5 College Football Teams That Will Struggle on Offense in 2013
In the past few seasons of college football, we have witnessed an offensive evolution. Whether it is the zone-read, Air Raid or another form of the spread, college football is all about offense.
The days of winning with a dominant defense aren't over, though. Two-time defending national champion Alabama finished No. 1 in the country in total defense in 2012.
Several schools will struggle offensively this season for a variety of reasons. Whether it is a coaching change, replacing top offensive playmakers or an outdated offensive philosophy, points will be at a premium for some schools.
Can any offensively-challenged school compete for the national championship? Here are five schools that will struggle on offense for one reason or another in 2013.
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Kyle Flood enters his second season as head coach of Rutgers poised to build off of last season's 9-4 campaign. Flood's defense was impressive in 2012, but it was the offense that held the Scarlet Knights down.
Rutgers finished 104th nationally in total offense. The Scarlet Knights averaged just 330 yards per game in total offense and 21.5 points per game. New offensive coordinator Ron Prince has a tall task on his hands improving those numbers.
Junior quarterback Gary Nova is a turnover machine, having thrown 13 interceptions in the final six games. Talented running back Jawan Jamison departed to the NFL and Prince will rely heavily on talented junior wide receiver Brandon Coleman.
One positive for Flood is that he returns four starters on the offensive line from a very good group.
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The Hawkeyes were 4-8 in 2012. It was their worst record under longtime coach Kirk Ferentz since 2000 when Iowa finished 3-9, Ferentz's second season in Iowa City.
Most of Iowa's problems in 2012 were on offense. Last year's quarterback, James Vandenberg, has graduated. Sophomore Jake Rudock will battle junior Cody Sokol for the starting quarterback job. Neither option has Iowa fans too excited, although Rudock does possess the potential to be a solid quarterback.
Junior running back Mark Weisman is Iowa's best player and he isn't the type of player that will threaten a defense. The Hawkeyes do return two solid players in receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley and tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz. Last year, Martin-Manley led an anemic passing offense with 52 catches and two touchdowns. Iowa as a whole had only seven touchdowns through the air.
The Hawkeyes, under Ferentz, have never been known as an explosive offense. That will not change in 2013.
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10 years ago, no one would have thought of Steve Spurrier's teams as being better on defense than offense. That's just what has happened under Spurrier and to great success. The Gamecocks enter 2013 as one of the best teams in the country, led by an outstanding defense.
Things on offense, however, aren't as good. But, it isn't because of a lack of talent. Spurrier's inability to find good, solid quarterback play since taking over as South Carolina coach in 2005 has held his offense back.
Senior Connor Shaw has experienced some success since enrolling early in 2010, however, hasn't been able to please Spurrier enough to be the full-time starter. Don't be surprised if Spurrier rotates QBs this season as junior Dylan Thompson experienced some success in 2012.
The Gamecocks have the talent on offense to be successful. Sophomore Mike Davis looks to replace Marcus Lattimore as the featured back, while Bruce Ellington is the team's top receiver.
South Carolina will be very good in 2013. If one of the quarterbacks step up and take hold of the job, this team can contend for the national championship.
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Much like South Carolina, the Florida Gators will rely on a stingy defense while questions persist at quarterback. Unlike the Gamecocks, though, there is no question about who's taking snaps for the Gators. Junior Jeff Driskel returns and looks to improve upon last year's dismal results in the passing game.
Driskel is a talented guy. He is an excellent runner, finishing second on the team last year in rushing, and will hang in the pocket until a receiver breaks open. That often leads to unnecessary sacks and coach Will Muschamp hopes Driskel has improved in reading the defense and going through his progressions.
Tight end Jordan Reed led the Gators with just 45 receptions in 2012, he is now in the NFL. Quinton Dunbar is the Gators' top receiver, but behind him there is very little. The Gators may use talented cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy at receiver some while freshman Demarcus Robinson adjusts to the speed of the college game.
Last year's top runner, Mike Gillislee, has also departed. Fortunately for the Gators, there is a bevy of talented runners waiting in the wings.
The Gators will be in the thick of things all season, but struggles on offense could keep the Gators from reaching their ultimate goal.
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Legendary head coach Frank Beamer received criticism for years about his offensive philosophy and apparent unwillingness to shake up his coaching staff. Fortunately for Virginia Tech fans, Beamer demoted longtime offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring and hired Scot Loeffler to lead the team's offense.
Loeffler, 38, has only been an offensive coordinator for two seasons. He spent one successful season at Temple before a disastrous 2012 campaign at Auburn. Loeffler, a former quarterback, has a strong record working with QBs.
Loeffler will have his hands full with the Hokies. They finished No. 81 in total offense in 2012 and No. 79 in rushing offense. Beamer has always built his teams around a strong defense and a good running game. The defense will again be very good in 2013. Will the running game improve?
Beamer was relieved in January when quarterback Logan Thomas decided to return for his senior season. One of the more talented quarterbacks in the nation, Thomas struggled in 2012. If he resembles the 2011 version of himself, the Hokies will contend for the ACC title and a BCS berth.
The Hokies' performance in the spring game created a lot of doubt about how this group will perform in 2013. Outside of Thomas and senior receiver D.J. Coles, the Hokies will be very young on offense. They will likely struggle, especially considering they play Alabama in the season opener.