The 615 Blog

We have offically reached the dog days of late spring (coming earlier than expected due to some dubious calls on the NBA courts...................thanks David Stern). And due to this, it is officially time for the 615 Thread's 2007 preseason College Football Top 25 rankings. These will change as summer rolls along and injuries mount, but here is how our crack staff views the collegiate football landscape today.

  1. USC - A perfect combination of talent and schedule. Look for John David Booty to take the next step and remember the name Patrick Turner. The latest version of Dwayne Jarrett and Mike Williams, Turner could have a huge year for the Men of Troy. Also, the Trojans have 10 starters returning on defense. Yards are going to be tough to come by when you give a defensive guru like Pete Carroll an experienced unit to work with. Sophomore safety Taylor Mays is a future first round draft pick and the front seven is anchored by stalwart DE Lawrence Jackson and a linebacker trio of Brian Cushing, Keith Rivers, and Ray Maualuga. The Trojans have a tough trip to Nebraska in September, but if they survive that test, they should be undefeated going into November.
  2. Texas - Another team that should benefit from a not-so-great schedule is the Longhorns. Texas will be lead by Sophomore QB Colt McCoy, who played great football until a late season injury limited his effectiveness. McCoy will be surrounded by great skill position personnel. RB Jamaal Charles is a star in the making and WR's Limas Sweed, Billy Pittman, and Quan Cosby may be the best trio in America. Coach Mack Brown's biggest issue may be shoring up a secondary that was ravaged by graduation.
  3. Michigan - The Wolverines look primed to make a run back to a national championship. Michigan has a wealth of senior leadership on offense with All-American T Jake Long, QB Chad Henne, and RB Michael Hart leading the way. Add explosive Junior WR Mario Manningham to this mix and you have a dual-threat offense. The Wolverines did lose four All-American caliber defenders, which could spell doom for them somewhere down the line.
  4. West Virginia - This ranking is sticking to the theme of teams that may not necessarily be better than others, but have better schedules, and are ranked accordingly. The Mountaineers have a fantastic offense led by all-everything RB Steve Slaton and QB Pat White. I still have questions about their defense though, and for that reason I can not rate them any higher. I just don't know if they could stop these high-major teams from running the football down their throat.
  5. LSU - The Bengal Tigers lost a bunch, but Nick Saban and now, Les Miles, have done a great job of stocking the cupboard in Baton Rouge. QB Matt Flynn of Peach Bowl MVP fame will be handed the keys to this high-octane attack and will look to get speedster Early Doucet the ball often. RB Keiland Williams is a grinder who will get the tough yards and DT Glenn Dorsey may be the best player in the country.
  6. Florida - It is now Tim Tebow time, fulltime, in The Swamp. The Sophomore sensation has WR sensation Percy Harvin and the steady Andre Caldwell on board to flag down his passes. Kestahn Moore has emerged as the keep the chains moving TB Coach Urban Meyer has longed for. The Gators issues are on the other side of the ball, as they lost 9 starters off of last year's National Championship team.
  7. Penn State - This might be my surprise addition to the Top 10, but once you analyze the roster, the only thing keeping the Nittany Lions from being a lock are some of the off-the-field issues this team has had this offseason. The highly touted recruiting class of a few years ago are moving into being upperclassmen and I look for a huge year from QB Anthony Morelli, WR Derrick Williams, and CB Justin King. The key to this team is the maturation of RB Austin Scott. If he can get it going, this team will be tough to beat.
  8. Louisville - Anytime you have a QB-WR tandem like Brian Brohm and Mario Urrutia, you are a contender. New Coach Steve Kragthorpe also has steady receiver Harry Douglas on the other side, when teams decide to roll coverage to Urrutia's side. Louisville has some defensive re-enforcement in the form of Miami transfer Willie Williams arriving in the fall, but will that be enough to make up for the loss of Amobi Okoye?
  9. Oklahoma - I typically do not pick teams with QB issues this high, but the Sooners are blessed with veterans across the board that could make this transition as smooth as possible. Sam Bradford looks like the heir apparent and RB Allen Patrick should shoulder the load for the offense. The Sooner defense is led by S Reggie Smith and should be good enough to frustrate opponents.
  10. Ohio State - Everytime you doubt a Jim Tressel team, they always surprise, and this year could be the latest example of that theory. Truth be told, the Buckeyes lost a ton off of their Big Ten Championship team, but the stable isn't empty. RB Chris Wells is a star in the making and Todd Boeckman had a solid spring replacing Heisman Trophy QB Troy Smith. LB James Laurinaitas and CB Malcolm Jenkins anchor a tough defense that will cause havoc.
  11. Wisconsin - Some people are higher on the Badgers than I am. There is no doubt that Wisconsin is a tough, hard-nosed team whose personality is found in the bruising running style of RB P.J. Hill. You better button your chinstrap up tight when you play the Badgers. With that said, they have a QB quandary and they were not exactly lighting it up with John Stocco behind center last year. This is just one of those teams whose lack of firepower will doom them, despite the fact that no one will be more fundamentally sound than they are.
  12. Virginia Tech - Man, the Hokies and the Badgers are so much alike, it is scary. I think the Hokies are a little more gifted athletically across the board, but they have the same basic issues on offense. RB Branden Ore is outstanding, as are standout LB's Xavier Adibi and Vince Hall. However, QB Sean Glennon is just ok and there are not any dynamic playmakers outside. They may have enough to win the ACC, but the lack of playmakers on offense will render them susceptible to a stumble.
  13. California - This is a team that is certainly not devoid of dangerous playmakers on the perimeter. WR DeSean Jackson is the best open field player in America. His ability to make play outside and in the return game will give coaches ulcers this season. Add speedy RB Justin Forcett and WR Robert Jordan to the mix and QB Nate Longshore could have a huge year. Defense is an issue for Cal, as they lost CB Daymeion Hughes and DT Brandon Mebane to the NFL. Once again, the opener against Tennessee will tell us a bunch about the Bears.
  14. Tennessee - QB Erik Ainge is back for his senior season and the work returning OC David Cutcliffe did with this young man last year was amazing. Despite missing two games with an ankle injury, Ainge threw for nearly 3,000 yards and 19 TD's. Those numbers may be hard to duplicate since the QB will have to throw to new targets galore in 2007. WR's Jayson Swain and Bret Smith graduated and Robert Meachem left early for the NFL. It's a good thing that Phil Fulmer has a three-headed monster at RB of Arian Foster, LaMarcus Coker, and Montario Hardesty to carry the load this season. The Vols have the best LB trio this side of USC, with Rico McCoy, Ryan Karl, and All-American candidate Jerod Mayo pacing the field. If the Vols can get help for All-America candidate Jonathan Hefney in the secondary, they could contend in the SEC.
  15. Arkansas - The Razorbacks have the best player in the country in RB Darren McFadden, another great RB in Felix Jones, and a future first round pick in WR Marcus Monk. However, this program has been in turmoil since the Capital One Bowl loss to Wisconsin. QB Mitch Mustain and WR Damien Williams transferred to USC, OC Gus Malzahn took off for Tulsa, and Coach Houston Nutt has been skewered in the court of public opinion since. Add to that the losses of Jammal Anderson and Tony Ugoh and the Hogs suddenly have some issues. QB Casey Dick is solid, but I don't think he's good enough to win an SEC title with. McFadden is the only reason I even have them in the Top 25.
  16. Auburn - The Tigers are another team that could have issues moving the football in 2007. They were not near as dynamic in 2006 moving the football as they had been in the past and they don't seem to be all that much more explosive going into this campaign. QB Brandon Cox is a tough leader, but lacks top arm strength. RB Brad Lester is a phenomenal athlete who looks poised to have a great season and LB Quentin Groves is a monster. Coach Tommy Tuberville and his staff always do a great job of coaching up their talent and they better this year or else it could be a disappointing season on the Plains.
  17. Florida State - I think that the Jimbo Fisher hire as the offensive coordinator at FSU was probably the best staffing move of the offseason by any team. I think he will bring a sense of urgency and detail to the FSU offense that has been lacking since Mark Richt left for Georgia. There is still talent there and it will be interesting to see who wins this three year QB battle between Drew Weatherford and Xavier Lee. We all know Mickey Andrews is going to put together a salty defense and look for RB Antone Smith to have a huge year. The Seminoles seem poised to catapult themselves back into the contender role soon.
  18. Hawaii - Welcome everybody to the Colt Brennan show. The Heisman Trophy candidate leads June Jones' high octane offense into your living rooms across America this fall. WR Davone Bess is as productive as any receiver in the nation and has plenty of help from Jason Rivers, Ryan Grice-Mullen, and Ian Sample. The Rainbows only weakness seems to be their O-Line, which has to replace three starters. If they can keep Brennan upright, look for the Rainbows to win double digit games and ring up ridiculous point totals.
  19. Nebraska - Coach Bill Callahan seems ready to hand the QB reins over to Arizona State transfer Sam Keller, despite a spirited challenge from Junior Joe Ganz in the spring. Keller will be able to depend on WR's Terrence Nunn and Maurice Purify to make the tough catches and for RB Marlon Lucky to man the rushing attack. The defense could be of concern with the loss if DE Adam Carriker to the NFL and a season-threatening injury to CB Zack Bowman.
  20. Arizona State - Dennis Erickson has been a winner everywhere he has been and this stop in Tempe will be no different. QB Rudy Carpenter had a horrific Sophomore campaign, but Erickson is the type of QB guru that makes guys better. JC transfer Ryan Torain was a pleasant surprise in an otherwise dismal season for the Sun Devils. He's back to lead the ground assault. Sophomore WR's Brandon Smith, Kyle Williams, and Chris McGaha will be counted on for production. The Sun Devils return 6 starters on defense and have 8 home games........sounds like a potential Top 25 finish to me.
  21. UCLA - The Bruins totally ruined their reputation as a offensive oriented program last year. After the injury to Ben Olson, the Bruins struggled mightily on offense, but the defense, under defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker became one of the most feared in the land. With 20 starters returning, the Bruins could finish much higher than #21, but with the unsettled QB situation in a QB heavy league, I just could not rate them any higher.
  22. South Carolina - Coach Steve Spurrier is quietly building a winner down in Columbia. QB Blake Mitchell returns to lead the high-flying****-N-Fire offense. The defense, with 10 returning starters, is lead by the twins Casper and Jasper Brinkley. If Mitchell can become more consistent, the Gamecocks could challenge in the SEC East, if not, they could finish last.
  23. Georgia - The Bulldogs have a potential great QB in Matthew Stafford. The youngster came along quite nicely as the 2006 season went along. Also, RB Kregg Lumpkin bounced back from a string of injuries to have a productive 2006 season. However, Georgia has numerous questions in the trenches and CB Paul Oliver's academic woes did not help anything. I think 2008 may be a huge year for the Dawgs, but 2007 may be another tough one Between the Hedges.
  24. Rutgers - The Scarlet Knights were the feel good story of 2006 and the building of this program was not a one year thing. Coach Greg Schiano has built this thing the right way and Rutgers will be a player in the Big East for the foreseeable future. With that said, this team has some holes to fill. Brian Leonard was such a versatile playmaker for this team and his graduation will be felt, simply for the fact that he was a safety outlet for QB Mike Teel, who sometimes struggles to get the ball down the field. WR Kenny Britt is a playmaker, but there are not any others outside. Ray Rice will see lots of 8 man fronts this year.
  25. Boise State - America's Team is looking to make another run through the WAC. The Broncos will be led by All-America RB candidate Ian Johnson and WR Vinny Perretta.  The Broncos lost a lot of key players, including LB Korey Hall and QB Jared Zabransky, who will not be easy to replace, but Coach Chris Peterson seems to be a master at getting guys ready to play. Look for a slight dropoff in 2007, but the Broncos will still be tough.


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