College Football’s ever-changing landscape always leaves us with questions when looking forward to the next season. Last year the questions were circulating around the possibility of a new Michigan offense, the Wazzou quarterback, and who was better between Joe Burrow and Kellen Mond. In 2020, some things just aren’t as clear as we’d like them to be right now. These are the questions that I’m asking the most this offseason going into Spring Training.
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College Fantasy Football 2020
How big does D’Eriq King play in Miami?
D’Erig King has been a monster since stepping on the field in place of Kyle Allen almost three seasons ago. He’s accounted for 79 touchdowns over the past three seasons and even has a kick return touchdown to his name. His athleticism always makes him a factor for whatever team he plays for and I thought Miami was the better option between the three schools he was choosing from due to Conference difficulty and national exposure (other options were Arkansas and Maryland).
While King does inherit some great weapons in Cam’Ron Harris, Jeremiah Payton, Brevin Jordan, and Mark Pope while also adding Michael Redding III in this year’s class. He also has the advantage of playing under Rhett Lashlee who helped lead SMU to a top 10 Scoring Offense last season. Miami’s hardest opponents this season are North Carolina, Michigan State, and Virginia Tech in a down season for a lot of the teams in the Coastal division. All of these reasons should be things that drive King up draft charts rather than down.
The thing is, Miami’s most recent quarterback to average more than 20 fantasy points per game was Malik Rosier in 2017. Before that, however, it was Craig Erickson in 1990 that managed 20.8 Fppg under Dennis Erickson when Miami was an independent school. They have a bad history with quarterbacks and King has the potential to fall in that unfortunate line. Nonetheless, King is still a player that will be heavily overdrafted. Can he break the cycle at Miami?
Does 2020 Georgia look like 2019 LSU or Michigan?
All signs are pointing to Georgia taking the steps that I’ve been saying they need to take with their offense. The run-heavy offense that Alabama ran several years ago just doesn’t win championships anymore. I believe Kirby Smart realizes that. Now Georgia appears to be taking steps in a direction that spells danger on offense rather than the same old thing they’ve run since Smart was hired.
On top of returning George Pickins, Georgia has added Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman as well as a stable of four-star receivers in Justin Robinson, Marcus Rosemy, Arian Smith, and Jermaine Burton. They also added FSU-Transfer tight end Tre McKitty. This is all without mentioning the hire of Todd Monken who has produced stellar offenses everywhere he coached at before last season when the Cleveland Browns couldn’t seem to get things together. It appears that Georgia has made the moves to make things happen on offense.
But, Michigan last season also put moves in to place to evolve their offense. They hired Josh Gaddis away from Alabama, returned Shea Patterson, and benefitted from having Nico Collins, Tarik Black, and Donovan Peoples-Jones already on the roster. All signs pointed to an offensive boost for the Wolverines but instead, we got the same old same old. I’m optimistic but cautious.
Can McKenzie Milton turn back the clock?
Central Florida is fresh off of their third straight 10-win season that they capped off with a monster win over Marshall. During their 2019 season, we saw Freshman Dillon Gabriel finish off a strong campaign with 3,653 yards and a 29:7 TD/INT ratio with four scores on the ground. Gabriel is the clear future of the Knights football program.
But the Knights had a transcendent quarterback over the last two seasons. McKenzie Milton threw for 6,700 yards with 62 touchdowns and ran for 920 yards and 17 scores in 23 games before he suffered a gruesome leg injury against rival USF. His injury was not only season-ending or possibly career-ending but almost made him lose his leg. The injury was unfortunate and could’ve derailed a promising career. But it’s not over.
Milton is currently getting fitted for an athletic brace to wear in his return to the field. There are few quarterbacks better than Milton when he’s at full strength. Does Milton win the job back? Does Gabriel retain? Will Milton try to make it work somewhere else?
Can Holton Ahlers perform before November?
Holton Ahlers was strangely the most disappointing player that actually won people playoff games this year. Ahlers finished up his 2019 campaign with 3,746 total yards and 27 touchdowns. His 308 passing yards and three touchdowns against Tulsa helped win championship games while his most notable performance came against SMU in week 10 when he threw for 498 yards and six touchdowns.
I’m not sure if the new system just made sense in the last month of the season or if Ahlers legitimately just shines in November. His stats in all other months compared to November can be seen below.
August-October: 10 Games; 321 Pass Att; 56.4%; 221.5 Pass Yds Per Game; 9:8 TD:INT; 37 Rush Yds Per Game; 5 Rush TDs
November: 8 Games; 374 Pass Att; 56.9%; 368.75 Pass Yds Per Game; 24:5 TD:INT; 47.25 Rush Yds Per Game; 3 Rush TDs
It would make sense if it was just him adjusting to the system but his production spike is humongous. His passing yards drastically increase and he suddenly becomes a more efficient scorer. The competition was actually stiffer in November of last year with ECU taking on Cincinnati and SMU in the first two weeks of the month.
Maybe I’m overthinking it. Maybe I’m not. Either way, Ahlers needs to show more consistency if we are going to draft him as early as we do.
Who will take over at Washington State?
The Run and Shoot is making its way over to Washington State for the foreseeable future. I was a huge fan of the Cougs hiring Rolovich to replace Mike Leach because the offenses are similar and Wazzou has the cards in place for the offense to work. The Cougars will start a different quarterback for the fourth straight season and the candidates are strong thanks to the departing Leach.
Cammon Cooper has the most seniority of the group given that he is a redshirt sophomore. He’s had the most time with the air raid playbook and progressed a lot from year one to year two in the system. He’s probably the least athletic of the three candidates but he can still move around well enough to extend plays. He has a solid pocket presence and is a team leader. Not to mention he was one of the highest-rated quarterbacks the school had ever signed.
Gunner Cruz Is next in line as a redshirt freshman and has been mentioned a lot with Cammon Cooper as the guy who could take over next season. Cruz is very athletic and is efficient on the move. He has a solid deep ball and looks very comfortable running. He has the tendency to force some passes he shouldn’t make but that problem was likely addressed in his redshirt season so there should be some improvement there. He’s a guy I’d like to see in charge.
Jayden de Laura has a chance to join Jeff Tuel and Drew Bledsoe as the only Washington State quarterbacks to start as freshmen. He jumped from a three-star to a four-star in his senior season and he’s probably the most athletic of the three. Given I haven’t seen him in Crimson yet, I have to rely on his HS tape to formulate an opinion. He’s very mobile and is very good at extending plays. He had a lot of highlights with wide-open receivers but he did have plays where he could land passes beyond the linebacker but below the safety. He comes at a disadvantage because he enters during the Summer so he’s likely not a Day 1 starter.
It’s anyone’s game here at this point in time. At least they still have Max Borghi.
Slovis or Daniels?
Just when things were looking like they might turn on for JT Daniels all things fell apart. Daniels missed almost all of his 2019 campaign with an ACL tear that opened the door up for three-star freshman Kedon Slovis. Slovis threw for 3,500+ yards and 30 touchdowns with less than 10 interceptions. Unfortunately, Slovis was also injured in the final game of the season and USC suffered a crippling loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Holiday Bowl.
Slovis is the player that most experts are looking towards given his successful freshman season and the bad memories of Daniels’ freshman season but it’s not that easy. Daniels is a former five-star recruit who was looking really solid in game one against Fresno State when he had to leave the game. Slovis may have had the reigns of the offense all last season but that doesn’t mean that Daniels ever put down the playbook. They’ve both studied and I’m sure that both are ready to push one another to the limits.
This quarterback battle will surely result in a transfer by the bitter end. It wouldn’t surprise me to see a winner announced the week of their week one matchup against Alabama in Arlington, Texas.
How much does LSU regress?
Matt Rhule leaving Baylor was far more impactful for the LSU Tigers than it was for the Baylor Bears. Dave Aranda is now the coach for Baylor and quarterback guru Joe Brady has left for the Offensive Coordinator job for the Carolina Panthers. This is without mentioning the offensive losses of Joe Burrow, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Justin Jefferson, Thad Moss, and multiple offensive linemen.
How much of LSU’s offensive success can be attributed to current Offensive Coordinator Sam Ensminger? He and Joe Brady had a great system going there and Brady is considered to be one of the brightest up and comers in football. The Brady Ensminger debate is one that one be settled until this season but one that is very clear is that Joe Burrow is gone. Burrow just had the greatest single-season in football history and is now the clear No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. I doubt that Myles Brennan is anywhere near as good.
Brennan doesn’t need to be Burrow though. He just has to be good. If this offense is really going to establish itself as a plug and play system like Wazzou or Texas Tech then we need to see if they can do it again. Brennan is the first key that needs turning. They still have Terrance Marshall and Ja’Marr Chase and they add Arik Gilbert to relieve the loss of Thad Moss. Can Brennan take advantage of that?
We also need to know if John Emery Jr. or Tyrion Prince-Davis can replace Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Edwards-Helaire finished less than 200 yards shy of 2,000 yards from scrimmage and had 17 total scores. His impact on the offense is often overlooked due to Burrow’s excellent season. Emery is the guy that many expect to take over this season but he just couldn’t seem to climb the depth chart last year. In fact, Prince-Davis out carried and outperformed him on the ground and in the air. He also has a hyphenated last name.
I’m not sure what to expect from LSU. They obviously won’t be what they were last year, but are what percentage less are we getting?
Does the gambit pay off for Travis Etienne, Chuba Hubbard, and Najee Harris?
The 2020 NFL Draft will see a record number of 115 underclassmen in their ranks that are trying to begin their NFL careers early. What started as a deep running back class has turned into a very shallow one as Najee Harris (Alabama), Travis Etienne (Clemson), and Chuba Hubbard (Oklahoma State) have all decided to stay in school for one more year. The three players combined for 5,866 yards from scrimmage and 64 touchdowns in 2019 and while Harris and Hubbard were both expected to fall some, Etienne may have been off the board in the first round.
Why did they come back? Who’s to say? Etienne holds the record for rushing yardage and touchdowns as well as multiple ACC awards. Hubbard snagged the Big 12 OPOY in 2019 and has the second most yardage in a single season in school history behind Barry Sanders. Harris doesn’t have the accolades, but he was going up draft boards after a 1,500 yard breakout season.
Harris has a high ceiling with Mac Jones at quarterback. The Alabama offense will look more like the systems we saw before the Jalen Hurts Era. More grunt work on the ground rather than 40+ passing touchdowns. This is great for Harris who is clearly trying to get his name closer to the top with an encore season. But Trey Sanders is also trying to get into the picture while a Bryce Young appearance could take away from Harris’ touchdowns.
Travis Etienne makes the least amount of sense. Etienne was considered a top-three running back and had back to back 1,600 yards rushing seasons with 20+ touchdowns in both. While last season he fended off Lyn-J Dixon, this year he has to fight for touches with Lyn-J and newcomer Damarkcus Bowman who resembles the playmaking abilities of a young CJ Spiller. I don’t know if he’s wanting a Heisman Trophy or what because that’s the only thing he hasn’t accomplished in his collegiate career.
While the moves may not add up in our minds. Let’s hope they make the most of it and that it works out for theirs and our benefit.
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