Building the Perfect College Football Offense for 2018
Engineering the perfect college football offense means whittling down a group of a few thousand players to just a dozen.
Premier talent is of the utmost importance, but there's plenty of that around the country. The challenge is deciding which players best fit together on a fictional all-star unit. If every receiver is an elite deep threat who struggles while running a diverse route tree, that isn't a sustainable way to win.
These aren't necessarily the best players in the country at their respective positions. We've designed what we believe would be the most balanced, efficient, productive scoring attack in college football.
Hopefully we can convince Lane Kiffin to coordinate it.
Starter: Justin Herbert
While Penn State's Trace McSorley and Georgia's Jake Fromm would be great picks, Oregon's Herbert is the complete package at quarterback. He just didn't draw as much attention as those two this past season because of a collarbone injury that caused him to miss five games.
Herbert generates easy velocity to every level of the field. While some quarterbacks need to put their body into downfield passes, Herbert flicks the ball. He boasts a career 65.3 completion percentage with 34 touchdowns to only nine interceptions in 16 games.
He also offers a mobile threat as both a designed runner and scrambler. Herbert has scampered for 344 yards and seven scores on only 102 attempts.
Starter: Bryce Love, Stanford
The Heisman Trophy runner-up in 2017, Love amassed 2,118 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns during his junior campaign.
Although he isn't much of a receiver, that's in part a function of Stanford's offense. Stanford mostly runs from under center, but Love's elite playmaking is no different when he's offset from the quarterback.
Besides, once the speedster hits a hole, he's usually gone.
Rotational Back: Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
Mason Rudolph, James Washington and the Oklahoma State passing game collected most of the attention, but Hill is a star. The rising junior is an elusive runner with great vision and patience, and he's posted consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Hill also caught 31 passes last season, so he'd be an ideal complement for Love.
Outside: Anthony Johnson, Buffalo
In his first season at Buffalo, Johnson racked up 76 receptions for 1,356 yards and 14 touchdowns. The 6'2", 207-pound target has a propensity for making contested catches thanks to his leaping ability, reliable hands and subtle footwork to set up defenders.
Johnson would be a major asset because he can stretch the field, make tough grabs on clutch downs and excel in the red zone.
Slot: A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
The slot is typically home to small, quicker receivers, but Ole Miss has the used 6'1", 225-pound Brown as a big-bodied target. As a sophomore, he pulled in 75 passes for 1,252 yards and 11 scores.
Brown—who still offers a bit of elusiveness despite his physical nature—demands extra attention down the seams, which only benefits the running game. He's also a quality blocker.
Outside: David Sills, West Virginia
The one-time quarterback phenom has become one of the best receivers in the nation. Last year, Sills caught 60 passes for 980 yards and was tied for the FBS lead with 18 touchdowns.
Sills is especially dangerous on slants and posts, and that strength helps him sell double-moves and create space, particularly in the red zone. The soon-to-be senior is dangerous after the catch, too.
Starter: Caleb Wilson
Wilson missed the final eight games of 2017 due to a right foot injury that required surgery. Had that not happened, he might've pursued the NFL along with quarterback Josh Rosen.
Instead, UCLA will return a 6'4", 235-pounder who had 38 catches for 490 yards and a touchdown in five games. Wilson isn't flashy or fast, but he is a smart receiver who's a nightmare for defenses in short-yardage situations.
Plus, Wilson is a willing, physical blocker with excellent effort and an understanding of how to manipulate defenders.
Left tackle: Mitch Hyatt, Clemson
A three-year starter for the ACC powerhouse, Hyatt has consistently played well opposite elite competition. As a sophomore, he didn't allow a sack in 550 pass-blocking snaps, per PFF College. Hyatt then posted a pass-block efficiency of 96.4 percent for the Tigers last season, according to CFB Film Room.
Left guard: Trey Smith, Tennessee
Though his future is likely at tackle, Smith opened his Tennessee career as a guard. Prior to the regular-season finale, the school said Smith had collected 53 knockdowns in his freshman year, per John Adams of the Knoxville News Sentinel.
Center: Jonah Williams, Alabama
Yes, this is a bit of projection. Williams started at right tackle in 2016 and flipped to the left side in 2017, but there's a good possibility he slides inside as a junior. No matter where he lines up, Williams would be a tremendous run-blocker and decent pass protector. And you get your best five linemen on the field.
Right guard: Beau Benzschawel, Wisconsin
Wisconsin returns its entire offensive line in 2018, and Benzschawel earned third-team Associated Press All-America honors last season. The 6'6", 317-pounder is a prototypical road-grader, but he's also impressive blocking on screens and downfield.
Right tackle: Dalton Risner, Kansas State
Risner is one of the more balanced blockers in the country. He's a mauler on the ground and surrendered just four pressures on 276 pass-blocking snaps in 2017, according to PFF College. Risner is about as reliable as offensive lineman can be.