With college football media days in full swing, it's definitely not too early to look ahead to the coming season. On Monday, we took a look at the top 10 projected offenses for 2014.
Using data that we have found indicative of future performance, ESPN Stats & Information projected the defensive efficiency ranking of every Football Bowl Subdivision team for the 2014 season. Factored into the ratings are prior years' efficiency using ESPN's Football Power Index, the average of four recruiting rankings (Scouts, Rivals, Phil Steele, ESPN) during a three-year span, coaching tenure and information on returning starters (according to ESPN Insider Phil Steele).
Here's a look at the top 10 defenses based purely on statistical projections. The numbers in parentheses refer to efficiency, in terms of expected points added per game, that each team's defense is projected to contribute to its team's overall scoring margin. Since the ratings are scaled against the FBS baseline, an average defense would contribute 0 net points per game against an average offense.
For a full list of offensive, defensive and overall preseason rankings heading into the 2014 season, click here.
1. Florida State Seminoles (defensive efficiency: plus-13.6)
Returning starters: 6
2013 defensive efficiency rank: First
Three-year recruiting class average rank: 6.5
Florida State's defense was dominant this past season en route to winning the school's first national championship since 1999. The Seminoles led the nation in points allowed per drive (0.9), opponent Total QBR (16.9) and points per game allowed (12.1). The Seminoles also posted the top defensive efficiency rating in the nation.
After having an FBS-high 11 defensive players selected in the past two NFL drafts, Florida State is in prime position to reload. The Seminoles have added 14 defensive players ranked in the ESPN 300 in their past two recruiting classes, fourth most in the FBS.
Additionally, they return six defensive starters who were also highly touted recruits. DE Mario Edwards Jr. (No. 1), DE Eddie Goldman (No. 10), S Jalen Ramsey (No. 14), DE Chris Casher (No. 23) and CB Ronald Darby (No. 38) are returning defenders who were ranked in the top 50 of their respective ESPN 300 recruiting classes.