Rivals National Columnist Mike Farrell is here with five college football offenses that need fixing (and determines whether or not they will be fixed), five overrated teams in the preseason coaches poll and Wisconsin’s Mount Rushmore since 1980.
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Tuesday I looked at some defenses that needed fixing from last season. Today, it’s all about the offense. And it’s not surprising that Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan team leads the way.
Michigan — Not fixed — The numbers aren’t horrible, but they just aren’t good either. Michigan finished 66th in the nation on offense last year while averaging fewer than 30 points a game with a weak 57% completion rate. The Wolverines didn’t turn the ball over a ton, but they also didn’t score a ton. This is the new, exciting Josh Gattis offense? No. It screams of a conservative Harbaugh approach.
Kentucky — Fixed — Kentucky’s offense was horrible last year. The Wildcats finished 108th in the nation and barely averaged more than 20 points. Enter Liam Coen from the NFL coaching ranks, who learned under Sean McVay with the L.A. Rams. Things will certainly improve, and so will the run/pass balance.
Auburn — Fixed — Auburn was horrible last season, especially throwing the ball as the Tigers averaged a measly 220 yards a game with a low completion percentage. Enter new head coach Bryan Harsin. Things will improve.
Wisconsin — Fixed — Graham Mertz gives the passing game hope, but last year it wasn’t good, averaging less than 200 yards a game and finishing 90th overall in team offense.
Florida State — Fixed — The offense finished 86th overall and turnovers really hurt the Seminoles, but that should improve with McKenzie Milton under center.
The preseason coaches top 25 came out this week, and it features some teams that are simply overrated. Here are the five most glaring examples.
No. 19 Texas — I like Steve Sarkisian, so let’s get that straight. He’s a good hire. But what reason do we have to think Texas is a top 25 program in his first year? Bijan Robinson and what else?
No. 11 Florida — The Gators lost so much from the passing game last season that points won’t be easy to come by, and I’m not sold on the defense being elite.
No. 8 Iowa State — I just think there is a ton of pressure here for a team loaded with returning starters but not used to being the week-in-and-week-out target.
No. 7 Notre Dame — I worry about the quarterback situation and a little about the pass rush. No. 7 usually is a two-loss team, and that will be hard to do.
No. 13 LSU — I’m sold on the young talent but the Tigers might be a year away from such a lofty ranking as there will continue to be some bumps in the road.
Finally, I continue my look at the Mount Rushmore players since 1980 in the Big Ten with Wisconsin.
OT Joe Thomas — Arguably the best offensive tackle of the 21st century, Thomas is an easy inclusion here. A three-year starter for the Badgers at left tackle, he won the 2006 Outland Trophy and was a unanimous All-American as a senior. He’s the best offensive lineman to ever come out of Wisconsin, a school known for producing some of the best at that position.
RB Ron Dayne — The 1999 Heisman winner, Dayne broke every rushing record in the book during his four years in Madison. He helped the Badgers win back-to-back Rose Bowls as a junior and senior. He cracked the 2,000-yard mark twice (as a freshman and senior), and all told accounted for 7,125 yards on the ground. An absolute legend.
RB Jonathan Taylor — Taylor finished his career as the sixth-leading rusher in NCAA history, despite only playing three seasons. He led the conference in rushing all three years that he played – his least productive season was his freshman year, when he ran for 1,977 yards and 13 TDs. Taylor was a two-time consensus All-American and Doak Walker Award winner, and was one of the most devastating runners in the history of college football.
DB Jim Leonhard — A walk-on from the tiny town of Tony, Wis., (population 113), Leonhard was a three-time All-American and all-conference DB, and ended his career with the fifth-most interceptions in NCAA history and most in Big Ten history (21). An electric punt returner as well, Leonhard led the conference in punt return yards as a senior, finishing No. 2 in Big Ten history. As a freshman he intercepted an astonishing 11 passes, leading the nation. He was the definition of a playmaker on defense, despite being generously listed at 5-foot-8.