Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The 5 best secondaries heading into 2015

It's up over at SB Nation, my guess on the five best secondaries in college football for the 2015 season.

Even though I studied hard in preparation for this column I'll freely admit that it's hard to make a list like this and not overlook some teams as I did with the 2002 Ohio State Buckeye secondary when ranking the 10 best secondaries of the 21st century.

Some groups I considered who didn't make the cut:

The Penn State Nittany Lions: They'll have good safety play, that much is safe to presume.

The Wisconsin Badgers: Ditto, plus they have two experienced corners returning for Dave Aranda who will undoubtedly make life tough for Big 10 QBs this year.

The Texas Longhorns: Losing Mykkele Thompson and Quandre Diggs hurts but John Bonney looked good in the nickel in the spring game, Duke Thomas is a strong corner, and the safeties have a lot of experience.

The Kansas State Wildcats: We talked about them yesterday.

Oklahoma State Cowboys: Tons of versatility in that secondary just not enough star power to get them on this list.

The Arizona State Wildcats: We'll be talking much more about them soon when I preview their season opener against the Texas A&M Aggies over at SB Nation. Lots of returning players in that secondary but I suspect they are better as pure blitzers than in coverage.

The Houston Cougars: Will Jackson is a highly regarded corner and their safeties play fast and physical...just couldn't include them given their schedule and the fact that their DC Gibbs just left and was replaced by someone who's likely to be much less aggressive in terms of ball-hawking.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish: If they see a big leap in play from their safeties like they've been talking up this offseason then they'll be up there. I almost fell for it, then I watched some Max Redfield tape and they quickly fell out of the top 5.

The Georgia Bulldogs: I gave them a look mostly out of respect for Jeremy Pruitt, arguably the best DB coach in the country right now.

The Ohio State Buckeyes: If I could write the article again I'd pay more attention to the Buckeyes' trips checks and see if they were asking more of Eli Apple or Doran Grant in their schemes. Either way though...they weren't a lockdown unit last year, they just had three players in the middle with Tyvis Powell, Vonn Bell, and Darron Lee that were amazing at erasing big plays.

The Alabama Crimson Tide: Anyone else notice they've struggled since Pruitt left? Lots of talent though.

The Auburn Tigers: I trust Muschamp and they got some transfer help with Blake Countess along with a fantastic incoming recruiting class. I bet they'd make this list if I did it again to preview 2016.

Perhaps what I liked best about this article was talking about the main cogs in a dominant secondary. That a team be able to put three good coverage players on the field and ideally one lockdown player, lend a safety to the box to attack offenses, have someone on the back end that can erase mistakes, and generally provide good run support as a unit.

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