NCAA Football: 10 Teams That Are Too Dependent on One Player
Johnny Manziel showed what one great player can do for a team and a program.
When Texas A&M left the Big 12 to join the SEC for the 2012 season, many felt the Aggies would struggle to become even bowl-eligible. Then "Johnny Football" became a star, led an upset of Alabama and carried Texas A&M to an 11-2 record and a Cotton Bowl win.
But with Kevin Sumlin's history with QB's and offensive success, Manziel will be far from a one-man show as the Aggies try to show their 2012 success wasn't a fluke.
The following players will all be relied on heavily to carry their teams much like Manziel carried Texas A&M.
Chuckie Keeton, QB, Utah State
Chuckie Keeton is a dual-threat QB and like Johnny Manziel will be trying to carry his Aggies to a BCS bowl—the Utah State Aggies, that is.
Last season as a sophomore Keeton threw for over 3,000 yards and rushed for 600 yards. He was also responsible for 35 touchdowns.
Not only will Keeton likely have to carry more of the load on the ground, but he will also have to get used to a new head coach as Gary Andersen left for Wisconsin.
But the new head coach, Matt Wells, was the offensive coordinator and QB coach last season and should be an easy transition for Keeton.
Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois
Lynch ran for 1,815 yards and threw for 3,138 yards. Only Johnny Manziel had more yards of total offense, although Lynch finished fourth in total offense per game.
The team's leading receiver, Martel Moore, won't be back in 2013, so Lynch will have to find another go-to-guy in the passing game.
In the running game it's clear that Lynch is the man. The team had 3,335 rushing yards, meaning Lynch has 54 percent of the teams' rushing yards. He was also responsible for 44 of the teams' 70 offensive touchdowns.
The Huskies will also be breaking in a new head coach, but the gameplan will likely remain heavily focused on Lynch.
Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
Brett Hundley led the Bruins to a second-straight PAC 12 Championship appearance.
Hundley's 3,740 passing yards with 29 touchdowns show that the rising sophomore can certainly move the ball with his arm. The Bruins won't have their top red-zone threat, Joseph Fauria, but the team's top receiver, Shaquelle Evans, will be back.
However, UCLA might have to rely more on Hundley's legs to move the ball. Hundley didn't have a 100-yard rushing game in 2012 because the Bruins were able to ride star running back Johnathan Franklin.
If UCLA is going to be able to appear in a third-straight PAC 12 Championship, then the Bruins will need Hundley to improve his season totals of 2.2 yards per carry and 355 yards.
Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
If there was a player in the country as valuable to their team as Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch, it was Braxton Miller.
For the first half of the season, Ohio State's offense was almost completely reliant upon Miller to move the ball, whether it was through the air or on the ground.
In the second half of the season, Carlos Hyde stepped up as another reliable option in the running game and will be back for the 2013 season. The teams' top receivers, Corey Brown and Devin Smith, also return.
The key for Ohio State's play-making depth will be limiting hits on Miller throughout the game, but in crunch time the ball will be in Miller's hands to make positive things happen.
Ka'Deem Carey, Running Back, Arizona
That means Carey's role will be even more vital to Arizona.
Teams are going to be able to focus more on Carey while the new QB gets more comfortable. What could help the new QB is if Carey is a reliable option as a checkdown.
If the new QB can show consistency, then Carey, who rushed for 1,929 yards a year ago, could cross the 2,000-yard plateau.
Marqise Lee, Wide Receiver, USC
Marqise Lee was really the only skill-position player on the USC roster that lived up to the preseason hype surrounding the program in 2012. Matt Barkley was supposed to be the Trojans' Heisman candidate, but by the end of the year Lee was unquestionably the best player on the team.
In fact, it is hard to imagine an offense being more reliant upon a receiver. Lee was the nation's second-leading receiver, had more than 800 return yards and rushed for another 106 yards.
Moving forward into 2013, Lee will have to try to produce similar numbers without Barkley and his fellow receiver, Robert Woods.
Allen Robinson, Wide Receiver, Penn State
The rising junior from Michigan led Penn State with 77 catches, 1,018 yards and 11 touchdowns. That is 41 catches, 565 yards and 6 touchdowns more than anyone else on the Penn State roster.
Going forward the Penn State offense will have to rely even more on their 6'3'' playmaker on the outside, because QB Matt McGloin is gone.
Robinson should provide a great target for the new QB, whether that be a player on the 2012 roster or Christian Hackenberg, one of 2013's best QB prospects.
Sammy Watkins, Wide Receiver, Clemson
Gone are DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Ellington. But Clemson gets QB Tajh Boyd and star wide receiver Sammy Watkins back. Boyd will trigger the Tiger offense, but the key for the offense will be Watkins on the outside.
Thanks in large part to being suspended for the team's first two games, Watkins' sophomore season did not match his freshman year. But with a full season and the chance to improve his NFL draft, Watkins should explode again in 2013.
Karl Joseph, Safety, West Virginia
Karl Joseph is the only defensive player to make this list. That is mainly because a good defense requires 11 players working as one.
No defense embodied the "defense optional" feel of college football more than the Mountaineers.
The West Virginia offense proved that it could score early and often, but the team failed to stay in title contention because the defense was downright atrocious.
However, Joseph proved to be one of the better safeties in the conference. Joseph led the Mountaineers in tackles and was 14th in the country in solo tackles.
In 2013, West Virginia will again rely on Joseph to solidify the back-end of their defense as they rebuild their offense.
De'Anthony Thomas, All-Purpose, Oregon
Gone is Kenjon Barner, although losing the Ducks' top running back in previous seasons hasn't had any effect. But Chip Kelly is no longer calling the shots in Eugene and new head coach Mark Helfrich may choose to ride De'Anthony Thomas.
Marcus Mariota will again be the QB and is the teams' leading returning rusher. But Thomas, who averaged 7.6 yards per carry, was only 51 yards behind.
Thomas also led the team in receptions in 2012 and will certainly be a target in the passing game, and he had over 600 return yards.
All told, Thomas accounted for 1,757 yards and 18 touchdowns on 166 touches.
That's an astounding 10.6 yards per touch. That number may go down, but expect all the other numbers to go up as Thomas evolves from Robin to Batman in the Ducks' offense.