They're the teams within the team - those cohesive little units bound together by their shared responsibilities within the larger team context.
Whether it's the offensive linemen firing off time after time into those familiar blocking sleds, or the defensive linemen drilling repeatedly on how to shed blockers, or the defensive backs breaking on ball after ball - these teams in miniature hone their tasks on the practice field until those tasks become second nature.
The pressure is on Paul Wulff, Mark Richt and Dennis Erickson to win big in 2011.
The coaching carousel is usually one of the most intriguing elements of college football's regular season and has been in full effect since May with the departure of Jim Tressel at Ohio State and Bill Stewart at West Virginia.
Which coach will be the first to get fired? Athlon Sports ranks 10 coaches on the hot seat, along with a few others who are getting warm.
The countdown to kickoff for the 2011 college football season is less than 40 days away. With fall camps opening up in a matter of days, now is another good opportunity to project how the teams will fare this upcoming season.
With the start of the 2011 just around the corner, it's time to revisit the conference power rankings. The SEC claims the last five national titles and should reign surpreme once again this year. However, the Big 12 should be in great shape this year, especially with three teams picked in the top 12 of Athlon's 2011 Top 25.
If you are a free agent coach, which programs are the most attractive jobs in the nation?
We have ranked every college football program in the country, based on the attractiveness of the position from a coaching perspective. We considered many factors — tradition, facilities, location, money — but in the end, we simply asked ourselves the following question: Where would we want to coach? Check back tomorrow for rankings 50-1.
(Note: Current or impending NCAA sanctions were not a factor in these rankings.)
Corey Robinson looks to lead Troy to another Sun Belt title.
FIU and Arkansas State are inching closer to the top, but the Sun Belt title still runs through Troy. The Trojans have shared or won five straight conference titles and appear to be in great shape to retain the crown once again.
Sophomore Corey Robinson can only get better in his second season under center, but the Trojans suffered a blow at receiver with the loss of Chip Reeves and Jamel Johnson after spring practice. Even with eight new starters, the Trojans should be one of the Sun Belt’s top offenses. Defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi is one of the nation’s underrated players, collecting 13.5 sacks last year. Troy ranked near the bottom of the conference in total defense last season, but should finish higher in 2011 with six starters back.
FIU and Arkansas State aren’t too far behind the Trojans, with both teams bringing back key pieces from last year. FIU returns 12 starters, including playmaker T.Y. Hilton at receiver and five starters from one of the Sun Belt’s top defenses last season. Arkansas State is under the direction of a new coach – Hugh Freeze – who did a great job coordinating the offense last season. Freeze has plenty to work with in 2011, with quarterback Ryan Aplin and the Sun Belt’s top receiving corps returning.
UL Monroe and MTSU will likely battle for the No. 4 and No. 5 spots in the standings. The Warhawks barely missed out on a bowl bid last year and return 14 starters, including promising sophomore quarterback Kolton Browning. MTSU has to replace quarterback Dwight Dasher, but after struggling mightily with turnovers last year, it could be addition by subtraction. A bigger concern for the Blue Raiders could be the defense, where eight starters must be replaced.
It will be a surprise if North Texas or Western Kentucky reaches a winning season, but these two teams feature a couple of nationally underrated running backs. North Texas’ Lance Dunbar rushed for 1,553 yards and 13 scores last year, while Western Kentucky’s Bobby Rainey amassed 1,649 yards on a whopping 340 carries. Both teams have solid coaches and should show improvement in 2011, before taking another step forward in 2012.
Louisiana and Florida Atlantic round out the projected Sun Belt standings. The Ragin’ Cajuns feature All-America tight end Ladarius Green and a promising new coach in Mark Hudspeth, but major improvement on defense is needed. Hudspeth will need some time before getting Louisiana back into the Sun Belt title race. The Owls will play 2011 in a new stadium, but that could be the extent of the excitement in Boca Raton this year.