Just took a look at si.com and Sports Illustrated’s preseason Top 20. USC is on top – no surprise there – followed by LSU and defending national champion Florida.
But I found it interesting that TCU wasn’t included. Boise State was the only team from outside the Pac-10, SEC, Big East, Big Ten, ACC and Big 12 on the list.
So no Air Force opponents on there.
On to some notes …
Who stood out: Junior defensive end Jake Paulson. The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder missed a good chunk of last year because of a dislocated elbow, but he showed signs of becoming a pass-rushing force when he was on the field. He clearly put on some muscle in the offseason, and he’s looked good during the first two weeks of practice. Tuesday he showed good quickness and moves in a one-on-one pass-rushing drill.
Side note to anyone planning to come watch a practice at the academy: Do yourself a favor and spend some time watching defensive line coach Ron Burton. “Intense” doesn’t even begin to describe him. He’s high-energy and at top speed all the time. His attention to detail is astounding. During the one-on-one drills, he had precise critiques for each player – from where they placed their hands to how quickly they moved off the ball to where they were focusing their eyes while trying to beat an offensive lineman. Burton’s group of linemen could surprise people this year. Inexperienced but bigger and stronger than what many probably expected.
Lasting image: More dropped passes. I watched primarily the defense Tuesday, but within a five-minute span, a pair of on-the-money passes went through the hands of backs Ryan Williams and Chad Smith.