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2007 CFN Preview - Unit Rankings ... Defense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 9, 2007


CFN 2007 Preview Defense Unit Rankings from 1 to 119

2007 CFN Unit Rankings

Defenses

CFN 2007 Unit Rankings
2007 Preview | Offenses | Quarterbacks | Running Backs
Receivers | Offensive Lines | Defensive Lines
Linebackers | Secondaries | Special Teams
 

1. USC
The Trojan offense is good.  The Trojan defense is scary good.  Backed by a Who’s Who of future first-day NFL Draft choices, USC is ready to unleash the nastiest and stingiest unit of the Pete Carroll era.  Led by Sedrick Ellis at the nose, Keith Rivers at middle linebacker, and Terrell Thomas at cornerback, the Trojans boast seven players capable of making a run at All-America honors in 2007.  Yeah, a few more sacks and takeaways would be nice, but this is as close to a flawless unit that there is in the country.  From front to back, they’re aggressive, experienced and fast enough to create a swarming effect on the ball carrier.  Although the Trojans will give up yards to teams playing from behind, scoring meaningful points on them in the first three quarters is going to be a year-long nightmare.

2. LSU
The nation's number three defense in each of the last two years might crank things up yet another notch with eight starters returning led by the nation's most impressive line. Tackle Glenn Dorsey and end Tyson Jackson might be top five draft picks next season, while Ali Highsmith leads a fantastic linebacking corps that'll only get better once the star prospect backups get more time. Chevis Jackson and Jonathan Zenon form a top lock-down corner tandem, while Craig Steltz and Curtis Taylor will be more than just fill-ins for safeties LaRon Landry and Jessie Daniels. With all the talent returning, expect more big plays, more turnovers, and more dominance against the average to bad teams.

3. Virginia Tech
For two years in a row, Tech has led the nation in total defense, and last season, was number one in scoring defense allowing 11 points per game. There's no reason the D can't be even better with eight starters returning led by the 1-2 linebacking punch of Vince Hall and Xavier Adibi. Corner Brandon Flowers is emerging as one of the best in the nation, "Macho" Harris is a good defender on the other side, and the line is loaded with size, quickness, depth and experience. As good as things were, and will be, it's not like the D played a who's who of offensive machines, so the overall numbers might be a tad bit overrated, but make no mistake about it; this is a special defense.

4. Texas
Duane Akina goes from co-defensive coordinator to the head man in charge, and there will be changes. Last year's defense was all about stopping the run, and the talented secondary got torched. This year's D will focus on doing everything, with an eye towards being more aggressive and generating more pressure. The strength is at tackle and in the linebacking corps, with NFL caliber talent that should keep the Longhorns among the nation's leaders against the run. The ends will be fine, in time, and they'll get to pin their ears back and go to the quarterback. All the pressure should help out a secondary in transition, with only one starter returning from a group that loses Thorpe Award winner Aaron Ross and All-American Michael Griffin.

5. UCLA
Kudos to defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker, who did the improbable in 2006 by whipping a sorry Bruin defense into shape.  Ten starters are back from that unit, which finished No. 2 in the Pac-10 in total defense and tops against the run.  One All-American rush end, Justin Hickman, has departed, but one, Bruce Davis, returns to wreak havoc on league quarterbacks.  Although the linebackers look nothing like the ones across town at USC, they’re fast, instinctive and a nice fit for Walker’s defense.  Middle linebacker Christian Taylor is the definition of a hard-working college athlete that makes a ton of plays, but likely won’t be wearing pads beyond 2007.  The secondary is an enigma that’s loaded with returning talent, yet still vulnerable through the air.  Strong safety Chris Horton laid the groundwork last year for what should be a terrific final season at UCLA.

6. Miami
The defense finished seventh in the nation last year despite not getting any help from the offense. The starting 11 should be good enough to shut everyone down, but there will be early concerns with the depth on the defensive line and the secondary. Safety Kenny Phillips and end Calais Campbell might be the two best defensive players in the nation, and everything will revolve around them; they must stay healthy. The linebacking corps might not have name stars, but it'll be a rock against the run with a good rotation of talents.

7. TCU
The Horned Frogs finished second in the nation in total defense, third in scoring defense, and led the Mountain West in several top categories. It'll be a total shock if they weren't even better. The only possible problems will come if injuries strike. Nine starters return, led by all-star ends Tommy Blake and Chase Ortiz, who make life easy for everyone else on the defense with the pressure they provide. The 4-2-5 has four good linebackers, an amazing group of safeties, rising stars at corner, and a good, active line. The only potential issue is a lack of raw bulk at tackle, but that's looking for a problem.

8. Oklahoma
It'll be an interesting defense that has the potential to be a killer, but has some major concerns. The secondary should be among the best in America with enough size, speed, and talent to keep the NFL scouts buzzing. DeMarcus Granger is a rising superstar tackle who should combine with Gerald McCoy, Cory Bennett and Steven Coleman to stuff up everything on the inside. If the unknown ends come though with a halfway decent season, and the untested linebacking corps is nearly as good as last year's, look out. 

9. Florida State
The defense came up with a better year than it got credit for, but it gave up too many points. Now the potential is there for this to be a Florida State defense again with tremendous speed and talent in the secondary and a good enough front seven to come up with a big year. There are question marks. Everette Brown is a good-looking pass rushing end, but he needs help from the other side. The linebacking corps will be special as long as Derek Nicholson and Marcus Ball can quickly return from torn ACLs, otherwise it'll be an undersized group with no depth. As always, there's a slew of NFL talent to work around, highlighted by tackle Andre Fluellen and safety Myron Rolle.

10. Clemson
As long as the corners are fine, this will be one of the nation's best defenses. The line, even without Gaines Adams, will be amazing, thanks to the emergence of Ricky Sapp and a great rotation of tackles. Assuming Tramaine Billie (broken ankle) and Antonio Clay (family tragedy) are back, the linebacking corps will fly around and make plays all over the filed. The safety situation is one of the ACC's best with Chris Clemons, Michael Hamlin (broken foot and all) and DeAndre McDaniel all potential all-stars, and the corners should be decent, at worst.

11 South Florida
12 Ohio State
13 Georgia Tech
14 Penn State
15 Nebraska
16 Wisconsin
17 Arizona  
18 Virginia
19 Auburn
20 Oregon State 
21 Rutgers
22 Florida  
23 Boston College 
24 Michigan
25 Tennessee
26 Colorado  
27 Iowa  
28 South Carolina
29 Kansas State
30 California
31 Missouri
32 Arkansas  
33 Oklahoma State
34 Georgia
35 Louisville 
36 Maryland
37 BYU
38 Alabama
39 Illinois
40 New Mexico
41 Texas A&M
42 Boise State
43 Wake Forest
44 Notre Dame
45 NC State
46 Cincinnati
47 Southern Miss 
48 Arizona State
49 West Virginia
50 Oregon
51 Washington
52 Michigan State
53 Mississippi State
54 Vanderbilt
55 Pitt
56 Mississippi  
57 Texas Tech
58 Nevada
59 Wyoming 
60 Connecticut
61 Washington State
62 Syracuse
63 Colorado State
64 Kansas
65 Western Michigan
66 Stanford
67 Central Michigan 
68 Indiana
69 Baylor
70 Kentucky
71 Utah  
72 Minnesota
73 Fresno State
74 Northwestern
75 North Carolina
76 Houston
77 San Jose State
78 East Carolina
79 Tulsa
80 Purdue
81 Hawaii
82 Iowa State
83 Duke
84 Akron
85 Kent State
86 Northern Illinois
87 Bowling Green
88 Memphis
89 SMU
90 Troy
91 Marshall
92 Toledo
93 Ohio
94 Miami Univ.
95 Air Force
96 UCF
97 Florida Atlantic
98 UNLV
99 UTEP
100 UAB
101 FIU
102 Ball State
103 Louisiana Tech
104 Rice
105 Middle Tennessee
106 San Diego State
107 Tulane
108 Arkansas State
109 Idaho
110 Eastern Michigan
111 North Texas
112 Navy
113 UL Monroe
114 Buffalo
115 New Mexico State
116 UL Lafayette
117 Army
118 Utah State
119 Temple