College Football 2013: Every BCS Team's Biggest Concern for Next Season

Danny Flynn@FlynnceptionSenior Analyst IJanuary 8, 2013

College Football 2013: Every BCS Team's Biggest Concern for Next Season

0 of 70

    The 2012 college football season certainly didn't have the type of exciting ending that we were all hoping for. The much-anticipated and extremely hyped up BCS championship game showdown between Notre Dame and Alabama turned out to be a boring blowout that was basically over within the first five minutes. 

    Now that the Tide have been crowned the kings of college football for 2012, it's time to begin looking ahead to what to focus on during the offseason. 

    Here's a look at some of the major concerns that every school in a BCS conference has going into the 2013 season. 

Alabama Crimson Tide: Key Defensive Losses

1 of 70

    Every year, it seems like Nick Saban and his staff have to replace an abundance of defensive stars, who departed Alabama as highly sought after NFL draft prospects. 

    Last year, Saban had to replace key veteran standouts such as Mark Barron, Courtney Upshaw, Dont'a Hightower and Dre Kirkpatrick. 

    This year, the Tide will lose key senior starters such as DT Jesse Williams, DE Quinton Dial, LB Nico Johnson, safety Robert Lester and likely junior CB Dee Miller, who will probably be a top-15 pick in the 2013 NFL draft. 

    Fortunately, the team will bring back its defensive leader, inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, who led the team with over 100 tackles in 2012. However, once again, there will be some sizable holes to fill this offseason. 

    With the way Saban has recruited during his time in Tuscaloosa, though, he's got plenty of up-and-coming young talent to mold. 

Arizona Wildcats: Replacing Matt Scott

2 of 70

    All-American RB Ka'Deem Carey, who led the nation with 1,923 rushing yards this season, was clearly Arizona's most valuable offensive player in 2012. However, the Wildcats also got a solid senior season out of QB Matt Scott as well. 

    Scott flourished in Rich Rodriguez's offense. He completed 60 percent of his passes for over 3,600 yards and 27 touchdowns, and added 506 yards and six scores with his legs, as he led the team to an eight-win season. 

    Rodriguez will now turn to junior quarterback B.J. Denker to replace Scott. 

    Denker looked good in limited action this year, completing 25 of his 37 passes and accounting for four touchdowns. But the athletic former JUCO quarterback still has yet to prove himself over a full season. 

Arizona State Sun Devils: Finding a Go-to Wide Receiver

3 of 70

    Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly has the chance to be one of the biggest breakout stars of the 2013 season, and he may even be next year's version of Johnny Manziel.

    Still, in order for Kelly to truly reach his full potential next year, he's going to need to find a go-to No. 1 receiving target first. 

    The Sun Devils lost their two most productive wide receivers from 2012, Rashad Ross and Jamal Miles, who each had 37 catches in their final year. 

    TE Chris Coyle, who led the team with 57 receptions, will be back. But the offense is going to need a receiver like junior Kevin Ozier to step up in 2013. 

    Ozier only hauled in 21 catches this season. But he showed some big play ability, as he averaged 15.4 yards per catch and scored five touchdowns. 

Arkansas Razorbacks: Youth on Offense

4 of 70

    The 2012 season is one that Arkansas fans would love to forget about as quickly as possible, as the Razorbacks went just 4-8 this year.

    Expecting a big improvement in 2013 under new coach Bret Bielema may be asking a lot, considering how much youth and inexperience the team will have on offense. 

    Arkansas lost many of its key offensive players from this past season, including QB Tyler Wilson, running backs Dennis Johnson and Knile Davis, WR Cobi Hamilton, TE Chris Gragg and OG Alvin Bailey. 

    Bielema will definitely have his work cut out for him this offseason. But he does have a few intriguing young playmakers to work with such as RB Jonathan Williams and WR Mekale McKay. 

Auburn Tigers: Finding a Competent Quarterback

5 of 70

    Auburn was a severely flawed team on both sides of the ball in 2012. However, one of the main reasons that the Tigers won just three games this season was that they just couldn't find a competent quarterback to lead the offense. 

    The team started three different quarterbacks—Kiehl Frazier, Clint Moseley and Jonathan Wallace. But they combined to complete just 57 percent of their passes for 1,879 yards and threw just eight touchdowns compared to 15 interceptions. 

    Frazier will go into the offseason as the favorite to start in new head coach Gus Malzhan's offense. But the former 5-star recruit is going to have to show some major improvement if the Tigers want to contend for a bowl berth in 2013.   

Baylor Bears: Replacing Nick Florence and Terrance Williams

6 of 70

    For the second year in a row, Baylor is going to have to replace a highly productive quarterback-wide receiver tandem. 

    In 2012, the Bears had to replace Robert Griffin III and Kendall Wright. But luckily, they happened to have Nick Florence and Terrance Williams, who turned out to be capable replacements. 

    Now, Baylor will have to figure out how to make up for the loss of Florence, who led the nation with 4,309 passing yards, and Williams, who will likely be the first wide receiver taken in the 2013 NFL draft. 

    Bryce Petty, a sophomore who threw just 10 passes in 2012, is the favorite to take over for Florence, while Tevin Reese, who caught 53 passes and scored nine touchdowns, will likely be the team's new No. 1 WR.

    Don't be surprised if Art Briles decides to turn to the running game more often in 2013, since he'll have a potential breakout star in the backfield in speedster Lache Seastrunk. 

Boston College Eagles: The Lack of a Ground Game

7 of 70

    New Boston College head coach Steve Addazio has plenty to be concerned about this offseason, as he takes over a team that has won just six games in the past two years. 

    One of the main areas Addazio will have to improve right away is the team's lackluster rushing attack 

    The Eagles ranked 119th in the nation in rushing offense in 2012, averaging just 90 yards on the ground per game. 

    Juniors Andre Williams and Rolandan Finch have the potential to be a decent 1-2 punch. But the offensive line is going to need to open up some bigger holes for them to run through in 2013.

    That will be easier said than done, though, since the Eagles have lost their two best linemen, tackles John Wetzel and Emmett Cleary. 

BYU Cougars: Replacing Ezekiel Ansah

8 of 70

    BYU may not technically be in a BCS conference. However, the Cougars are a team that could potentially be in the hunt to make it to a BCS bowl game in 2013. 

    With All-American-caliber players, WR Cody Hoffman and LB Kyle Van Noy, returning to lead the way on offense and defense, it's a team that will be very dangerous. 

    The Cougars defense should be strong and stout once again next season. But one main concern is how to properly replace Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah. 

    Ansah was one of the biggest breakout defensive stars in college football this season, as he went from being a relative unknown special-teamer to an NFL first-round draft pick. 

    The freakishly athletic 6'6'', 270-pound edge-rusher totaled 4.5 sacks, 13 tackles for loss, nine pass breakups, six quarterback hurries and 35 solo tackles in his final season. 

    Van Noy may be one of the best defensive players in the country, but it's obvious that BYU will miss the Ghana native complementing him next season. 

Cal Golden Bears: Handling the Switch to a New Offensive Philosophy

9 of 70

    Sonny Dykes' old team, Louisiana Tech, averaged 44 passing attempts per game in 2012, which was the eighth most in the country. Dykes' new team, Cal, on the other hand, averaged just 30 passes per game. 

    The Mike Leach disciple clearly loves to toss the ball around the field as much as possible. But the question is, how will his new players handle the change in offensive philosophies in 2013. 

    The Golden Bears lose star receiver Keenan Allen to the NFL. However, Dykes will have some intriguing pieces to work with, including QB Allan Bridgford and freshmen receivers Chris Harper and Bryce Treggs. 

    It may take some time for the players to adapt to the new offensive system, but once they do, Cal should be able to put up the type of impressive stats that Dykes' offenses have become known for. 

Cincinnati Bearcats: Replacing the Top Four Tacklers on Defense

10 of 70

    New Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville takes over a team that will have to replace plenty of key players from the 2012 season, especially on the defensive side of the ball. 

    The Bearcats lost their top four tacklers from this season, linebackers Greg Blair and Maalik Bomar, CB Camerron Cheaham and DE Dan Giordano. They'll also have to make up for the losses of safety Drew Frey, DE Walter Stewart and DT John Williams. 

    Losing so many key players on defense is clearly going to hinder Cincinnati in 2013. The question is, can returning defenders such as LB Nick Temple, DT Camaron Beard and safety Aaryn Chenault step up and become reliable playmakers next season?

Clemson Tigers: Replacing Andre Ellington

11 of 70

    We still have yet to learn whether QB Tajh Boyd or WR DeAndre Hopkins will declare early for the 2013 NFL Draft. However, we know that the Tigers will have to wave goodbye to one key offensive playmaker, senior RB Andre Ellington. 

    Ellington was one of the ACC's most explosive weapons in 2012, as he totaled over 1,200 yards of offense and accounted for nine touchdowns. 

    5'9'', 195-pound junior Roderick McDowell, who averaged 5.4 yards on 83 total carries this season, will likely become the team's new featured back in 2013. 

    McDowell had a few big runs late in the season. But he still has to prove that he can carry the load and show that his body can hold up for a full season. 

Colorado Buffaloes: Everything

12 of 70

    It's tough to know where to even begin, when trying to discuss all of the problems plaguing the Colorado football team. This season, the Buffaloes ranked 119th in the nation in total offense and 120th in scoring offense, averaging just 17 points and 302 yards per game. 

    As pitiful as that sounds, somehow the defense managed to be even worse, ranking dead last in the country in scoring defense and 121st in total defense, giving up an average of 46 points and 488 yards per game. 

    New head coach Mike MacIntyre did a great job at San Jose State in 2012, leading the Spartans to a 10-2 regular season record. But he's got one heck of a rebuilding job ahead of him in Boulder. 

    Wish MacIntyre luck, because he's going to need it. 

Connecticut Huskies: Lack of Offensive Production

13 of 70

    Connecticut ranked first in the Big East in total defense in 2012, allowing just 309 yards per game. However, the team went just 5-7 and missed out on a bowl game, mainly due to the fact that the offense was just so inefficient.

    The Huskies ranked 120th in the nation in scoring offense, averaging just 17 points per game. 

    Lyle McCombs may be one of the most underrated running backs in the country. But he simply can't do it all by himself. 

    QB Chandler Whitmer and his receivers need to step up and create more big plays through the air in 2013 if Connecticut wants to make it to a bowl game next season. 

Duke Blue Devils: Replacing Conner Vernon

14 of 70

    This season, Duke made its first bowl appearance since the 1995 Hall of Fame Bowl. However, the Blue Devils won't have an easy time getting back to the postseason in 2013 without WR Conner Vernon. 

    Vernon led the team in receptions in each of the past three years, and he's one of the best and most productive players in the history of the program. 

    Luckily, Duke has a potential budding star in sophomore WR Jamison Crowder, who caught 76 passes for 1,074 yards and eight touchdowns this year. However, Crowder is going to have to prove that he can handle being the main weapon in the passing game next season. 

Florida Gators: Replacing Mike Gillislee

15 of 70

    Florida's defense lost some key underclassmen defenders such as DT Sharrif Floyd, LB Jelani Jenkins and safety Matt Elam early to the NFL. However, the Gators still have enough top-tier talent on that side of the ball to survive in 2013. 

    The team's biggest loss was on the offensive side of the ball, where RB Mike Gillislee leaves a big hole to fill in the backfield. 

    Gillislee stepped up and became the workhorse back that Florida desperately needed in 2012, as he rushed for 1,152 yards and 10 touchdowns. 

    The Gators offense lacked explosiveness even with the powerful rusher in the fold, as the unit averaged just 26 points per game, 5.2 yards per play and had just 162 plays of 10 yards or more.

    Who knows how productive the offense will be in 2013, now that Gillislee's gone. 

Florida State Seminoles: Unproven Edge-Rushers

16 of 70

    Even though Florida State lost star DE Brandon Jenkins after just one game this season, the Seminoles still had a great pair of pass-rushers comprised of Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine. 

    Werner and Carradine combined to total 24 sacks and 31 tackles for loss in 2012. 

    Both players, along with Jenkins, will be severely missed, especially Werner, who will likely be a top-10 pick in the 2013 NFL draft. 

    Florida State will go into the 2013 season with two new starters on the edge of its defensive line. Former blue-chip recruit Mario Edwards has the potential to develop into a dominant impact player.

    Still, considering he had just 1.5 sacks in his first season, he's clearly got plenty to prove as a sophomore. 

Georgia Bulldogs: Huge Losses on Defense

17 of 70

    Georgia will have one of the best offensive trios in college football next season comprised of QB Aaron Murray, RB Todd Gurley and RB Malcolm Mitchell. However, the Bulldogs will also have plenty of inexperienced new starters on defense. 

    It's a unit that lost five players that will be selected in the 2013 NFL draft—linebackers Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree, NT John Jenkins and safeties Bacarri Rambo and Shawn Williams. It also lost key contributors such as defensive ends Cornelius Washington and Abry Jones, linebackers Michael Gilliard and Christian Robinson, and cornerbacks Sanders Commings and Branden Smith.

    The loss of so many key defenders definitely hurts. But Georgia does have some intriguing returning players to watch out for such as NT Kwame Geathers, LB Jordan Jenkins and CB Damian Swann. 

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: Finding a Downfield Receiving Threat

18 of 70

    Georgia Tech's offense is known for Paul Johnson's run-heavy flexbone triple-option attack. During the first few years that Johnson was in Atlanta, the Yellow Jackets had a ton of success, running the unique offensive system, as they won 20 games, including an ACC championship in 2009, in his first two years. 

    Recently, however, the ACC seems to have figured out how to contain the one-dimensional offense, as Johnson's squad has averaged just seven wins per season over the last three years. 

    It wouldn't hurt if the team could find a downfield receiving threat to keep defenses honest like standouts such as Stephen Hill and Demaryius Thomas used to do.

    Jeremy Moore and Darren Waller both showed that they could create big plays when thrown to last year, as they averaged 19 yards and 20 yards per catch respectively. However, Johnson has to figure out a way to get them more involved in the offense in 2013. 

Illinois Fighting Illini: Lack of Explosive Offensive Plays

19 of 70

    Tim Beckman's first season at Illinois turned out to be a nightmare. After overseeing a Toledo offense that ranked in the top 10 nationally in both scoring offense and total offense in 2011, Beckman had to watch as his Illini offense sputtered in 2012. 

    Illinois finished the season with just 127 plays of 10 yards or more, which was the fourth lowest total in the country. 

    If the Illini want to win more than two games in 2013, then they're simply going to have to create more big, explosive plays on offense. 

Indiana Hoosiers: Too Many Holes on Defense

20 of 70

    Indiana has some intriguing talent on offense such as QB Tre Roberson, RB Stephen Houston and receivers Cody Latimer, Shane Wynn and Kofi Hughes.

    If the Hoosiers want to actually take a step up in 2013, however, they're going to have to fix some major problems on defense. 

    This season, Indiana ranked dead last in the Big Ten in both scoring defense and total defense, giving up an average of 35 points and 463 yards per game. 

    Fortunately, the defense brings back 16 of its top 18 tacklers from 2012. But the Hoosiers clearly have to get a better effort out of all of their returning defenders next season. 

Iowa Hawkeyes: Finding a Quality Quarterback

21 of 70

    This season, Iowa had its worst campaign since 2000, finishing the year with just a 4-8 record and a 2-6 record against Big Ten competition. 

    One of the main reasons the Hawkeyes struggled so much is because they just didn't get anywhere near the type of consistent play out of QB James Vandenberg that they were expecting. 

    Vandenberg finished his final season with just a 57 percent completion percentage and a 7-8 touchdown-interception ratio. 

    In order for Iowa to bounce back in 2013, the team will need to get better play out of the quarterback position. 

    Obviously, it doesn't help that the three quarterbacks that will be competing for the starting job—C.J. Beathard, Cody Sokol and Jake Rudock—have never thrown a pass in an actual game for the Hawkeyes. 

Iowa State Cyclones: Replacing Jake Knott and A.J. Klein

22 of 70

    For the past three years, Iowa State has had two of the best linebackers in the Big 12, Jake Knott and A.J. Klein, leading its defense. 

    Knott and Klein combined to rack up a whopping 708 total tackles during their time in Ames. 

    The Cyclones defense certainly won't be the same without those two roaming around the field and causing havoc. 

Kansas Jayhawks: The Lack of Playmaking Receivers

23 of 70

    Kansas has plenty of problems, which you can easily tell by its 1-11 record in 2012. 

    One of the most glaring issues is that the team lacks a receiver that can consistently create big plays in the passing game. 

    The Jayhawks only return one wide receiver, Andrew Turzilli, who caught more than 10 passes in 2012. 

    In order for Charlie Weis to mold a successful quarterback at Kansas, the coach will first have to find some reliable pass-catchers for him to throw to. 

Kansas State Wildcats: Replacing Collin Klein

24 of 70

    Collin Klein may not have a big future as a star quarterback in the NFL. But you still have to appreciate all that he accomplished in his two years as a starter at Kansas State. 

    Klein led the Wildcats to a 21-5 record over the last two seasons, and he left plenty of opposing defenders scarred and bruised. 

    Daniel Sams, who threw just eight passes as a freshman in 2012, is the type of athletic dual-threat signal-caller who could give defenses fits just like Klein did. But he still has to prove he has the toughness and leadership ability that the 3rd place Heisman-finisher provided. 

Kentucky Wildcats: The Losing Culture

25 of 70

    The University of Kentucky may be home to the most powerful college basketball program in America. But the football program is a completely different story. 

    The Wildcats have won just five of their last 22 games on the gridiron, and they finished the 2012 season with an awful 2-10 record. 

    New head coach Mark Stoops, the younger brother of Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, will have a tough challenge trying to change the losing culture in Lexington in his first year. 

    The Wildcats have some intriguing up-and-coming talent, especially on defense with linebackers Avery Williamson and Alvin Dupree. But they're still a year away from legitimately competing with SEC teams. 

Louisville Cardinals: Handling the Hype

26 of 70

    Tell me if you've heard this story before—an underdog Big East team that's leaving the league to go to a better conference has a huge, unexpected performance in a BCS bowl game, which leads to it becoming one of the hot teams of the offseason. 

    If that sounds familiar, that's because it's exactly what happened to West Virginia after the Mountaineers stomped on Clemson 70-33 in the Orange Bowl last year. 

    Although Louisville didn't put up that same kind of lopsided score against Florida in the Sugar Bowl, the Cardinals did thoroughly dominate the Gators down in New Orleans. 

    QB Teddy Bridgewater will now surely find his name on a few Heisman preseason favorite lists this summer. But him and his team have to be careful that they don't get caught up in the hype. 

    Louisville will be making a move out of the Big East and into a tougher conference, the ACC, next season. 

    The Cardinals have the talent to compete at a higher level. But the underclassmen-laden team has to prove that it can handle the spotlight and the higher caliber of competition in 2013. 

LSU Tigers: The Loss of so Many Key Defensive Stars

27 of 70

    Les Miles likely expected a few of LSU's top underclassmen defensive prospects such as safety Eric Reid and defensive ends Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery to declare for the 2013 NFL draft.

    Miles had one of his worst nightmares come to life, however, when other Tiger underclassmen defenders  such as DT Bennie Logan, LB Kevin Minter and CB Tharold Simon—all decided to turn pro as well. 

    Like other top SEC powers such as Alabama, Georgia and Florida, LSU will have to overcome some debilitating defensive losses in order to compete or a BCS championship next season. 

Maryland Terrapins: The Defensive Front-Seven

28 of 70

    Maryland lost many of the key players from its defensive front-seven, including defensive linemen Joe Vellano and A.J. Francis and linebackers Demetrius Hartsfield and Kenny Tate. 

    The Terrapins have enough young talent on offense to survive in the ACC in 2013. But they're going to need to add more power in the defensive trenches in order to actually make it to a bowl game next season. 

Miami Hurricanes: Fixing the Pass-Rush

29 of 70

    Miami has some bright young players on defense that appear like they're ready to shine in 2013. However, one area that the Hurricanes clearly need to improve on before they can compete for a national championship is their pass-rush. 

    The defense racked up a total of just 13 sacks in 2012, which was the fifth lowest total in the nation. 

    Next season, defensive ends Anthony Chickillo, Shayon Green and Tyriq McCord, DT Olson Pierre and linebackers Denzel Perryman and Eddie Johnson have to do a better job of getting to the quarterback on a more consistent basis. 

Michigan Wolverines: Replacing Denard Robinson

30 of 70

    During his career at Michigan, QB Denard Robinson never developed into a truly dynamic dual-threat quarterback, who could beat a defense with his arm just as often as he could beat one with his legs. However, Robinson's running ability was a major part of the Wolverines' offensive success. 

    His replacement, Devin Gardner, ultimately could end up being the better player. But it's still no guarantee, especially considering how inconsistent he was in the Outback Bowl against South Carolina. 

    If Michigan wants to compete with rival Ohio State for a Big Ten championship in 2013, it's going to need Gardner to be a more accurate and more consistent passer than his predecessor. 

Michigan State Spartans: Replacing Le’Veon Bell

31 of 70

    Le'Veon Bell was an absolute workhorse back for the Michigan State offense in 2012. Bell led the nation with 382 total rushing attempts, and he ended up rushing for 1,793 yards and 12 touchdowns. 

    The surprisingly athletic 6'2'', 244-pound junior carried the Spartans offense on his back throughout the season, and he provided the team with a steady presence in the backfield. 

    Without Bell in the lineup, Michigan State's offense will have a totally different look in 2013. 

Minnesota Golden Gophers: Philip Nelson’s Decision-Making

32 of 70

    Minnesota fans got a taste of the future when they got the chance to see freshman QB Philip Nelson start a few games late in the 2012 season. 

    Nelson showed some nice flashes of his potential at times. But overall, he was largely inconsistent with both his accuracy and decision-making. 

    The young signal-caller completed just 48 percent of his passes, averaged just 5.7 yards per attempt and finished with just an 8-8 touchdown-interception ratio. 

    If the Golden Gophers want to make it back to the postseason once again in 2013, they're going to need a big improvement from Nelson. 

Mississippi State Bulldogs: Inexperienced Secondary

33 of 70

    This season, Mississippi State's secondary featured one of the best overall defensive backs in the country, CB Johnthan Banks. However, not only did the Bulldogs lose Banks, who is likely destined to be a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft, they also lost CB Darius Slay and safety Corey Broomfield, who combined for 80 tackles in 2012. 

    The only starter the team has returning in the secondary is safety Nickoe Whitley. 

    Coach Dan Mullen certainly has to be concerned about his team's lack of experience in such a key area.

Missouri Tigers: Replacing Sheldon Richardson

34 of 70

    Missouri's first season in the SEC certainly wasn't a memorable one. The Tigers finished just 5-7 and just 2-6 against league competition in 2012. 

    While most of the team struggled, there was one player, DT Sheldon Richardson, who flourished. 

    Richardson was one of the most productive and disruptive defensive players in the country, racking up 75 tackles, including 10.5 tackles for loss and 39 solo stops, to go along with four sacks, seven quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles. 

    It obviously won't be easy for Missouri to get that kind of production out of Richardson's replacements in 2013. 

NC State Wolfpack: Replacing Mike Glennon

35 of 70

    QB Mike Glennon wasn't exactly the model of consistency during his two years as a starter at NC State. However, Glennon was a highly productive passer, combining to throw for over 7,000 yards and 62 touchdowns in his final two seasons. 

    The big, strong-armed senior signal-caller was a dangerous passing threat who forced defenses to respect his ability to get the ball down the field.

    It remains to be seen if his replacement, which will likely be Colorado State transfer Pete Thomas, can command that type of respect. 

Nebraska Cornhuskers: The Fumble Issue

36 of 70

    Nebraska had a huge problem holding onto the football in 2012. The Cornhuskers had 35 total fumbles this season, which was the second highest total in the country. Of those, they had 22 total fumbles lost, which was the highest total in the country. 

    The coaching staff has to do a better job during the offseason of stressing the importance of taking care of the football.

    When you have that amount of careless, avoidable turnovers, it makes it much harder to compete for conference championships. 

North Carolina Tar Heels: Replacing Giovani Bernard

37 of 70

    Giovani Bernard wasn't really ever included in the legitimate Heisman discussion. But judging from the type of numbers that Bernard put up at North Carolina in 2012, he definitely should have been. 

    The versatile sophomore speedster ranked first in the nation with an average of 171 yards from scrimmage per game this season. 

    Bernard did major damage to opponents as a runner, a receiver and a returner. The Tar Heels simply won't be the same type of team without him around to stretch defenses and create explosive plays. 

Northwestern Wildcats: Diversifying the Offense

38 of 70

    Northwestern relied heavily on its rushing attack to have one of the best seasons in school history in 2012. The Wildcats ranked 19th in the nation in rushing offense with an average of 225 yards on the ground per game. However, they weren't nearly as productive throwing the ball, as they averaged just 169 passing yards per game. 

    The team will have to diversify its offense and have a stronger emphasis on the passing game if it wants to take the next step and compete for a Big Ten title in 2013.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Replacing Manti Te'o

39 of 70

    Like BYU, Notre Dame is another team that is considered to be an independent. But in terms of popularity, the Irish are right up there with any team in a BCS conference, which is why they're included in the list.

    Manti Te'o got exposed in the BCS championship game against Alabama. However, you still have to appreciate all that he was able to accomplish in his senior season. 

    Te'o was the heart and soul of a defense that was ranked as one of the best in the country in most major statistical categories. 

    The intimidating inside linebacker not only provided the Irish defense with an elite playmaker in the middle of the field, he also gave the team a true leader to rally around. 

    Notre Dame's defense will have plenty of returning potential stars, including NT Louis Nix, DE Stephon Tuitt and CB Bennett Jackson. But none of them individually can truly offer all the great things that Te'o gave the Irish. 

Ohio State Buckeyes: Inexperienced Defensive Line

40 of 70

    Ohio State's defensive line has lost all four of its starters from 2012—defensive ends Nathan Williams and John Simon and defensive tackles Johnathan Hankins and Garrett Goebel. 

    The loss of Hankins and Simon, who will both be high picks in the 2013 NFL draft, really hurts the most. But there's no question that Williams and Goebel will be missed as well. 

    Urban Meyer has done a good job of recruiting blue-chip defensive line prospects during his time in Columbus, so the Buckeyes will have some intriguing young talent to work with such as freshman defensive ends Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence. 

Oklahoma Sooners: Replacing Landry Jones

41 of 70

    Landry Jones wasn't always the greatest quarterback on the big stage during his four years as a starter at Oklahoma. However, Jones was always a highly productive passer, which is evidenced by the 16,646 passing yards and the 123 passing touchdowns he finished his career with. 

    We know Jones' replacement, Blake "The Belldozer" Bell, can certainly run the ball. But the big question is, can he match what his predecessor was able to do through the air. 

    It certainly won't be easy for Bell to put up the same type of big passing numbers that Jones did. But the team will likely switch its focus to a more run-oriented offense anyway. 

Oklahoma State Cowboys: Replacing Quinn Sharp

42 of 70

    Oklahoma State returns a lot of key playmakers for next season. But it's obvious that losing a multi-faceted special teams weapon like Quinn Sharp is a tough blow.  

    Sharp handled both the placekicking and punting duties for the Cowboys in 2012, and he excelled at both of them. 

    The senior specialist knocked through 28 of his 34 field-goal attempts, and he also averaged a whopping 46 yards per punt. 

    You really won't understand just how devastating losing a player like Sharp really is until you start seeing the drastic change in average starting field position for Oklahoma State's opponents in 2013. 

Ole Miss Rebels: Too Many Interceptions

43 of 70

    Bo Wallace was a hidden gem for the Ole Miss offense in 2012. Wallace turned out to be one of the most dangerous dual-threat quarterbacks in the SEC, throwing for over 2,900 yards and 22 touchdowns, rushing for another 390 yards and accounting for 31 touchdowns. 

    Although the talented sophomore led the Rebels to a 7-6 record and a bowl victory, he certainly wasn't perfect in his first season as a starter. 

    Wallace finished the season tied for the national lead with 17 interceptions. 

    If Ole Miss wants to truly make some noise in the SEC West in 2013, Wallace will have to figure out how to cut down on all the picks. 

Oregon Ducks: Replacing Kenjon Barner

44 of 70

    For the second year in a row, Chip Kelly and the Oregon coaching staff will have to figure out how to replace one of the most productive players in the country. 

    Last year, they had to replace LaMichael James. Now, this year, they have to replace his successor, RB Kenjon Barner. 

    After finally getting the chance to step out of James' shadow, Barner flourished in his one year as the full-time starter in 2012. The 5'11'', 192-pound senior rushed for 1,767 yards and scored 23 touchdowns. 

    Barner's replacement, De'Anthony Thomas, is an xplosive playmaker that can change games with his speed. But it remains to be seen how the 5'9'', 176-pound sophomore will handle getting the majority of the carries. 

    Fortunately, the Ducks also have freshman Byron Marshall, who they can also add to the mix. 

Oregon State Beavers: Developing a Consistent Quarterback

45 of 70

    Oregon State has plenty of intriguing young talent returning for the 2013 season, most notably RB Storm Woods, WR Brandin Cooks and defensive ends Scott Crichton and Dylan Wynn.

    Still, if the Beavers want to actually compete with in-state rival Oregon for a Pac-12 North division title next season, they're going to need to find a quarterback that they can trust. 

    Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz both got the opportunity to start in 2012, and both had their good and bad moments. 

    The team doesn't need Mannion or Vaz to be a star; they just need a steady starting quarterback who can make the type of crucial crunch-time plays when it really counts. 

Penn State Nittany Lions: Replacing Michael Mauti

46 of 70

    Michael Mauti may not have been the fastest inside linebacker in college football in 2012 (multiple injuries throughout his career certainly hindered him). However, Mauti was a valuable veteran leader, who played at an elite level this season. 

    When you couple his loss with the loss of DT Jordan Hill, you obviously have to be very concerned about the interior of Penn State's defense. 

    Without Mauti, Hill and LB Gerald Hodges, the Nittany Lions will likely have trouble holding opposing rushers to the 3.5 yards per carry average that they did in 2012. 

Pittsburgh Panthers: Inexperience at Quarterback

47 of 70

    No Pitt fan ever got Tino Sunseri confused with an elite quarterback. However, the Panthers had to appreciate the type of improvement that Sunseri showed as a senior in 2012. 

    After a highly inconsistent career, Sunseri ended strong, completing 65 percent of his passes for over 3,200 yards and finishing with a 21-3 touchdown-interception ratio. 

    The favorite to be the new starting signal-caller in 2013 is Trey Anderson, who attempted just two passes this season. 

Purdue Boilermakers: The Run Defense

48 of 70

    Purdue had Kawann Short, one of the best defensive tackles in the country, lining up in the middle of its defense in 2012, yet the Boilermakers still managed to rank just 79th in the nation in rush defense, allowing an average of 181 yards on the ground per game. 

    Now that Short's no longer around, things could get even worse during Darrell Hazell's first year at the helm in 2013. 

Rutgers Scarlet Knights: Finding New Defensive Leaders

49 of 70

    This season, the Rutgers defense featured two of the biggest standout defensive stars in the Big East, LB Khaseem Greene, who was the conference's Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season, and CB Logan Ryan, who has a chance to work his way into the first-round conversation for the 2013 NFL draft. 

    Greene and Ryan were both supremely skilled at making big impact plays at crucial times, and both will clearly be missed. 

    The Scarlet Knights are going to have to find some new defensive leaders for 2013, which won't be easy, considering the team lost six of its top eight tacklers from this season. 

South Carolina Gamecocks: Finding a New Feature Back

50 of 70

    Marcus Lattimore has made the wise decision to try to focus on his career in the NFL after experiencing two serious injuries to his legs over the last two seasons. 

    That means it's finally time for South Carolina to find a proper replacement for their star rusher.

    Brandon Wilds and Mike Davis are expected to compete for the starting running back role. But neither has yet to come close to showing that they could dominate the way that Lattimore did.  

South Florida Bulls: Breaking in New Specialists

51 of 70

    New South Florida coach Willie Taggart has some work to do down in Tampa turning around a team that went just 3-9 in 2012. 

    One of the main problems that Taggart will have to quickly solve is on special teams, where the Bulls lost both kicker Maikon Bonani and punter Justin Brockhaus-Kann. 

    Bonani has been the Bulls' placekicker for the past three years, making 77 percent of his field-goal attempts during that time, while Brockhaus-Kann has been the team's punter for that same amount of time, averaging 37 yards per punt. 

    Neither of the two specialists were great, but they were solid and consistent, and neither will be easy to replace. 

Stanford Cardinal: Replacing Stepfan Taylor

52 of 70

    For the second year in a row, Stanford is going to have to figure out how to replace its most valuable offensive player. Although RB Stepfan Taylor wasn't as big of a star this season as QB Andrew Luck was in 2011, he still played a critical role in the Cardinal's run to a Pac-12 championship and a Rose Bowl victory. 

    Taylor finished his senior year with 1,530 rushing yards, 41 catches for 287 yards and 15 total touchdowns. 

    The tough, versatile and highly productive playmaker obviously won't be easy to replace. 

    Anthony Wilkerson, a 6'1'', 218-pound junior who carried the ball just 50 times in 2012, will likely be the one who fills Taylor's role as the team's new featured back in 2013. 

Syracuse Orange: Replacing Ryan Nassib

53 of 70

    Not only did Syracuse lose its head coach Doug Marrone, the Orange also lost their best overall player, QB Ryan Nassib. 

    Nassib was one of the most underrated passers in the country in 2012. He completed 62 percent of his passes for over 3,700 yards and 26 touchdowns, as he led the team to an eight-win season. 

    The senior signal-caller impressed pro scouts with his play, and he could end up being a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft. 

    As for Syracuse, it will have to replace Nassib with a quarterback that's never thrown a pass at the collegiate level. 

Temple Owls: The Lack of a Passing Game

54 of 70

    Temple's first season back in the Big East didn't feature many victories, as the Owls finished the year just 4-7 and just 2-5 in conference play. 

    One of the main reasons the team struggled had to do with its lack of a consistent passing game. 

    The Owls finished the season ranked 120th in the nation in passing offense, averaging just 120 yards through the air per game. 

    QB Chris Coyer, who completed just 51 percent of his passes and threw just eight touchdowns in 2012, will have to battle Juice Granger and Kevin Newsome for his job this offseason. 

    No matter who ends up as the starter, though, it's obvious that Temple is going to need much better play at the position in 2013 if it wants to win more than four games next season. 

TCU Horned Frogs: Potential Quarterback Controversy

55 of 70

    Gary Patterson has left the door open for troubled quarterback Casey Pachall to return to the team this offseason, as long as Pachall takes care of his personal issues and fulfills his off-field obligations. 

    Pachall left the team in early October after being arrested for suspicion of DUI, and it still remains to be seen if he'll return. 

    His replacement, Trevone Boykin, showed some nice flashes later in the year, but overall, he was pretty inconsistent, which is understandable for a young freshman. 

    If Pachall does come back, it will be interesting to see how Patterson will handle the potential quarterback controversy that could arise in the offseason. 

    The Horned Frogs have the talent on defense, and the playmakers at the offensive skill-positions such as WR Brandon Carter and RB Waymon James to compete for a Big 12 title in 2013. But in order to do that, they'll need a consistent and reliable quarterback that can guide them to the promised land. 

Tennessee Volunteers: No Cohesion on Defense

56 of 70

    Tennessee has more talent on its defense than its poor 2012 numbers would lead you to believe. This season, the Volunteers got toasted and finished the year ranked last in the SEC in both scoring defense and total defense, giving up an average of 35 points and 471 yards per game. 

    The problem with the defense wasn't talent, it was the fact that the unit just lacked cohesion this season. 

    With potential standouts like linebackers A.J. Johnson, Curt Maggitt and Jacques Smith, NT Daniel McCullers and CB Justin Coleman all returning, it wouldn't be surprising if the Tennessee defense made a drastic improvement under new coach Butch Jones in 2013. 

    The key, however, will be for the defense to play together and play as a unified unit next season. 

Texas Longhorns: Motivation

57 of 70

    Although Texas has fallen back to the pack in the Big 12 over the last three years, every one of those seasons, the Longhorns have had the talent to compete for a conference championship. 

    The main problem that has been plaguing Mack Brown's squad during that time has been motivation. 

    Lately, Brown has been unable to get his players properly motivated to play their best every single week of the season. We saw that on a few different occasions during the team's 9-4 campaign in 2012, which included blowout losses to both Oklahoma (63-21) and Kansas State (42-24). 

    Texas has plenty of talent returning for the 2013 season once again, including the running back trio of Joe Bergeron, Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown, the wide receiver duo of Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley, QB David Ash, OG Mason Walters, DE Jackson Jeffcoat, LB Steve Edmond and cornerbacks Quandre Diggs and Carrington Byndom. 

    We know the Longhorns have plenty of potential All-Conference talent. What we don't know is if Brown can keep their eye on the prize next season. 

Texas A&M Aggies: Replacing Damontre Moore

58 of 70

    This season, Damontre Moore handled his switch from his hybrid "Joker" linebacker position to a 4-3 end beautifully. Not only did Moore prove that he had no trouble rushing with his hand in the ground; he showed that he could flat-out dominate against some of the best competition that the SEC had to offer. 

    The powerful and instinctive edge-rusher finished the 2012 season with 12.5 sacks, 21 tackles for loss, 57 solo stops, nine quarterback hurries and two blocked kicks. 

    Following Moore's brilliant performance this year, the 6'4'', 250-pound end will likely be a top-5 pick in the 2013 NFL draft. 

    Texas A&M certainly won't have an easy time trying to replace the dangerous defensive difference-maker.

Texas Tech Red Raiders: Replacing Seth Doege

59 of 70

    Collin Klein, Geno Smith and Landry Jones may have been the Big 12 quarterbacks who received the most attention this season. But Texas Tech's Seth Doege turned out to be just as good of a passer as any of his more heralded conference counterparts. 

    Doege completed 70 percent of his passes for over 4,200 yards and threw 39 touchdowns as a senior. 

    New Red Raiders head coach Kliff Kingsbury certainly won't have an easy time trying to replace the savvy senior signal-caller. 

UCLA Bruins: Playing More Disciplined

60 of 70

    UCLA had a tremendous breakthrough season in Jim Mora's first season in Westwood. 

    Although they were originally picked well behind crosstown rival USC in the Pac-12 South division before the season started, the Bruins ended up beating the Trojans, winning the division and making it all the way to the conference championship game. 

    Ultimately, the season ended with two tough losses to Stanford and Baylor. But overall, it was a very encouraging debut for Mora. 

    Even with breakout star quarterback Brett Hundley and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year candidate, LB Anthony Barr, both returning, there's still plenty of things the team has to improve on for 2013. 

    One of the real hindrances this season was the penalty problem. 

    UCLA finished the season with 129 total penalties, which was the most in college football by 21, as well as the most penalty yards, 1,273 yards, which was also the most in college football by 304 total yards. 

    If the Bruins can cut down on the yellow flags, they should be able to compete for a league title once again next season. 

USC Trojans: Replacing Matt Barkley

61 of 70

    USC fans who watched the team's pathetic performance in a loss to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl have to be concerned about next year's potential starting quarterback Max Wittek. 

    The offense looked like it was stuck in the mud with Wittek at the helm in the final few games against Notre Dame and the Yellow Jackets. 

    While it's true that Matt Barkley didn't come close to living up to his hype in his senior year, he still created plenty of big passing plays during his time as a Trojan. 

    USC fans better hope that incoming 5-star recruit Max Browne is as good as advertised, because if Wittek ends up as the starting quarterback in 2013, it could be a long year in the land of Troy. 

Utah Utes: Replacing Star Lotulelei and Joe Kruger

62 of 70

    Utah didn't do much right during its forgettable 5-7 season in 2012. However, one thing the team excelled at was stopping the run. 

    The Utes ranked second in the Pac-12 in rushing defense, allowing just 128 yards on the ground per game. 

    The main reason the defense was able to shut down opposing rushing attacks was the presence of monstrous run-stuffing DT Star Lotulelei in the middle of the field. 

    Losing Lotulelei, who is destined to be a top-15 pick in the 2013 NFL draft, is a huge hit to Utah's defense. Plus, it certainly doesn't help that the Utes will also have to replace their second best defensive lineman, DE Joe Kruger, who left for the NFL a year early after notching six sacks and eight tackles for loss in 2012. 

Vanderbilt Commodores: Replacing Zac Stacy

63 of 70

    Vanderbilt coach James Franklin got some great news when his breakout star WR Jordan Matthews announced that he would return for his senior year. However, Franklin still has to be concerned about losing RB Zac Stacy. 

    Stacy was one of the most underrated rushers in the country in 2012. The powerful 5'9'', 210-pound senior played a key role in the Commodores' 9-4 campaign, as he totaled over 1,300 yards of offense and scored 10 touchdowns. 

    Former 4-star recruit Brian Kimbrow, who averaged 6.2 yards on 66 carries this season, seems to be loaded with potential. But the young freshman still has a long way to go to show that he's the same caliber of workhorse back that Stacy was. 

Virginia Cavaliers: Replacing Steve Greer

64 of 70

    Steve Greer has been the heart and soul of Virginia's defense for the past four years, leading the team in tackles in three out of the past four seasons and totaling 375 total stops in his career. 

    The presence of Greer in the middle of the Cavs defense will certainly be missed in 2013. 

    It also doesn't help that Virginia lost its second-leading tackler, LB LaRoy Reynolds, as well. 

Virginia Tech Hokies: The Receiver Corps

65 of 70

    Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas had a highly inconsistent campaign in 2012, as he completed just 51 percent of his passes and threw 16 interceptions. 

    Given how much Thomas struggled this season, it has to be concerning that he's going to lose his three top receivers—Marcus Davis, Corey Fuller and Dyrell Roberts. 

    The Hokies will go into the 2013 season with just one wide receiver, Demitri Knowles, who caught more than 10 passes this year. 

    Knowles, who is just a freshman, will be asked to become the leader of what will be one of the most inexperienced and unproven wide receiver corps in the country, going into next season. 

Wake Forest Demon Deacons: Scoring

66 of 70

    Somehow, Wake Forest managed to win five games in 2012, even though the Demon Deacons finished the season with the 116th ranked scoring offense in the country, averaging just 18.5 points per game. 

    If this team wants to make it to the postseason next season, the offense is going to have to figure out how to put up more points on the scoreboard. 

    Wake Forest topped the 30-point mark just once this season (a 49-37 win over a 2-10 Army team). There were eight games, in which the Demon Deacons were held to 21 points or less. 

    The team has a few solid playmers returning on offense such as QB Tanner Price, RB Josh Harris and WR Michael Campanaro. But those three have to do a better job of getting the offense into the end zone in 2013. 

Washington Huskies: Pass- Protection

67 of 70

    This season, Washington's offensive line did a good job opening up holes for RB Bishop Sankey, who ran for over 1,400 yards and 16 touchdowns. However, the front-five didn't do nearly as good of a job keeping QB Keith Price safe and protected in the pocket. 

    The Huskies gave up 38 sacks this season, which was the seventh highest total in the country. 

    The lack of pass-protection is one of the main reasons why Price struggled so much in 2012. 

    Washington has lost senior center Drew Schaefer, its important veteran leader in the trenches. But the line will return four other starters and should hopefully be a more cohesive unit next season. 

Washington State Cougars: No Running Game

68 of 70

    Take a guess which team had the lowest yards per carry average in college football this season. 

    If you said Washington State, congratulations, you win the prize. 

    The Cougars averaged just 1.4 yards per carry in 2012, which was the lowest total in all of college football (Admittedly, the fact that they gave up so many negative plays on sacks didn't help).

    Mike Leach may love his pass-heavy Air Raid offensive system. But in order to be successful, an offense needs to at least have some semblance of a ground attack to balance things out. 

    Freshman running back Teondray Caldwell looks like he has potential. But Leach and the coaching staff are going to need to figure out ways to get him and the rest of the running game moving in the right direction in 2013. 

West Virginia Mountaineers: Replacing the “Big 3”

69 of 70

    You can easily say that West Virginia's biggest concern this offseason will be trying to fix a defense that was an utter disaster in 2012.

    Still, considering the way Dana Holgorsen operates, he's probably going to pay just as much attention, if not more, to the offensive side of the ball, where the Mountaineers lost all three of their top playmakers—QB Geno Smith and wide receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. 

    Smith, Austin and Bailey helped the offense rank ninth in the nation in scoring and 10th in passing this season. 

    For an offense that relies so heavily on the passing game for success, obviously, their three departures are major blows. 

    Luckily, the team has two talented young sophomore running backs, Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison, that it will be able to feature more prominently next season. But it remains to be seen just who will step up to fill the big voids left by Smith, Austin and Bailey. 

Wisconsin Badgers: The Passing Attack

70 of 70

    Even though Wisconsin's offense benefited from the return of RB Montee Ball for his senior year, the loss of QB Russell Wilson proved to be an absolutely crushing blow. 

    The Badgers struggled to find consistency in the passing game all season long, using three different quarterbacks, who each had less-than-stellar results. 

    Wisconsin ultimately ended up finishing the season ranked 115th in the nation in passing offense, averaging just 156 yards through the air per game. 

    It will be up to freshman QB Joel Stave to improve those numbers next season. Stave showed some encouraging flashes of his ability late in the season. But he's still a bit of a mystery player at this point. 

    Luckily, the young signal-caller will be surrounded by plenty of talented targets in 2013 such as receivers Jared Abredderis, Jordan Fredrick and Kenzel Doe and tight end Jordan Pedersen.