College Football Rankings: The 10 Stingiest Pass Defenses for 2011
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There's a saying that claims defense wins championships, and in this day and age, nothing could be more devastating to a hopeful title run than a porous pass defense.
Having a dominating secondary is the ultimate way to frustrate an offense and make it impatient, especially if you are playing against a pass-happy opponent.
These 10 secondaries should all be ready to rule the air in 2011.
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There’s a misconception in Athens that the Dawgs had a weak secondary last year. Despite a 6-7 campaign, the Bulldogs had a top 20 pass defense and should be even better this year.
Brandon Boykin returns for his senior season, being one of the more athletic cornerbacks Georgia has had in recent memory. Sanders Commings also has blossomed into a playmaker at cornerback and could even start at one of the safety spots with his size, leaving the other spot to former top recruit Branden Smith. Bacarri Rambo solidifies the secondary with his big plays.
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The Ducks weren’t statistically dominant when it came to keeping the passing yards low in 2010, but they were very good at forcing turnovers through the air.
Oregon forced 21 interceptions as a unit last year.
They return a ton of experience, expected to start three juniors and a senior. Cliff Harris was a great complement corner to Talmadge Jackson last year and should translate his success into 2011.
8) Virginia Tech
The Hokies are another team that should expect serious defensive improvement. They ranked 31st in pass defense last year but made up for it with 22 interceptions.
Losing Rashad Carmichael might hurt a little, but incoming junior Jayron Hosley is more than primed to pick up the slack at cornerback.
Kyle Fuller and Eddie Whitley return to their starting spots from last year. James Hopper is projected to start at safety as a sophomore.
7) Oklahoma State
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I guess having one of the more impressive interceptions in recent memory serves as a one-way ticket to this list, but the Pokes have more than just a SportsCenter Top 10 play to make up their impressive pass-defense resume.
They recorded 19 interceptions last year and should benefit from more experience across the defensive board. Brodrick Brown, Markelle Martin and Johnny Thomas all fill in their starting roles from a year ago.
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TCU finished 2010 with the No. 1 ranked pass defense in the entire country. They lose a lot of personnel from that unit, but their unconventional defensive alignment can be credited to a lot of the problems offenses have against them.
The Horned Frogs only allowed a 48 percent completion rate last year and just 12 touchdown passes. Oh, and their total yardage allowance was an amazing 126 yards per game.
Only Greg McCoy and Tekerrien Cuba return to their starting spots, but the coaching staff in Fort Worth is confident their defense will stay up to par.
5) Miami (FL)
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Brandon Harris might be gone, but Miami has plenty of reasons to believe the Hurricane winds will continue to swirl in their defensive backfield.
Miami was the only team other than TCU to hold opponents to under a 50 percent completion rate through the entire 2010 season.
The cornerback position will be their biggest concern, with both positions having to be replaced. But, Ray-Ray Armstrong, JoJo Nicolas, and Jaughn Telemaque are solid defensive backs who should continue the dominance. It’s hard to imagine the defense takes a huge dip from the loss of Harris, though they might drop off a tad.
4) Boise State
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The men in blue finished as the third best pass defense in the country last season. They are another unconventional defense who seemingly comes in and out of every year with All-Conference talent at the cornerback and safety positions.
They lose Brandyn Thompson, Jeron Johnson and Winston Venable from their 2010 lineup. However, a front seven full of seniority, including linebacker Byron Hout, means there will be enough pressure for the defensive backs to have field days.
Three seniors and a junior will start in the defensive backfield for the Broncos, including preseason All-MWC pick George Iloka.
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No Patrick Peterson, no problem? Apparently that is the mind set for the 2011 LSU Tigers, who are ready to show they can again have a dominant secondary.
The Tigers finished 2010 with 19 interceptions and had the 10th ranked pass defense in the country. Morris Claibourne is considered an All-SEC selection at cornerback, and the safety positions will be manned by seniors Brandon Taylor and Karnell Hatcher.
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Florida snagged 22 interceptions last year and had the 13th ranked passing defense in the nation. The defense, especially the secondary, kept the Gators in multiple games while the offense struggled to find an identity.
It’s hard to overlook that kind of resolve and consistency—not to mention pressure. Janoris Jenkins should be leader at corner, and former prized recruit Matt Elam is more than ready to replace Will Hill’s production at safety.
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Alabama’s secondary last season was “young,” but in 2011 all starters return with tons of experience to match their talent level that got them to one of the top SEC defenses.
Safeties Mark Barron and Robert Lester are both considered All-American talent, and junior Dre Kirkpatrick is right on their heels in terms of credentials.
Also, the Tide’s secondary (which recorded 22 picks last year) averages a height of 6’2”, with none of the projected starters standing shorter than the unusually tall defensive back height of 6’1.” Talk about a tall order for opponents.
Don’t expect your receivers to look forward to taking on the Tide in 2011.