Thursday, August 30, 2007

2007 Opponent Position Preview: Defensive Backs | by Pat

Kickoff (kickoff!) is almost upon us, so the positional preview on opposing secondaries is going to be abbreviated. Apologies all the way around. I'm a bit worried I might have my key to the BGS Lounge revoked for this, but, luckily, I know how to sneak in. Previous positions reviews here: QB, RB, WR, TE/OL, DL, LB.

Moving right along, I'm going to offload the starting lineups and player stats to a separate page, and go straight to the commentary.

2007 Defensive Back Analysis and Ranking

The key point to take away is that Notre Dame's rookie QB is going to face a number of talented and experienced defensive backfields in 2007. ND hasn't exactly kept it a secret that they plan on running the ball more. But you can expect teams to load up the box and force ND to throw and prove they can move the ball through the air. When that happens, we're going to get a pretty good look at just how much talent the Irish do have under center, because there are going to be a lot of talented cornerbacks looking for telegraphed and/or inaccurate passes.

I'll also note that there are some terrific safeties on this list. That not only will put more pressure on the Irish quarterbacks, but also mean that ND's running game will face even more talent up the middle of the field. For the most part it's a good sign for the offense if the safeties are the ones tackling the ball carrier. Still, it's likely that there will be more than one All-American safety selected from the Irish opponents in 2007.

As for the rankings, I think Southern Cal and Penn State are a notch above the other teams. Georgia Tech is just behind those two. Michigan has some great athletes, but also some question marks so they go in a tier with Boston College and Michigan State. Stanford and Purdue are next. Both teams have veteran players, but these players didn't help produce a great defense last year. Finally, Air Force, Duke, and Navy round out the list. There are still a few talented players on those squads, but for the most part they are going to be picked on all year.

1. USC - Taylor Mays is the young star on a veteran unit with quality depth.
2. Penn State
- King is one of the better CBs in the nation and Scirrotto is a force in the middle.
- Talent and experience at every position and experienced depth off the bench.
4. Georgia Tech
- Lewis is a very good safety and there is plenty of experience.
5. Michigan - Sears is a question mark, but there is experience and depth at the rest of the unit.
6. Boston College
- Tribble is exceptional. The new starters will be targets early on.
7. Michigan State
- A very talented safety tandem in Wiley and Warrick.
8. Stanford
- Experience at corner and inexperienced athletic talent at safety.
9. Purdue - The experience is there, but the production hasn't been.
10. Air Force
- Giannini is a talented safety, but the rest of the players are average.
11. Duke
- Experience at safety, but rookie cornerbacks are never a good thing.
12. Navy
- A lot of new starters on the field for the Midshipmen.