College Football Power Rankings: The 10 Best Secondaries for 2010
The college football landscape is an ever-changing animal. However, there are many things that stand strong year after year, and defense wins championships is one of them.
The way shotgun and hurry-up offenses have evolved has put an extra emphasis on having talent in the defensive backfield.
In 2009, there were a number of senior-laden and experienced secondaries that were clear cut, top-notch units.
In 2010, more than half of the top 20 in pass efficiency defense lost multiple stars from their secondary.
So who are the best secondaries for 2010?
Here are the top 10 secondaries that you do not want to be forced to pass against this coming season.
No. 10 is likely the biggest surprise to many.
The world of Virginia football is typically dominated by Virginia Tech and West Virginia. But in 2010, Virginia will win at least one battle against their in-state compadres.
Virginia only lost one starter from a secondary that finished 23rd overall in pass defense and pass efficiency defense.
While 2010 will likely be another tough year for the Cavaliers, expect their secondary to be one unit that shines.
A team that has become a mainstay as having one of the best defenses in the nation the past few years is the TCU Horned Frogs.
In 2009, TCU ranked sixth overall in pass defense, and fourth in pass efficiency defense.
They did, however, lose a large group of major contributors from 2009. Yet they still have three upperclassmen atop the depth chart and a large group of talented young players.
Also, TCU has such a good front seven that the secondary looks good as a result of the overall defense's performance. Do not be surprised if TCU is ranked in the top five overall in pass defense in 2010.
It is hard to rank the defending National Champions eighth at anything, but in this case many will say I am being more than generous.
In 2009, Alabama ranked second in pass efficiency defense, sporting one of the best secondaries in the nation. But The Tide graduated or lost a number stars from that secondary to the NFL Draft.
But if there is one thing Nick Saban knows, it is defense and how to recruit talent. Two years ago, the Tide nearly made it to the BCS National Championship Game with the youngest team in the nation.
The Tide returns talent to a secondary that has gained experience over the past two seasons. While Alabama's secondary will be young in 2010, they still will be among the nation's best.
Last year was a rough one for the Bruins, and UCLA enters 2010 with their head coach squarely on the hot seat.
The secondary is an area that could have a large impact on the Bruins 2010 season, as only one starter graduated from a season ago.
The Bruins tied for seventh in interceptions in 2009 with 20. If the Bruin secondary can make plays on the ball in 2010 the way they did in 2009, they have a chance to improve and be in some ball games heading into the fourth quarter.
Tennessee football has not made many top 10 lists over the past few years. That is unless the top 10 lists were of the negative variety, or perhaps a list of top NCAA violators.
In 2009, Tennessee had one of the most widely regarded secondaries with Eric Berry as the center piece. Berry decided not to return for his senior season, but the Vols return every other starter in 2010 from the secondary.
The Vols ranked 12th in pass efficiency defense and overall pass defense.
New coach Derek Dooley is fortunate to have a solid and highly talented secondary to help him with his building process in Knoxville.
5. Air Force
A team often overlooked, but consistently good, is the Air Force football squad.
The Falcons secondary in 2009 was among the best in the nation, as they ranked fifth in overall pass defense.
The Falcons lost only one starter from the secondary, and they return a lot of talent and depth. They recorded 20 interceptions in 2009 to rank among the top teams in the nation.
In 2010, Air Force returns one of the best secondaries in all of college football. They are sixth on this list, but likely No. 1 on many people's lists of the best secondaries you didn't have a clue about.
4. North Carolina
Yeah, that's right, North Carolina football.
The Tar Heels football team has an opportunity to overshadow their basketball team for the second year in a row in 2010.
In 2009, the Heels ranked as the 14th best pass defense in the nation, and 12th in interceptions with 19.
They return all their major contributors from a year ago when the Heels went 8-5.
Of UNC's five loses, three were by three points or fewer. The Heels' veteran secondary could be the difference in winning a few more games in 2010 than they did in 2009 in a wide open ACC.
I know what you are thinking: How can Florida be ranked a top secondary after losing so many stars from 2009?
The answer is simple...recruiting.
Urban Meyer has so much talent and depth in the secondary that the Gators will reload in 2010, and once again rank among the top secondaries in the nation.
The Gators return a long list of talented contributors, and also have brought in another fresh talented group of recruits that will keep the Gators secondary on top.
In 2009, the Sooners ranked seventh in pass efficiency defense. They were in good shape to return all of their contributors but one until Dominique Franks decided to forgo his senior season and enter the 2010 NFL Draft.
Still, the Sooners return a large group of contributors and experience in the secondary.
In addition to returning experience, the Sooners have brought in the No. 2 and No. 7 ranked defensive back recruiting classes over the last two years.
The Sooners have the depth and talent to just reload and improve in 2010 in the secondary.
In 2009, the Texas Longhorns made a great run to get to the BCS National Championship Game.
They did eventually lose the game to Alabama and their starting quarterback in the process, but the Longhorns showed toughness all season.
The Longhorn secondary ranked 10th in the nation in pass efficiency defense in 2009, but they return more talent from a year ago than any other team in the nation in the secondary.
Mack Brown was recently quoted as saying they have three starting cornerbacks.
With the loss of Colt McCoy, the Texas secondary and defense will be relied upon for the Texas offense to find their new identity in 2010.