AP Preseason Poll 2012: 5 Most Misplaced Teams
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Associated Press preseason predictions are fickle, due to their subjectivity.
They are never perfect, and sometimes you can’t help but shake your head. You may have glanced the poll, became angered and started screaming at your computer screen.
Though your girlfriend is in the other room questioning your sanity, you are not the only one who thinks the AP Preseason Poll could use some adjustment.
Here are a few teams that were not ranked quite right.
Florida: AP No. 23
The Gators sneaked in to No. 23 in the AP Preseason poll based on their defensive prowess. Based on a loaded schedule and a subpar offense, Florida could have easily been left off of the top-25 list.
Sophomore Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel have been competing for the starting quarterback position for the entire offseason and neither has emerged as the favorite yet.
The AP’s Mark Long reports via Yahoo! Sports said that the offense has struggled in 11-on-11 drills and that the entire team is looking sluggish in practice.
Two short weeks before their home opener against Bowling Green, here is leeway for the Gators to be playing less than their absolute best, with games against LSU, Georgia, South Carolina and Texas A&M.
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The good thing for Florida is it will host the Tigers and Gamecocks and play on neutral territory against the Bulldogs.
Michigan: AP No. 8
The Wolverines are receiving a bit more credit than they deserve from the best sports writers in the land.
It is true that quarterback Denard Robinson has run roughshod over defenses for the better part of the last two seasons as Michigan‘s field general. Despite his improvement in the passing game, his arm still hasn’t developed into the type of threat that will scare opponents, as his completion percentage dipped five points (55% in 2011) and his 15 interceptions last year are disconcerting for Wolverine fans.
With Rich Rodriguez at the helm, defensive improvements are apparent, giving up 35.2 points per game in 2010 to 17.4 points per game in 2011. But the Big Ten is solid and games at Notre Dame and Ohio State will prove troubling.
Of course, the Wolverines will have to avoid upset in its most difficult game of the season on September 15 when they host Massachusetts.
Come on, they only won by five in 2010!
Can you tell I’m a Minuteman?
Florida State: AP No. 7
The Seminoles added three top-flight recruits to an already talented defense that gave up a 15.1 points per game, good for fourth in the country in 2011.
Defensive tackles Mario Edwards and Eddie Goldman join upperclassmen edge-rushers Brandon Jenkins and Bjoern Warner in what will be a dominating front line that is certain to stymie defenses.
The biggest question mark for this year’s FSU team is the consistency of play at the quarterback position. The mobile EJ Manuel will need to be more productive with his arm this year if the ‘Noles are to compete for a playoff bid.
With another year to learn Jumbo Fisher’s offensive system and five of his six receivers returning to the lineup, Manuel will find his stride, which is bad for the rest of the ACC.
It would be tough to put FSU much higher than No. 7 in the preseason poll, but a top five ranking is warranted.
Which team deserves to be No. 1 in the AP poll?
Southern California: AP No. 1
Everyone knows about the offense in Southern California, but a thin defensive line should be the difference between the Trojans being No. 1 and No. 2 in the polls.
USC returns one starter on the line, senior defensive end Wes Horton, while the middle is manned by two underclassmen, sophomores J.R. Tavai and George Uko.
Though their defensive backfield is stacked, it won’t mean much if the relatively inexperienced D-line cannot put pressure on opposing quarterbacks and clog up the line of scrimmage during run plays.
It’s the little things that matter, in separating the top teams in the AP polls and Barkley won’t throw for 5,000 yards if he isn’t on the field much.
Which is why…
Louisiana State University: AP No. 3
The Tigers should be the AP Preseason No. 1 team, despite the loss of one of the best defensive players in the country.
After being suspended by the team, starting cornerback Tyrann Mathieu is currently in John Lucas’ Treatment and Recovery Center, according to a conversation his father had with Fox News 8 New Orleans.
While this comes as a huge loss to the Tigers defense which finished second in the nation in total defense in 2011, it should not have dropped them to No. 3 in the polls.
The LSU offense is much improved, anchored by All-SEC first-team tackle Alex Hurst and new starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger.
By year’s end, the nation will be talking as much about the Tigers offense as it will its defense.
Expect to see LSU in the BCS Championship again this season. Don’t expect to witness another shutout.
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