeffery Simmons, with fellow sophomore Leo Lewis anchoring the linebacker unit. The pass defense must improve after giving up 33 scores in 2016. The cornerback spot is of particular concern, but this unit could have help in the form of a better pass rush, eliminating the time quarterbacks have to pick apart the secondary. The 2017 version of Mullen’s Bulldogs are clearly better than last year’s team. But road dates against Arkansas and Texas A&M could decide whether or not this team finishes fourth or seventh in the tight SEC West.

29. Arkansas

Bret Bielema’s Razorbacks certainly knew how to make things interesting in 2016. This team played an overtime thriller against TCU in Week 2, beat Ole Miss by four, crushed Florida 31-10 and blew second-half leads against Missouri and Virginia Tech to close out the year. After an uneven season, can Bielema get Arkansas back into top 25 contention? It’s not out of the question if the defense improves significantly behind new coordinator Paul Rhoads. This unit has surrendered at least six yards per play in back-to-back seasons, so there’s only one way to go in 2017 – up. Rhoads is transitioning this defense to a 3-4 scheme, but this unit needs some work in the front seven after giving up 205.5 rushing yards per game. Sophomore McTelvin Agim is due for a breakout season, and Dre Greenlaw should provide a boost at linebacker after missing a good chunk of 2016 due to injury. The secondary allowed too many big plays (13 passes of 40 yards or more last year) but could benefit from more help up front. Cornerback Ryan Pulley is quietly one of the SEC’s top defensive backs. Until the defense is settled, look for Bielema to lean a little more on his offense. Of course, that’s not a bad idea for Arkansas considering quarterback Austin Allen is one of the best in the SEC, and center Frank Ragnow anchors an offensive line that should improve with four starters back. Rawleigh Williams’ retirement due to a neck injury was a blow to the ground game, but Bielema has had no trouble finding stars at this position in his career. Look for sophomore Devwah Whaley to emerge as the next standout running back. Allen will be throwing to a revamped group of receivers, but senior Jared Cornelius, the emergence of promising tight end Austin Cantrell and the addition of junior college recruit Brandon Martin should alleviate concerns on the outside.

9. Tennessee

The Volunteers fell short of most preseason expectations of a SEC East title in 2016, but coach Butch Jones has still pieced together back-to-back nine-win seasons. In order for Tennessee to edge Florida and Georgia in the East this fall, this team has to navigate a schedule that features games at Alabama and Florida, while LSU and Georgia visit Neyland Stadium. The SEC slate presents its share of challenges, but the Volunteers also have some significant personnel concerns on both sides of the ball. There’s also a new play-caller on offense with Larry Scott taking over for Mike DeBord. Scott has two talented quarterbacks – Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano – at his disposal, with the battle for the starting job expected to continue into the fall. Junior John Kelly is due for a breakout year at running back, but depth is an issue at the position. Junior Jauan Jennings leads the way at receiver, but similar to the running back spot, the overall depth is a concern for Jones. The Volunteers also need more consistent play from their offensive line, with true freshman Trey Smith expected to play a key role this year. Injuries hit Tennessee’s defense hard in 2016, and this unit loses two standouts in end Derek Barnett and cornerback Cam Sutton. Considering all of the injuries this team dealt with on defense, the playing time by backups and new starters should improve the overall depth for this unit in 2017. Linebacker Darrin Kirkland should be the leader of the front seven for coordinator Bob Shoop. The success of the defense will largely hinge on the development of the line. Former top recruits Jonathan Kongbo, Shy Tuttle, Kahlil McKenzie and Kyle Phillips need to deliver on their potential.

16. Florida

The Gators have claimed back-to-back SEC East titles under coach Jim McElwain, and a third one is within reach. In order to edge Georgia for the division crown, improvement on offense is a must. Florida finished 100th nationally in scoring in 2015 and 107th in 2016. Luke Del Rio is the team’s most experienced quarterback and missed spring ball due to a shoulder injury. However, Del Rio was facing an uphill battle to hold onto the starting job, as redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks is the team’s most talented option under center and worked all spring as the No. 1 quarterback. He won’t have much time to grow into the job, as Florida takes on Michigan in its season opener, followed by a matchup against Tennessee in Week 3. Until the passing game develops, the Gators could lean heavily on running back Jordan Scarlett. Antonio Callaway anchors the SEC’s top receiving corps and should ease Franks’ transition into the No. 1 role. The offensive line should improve even though tackle David Sharpe left early for the NFL. McElwain has holes to fill on defense at each level and a new coordinator (Randy Shannon) calling the plays in 2017. Linebacker Jarrad Davis, safety Marcus Maye, lineman Caleb Brantley and cornerbacks Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson headline the key departures on defense. Despite losing a wealth of talent, this unit may not slip too far on the stat sheet. Cornerback Duke Dawson is an All-America candidate, and there’s plenty of promise in the front seven.

15. Georgia

Kirby Smart’s debut (8-5) was a mild disappointment. But after losing three games by three points or less last season, the Bulldogs aren’t far from the top of the SEC East. With 11 returning starters on defense, and the continued development of Jacob Eason at quarterback, Georgia is Athlon’s pick to win the SEC East in 2017. Eason should benefit from a full offseason to work as the starter, and the backfield tandem of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel should ensure the ground game is among the best in the nation. The question marks on offense remain up front and outside with the receiving corps. Former No. 1 recruit Trenton Thompson had a breakout performance in the Liberty Bowl but was away from the team in the spring. The junior lineman is expected to return, providing Smart with a talented anchor to build around in the trenches. The linebacking corps is among the nation’s best, and three seniors lead the way in the secondary. The annual showdown against Florida in Jacksonville is likely to decide whether or not the Bulldogs win the SEC East.

11. LSU

Ed Orgeron’s first full season at the helm in Baton Rouge begins with a familiar question: What will LSU get out of its offense? It’s no secret the Tigers have one of the nation’s top running backs in Derrius Guice and a strong foundation to build around on the offensive line. New coordinator Matt Canada was one of the SEC’s top assistant hires for 2017, but this offense needs more from its passing attack. Danny Etling had offseason back surgery but will return in time for fall practice and is expected to hold onto the starting job. Etling’s performance is critical to LSU’s hopes of pushing Alabama in the SEC West. In addition to the concerns about quarterback production, there’s also uncertainty at receiver, as just one player (D.J. Chark) returns with more than 10 catches. LSU’s defense returns only four starters, but under coordinator Dave Aranda, this unit will be one of the best in the nation next fall. End/linebacker Arden Key could lead the SEC in sacks in 2017. Cornerback Donte Jackson should push for All-SEC honors, and true freshman JaCoby Stevens could see significant playing time at safety. Linebacker is Aranda’s biggest concern. Talent certainly isn’t an issue in Baton Rouge. However, the Tigers will only go as far as the quarterback play allows it to.

9. Auburn

The Tigers are the biggest threat to Alabama in the SEC. With the addition of former Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham, the offense now has a difference-maker under center to go with one of the conference’s top ground attacks. Stidham impressed this spring and possesses the arm strength and accuracy to open up the passing game downfield. He’s also surrounded by a cast of promising playmakers on the outside, including sophomore Nate Craig-Myers. Kamryn Pettway emerged as one of the SEC’s top running backs after posting 1,224 yards in 2016. He’s joined by Kerryon Johnson to form one of the league’s top tandems, while the offensive line is once again a strength with the return of three starters. Kevin Steele’s defense also is in good shape for 2017. Sophomore Marlon Davidson should fill the void left behind by Carl Lawson in the trenches, while the linebacker unit is anchored by Deshaun Davis and Tre Williams. Depth is an issue at safety, but cornerback Carlton Davis is one of the best in the SEC. A Week 2 road trip to Clemson is a huge opportunity to make an early statement, while contending in the West is likely to come down to an Oct. 14 road date at LSU and the Nov. 25 Iron Bowl.

1. Alabama

Nick Saban’s team must replace a few key players from last season, but the Crimson Tide are once again the pick to win it all in 2017. The defense suffered key losses at each level, yet still figures to rank as the nation’s top unit. Nose guard Da’Ron Payne and end Da’Shawn Hand are the new leaders up front after Jonathan Allen expired his eligibility. The linebacker unit features three new starters, but the next wave of standouts is ready to emerge for the Crimson Tide. Seniors Shaun Dion Hamilton and Rashaan Evans lead this group for Saban, with Christian Miller and Anfernee Jennings slated to pick up the slack left behind by edge rushers Ryan Anderson and Tim Williams. True freshman Dylan Moses is another name to watch in this unit. The secondary is the strength of the defense. Marlon Humphrey departed early to the NFL, but seniors Anthony Averett and Tony Brown return at cornerback. The safety pairing of Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ronnie Harrison is the best in college football. Fitzpatrick’s versatility to play cornerback or safety is a huge asset for this defense. New play-caller Brian Daboll isn’t expected to make too many changes on offense, but he is tasked with helping quarterback Jalen Hurts develop more as a passer. Hurts’ dual-threat ability is no secret after rushing for just under 1,000 yards last fall. But the sophomore must become more consistent as a passer for this offense to improve in 2017. Hurts will be throwing to one of the nation’s best receiving corps. Junior Calvin Ridley will challenge for All-America honors, with seniors Cam Sims and Robert Foster and freshman Jerry Jeudy rounding out the key targets. Left tackle Jonah Williams anchors one of the nation’s best offensive lines, and the running back position is the deepest in college football. Bo Scarbrough came on strong at the end of 2016, and he’s joined by Damien Harris, Joshua Jacobs and five-star freshman Najee Harris as the key backfield pieces. Making it through the regular season undefeated won’t be easy, but Alabama is Athlon’s pick to hoist the national championship trophy in Atlanta on Jan. 8.

Just Some Hog Dude
06-15-2017, 08:54 AM
Arkansas is way overrated.

SCgamecock2988
06-15-2017, 01:12 PM
You put Mississippi State on both posts and have Tennessee as 9. as well when it should be 19.

MKfromPA
06-15-2017, 04:55 PM
It is impressive the entire SEC is in the Top 55!