Top seven college football rooms: Clemson, Alabama, loaded with talented defensive linemen, linebackers

Georgia led the nation’s highest-scoring defense all the way to the national title last year thanks to deep defensive line rotation and a fast, physical linebacking body. Even as the sport has become attack-driven, the Bulldogs have proven that old-school football can still win at the elite level.

Which team is “Georgia” this year?

There are several teams that will enter the season with the top seven loads that are well equipped to lead to the contention for the title. What teams are they? Let’s analyze them.

If manager Dabo Swinney’s team returns to the top of college football this year, it will be in the wake of one of the best defenses – from a staff point of view – they’ve ever produced. Superstar Bryan Bresee will anchor in the middle of the scrimmage line and, when he’s healthy, he’s the best defensive lineman in the country. He adds Xavier Thomas and KJ Henry to the limit and the line should be devastating. The linebacking body will be led by Trenton Simpson, who had 64 tackles, 12.5 which was for a defeat, last season. The only real question here is whether the success former defensive coordinator Brent Venables had during his tenure in the northern state can be replicated by new defensive coordinator Wes Goodwin.

Surprise, surprise … Alabama makes it on this list. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know all about the threat from edge star Will Anderson Jr., who may be the best player in the country despite the presence of Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young on Anderson’s squad. Linebackers Henry To’o To’o, Dallas Turner and Jaylen Moody are just a few of the stars who make up the best lineback unit in the nation. Up front, DJ Dale will anchor a defensive line that will also include Byron Young and Justin Eboigbe. That trio is adept at taking blocks and letting the linebacker body feast.

First-year manager Kalen DeBoer has inherited one of the best defenses in the country, who should play as well in a gaping Pac-12 as he has never been. Zion Tupuola-Fetui should be recovering from an Achilles tendon injury, and it’s a real terror on the edge. He has averaged 1.75 tackles per game loss during the 2020 season shortened by COVID-19 and should be one of the best players in the conference if he stays healthy. Add in the Zion Tupuola-Fetui linebacker / end hybrid and the speed of the Huskies will be as dangerous as any in the country. Carson Bruener will be the star of the linebacking body in a defense that will be based in the 4-2-5 form, and Edefuan Ulofoshio is expected to emerge as a star once he has fully recovered from a knee injury.

Manager Dave Aranda essentially has his entire two-depth defensive line returning after helping the Bears finish 7th in the nation with 104 tackles lost. Siaki Ika, Gabe Hall, TJ Franklin and Brayden Utley are just a few of the offensive veterans, and the Tulsa Jaxon Player transfer has the ability to fly on the NFL Draft board this season. The linebacking body needs to rebuild a bit, but Dillon Doyle is a veteran presence, Matt Jones is back after 52 tackles last season, and LSU transfer Josh White has the knack to be an up and coming star.

Former defensive coordinator Jim Knowles has left for Ohio State, but Derek Mason is entering a charged defensive front that shouldn’t miss a beat. Second year Collin Oliver finished third in the Big 12 last season with 10.5 sacks, defensive tackle Brendon Evers is a monster in the middle and Tyler Lacy and Brock Martin made a huge impact last season. The linebacking corps doesn’t have the same experience with starts as Malcolm Rodriguez and Devin Harper, but junior college transfer Xavier Benson wrote stars about him and Mason Cobb waited in the wings for his chance to shine.

Honorable mention

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