2016 T1 Team Previews Part 1 ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE Last Year: 11-3 (8-1) 548 points, 290 allowed Alabama started off winning 10 straight before getting derailed in an ugly game against North Carolina, then getting blasted two weeks later in the conference championship game against Georgia. The primary reason appeared to be a team that had been hot just got cold. But the problems ran deeper. They had only one true receiving threat, and QB James McLaughlin had trouble finding another target when he wasn't open. The result: 64 sacks allowed, a record in high school, college, and the pros. (made that up... sorry) An amazing 11 sacks allowed against Georgia in the SEC title game didn't help matters. The offensive coordinator has been fired, and they're relying on a new philosophy this year. Look for them to run the ball a lot more. They demonstrated that they can dominate a game doing just that in the final minutes against Auburn last year. 2016 Offense: This team has the most elite talent of any team in the NCAA this season. Coach JFosh has seen to it that there's not a single hole on offense. QB McLaughlin 95 OVR has great talent with the speed to scramble for yards and the arm to shred the defense. They have two halfbacks who can beat you at any time in Miller 93 OVR and Davis 92 OVR. They may not have that 85 STR plugger that breaks tackles every play but they will commit to the running game this year, bank on that the WRs and TEs have great talent, with good speed and all-around ability to match. We especially love the line, where there isn't a single starter under 95 OVR. They key with this team is if they are playing free and easy as well as smart you just aren't going to stop them. They can, however, stop themselves. 2016 Defense: The standout on defense is senior DT Brian Smith 99 OVR. His combination of awesome size, strength, and quickness puts any offensive lineman on their heels. They do have a pronounced weakness on defense in my opinion, and that's a lack of speed in the secondary. Coach Fosh basically plays zone all game but a smart offensive coach can take advantage of that more than man defense sometimes. They don't have the ability to man you up, and they know it. 2016 Projection: Who knows what will happen with this team in 2016. This is such a complete offensive team that we can see them going unbeaten if they can be consistent there. They hide their weaknesses on defense by playing good zone coverages. But if they struggle again on offense they could lose three games. Prediction: 12-2 AUBURN TIGERS Last Year: 10-3 (6-2) 624 points, 243 allowed Like Alabama, Auburn started off on a roll, reeling off 8 straight wins before the powerful Georgia defense took them out in week 9. The Wetumpka Wizard continued his development but needs one more significant bit of improvement in terms of fewer interceptions to be considered a Heisman contender. We doubt if that will happen due to a lack of premium receivers. The leader of the defense was Derek Bradley. His incredible season included the Lombardi Award. His 97 tackles, 38 TFL, 17 Sacks set a new standard for what a defensive tackle should strive for. Both Bradley and Frank Owens (15 sacks, fed off Bradley's double teams) will be back again next season. They allowed the second fewest yards of any team in the nation last year, which is exceptionally hard to do. 2016 Offense: The Wizard was given a fifth year of eligibility thanks to a glitch. Officially, his sophomore season has been his best as he fell off a bit last year. The defenses who face Auburn this year will likely all attack them the same way: Attempt to stop the run and keep Hamilton from scrambling around. Make him throw to a very pedestrian group of wide receivers. If they are successful he will once again have struggles. He needs to make good use of the excellent George Gordon at TE (83 OVR) who can really catch the ball in traffic. The line is solid but unspectacular, compared to other teams in the ACC/SEC. 2016 Defense: The Auburn squad makes it tough for the offense to do anything thanks to great penetration by the massive Derek Bradley, who has the speed and agility of a much smaller man. Their safeties are solid and their corners are very good and fast, so they will have some options in terms of how they attack defenses. We think they'll be even better in 2016 than they were in 2015, and that's scary. 2016 Projection: They don't face Tennessee which is always a blessing. If they had one or two big-play threats on offense we'd be higher on them but we think this will continue to be a case of Hamilton throwing and running the ball all over the field in a panic since nobody is open. As the great John Wooden once said, "Never mistake activity for achievement." Prediction: 10-3 CLEMSON TIGERS Last Year: 11-3 (7-2) 565 points, 365 allowed Clemson was upended in a close one against Georgia Tech, a team they have demonstrated they can play well against. Then they were beaten by Georgia and Virginia Tech later on, incidentally the teams that squared off for the BCS Championship. At this point, they are a team to be reckoned with as their talent just keeps getting better and better due to recruiting success throughout coach Colemanchu's tenure. This is a team that really needs to find a running game because at this point, the coach is convinced he cannot run. Once you think you can't... YOU CAN'T. The coach knows how to find elite linemen, has decent talent at running back, and needs to commit to it but also have confidence when he decides to go to the air. 2016 Offense: Will talent lead to a great season for the Clemson Tigers? We've already stated that we don't think they think they can run. They have two good runners and a good line, so it's possible that they will. Plus they have Parham, 94 OVR QB who can light it up with his feet or arm. He's due for at least one exceptional season before he goes pro. Look for these guys to score around 625-650 points this year so I'm expecting a big improvement. 2016 Defense: This defense has awesome overall talent. they have a pair of great DT's, very good DEs, and that's just the start. MLB Jerod Woods 94 OVR is one of the best around, with great size and speed combined with awareness, and the outside backers are talented too. They have a great CB in true shutdown CB Doug Morris, 99 OVR. After allowing 365 points next year they'll drop that this year. 2016 Projection: We're projecting them to score more points and allow fewer points. For that reason, we also think they'll improve by at least one win. Prediction: 12-2. FLORIDA GATORS Last Year: 7-6 (4-4) 565 points, 398 allowed A team that has steadily been going downhill, Coach VaSteel needs to get a handle on this, and fast. They went 0-6 against the powerhouses of the SEC and ACC last year, and were increasingly unwilling to throw the ball. They threw it fewer times than just about anyone, but at the same time threw quite a few interceptions. It's not a good combination. The bright side is that they led the NCAA in rushing yards, but it's tough to do that every single week. At some point, a team is going to make you pass it. Might as well practice the passing so that when you need it, you have it. They lose John Spence, who was second in the nation in rushing yards and had 21 touchdowns, but have the lightning-fast Davis Leonard (7.5 avg YPC) taking his place. Leonard was a JUCO transfer but was just as sophomore last year, which guarantees he will be around for two more seasons. 2016 Offense: I'm wondering who will start at QB this year; O'Connor has good speed and a decent arm but I think Stewart is a premier QB who should start. The combination of Little 90 OVR and Leonard 83 OVR, 96 SPD will be tough for opposing teams to contain, but they need to pass the ball more effectivel and throw fewer interceptions. That's the bottom line here. the tight ends are a huge concern, if I'm Florida I keep these guys in to block most of the time. The line is a weak point compared to other user teams. 2016 Defense: Honestly, the defense is just a weakness at this point. It's not horrible or anything, but they're not fast at the ends or anywhere on the line. The linebackers are average for a user team and the defensive backs are slow. One bright spot is at middle linebacker, where D.J. Ham is solid, but freshman Anthony McDaniel, 86 OVR is a future star. 2016 Projection: "“I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments.” - Jim Morrison... And VaSteelah. Prediction: 9-4 FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES Last Year: 10-3 (6-2) 499 points, 344 allowed Florida State is slowly getting comfortable with their place in the league, and we wouldn't be surprised to see another leap forward next season. They are solid running and throwing the football, but show a real propensity to abandon the run in the red zone, which can hurt a team against a smart opponent. The heart and soul of this team is OLB kevin Carroll. As a sophomore, he earned All-American status with 110 tackles, 6 sacks, and 3 interceptions. They had two bona-fide pass rushers who are also sophs and will be back next season. 2016 Offense: O.k., so we said they're getting comfortable, but this is a problem. This is a painfully slow team that will struggle to put up points against user teams this year. They landed one of the best QBs in the class in Brian Barber, 80 OVR, but he's a couple years off. Steve Callahan 92 OVR, 85 SPD put up good yards last year but we can't see him dominating a user game with so little speed, and frankly that's all that matters. Look for Abraham Newton to catch at least 85 passes but without any other reliable weapons it could get ugly at times for whomever is playing QB. 2016 Defense: They need to have Calvin McKenzie have a season for the ages. The 93 OVR 95 SPD senior has the talent to win the Thorpe award and they need him to do it. Landing DT Justin James, freshman 84 OVR was a nice get last year. The ends lack speed and we expect very few sacks. Casey Calhoun 91 OVR at MLB will be key. He has the speed to cover teams out of the backfield. The corners are sub par, and we expect that they'll struggle in pass coverage all year long as a result. 2016 Projection: The talent is down from last year, so while they might be getting into the swing of the league, we expect a downturn. Prediction: 9-4 GEORGIA BULLDOGS Last Year: 14-0 (9-0) 774 points, 167 allowed If you can score 4.5 times more points than you allow, you have a good shot at success. Before last season the Georgia coach said that this team resembled his old Purdue teams closer than any of his teams so far at Georgia, due to an immobile, but smart and accurate QB, good skill position talent, and a good defense. That combination led to a season where there were only a couple of close games. A 37-0 shutout against a powerful Alabama team was a high point, even in a BCS Championship season. Nick Murray threw for 4,488 yards and 49 TD against just 11 INT, the Bulldogs had two 1,000 yard rushers and two 1,000 yard receivers. On defense there weren't any spectacular numbers but there were plenty of good performances. Outside linebacker Marques Brown missed half the season but still had 7 interceptions. 2016 Offense: The Bulldogs have decided to redshirt the "upside" talents at QB in Booker and Melton, giving the starting nod to Brian Clark 79 OVR 80 AWR. They will use two QBs though, with Kennard Allen 83 OVR 88 SPD coming in to run the option and provide a change of pace. If 261-lb HB Curtis "madden ambulance" Bower 91 OVR can stay healthy he should pass 1,500 yards, and they still have a weapon in Shawn Lee 94 OVR 98 SPD. Teams will really key on Lee so TE Geremy Brown 96 OVR 86 SPD will have to come up big. This is a team with good talent everywhere, but the QBs are likely going to be a big weakness due to their youth. No question about it. 2016 Defense: This is a squad that lost a couple of key players in two senior linebackers but might return more overall talent than they had last year. DE Brent Henderson 96 OVR 86 SPD is a monster, as his opening game (14 TAK, 6 TFL, 5 SACKS) would attest to. Marques Brown 96 OVR 89 STR is a contender for whatever award you can think of. Georgia has one of the best collections of talent at cornerback in the nation. They're all exceedingly fast. The safeties won't give you a break either, as 2-star Joe Forte 91 OVR 94 SPD and Tanner Jenkins 97 OVR 95 SPD will ruin your day with one hit. 2016 Projection: It's a big plus that they face Tennessee in week 3. If they don't prevail, they have the rest of the year to move up the rankings, and they don't face Alabama or LSU. There are three tough games at the end of the season in Auburn, Ga Tech, and Miami. This team just got better as the season progressed last year but this year they have to find an identity on offense without an established QB. Look for a step back, but don't look for a prediction.