Drafting the Perfect College Football Offense in 2013
Some of the 2013 superstars already had breakout seasons in 2012, and college football fans are already itching for next season. The NFL Draft will hit many college rosters hard in April, but there is still an impressive dream team left on the field in 2013.
National champions, All-America selections, projected first-round draft picks and a Heisman winner all made this list, and every player earned his place. From the quarterback to the place-kicker (hey, he scores points, too!), here is the perfect offense in 2013.
It's a shame that fans will never see this team play football together.
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Starting quarterback: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M Aggies.
Johnny Manziel won the Heisman after posting an 11-2 record in his first year in the SEC. Manziel finished the year 295-of-434 with 3,706 passing yards, 26 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. He added 1,410 rushing yards and 21 more touchdowns to his offensive total off just 201 carries.
Manziel scrambles to keep plays alive long after they have broken down, and his offense uses that time to give him opportunities to flat out embarrass the opponent. If you surrounded Manziel with the rest of the players on this list, he would just do all that to even more teams.
Manziel may lead the Aggies to a national championship in 2013; imagine what he could do with college all-stars around him.
Backup quarterback: A.J. McCarron, two-time national champion and the highest-rated quarterback from 2012.
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Starting wide receiver No. 1: Amari Cooper, Alabama Crimson Tide.
Starting wide receiver No. 2: Marqise Lee, USC Trojans.
Amari Cooper made an instant impact at Alabama, and he was the Tide's leading receiver in his freshman year. Cooper caught just 59 passes in 2012 and ran them for 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. He had the game-winning touchdown catch against Georgia that propelled the Tide to the meeting with Notre Dame in the BCS title bout.
On the other side of the country, Marqise Lee was slashing secondaries for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns off 118 receptions. (Twice the number that Cooper caught.) Lee was the go-to receiver for the one-time national-championship favorite USC Trojans.
While the Trojans may have fallen well short of the goal, Lee was not a heavy contributor to the lackluster performance.
Backup wide receiver No. 1: Sammy Watkins, Clemson Tigers with 57 catches for 708 yards.
Backup wide receiver No. 2: Mike Evans, Texas A&M Aggies with 82 catches for 1,105 yards.
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Starting running back No. 1: De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon Ducks.
Starting running back No. 2: Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona Wildcats.
De'Anthony Thomas is a running back, but he's also a return specialist. He displayed that skill against Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3. Thomas amassed 1,146 yards from scrimmage and 1,757 all-purpose yards through the 2012 season, and he was just a sophomore.
Thomas is a lethal running back, especially behind a stout offensive line. Naturally, the perfect offense will have that killer offensive line to blow holes for him to run through.
Ka'Deem Carey is the other starting running back on this squad, and he led the Arizona Wildcats with 1,929 yards off 303 carries. He would be the feature back in this perfect offense, and his 303 carries last season proved that he is more than capable of sharing the load with Thomas.
Carey didn't just lead the Wildcats, either. He led the nation in rushing yards, besting the likes of Stefphon Jefferson (Nevada) and Montee Ball to earn that position.
Backup running back No. 1: Stefphon Jefferson, Nevada Wolf Pack with 1,883 yards.
Backup running back No. 2: T.J. Yeldon, Alabama Crimson Tide with 1,108 yards. (Split carries.)
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Starting tight end No. 1: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington Huskies.
Starting tight end No. 2: Colt Lyerla, Oregon Ducks.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins isn't just a great blocker, he's an invaluable part of the Washington offense. Jenkins reeled in 69 catches for 852 yards and seven touchdowns. He was lethal whenever the ball was anywhere near him, and his team-leading 12.3 yards per catch confirms that.
Oregon's Colt Lyerla will line up as the other tight end for this impeccable offense. He snagged 25 passes for 392 yards and six touchdowns. His stats may not look as beefy as Jenkins', but his blocking efforts helped Oregon earn third place in rushing yards per game.
Backup tight end No. 1: Ben Koyack, Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Backup tight end No. 2: Nick O'Leary, Florida State Seminoles.
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Starting offensive tackle No. 1: Taylor Lewan, Michigan Wolverines.
Starting offensive tackle No. 2: Jake Matthews, Texas A&M Aggies.
Taylor Lewan anchored the Michigan offensive line that ran for 2,389 yards during the 2012 season. Lewan was selected to the SI.com, ESPN, AP and Walter Camp Football Foundation All-America teams. With four guys like Lewan on the line, any quarterback would look good.
Jake Matthews is the tackle that's staying at Texas A&M. While Aggies fans would also like to have seen Luke Joeckel return, he has already declared for the NFL Draft. Matthews was a first-team All-America selection by the Football Writers Association of America in 2012.
Just envisioning this offensive line blowing holes for De'Anthony Thomas and Ka'Deem Carey should send chills down the spine of any college football fan.
Backup offensive tackle No. 1: Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama Crimson Tide.
Backup offensive tackle No. 2: David Yankey, Stanford Cardinal.
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Starting center: Travis Swanson, Arkansas Razorbacks.
Luckily for Travis Swanson, a center's skills aren't totally based on the team's performance, or Oklahoma's Gabe Ikard would have easily won the starting gig over him. Anyway, Swanson is rated No. 2 out of 76 centers for the 2014 draft class.
That's a little misleading, as the No. 1 center (Travis Frederick of the Nebraska Cornhuskers) has declared early for the 2013 draft. That means that, if things play out as expected, Swanson will be the No. 1 center of the 2014 class.
Swanson was part of an offensive line that gave up just 1.58 sacks per game and the team broke 20 records set at either the school or in the SEC during the 2012 season. Swanson will fit nicely in between the rest of the offensive linemen on this list.
Backup center: Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma Sooners.
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Starting offensive guard No. 1: Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Starting offensive guard No. 2: Cyril Richardson, Baylor Bears.
The Mississippi State Bulldogs racked up 1,874 rushing yards this season in the SEC, and the offensive line made that possible. The Bulldogs also tied for 38th nationally by allowing only 19 sacks on the season. Gabe Jackson is one of the best offensive guards heading into 2013, and the Bulldogs would be wise to run the ball on his side of the field.
Cyril Richardson helped the Baylor offense to 3,012 rushing yards and only 19 sacks allowed during the 2012 season. He was a second-team AP All-America selection for the 2012 season, and Baylor will be glad to see him return in 2013 to anchor the offensive line.
This team's line would not be credible without elite talent. Jackson and Richardson are projected to be the top offensive guards in their draft class, although there is plenty of time between now and 2014.
Backup offensive guard No. 1: Zach Fulton, Tennessee Volunteers.
Backup offensive guard No. 2: Spencer Long, Nebraska Cornhuskers.
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First-string athlete: Marcus Mariota, Oregon Ducks.
Marcus Mariota blew through every game on his schedule except for the Stanford game. Mariota went 230-of-336 for 2,677 yards and 26 touchdowns on the way to a Fiesta Bowl win over the Kansas State Wildcats. This means that he can play backup in the event that Johnny Manziel and A.J. McCarron both went down during this hypothetical season.
Mariota also ran for 752 yards and five touchdowns on just 106 carries in 2012. That 7.1 yards-per-carry mark means he is highly capable of replacing either Ka'Deem Carey or De'Anthony Thomas as a running back.
If things went wrong somewhere on offense, the only hole he couldn't plug would be on the offensive line. Mariota is a special talent akin to Manziel, and having him as a wild card is a must for this team.
Second-string athlete: Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois Huskies with his NCAA-record combo—3,000-plus yards passing and 1,500-plus yards rushing in the same season.
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First-string place-kicker: Cairo Santos, Tulane Green Wave.
Cairo Santos made 21-of-21 field goals during the 2012 season, and they were spread out like this:
20-29 yards: 3-of-3
30-39 yards: 6-of-6
40-49 yards: 10-of-10
Over 50 yards: 2-of-2 with one from 54 yards and the other from 57.
Santos' combination of range and accuracy will make him the top kicker in his class, assuming he can at least come close to repeating his 2012 performance in next season. If so, then his place on this list will be confirmed.
Backup place-kicker: Chris Boswell, Rice Owls for his 23-of-29 performance with a long of 57. (He was 6-of-8 from 50 or further out.)