We have been busy here at Your Best 11, but of course we have made time for the mailbag. There is too much football to discuss for us to leave you hanging. Let's go!
The short answer is yes. They still have UCLA and Stanford on the schedule, plus a Utah team that has clearly improved from a season ago. The idea that Oregon is going to run through every team just speaks to folks not recognizing how strong the Pac-12 is as a conference.
I actually hit on UCLA on Your Best 11 this week. Not nearly enough people nationally are paying attention to this team. The Bruins have an elite quarterback, plenty of weapons, an offensive line that likes to get physical and arguably the best linebacking corps in the nation. Oregon's not just going to show up and beat this team next weekend.
The Pac-12 is high quality. To win that league Oregon's going to have to beat some good teams and beat them in tight games. Oh, and in addition to UCLA, Stanford and Utah, Arizona State looms as another threat should Sparky make it to the Pac-12 Championship Game.
I've long been a fan of "football people" being on the committee. That, of course, meaning people who understand the game inside and out, that can break down a play and can evaluate a team and a roster without using the "they played so-and-so" argument. That's been something I've harped on from day one.
So, for me, I'd like to see guys who were not currently affiliated with a school being employed full time to work on the committee. Their job would be to watch football games, talk about those games with one another and make a decision on where teams stand. All while being transparent by explaining the decisions made and the reasoning behind them.
To me, that means guys like Jon Embree, Jeff Tedford and Robb Akey types. Guys that know football and can work together on a "CFP staff" to slot teams and pick the best four.
I think putting your thoughts and opinions out to the public is a lose-lose situation in most cases. People, based upon their rooting interests, are going to disagree, to varying degrees, no matter what you say. You pick Team A to be the fourth team, and everyone from Team B is going to hate you.
The thing is, if you've ever read Twitter replies or comments sections, that's how it works every day in my job anyway.
For me, the positive of being on the committee outweighs the negative of scrutiny that would merely be amplified but not new. I get to play a role in determining who the Top Four teams are in a given year. Or, more importantly, I get to play a role in shutting teams out of participating. That would be great. Being able to say that at least I did my part in not allowing a team in, regardless of what other people think about some points machine.
Overall? Florida State. More disruptive? Clemson.
Both teams have some legitimate studs in the front seven and they use them in different ways. Clemson is an attacking defense that uses penetration to disrupt the mesh point and create tackles for loss, sacks and pressures. Florida State is a stout front that is bigger and stronger than most people and can really control the line of scrimmage.
In the back-end give me the Seminoles. They are just loaded to the gills with top-level defensive back talent and they get great results out of it. Lamarcus Joyner is one of the nation's best "do anything you ask him to do" football players, giving FSU help at corner, inside DB and safety. He can play any position in the back and that flexibility goes a long way toward getting the best combination of secondary players on the field.
Clemson's more disruptive and creates turnovers with its play, hence the Tigers doubling up Florida State in turnovers gained. However, on an every play basis, Florida State has a better defense and as it grows into the 3-4 more comfortably, it is going to stifle opponents down the road.
Whew, this is a fun one. I think the first freshman that people should know is Myles Jack. Jack's a linebacker at UCLA and the kid is an absolute stud. He's transitioned into the position, and college, very nicely and has been able to be an impact player in both the run and the pass game.
In the ACC, there are a lot of good, young defensive backs. In addition to the obvious names—Kendall Fuller at Virginia Tech and Jalen Ramsey at Florida State—throw in Jack Tocho at NC State. All of these kids have made plays and gotten early time on the field for their squads. Also, check for Mackensie Alexander at Clemson. An injury will likely force him to redshirt this season but he has a lot of tools for the future.
Josh Banderas, in the Big Ten at Nebraska, is a name that should become pretty recognizable in the next few seasons. Banderas was an instant upgrade to the speed on the Huskers defense and he has worked his way into the rotation by flying around to the football and making tackles. Joey Bosa, at Ohio State, is another star in the making for that conference. The freshman defensive end has the size to play already and is showing true growth with more reps.
For the Big 12, Dominique Alexander at Oklahoma gets my nod. Yes, he's been caught out of position a couple times, but the kid is learning quickly and he flies around to the football. The biggest thing will be how much Alexander can grow into his frame at Oklahoma. If he becomes a bigger player, he should be able to patrol the interior of that defense with authority.
There are a lot of names to choose from in the SEC. Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams at Auburn are going to be quality defensive linemen. The same goes for A'shawn Robinson at Alabama. Defensive backs Vernon Hargreaves and Tray Matthews at Florida and Georgia, respectively, should be stars for the next couple seasons.
Oh, and we cannot forget Tre'Davious White as a growing stud DB at LSU.
However, if I can choose only one, I'll go with Tony Conner, the teammate of the freshman everyone else would pick, Robert Nkemdiche.
Conner has all of the tools and skills to end up as the top-ranked safety in the 2016 draft. He is big, he can run and he wants to be physical at the point of attack. Ole Miss is finding ways to get him on the field because he is a quality player and as he matures, he will be the key to that defense.
For what Brent Venables wants out of him, Vic Beasley is an ideal defensive end. The junior is able to knife inside of offensive tackles, slip blocks on the edge by getting under linemen and create chaos behind the line of scrimmage. He is exceptional at those skills and this defense needs those things to create success.
That said, big picture, his skill set and size lends itself more toward a hybrid linebacker in a 3-4 than to a true, every down 4-3 defensive end. At less than 240 pounds, Beasley is not a big guy. While it allows him to use quickness to generate penetration, it hinders his ability to hold the edge against bigger, stronger offensive linemen.
Add that Beasley possesses shorter arms than most tackles he faces on a weekly basis, and you have a problem. The Clemson end has to rely on that speed and quickness because when a tackle gets a bead on him, the defender cannot get arms extended and disengage readily.
Beasley is a heck of a football player. Because Venables uses the end from multiple locations on the field, he is going to be ready to transition to a hybrid spot at the next level. For me, in college football, Beasley is one of the elite pass-rushers and disrupting players in the game, just not a guy that can hold up versus power run play after play to his edge.