Independent 2019 Pre-Spring Rankings, Depth Chart Projections, Biggest Issues

Independent 2019 Pre-Spring Rankings, Depth Chart Projections, Biggest Issues

Independents

Independent 2019 Pre-Spring Rankings, Depth Chart Projections, Biggest Issues

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The 2019 early rankings, depth chart lookaheads, and projections for the Independent teams.


Contact @PeteFiutak

These can and will change after spring ball and going into the season, but for now, as a starting point, welcome to your pre-everything early ranking of all the Independent teams.

6. New Mexico State Aggies

The experience is there, but the production has to come. Josh Adkins and the quarterback options return, and while they lose top target Johnathan Boone, the receiving corps is fine. Almost all of the top running backs return behind a line that has to replace two starters. The D wasn’t any good, but everyone is back on the defensive front, and three starters are back in the secondary. However, five of the top eight tacklers are gone.

Final 2018 Record: 3-9
2018 Overall Independent Record Finish: 6
2018 Prespring Independent Ranking: 5
Biggest Issue To Fix: Third Down Defense
Biggest Depth Chart Positive: Defensive Line
Biggest Depth Chart Negative: Linebacker
New Mexico State Schedule Analysis

5. UMass Minutemen

New head coach Mike Bell has some reworking to do. The quarterback situation will be the focus of the offseason, and there’s no replacing WR Andy Isabella, but the rest of the receivers are back. Leading rusher Marquis Young is gone, and two starters have to be replaced up front. The defensive line returns three starters, and the back seven has experience, but five of the top eight starters are finished.

Final 2018 Record: 4-8
2018 Overall Independent Record Finish: 5
2018 Prespring Independent Ranking: 4
Biggest Issue To Fix: Rushing Offense
Biggest Depth Chart Positive: Defensive Line
Biggest Depth Chart Negative: Offensive Guard
UMass Schedule Analysis

4. Liberty Flames

Hugh Freeze inherits a nice-looking team that returns enough starters to better the six wins of last season. All of the top skill guys are back, with Frankie Hickson leading a deep group of running backs, Steven Calvert and the quarterback options are there, and Antonio Gandy-Golden and the receivers are strong. Three offensive linemen return, the defensive front is solid, and the secondary has playmakers. Five of the top six tacklers are back.

Final 2018 Record: 6-6
2018 Overall Independent Record Finish: 4
2018 Prespring Independent Ranking: 6
Biggest Issue To Fix: Pass Protection
Biggest Depth Chart Positive: Running Back
Biggest Depth Chart Negative: Left Side of the O Line
Liberty Schedule Analysis

3. BYU Cougars

Keeping in mind that several players will be gone on church missions, there should be a whole bunch of veteran talents returning. The big losses are at linebacker, but most of the top tacklers return including just about everyone on the defensive front. Getting all the safeties back – led by Austin Lee and Dayan Ghanwoloku – is a huge boost.

The emergence of Zach Wilson at quarterback gives the offense more hope. The running backs have to be better behind a line that gets back four starters, and the receiving corps is potentially great thanks to the tight end combination of Matt Bushman and Dallin Holker.

Final 2018 Record: 7-6
2018 Overall Independent Record Finish: 3
2018 Prespring Independent Ranking: 3
Biggest Issue To Fix: Tackles For Loss
Biggest Depth Chart Positive: Safeties
Biggest Depth Chart Negative: Linebacker
BYU Schedule Analysis

2. Army Black Knights

There are just enough losses to be annoying, but the offensive machine should keep on rolling. The O loses FB Andy Davidson and top RB Darnell Woolfolk, but quarterback and leading rusher Kelvin Hopkins is back along with enough experienced running backs to be fine. All of the receivers are back – for what that’s worth on this team – and the offensive line should be fine, especially on the interior.

The defensive front gets gutted on the inside, and leading tackler – and heart-and-soul type – James Nachtigal is done from the linebacking corps, but four of the top six tacklers are back. However, six of the top ten are gone. The secondary, though, should be solid.

Final 2018 Record: 11-2
2018 Overall Independent Record Finish: 2
2018 Prespring Independent Ranking: 2
Biggest Issue To Fix: Tackles For Loss
Biggest Depth Chart Positive: Quarterback
Biggest Depth Chart Negative: Defensive Tackle
Army Schedule Analysis

1. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Some of the big stars are done, but there’s more than enough talent returning to expect another big season. Dexter Williams is finished, but the rest of the running backs are good enough to produce in the offensive system behind a line that welcomes back four starters. WR Miles Boykin and TE Alize Mack are leaving for the NFL, but there are just enough veterans back – Chase Claypool and Chris Finke are fine – for QB Ian Book to help make shine.

Jerry Tillery and Jonathan Bonner are gone fro the defensive interior, and star corner Julian Love is taking off early, but the pass rushing tandem of Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareem is back. The biggest negative is a linebacking corps that doesn’t have Te’von Coney and Drue Tranquill around anymore, but all of the safeties are back. In all, seven of the top ten tacklers return. Losing steady PK Justin Yoon hurts.

Final 2018 Record: 12-1
2018 Overall Independent Record Finish: 1
2018 Prespring Independent Ranking: 1
Biggest Issue To Fix: Consistent Running Game
Biggest Depth Chart Positive: Safety
Biggest Depth Chart Negative: Linebacker
Notre Dame Schedule Analysis

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