Fact or Fiction? Taking a look at college football
Published: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 at 12:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 at 12:00 p.m.
Five topics that veteran Sun staff writers Pat Dooley and Robbie Andreu have strong opinions on concerning this upcoming season.
1. Will the SEC make it eight national titles in a row?
Pat Dooley: Absolutely. Because it is all set up for Alabama to win a third title in a row. The schedule is relatively easy by SEC standards and the Tide open the season with Virginia Tech, which is a shell of its former self. And if a one-loss East team somehow beats Alabama in the SEC title game, it will get into the championship ahead of an unbeaten team.
Robbie Andreu: Many seem to think Ohio State can end the SEC's run. If that's the strongest challenger the rest of college football can come up with, then it's a no-brainer — the SEC rolls to its eighth consecutive NC. Playing a weak schedule in a weak conference is no way to get ready for the big-boy football played in the SEC. Whoever wins the SEC (it will be Alabama) will win the national title again.
2. Will the new targeting rule have a major impact on this season?
Pat Dooley: I hope not. I understand that it's important to protect the players (here's an idea — how about reducing the number of games?), but we have already seen the supervisor of officials from two conferences disagree about Jadeveon Clowney's hit against Michigan last year. I think officials will be hesitant to call anything that's not obvious.
Robbie Andreu: I think it's going to have a major impact on the officials, who are going to have to make some tough decisions on what is a flagrant foul opposed to an inadvertent helmet-to-helmet collision. The players know not to lead with their helmets; they've been hearing about (and watching video about) the new rule for months. Perhaps the biggest impact will be the delays needed for the officials to figure out what could be many debatable calls.
3. Will Johnny Manziel repeat as the Heisman Trophy winner?
Pat Dooley: I thought about not voting for him last year because Texas A&M wouldn't let him talk to the media. But his play was too impressive to hold a grudge. I think there will be voters who will boycott Manziel, but the real issue is going to be the distractions that will follow him into the season. Of course, we're assuming he'll be eligible all season. Manziel lost his left tackle and his offensive coordinator, but coach Kevin Sumlin and a bevy of skill players will allow Manziel to thrive again and collect another stiff-armed trophy.
Robbie Andreu: Maybe the bigger question is: Will Johnny Football even be eligible to play this season? If he is, maybe he'll get his focus back and continue the magic run he started last year. But I just don't see that happening. I've never seen an athlete handle instant fame as poorly (and immaturely) as this guy has. And, I think defenses in the SEC that have played against him once will have a better plan for him this time. Sorry, Johnny.
4. Will Florida have an offensive player on the All-SEC first team at season's end?
Pat Dooley: Coach Will Muschamp believes he has a better offensive line than a year ago so you would guess that a player from that area would make it if the Gators have a successful season. But who else would you think could make it? There are too many high-quality quarterbacks who are asked to do more than Jeff Driskel. None of the receivers makes you think it could happen. Matt Jones probably has the best chance among the skill players.
Robbie Andreu: I'm going to go out on a limb here and say they'll actually have more than one. Let's say two. There are at least two strong candidates on the offensive line alone (Jon Halapio and Jon Harrison), and possibly a third (tackle Chaz Green, who has had a strong camp). I have a feeling Jeff Driskel is going to have a breakout year in the passing game. That means his go-to guy (I'm saying it will be Quinton Dunbar) is going to put up some All-SEC numbers.
5. Who will be Florida's breakout player on defense?
Pat Dooley: I think we media members are hoping it's Ronald Powell, because that would make the best story. So let's go with him. If they cut him loose, Powell could be a major factor as a pass-rusher. I think he's the most interesting story on this team because of all the hype that accompanied him to Gainesville.
Robbie Andreu: My breakout player is a guy with a similar skill set to Ronald Powell's — and who is not coming off two ACL surgeries in the past year. I'm talking about Buck end/linebacker Dante Fowler Jr., who showed flashes of future greatness as a true freshman last season. He's added strength and quickness in the offseason and he's going to be in opposing backfields all season long.