With little more than a month to go before the 2010 college football season starts, it’s time to take a look at the top 5 offensive units in the nation.
1. Arkansas Razorbacks: Armed with one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, a group of explosive receivers, an All American candidate at tight end, two runners capable of topping the 1,000 yards and a veteran offensive line, the Razorbacks are primed to be the most explosive team in the nation.
It all starts with QB Ryan Mallett (3,624 yards, 56%, 30 TDs-7 INTs in 2009). The 6-foot-7 junior has the strongest arm in college football. He bypassed the riches of the NFL, probably a good decision, to get more acclimated to Head Coach Bobby Petrino’s pro-style passing attack.
Arkansas also has the best set of receivers in the land. Greg Childs (48, 894 yards, 18.6 and 7 TDs), Jarious Wright (41, 681, 16.6, 5 TDs), Joe Adams (29, 568, 19.6, 7 TDs) and Cobi Hamilton (19, 347, 18.3, 3 TDs) can score every time they touch the football. Their collective average of 17.9 ypc in 2009 is two more than their closest unit competitors (Houston Cougars). If this wasn’t enough, there is TE D.J. Williams (32, 411, 12.8, 3 TDs), a potential first round pick next April.
Runners Dennis Johnson (57, 369 yards, 6.0, 0 TD) and Ronnie Wingo, Jr. (49, 336, 6.5, 3 TDs) are capable of producing between 800 and 1,500 rushing yards combined, and that total does not take into account the projected production of last year’s starter, Broderick Green (104, 459, 4.2, 11 TDs). The fact that Arkansas did not have a more robust ground attack last year is due to Petrino’s pass- first philosophy, not because a lack of talent. As for the line, the unit is well stacked with tackle DeMarcus Love and center Seth Oxner, both potential all conference selections.
2. Oklahoma Sooners: The Sooners have built one of the most explosive offensive units in the nation under Bob Stoops, and this year’s edition should be no exception. Yes, Oklahoma lost a Heisman Trophy winner, Sam Bradford, and one third of the offensive line, but their projected replacements are more than solid.
Substituting the #1 overall choice in last April’s NFL Draft is true sophomore Landry Jones (3,198, 58.1%, 26 TDs-14 INTs). Stoops plan to start Jones in 2010 got derailed when Bradford got injured in the BYU game, forcing the club to make the switch earlier than projected. As expected, Jones had his slumps early, but by the end of the year, he was in firm control of the offense.
‘Speedy, agile and with superb route running skills’, that’s how many NFL player personnel gurus are using in describing Ryan Broyles (89, 1,120, 12.6, 15 TDs). He is small (5-11) but his ability to get separation and open field explosiveness has Big XXII offensive coordinators scratching their heads. If you want size, then DeJuan Miller (36, 434, 12.1, 1 TD) is your man.
If only DeMarco Murray (171, 741, 4.1, 8 TD) can stay healthy, Oklahoma will be second fiddle to no one. The rest of the backfield is functional. The line, with three starters returning, needs to return to its 2008 form. They allowed too many hits on the QB last season.
3. Boise State Broncos: The only question in Idaho is how much longer they can keep one of the hottest coaching prospects in the nation pacing the blue colored sidelines? Chris Petersen has won 49 games (4 losses), and two Bear Bryant awards in four years at the helm of the Broncos. At the tip of this amazing run is a high powered offense.
For the third straight year, QB Kellen Moore (3,536, 64.3%, 39 TDs-3 INTs) will trigger Boise’s high octane attack. The 6-foot-4 lefty will have plenty of targets to hit. Chief among them is a pair of projected all conference WRs. Titus Young (79, 1,041, 13.2, 10 TDs) is Mr. Outside and Austin Pettis (63, 855, 13.6, 14 TDs) is Mr. ‘Further’ Outside.
The ground game is in sure hands with fast Jeremy Avery (1,151, 5.5, 6 TDs) and powerful Dough Martin (778, 5.9, 13 TDs) running behind the WAC’s best offensive line led by All-WAC LG Nate Potter and sophomore sensation Brenel Myers.
4. Virginia Tech Hokies: QB Tyrod Taylor (2,311, 56%, 13 TDs-5 INTs) is no Michael Vick, but he showed last fall that he can efficient enough through the air to keep teams from stacking the line. If he can be more efficient (he led the ACC with a 149.39 passing rating) in 2010, the Hokies will have a great shot at running the table, which could mean a trip to Arizona and the BCS championship game. Receiving much of Taylor’s passes will be juniors Jarrett Boykin (40, 835, 20.9, 5 TDs) and Danny Coale (30, 614, 20.5, 2 TDs).
Notwithstanding a renewed passing attack, VT will live or die on the ground, and with good reason. Sophomore RB Ryan Williams (1,655, 5.6, 21 TDs), who is bound to make several preseason All American teams, is a complete back. He runs with authority inside and with reckless abandon outside. Complementing him is a veteran offensive line. The mainstay of the unit is the right side which is anchored by tackle Blake DeChristopher and guard Jaymes Brooks.
5. Alabama Crimson Tide: The defending national champions edge out the Ohio State Buckeyes for the fifth rated offense in the country. Much like Virginia Tech, the Tide is running back-centered and with good reason. Carrying the main load is 2009 Heisman Trophy winner, Mark Ingram (1,658, 6.1, 17 TDs). Supplementing the preseason All American running back is highly touted Trent Richardson (784, 5.2, 8 TDs).
The offensive line is in solid shape despite the loss of All American G Mike Johnson. Right guard Barrett Jones should gather all conference honors as will incoming freshman D.J. Fluke, who is expected to fill Johnson’s shoes at right tackle. Keep an eye on big (6-5, 305lbs) LT James Carpenter.
Senior Greg McElroy (2,508, 60.9%, 17 TDs-4 INTs) is everything head coach Nick Seban wants in a quarterback. He is efficient (140.55 rating), accurate in the short-to-medium range and a good game manager. Unfortunately, he hasn’t shown the ability to keep defenses honest outside the box. That should change in 2010. Offensive coordinator Jim McElwain stated this spring that the passing game will become more diversified with more emphasis on the deep ball. If that is the case, expect WR Julio Jones (43, 596, 13.9, 4 TDs) to increase his scoring totals twofold.
By Raul Colon