Our ongoing discussion of college football continues today with our second roundtable of the week. This spring and summer, the cast of writers here at the Student Section will discuss what’s going to happen on the gridiron this fall.
Yesterday, we discussed which head coach you would pick if you had to win one game. Today, we discuss teams that look like they are ranked way too highly this preseason…..
Question: Which team with a ton of preseason hype will be a paper tiger?
On Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFB
It depends on what we are considering a paper tiger. If that definition is a team that is expected to do really, really big things but fall flat against the top-end competition, I’m going to throw out what might be a bit of a surprise to everyone, the Clemson Tigers.
Everyone thinks it’s a foregone conclusion that Dabo Swinney’s crew will continue the inertia of what happened last year in Clemson with perhaps the Heisman front-runner back under center, Deshaun Watson. And while, I’ll give you no argument about Mr. Watson’s chances of having another big, big year, teams aren’t made simply on one side of the ball.
The Tigers might be able to put up some pinball type scores, but a defense that must go through an extreme makeover with only three returning starters could have a hard time keeping up its end of the bargain. And as we all know, getting in a shootout from week to week is more than likely going to result in some close shaves, and ultimately some dark sides of the scoreboard.
When the proverbial rubber meets the road, I don’t know how the Clemson Tigers are going to stop the upper crust of offensive-minded teams, and it’ll come back to bite them.
I think it’ll be LSU.
Make no mistake about it: the Tigers will have a good team this year. After all, the Bayou Bengals return 18 starters from last season’s 9-3 squad, including Leonard Fournette, who lead the nation in rushing yards per game (162.75).
However, LSU is not a top 10 team like most preseason publications are saying they are. Sure, the defense will be solid under the leadership of Dave Aranda, who is arguably the best defensive mind in the game today. But, the Tigers still have plenty of questions on offense, most notably at quarterback. Unless Brandon Harris’ completion numbers improve dramatically this season – especially inside the opponent’s 40-yard line where he completed just 39.4% of his passes – opposing teams will continue to load the box to stop Fournette.
Even if – and it’s a big if – everything should fall into place offensively, the Tigers still have to navigate through a very brutal schedule. LSU opens the year with a “neutral game” with Wisconsin at Lambeau Field, and plays both Florida and Arkansas on the road. The season finale at Texas A&M will also be a lot tougher than it looks on paper since the Tigers will be playing on just five days rest.
Throw in a home game with defending national champion Alabama – which has won the last two meetings in Baton Rouge – and it’s easy to see the Bayou Bengals finishing with at least three losses, dropping them outside of the top 15.
That’s got to be a disappointment, after starting the year inside the Top 10 in many preseason publications.
On Twitter @TheCoachBart
I don’t really see it for Baylor, who’s been tossed about in Post Spring Top 10’s behind basically only Oklahoma in the Big 12. They will need to replace 8 of 9 2015 starters on the offensive and defensive lines, and had trouble keeping quarterbacks healthy even behind that excellent OL last season.
It’s tough to do anything on a major level with so much uncertainty in the trenches, no matter what kind of skill players you happen to stock the shelves with. Add to that a major cloud hanging over the program regarding a slew of off-field incidents that really make a whole lot of people look really, really beyond bad, and it’ll be a season peppered with issues and questions that have nothing to do with football.
At this point, it’s not even a certainty that Art Briles will be the head coach when the season starts the way things are shaping up and obviously there’s no time to do an actual coaching search, so a replacement would come from within. Replacing the talent along the lines would be daunting enough.
A lot of folks are feeling Baylor to have a big year. Count me out.
On Twitter @CFBZ
I’m very surprised by the love that Tennessee is getting this preseason. It feels like one guy put them in their top ten and everybody else copied off that guys paper. Having Tennessee in the top ten seems like the “cool” thing to do this preseason.
On the field, Tennessee is headed the right way under Butch Jones. Tennessee has gone from five wins, to seven wins to nine wins. If we extrapolate out, that means they must win eleven this season. Right?
Not so fast my friend. The strength of Tennessee’s record came because they won five straight games at the end of the season against horrible competition.
Kentucky- finished 5-7; didn’t beat anybody of note in 2015
South Carolina- finished 3-9; coach resigned in shame
North Texas- finished 1-11, fired coach after loss to Portland State
Missouri- finished 5-7, coach resigned
Vanderbilt- finished 4-8
Tennessee will be good football team in 2015. They have a lot of good players coming back and they are now getting to the point where they have depth. That being said, don’t fool yourself into thinking this is a top ten team.
To the Vols advantage is they once again have what has to be the easiest schedule in college football from 10/29 to 11/26 but they have some big tests before that. The Vols have not beaten Florida since 2004. 2004! They haven’t beaten Alabama since 2006!
Tennessee will have a nice season and could be as good as 9-3 but that won’t get them in the top ten where most of the pundits have them this preseason.