5 teams most likely to improve in 2018

5 teams most likely to improve in 2018

Joined: October 3rd, 2013, 4:59 pm

April 9th, 2018, 5:33 am #1

This list is from CBSsports and has a few of our teams on here.  Maybe Basc might come back and comment on BYU.

5. Florida State: There's a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Seminoles right now. The team had an awful 2017 season -- by Florida State standards -- finishing 7-6 and then seeing Jimbo Fisher leave for Texas A&M. Willie Taggart has taken over, and while there's bound to be an adjustment period, this is still one of the most talented teams in the country. This is not an instance where the head coach leaves the cupboards bare.
Taggart's moving into a house that's ready to be lived in, and you have to think that the Noles could get nine wins based on their talent alone. Having said that, I can't justify putting Florida State higher than fifth on this list due to a couple of reasons. First of all, nine wins leaves less room for error. Secondly, the schedule isn't exactly easy. FSU's 2018 non-con features a gimme against Samford, and what should be an easy Orange Bowl rematch against Northern Illinois. The problem is it also includes a road trip to Notre Dame as well as the regular season finale against Florida. Plus, while Clemson heads to Tallahassee, the Noles will hit the road for Louisville, Miami, and NC State as well. Getting to nine wins is within play, but it won't be easy.

4. BYU: The Cougars went 4-9 last year so the question we're asking ourselves is whether or not they can reach bowl eligibility in 2018. Well, I have them on the list, so I suppose that's your answer.
As awful as 2017 was for BYU, the fact the Cougars won three of their final five games after starting 1-7 bodes well for this season. Particularly when you factor in that the Cougars will return a lot of experience and production from last year's team. Sure, having most of a 4-9 team return could be a way to ensure going 4-9 again, but it's also natural to see improvement as rosters get older in college football.

Plus, the schedule isn't daunting. OK, maybe the September schedule is. BYU opens with Arizona, Cal, Wisconsin, McNeese State and Washington in the first five weeks. Only Cal and McNeese are coming to Provo, so realistically we're looking at 1-4 start, or 2-3 at best. After that things get significantly easier, though games against Northern Illinois, Boise State and Utah await.

3. Nebraska: Scott Frost took over a 0-12 UCF team following the 2015 season and immediately went 6-7 with the Knights in his first year. The team he's inheriting at Nebraska is a lot better off, though it faces stiffer competition than UCF had in the AAC. What's concerning is that Nebraska will have to make yet another transition.
Mike Riley replaced Bo Pelini, and Nebraska went from a spread offense to more of a pro-style. Now it must go from pro-style to a spread again.
The good news is the non-conference schedule isn't a bear. All three games against Akron, Colorado, and Troy are in Lincoln, and all are certainly winnable. Big Ten play provides a swift kick to the teeth, however.
Nebraska will play Michigan, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Ohio State and Iowa on the road this year. It's not crazy to think the Huskers could go winless outside of Lincoln with that schedule, which means winning at home will be key.
That would mean a 3-0 start to the season is imperative, as it would allow Nebraska a little more wiggle room in home games against Purdue, Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan State.

2. Baylor: Having Baylor this high on the list isn't as much a show of confidence as it's just a result of having a low bar to clear. Baylor went 1-11 last season. It would only need three wins this year to make me look smart.
I do like its odds.
With a non-con of Abilene Christian, UTSA and Duke, a 2-1 start is realistic, if not expected. That means Baylor would only need one win in the Big 12 to reach three on the season, and last I checked Kansas is still in the Big 12. Oh, and it's coming to Waco in late September. So Baylor might have three wins before October.
Another reason I think improvement is on the horizon for Baylor is that this was a very young team last season. A young team playing under a new coaching staff trying to not only change the culture of the program but the scheme as well. While Matt Rhule and company have a long way to go, I don't think three or four wins in 2018 is an unrealistic goal.

1. Florida: This one was easy. Florida went 4-7 last year, and Florida should never be 4-7. Hell, it should never miss a bowl game, and bowl eligibility would mean at least two more wins in 2018, and I have a hard time seeing Florida not achieve it.
The talent level has dropped off a touch in Gainesville as the program changed hands from Urban Meyer to Will Muschamp and then Jim McElwain. Dan Mullen's in charge now, however, giving the Gators their best coach since Meyer.
The Gators also have a rather comfortable home slate in 2018. Georgia and LSUaren't pushovers, but you have to believe the Gators will be favored against Charleston Southern, Kentucky, Colorado State, Missouri, South Carolina and Idaho. That could be six wins right there.

The road schedule isn't daunting either, as the Gators will take on Tennessee and Mississippi State (both of which have new coaching staffs of their own) as well as Vanderbilt and the season finale against Florida State. I'd expect Florida to go 3-1 on the road, with 4-0 being in play as well.
Florida's going to win at least six games in 2018, and probably a couple more.
Honorable Mention: Illinois, Michigan, Texas, UCLA
Hard to disagree with the Florida synopsis.   There are a lot of wins on that schedule.  If anything Florida fans may get a false faith that Mullen is the man when he finishes with 8 or 9 wins in season one over pansies.  FSU making this list is no surprise either.   We have already mentioned reasons they should be better plus it is FSU, the writers favorite off-season team.  In a few more months they will probably be predicted to win it all until they don't.   The two I might make an argument against would be Baylor and Nebraska.  Baylor does have a favorable schedule but they are coming back from a bad place and next year is likely just a little too soon to expect great results.   Nebraska I have given up on.   The Big 10 has not been a good fit for the Cornhuskers.   I think people want Nebraska to be back but parity in the sport means teams like Nebraska that are really no where near any major recruiting markets are just SOL.  
"Gentlemen, touchdowns follow blocking as sure night follows day" -Gen Neyland
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Joined: August 10th, 2017, 5:39 am

April 9th, 2018, 6:00 am #2

I think Florida has some talent to work with and Mullins experience as a HC will be what allows them to put together a solid season.  I need to try and read some Colorado State stuff to give Realist a feel for them.  Nobody cares about CFB out here and CSU is the little brother on top of that.

I just noticed that Tennessee has an impossible gauntlet to run:

Florida
UGA
off week
Auburn
Bama

I know that the off week will help, but that is still 4 games in a row that will be very physical.  SCAR is after Bama and UT will probably be with out a few key players.   including SCAR in there, I wonder if they can get 2 or 3 wins out of the 5 games?
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Joined: October 3rd, 2013, 4:59 pm

April 9th, 2018, 6:03 am #3

Tennessee will be lucky to be .500 next season.  If we lose just one offensive lineman in any of those games you posted we will be replacing them with a walk on most likely.   We do have some talent but almost no depth.  
"Gentlemen, touchdowns follow blocking as sure night follows day" -Gen Neyland
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Joined: August 10th, 2017, 5:39 am

April 9th, 2018, 6:04 am #4

Nebraska has a tough conference schedule.  They draw UofM, OSU, and Sparty from the East.  Yeah, the West sucks, but that's like Tennessee drawing Bama, Auburn, and LSU from the West.
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Joined: August 10th, 2017, 5:39 am

April 9th, 2018, 6:10 am #5

DocVOLiday wrote: Tennessee will be lucky to be .500 next season.  If we lose just one offensive lineman in any of those games you posted we will be replacing them with a walk on most likely.   We do have some talent but almost no depth.  
It will be interesting to see how Pruitt handles that stretch.  During Smart's first year he definitely phoned in the Ole Miss game and saved everything for Tennessee the next week.  He almost won the UT game....    Anyway, Florida is first and it's probably the most winnable so you would think he will throw the kitchen sink at them, play UGA conservative and only open things up if he thinks he has a chance, Auburn is a big ?, and then survive Bama so they can beat SCAR.
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sec realist
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Joined: August 29th, 2012, 6:09 pm

April 9th, 2018, 6:20 am #6

Florida won't be an easy win for anyone, I'm thinking.

The belief is that the defense will be elite.

With Mullen pulling the strings to maximize what they have on offense this team could be very good.

How much can he either hide or develop the quarterback? One of the biggest questions for next season in college football. Could be the difference between a shitty bowl and a New Year's bowl.
Live with egrets, not regrets.
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Joined: October 3rd, 2013, 4:59 pm

April 9th, 2018, 6:38 am #7

Bama has proven time and time again you do not need an elite qb to win championships.  I think Mullen is talented enough to maximize what he has on offense.  If the offense is not required to do a lot of heavy lifting because the defense is so good you guys very well may be in a New Years bowl.  
"Gentlemen, touchdowns follow blocking as sure night follows day" -Gen Neyland
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sec realist
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Joined: August 29th, 2012, 6:09 pm

April 9th, 2018, 6:44 am #8

Running back is stacked, and it's the best group of receivers in a while for UF. If the two transfers get eligibility, it will be a special group.
Live with egrets, not regrets.
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Joined: August 10th, 2017, 5:39 am

April 9th, 2018, 6:54 am #9

UF's defense looked very average last year.  They didn't dominate, but at the same time they rarely let a game get away from them.  What makes y'all think they will be better next year?  I see another solid defense, but nothing spectacular.
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sec realist
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Joined: August 29th, 2012, 6:09 pm

April 9th, 2018, 7:53 am #10

2 elite corners, lots of speed and a bunch of big bodies.

People who've been watching think it has a chance to be great.

The offensive line has a ways to go, but they like the depth there too. It won't be a top ten kind of unit, for sure.

Who knows? It's just projections at this point. Feels right, though.
Live with egrets, not regrets.
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Joined: October 3rd, 2013, 4:59 pm

April 9th, 2018, 8:06 am #11

brown dog wrote:
DocVOLiday wrote: Tennessee will be lucky to be .500 next season.  If we lose just one offensive lineman in any of those games you posted we will be replacing them with a walk on most likely.   We do have some talent but almost no depth.  
It will be interesting to see how Pruitt handles that stretch.  During Smart's first year he definitely phoned in the Ole Miss game and saved everything for Tennessee the next week.  He almost won the UT game....    Anyway, Florida is first and it's probably the most winnable so you would think he will throw the kitchen sink at them, play UGA conservative and only open things up if he thinks he has a chance, Auburn is a big ?, and then survive Bama so they can beat SCAR.
It might upset the base but if I were a general surveying the battlefield I would choose my battles well.  There is no reason to think we can be competitive against Auburn or Bama this season so write those games off and focus on the East schools.  It only makes sense.
"Gentlemen, touchdowns follow blocking as sure night follows day" -Gen Neyland
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Joined: October 3rd, 2013, 4:59 pm

April 11th, 2018, 7:41 am #12

I wasn't sure where to put this but I am getting good news for BD and bad news for the rest of us out of Athens.  Channing Tindall is apparently killing it.  He is Roquan Smith's replacement and it appears UGA will not step back much.  While nobody on the Georgia roster will be able to replicate what Smith -- a probable first round NFL Draft pick -- was able to do for that defense in 2017. There are guys that can be suitable replacements on campus now, guys that can be really good SEC players, but the one guy with the upside to grow into a Roquan Smith-type of player is incoming freshman Tindall. He's 6-foot-3, 220-plus pounds. He's the best athlete at the position in the Class of 2018, and he's a striker. It will be interesting to see how quickly the summer arrival can pick up that Georgia defense and whether we'll need to wait until 2019 before he breaks out.
"Gentlemen, touchdowns follow blocking as sure night follows day" -Gen Neyland
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Joined: August 10th, 2017, 5:39 am

April 11th, 2018, 8:49 am #13

I don't think Tindall is on campus yet, so it's way to early to think of him replacing Roquan this year.

The guy I think has the best chance is Nate McBride.  He is crazy fast and hits hard.  One of Roquan's greatest skills was how fast he could get to the ball and disrupt a play before it got rolling.  That plus rarely missed a tackle.  McBride has the crazy speed but he plays rather violently instead of disciplined.  Maybe they can coach him up.
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