Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Preseason Insanity Part II

Part two of my look at the preseason polls, in part one I looked at the consensus poll from Fight On State (which I’m reprinting for reference) and picked what I thought were overrated teams. Now we look at the underrated teams, the guys that should be there or should be higher by the end of the year.
Consensus Poll
1. Ohio State (8 first-place votes) - 453 points
2. Texas (2) - 403 points
3. Notre Dame (4) - 402 points
4. West Virginia (1) - 400 points
5. Oklahoma (4) - 390 points
6. USC - 379 points
7. Auburn - 369 points
8. LSU - 349 points
9. Florida - 337 points
10. Florida State - 264 points
11. Louisville - 259 points
12. California - 242 points
13. Michigan - 236 points
14. Miami (Fla.) - 226 points
15. Georgia - 205 points
16. Iowa - 177 points
17. Virginia Tech - 169 points
18. Clemson - 141 points
19. Nebraska - 122 points
20. Penn State - 108 points


Michigan State
– MSU lost a total of 3 players to the NFL draft: Eric Smith DB Domata Peko DT, and Chris Morris C and a total of 12 starters, but there is a lot of reason to believe they will be much better this year and crack the polls.

Reasons to believe: Veteran Defense – the D last year was next to awful, but there’s hope; most of the cogs are back. All three Linebackers are back and the line should be more athletic, yet undersized for the Big Ten. The secondary should be improved as well. With the offense lighting up defenses like a roman candle the D only has to be adequate to win most of the games.

Drew Stanton (armed and dangerous): have ball will travel

Schedule – Sparty gets Idaho, Eastern Michigan, and Pitt before hosting Notre Dame. They will be 3-0 going into that game which they won last year on the road. After that they get Illinois, Northwestern, and Indiana: all probable wins. That’s 6 wins without playing anyone within stones throw of the top 25 and there’s no Iowa. They get THEosu, Purdue, and Minnesota at home with the only tough road trips to Michigan and Happy Valley. Everyone just accepts the fact that Michigan State will fold half way through the year after the Michigan game, but what happens if they don’t? This is a potent team that can play with anyone if they have their collective heads on straight.
Offense – MSU returns all three wide receivers, two solid running backs, and Stanton. This unit should keep State in any game and take pressure off the Defense.

Reasons to doubt: It’s Michigan State; they fold like Superman on laundry day. Michigan treats them like the intrastate red-headed step child they are. Michigan always seems to be the turning point, last year MSU went 0-4 after losing to Michigan, in 2003 they went 1-3 after losing to Michigan. In fact, since 2000 MSU is a, slightly above pedestrian, 25 – 14 before the Michigan game but a horrifying 8 – 18 after the Wolverines.

Penn State – Shameless, yes, but truthful nonetheless. The Nits lost QB Michael Robinson( Rnd 4), G Tyler Reed( Rnd 6), DBs Calvin Lowry( Rnd 4) and Alan Zemaitis( Rnd 4), utility man Ethan Kilmer( Rnd 7), but most importantly; freaky DE Tamba Hali ( Rnd 1). Replacing Tamba Hali will be impossible, and Michael Robinson’s leadership will be tough to match.

Reasons to believe: This year everyone is predicting a below average offensive line, an inexperienced QB at the helm for the first time, and a defensive line that could get pushed around. Wait, that was last year… and this year. It’s funny that the same offensive line that was predicted to be a weakness in 2005 is now a big loss after losing 4 starters (only 1 getting drafted in the 6th round). QB Anthony Morelli may not have MRob’s leadership, or legs, but he’s got a cannon for an arm. Throw in three returning WR’s, all with experience and speed, a 1000 yard back, and one can see that PSU isn’t going to rely on Morelli to carry them like Robinson did. All three linebackers return including superstar and Butkus award winner Paul Posluszny to comprise arguably one of the best groups in the nation.

Making offensive coordinators tremble since 2004

The D line won’t be able to replace Hali, but returning are DTs Jay Alford and Ed Johnson the latter after serving a year in the penalty box. Alford will seize a lot of attention because he was absolutely brutal at times last year, bull rushing under-matched offensive lineman while extra attention was given to Hali. This year it’s his turn to get the double team along with special blocking schemes for the linebackers.

Penn State lost 3 defensive players to the draft one in the 1st and two in the 4th. In comparison, Ohio State lost 9 defensive players and 5 in the 1st, yet experts have them ranked in the top 5 while most don’t have PSU ranked. This after PSU finished one place ahead of Ohio State last year. Someone please explain, I’m lost. OSU lost a first round WR while PSU returns everyone.

Reasons to doubt: The team is thin at many spots. If Morelli can’t handle his new starting role or the defensive ends get pushed around, it could be tough. PSU is weak at Tight End and the Safeties are going to be a big drop-off. The schedule is brutal early, with trips to South Bend and the Shoe in the first four games. If the Lions come out of those games 2 – 2, they may have an identity crisis.


Cool Hand Mike said...

That picture of Pozlusny reminds me of Ray Nitschke.

Galen said...

Nothing says "I'm going to rip your head off and shove it up your ass" like blood running down your face.