Building the Perfect College Football Offense for 2020
Across the 130-team Football Bowl Subdivision, thousands of players hope to contribute on offense in 2020. This group of talent includes returning All-Americans and all-conference standouts.
Narrowing down that massive field, while enjoyable, is complicated.
There is no foolproof way to organize a perfect offense. Although it's reasonable to choose only one quarterback and five offensive linemen, skill positions demand some flexibility. Sometimes, an offense wants three or four receivers. One running back will never command 100 percent of meaningful snaps.
Since we establish our own guidelines, this offense is built for versatility. We've picked two running backs, four receivers and one tight end for the rotation.
Too bad former LSU assistant Joe Brady is no longer in college to oversee the attack. We'll leave this responsibility to Lincoln Riley.
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
After winning a national title as a freshman, Trevor Lawrence guided Clemson back to the championship stage in 2019. Through 30 career games, he's posted a 65.5 completion percentage with 8.6 yards per attempt and 66 touchdowns to 12 interceptions. He rushed for 563 yards and nine touchdowns last year.
And during the last two seasons, Clemson has only one loss.
Lawrence has easily fulfilled the 5-star billing that followed him in high school. He's the clear favorite to be picked No. 1 overall in the 2021 NFL draft. Lawrence also outdueled Ohio State's Justin Fields—the primary competition for this slot—in the Fiesta Bowl.
Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State
While rushing for an FBS-best 2,094 yards last season, Chuba Hubbard showed off a blend of volume and patient explosiveness. He tallied 20-plus carries in 11 games and more gains of 30-plus yards than anyone else in the nation.
Hubbard consistently finds the proper running lane. When a smart player is that productive, he's a must-add for the roster. Throw in 45 career receptions, and he offers adequate versatility too.
Travis Etienne, Clemson
You can't teach his speed.
Travis Etienne surprised much of the football world in returning to Clemson for his senior season. After all, he'd averaged no worse than 7.2 yards per attempt in his first three years. He topped 1,600 rushing yards in both 2018 and 2019.
After catching 17 passes in his first two years, Etienne reeled in 37 for 432 yards as a junior. That progression solidifies his place as a piece of an ideal college offense.
Wide Receivers and Tight End
WR: DeVonta Smith, Alabama
Despite racking up 68 catches for 1,256 yards and 14 touchdowns, DeVonta Smith decided to return for 2020. He's particularly tough to defend because of his outstanding route-running ability and knowledge of how to best utilize his quickness. He can outrun a defender, but he'll outthink him too.
WR: Ja'Marr Chase, LSU
The easiest inclusion in the receiver group, without a doubt. Ja'Marr Chase led the FBS with 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns last season while posting an absurd 21.2-yard average on 84 catches. Put simply, he does everything well.
WR: Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
As a freshman, Jaylen Waddle caught 45 passes for 848 yards and seven touchdowns. His role decreased in 2019, but he still made 33 receptions with a 17-yard average. He has electrifying speed—also evidenced in his production as a punt returner—and seems destined for a massive year as a starting receiver in 2020.
WR: Rondale Moore, Purdue
Although injuries limited Rondale Moore to four games in 2019, we're not shying away from his talent. The versatile weapon has 143 catches for 1,645 yards and 14 touchdowns in 17 career games, also running for 216 yards on only 24 carries. He'd stress the defense horizontally as Smith, Chase and Waddle thrive vertically.
TE: Brevin Jordan, Miami
Given the level of surrounding talent, an ideal tight end basically only needs to be a net positive in every area. Brevin Jordan has reliable hands, offers both versatility and explosiveness as a receiver and is a good blocker.
Left and Right Tackles
LT: Penei Sewell, Oregon
If the Heisman Trophy went to the best player in the nation, you could make a convincing argument for Penei Sewell.
After an injury-shortened freshman year, he had a healthy and dominant sophomore season. Prior to the Rose Bowl, he'd ceded just seven pressures in 466 pass-blocking snaps, per Pro Football Focus. He was named a consensus All-American.
RT: Robert Hainsey, Notre Dame
Unfortunately for Robert Hainsey, a broken ankle ended his 2019 in early November. Prior to that moment, however, he'd notched 34 straight appearances for the Irish.
LG: Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
As a program, USC has a wide range of problems. But looking at the offense, there's a bunch of talent. Young quarterback Kedon Slovis and receivers Amon-Ra St. Brown and Tyler Vaughns attract most of the attention, but Alijah Vera-Tucker is also a star. He surrendered six pressures and zero sacks in the 2019 regular season, per PFF.
C: Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma
Though he could've been a Day 1 or 2 selection in the 2020 NFL draft, Creed Humphrey elected to return for his junior year. He's started 24 games over the last two seasons, earning All-Big 12 recognition twice and a second-team AP All-America spot in 2019.
RG: Wyatt Davis, Ohio State
In his first season as a starter, Wyatt Davis shined. Heading into the College Football Playoff, per PFF, he didn't allow a hit or sack for the Big Ten champions. He landed a first-team AP All-America honor yet passed up the NFL draft.