Question marks: August issues for the top 25 teams

How soon do the Irish need to pick a starting QB? (1:42)

Jonathan Vilma and Butch Davis discuss the timetable that Brian Kelly should follow when deciding whether DeShone Kizer or Malik Zaire should be the Notre Dame starter. (1:42)

With Mark Schlabach's most recent Way-Too-Early Top 25 rankings as our guide, we have ranked everything from the weakest position groups to potential Olympians. This week, what are the biggest summer questions facing each team in the top 25?

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

Is Bo Scarbrough really ready? Can he step into Derrick Henry's shoes and not miss a beat? Because, well, that's a lot to ask. Although Scarbrough is everything you look for in a running back -- big, powerful, athletic -- he is inexperienced and carries a history of injuries. Picking up the intricacies of the position (blocking, pass-catching, etc.) will be what makes or breaks the redshirt sophomore's potential to be the feature back and an SEC star. -- Alex Scarborough

2. Clemson Tigers

The pass rush. It's not that Clemson doesn't have talent at defensive end. Dabo Swinney is convinced that Austin Bryant, Clelin Ferrell and Richard Yeargin will develop into top-flight defenders. But none of them has much experience. That's the downside of putting four defensive ends into the NFL the past two years. Swinney's hope, however, is that the competition among the inexperienced talent will generate better practices during fall camp and have the Tigers ready to pick up where they left off on defense last season. -- David M. Hale

3. Michigan Wolverines

Who is going to play quarterback for the Wolverines? Wilton Speight and John O'Korn have been in a neck-and-neck position battle since spring. With a litany of receiving weapons this season and one of the game's best QB tutors in Jim Harbaugh, whoever comes out on top will find himself in position to succeed. -- Dan Murphy

4. Florida State Seminoles

Quarterback is the most glaring question mark, but will the rest of the offense step up to alleviate the pressure? Dalvin Cook will do his part, but the offensive line and receivers need to reach his level. Both groups were far too inconsistent a year ago. The line is imposing and talented, and Travis Rudolph stood out among the receivers this spring. -- Jared Shanker

5. Oklahoma Sooners

With status of preseason All-Big 12 pick Jordan Thomas up in the air for the opener following an offseason arrest, cornerback is a huge concern for the Sooners going into camp. Thomas is the defense's only proven performer at the position as the team heads into a nonconference slate that features a pair of outstanding opposing quarterbacks, Houston's Greg Ward and Ohio State's J.T. Barrett. -- Jake Trotter

6. LSU Tigers

Leonard Fournette is ready, as are the offensive line and receiver corps, led by Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural. The defense is solid, too, with one of the most talented secondaries in the country. But the passing game? That's the issue. Coaches and teammates say they see a change in quarterback Brandon Harris now that he's a junior, but he has work to do to change his reputation as an underachiever holding back an otherwise talented offense. -- Scarborough

7. Stanford Cardinal

Who will hand the ball off to Christian McCaffrey? Both Keller Chryst and Ryan Burns appear to be capable options to replace Kevin Hogan. No pressure, guys. The past two Stanford quarterbacks (Andrew Luck and Hogan) have had coaching positions named in their honor. -- Kyle Bonagura

8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Whom will Brian Kelly pick at quarterback? DeShone Kizer has the experience, but before an injury, Malik Zaire was pegged as the starter in 2015. Kelly said the offense has developed around Kizer, so he'll do a better job of tweaking the offense to Zaire's skills when the left-hander is in during fall practice. That should ensure Kelly picks the most talented option. -- Shanker

9. Ohio State Buckeyes

Is Mike Weber ready for prime time? There's no veteran around to help ease him into a role as the primary rusher, and from the first day of camp, the pressure will be on the redshirt freshman to live up to his recruiting hype. As if following the footsteps of Carlos Hyde and Ezekiel Elliott weren't a big enough challenge, the title hopes for the Buckeyes could hinge on Weber's ability to match the standard of the superstars who came before him and thrived in Urban Meyer's power-spread offense. -- Austin Ward

10. Tennessee Volunteers

People will point to Joshua Dobbs' ability to consistently get the ball downfield, but he's going to need some protection to do anything this fall. The battle at left tackle is crucial for the Vols. Longtime starter Kyler Kerbyson is gone, which leaves redshirt freshman Drew Richmond to battle with Chance Hall, who started seven games at right tackle last year, and Brett Kendrick. Richmond appears to be the favorite, but this should last through all of camp. -- Edward Aschoff

11. USC Trojans

Max Browne or Sam Darnold? Many people expected Browne to be announced as Cody Kessler's replacement in the spring, but Darnold's play prevented that. Browne remains the favorite, but don't be surprised if Darnold, a redshirt freshman, starts at quarterback against Alabama. -- Bonagura

12. Georgia Bulldogs

Kirby Smart is searching for some defensive linemen, a couple linebackers, the right offensive line combination and some playmakers at receiver. He has two running backs coming back from injuries, and he still has to figure out who is the starting quarterback. Freshman phenom Jacob Eason is the fan favorite, but Smart isn't going to rush his progress. Veterans Greyson Lambert and Brice Ramsey will have every chance to take the starting job, but Eason is waiting in the wings. How will Smart play this in the weeks leading up to opening weekend? -- Aschoff

13. Ole Miss Rebels

Hugh Freeze likes the talent and depth coming back on his offensive line, but Ole Miss lost five starters from last year's group and returns just 36 career starts. There will be moving and shaking up front all camp, but freshman Greg Little is the X factor. If he can cement his spot at left tackle, Freeze might find the perfect combination before taking on Florida State. -- Aschoff

14. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Who's going to rush the passer? The Cowboys are flush with youth at defensive end after losing Emmanuel Ogbah and Jimmy Bean, who combined to record 28 tackles for loss and 18.5 sacks in 2015. Vincent Taylor is a force in the middle. OSU is athletic across the front four. But its production is likely to decline, and it must find someone -- perhaps Jarrell Owens -- to draw the attention of opponents on the edge. -- Mitch Sherman

15. Michigan State Spartans

Can the Spartans rebuild in the trenches? The offensive and defensive lines in East Lansing -- staples of the program's recent success -- lost three starters apiece at the end of last season. Malik McDowell will star on defense, but the Spartans have to sort out a long list of less experienced options (including two transfers) to complement him. -- Murphy

16. Washington Huskies

Is the hype justified? That won't be determined quite yet, but there will be heightened interest around the program from Day 1 after the Huskies spent the offseason lavished with constant praise. -- Bonagura

17. Houston Cougars

The Cougars need to find leadership of the vocal variety on defense. The talent at defensive coordinator Todd Orlando's disposal is sufficient, but after the graduation of multiyear starters such as linebacker Elandon Roberts and safeties Trevon Stewart and Adrian McDonald -- all of whom were vocal, heart-and-soul types for the Cougars -- new faces need to step into those roles if the Cougars are to have similar success on that side of the ball. Defensive end Cameron Malveaux seems the most likely candidate to step up, but Orlando's trying to find someone at every level of the defense. -- Sam Khan Jr.

18. North Carolina Tar Heels

Can the defense get the ball back to what should be a dominant offense? Opponents saw what Baylor did in the bowl, coupled it with the fact that the Tar Heels lost two key linebackers and are thinking they will be able to run all over North Carolina. The defense needs to play better against the rush to prevent time-sustaining drives, get off the field and give the offense a chance to showcase its skill. -- Shanker

19. Oregon Ducks

Can Brady Hoke breathe life back into the Ducks' struggling defense? The unit was a disaster with Don Pellum calling plays, which led Mark Helfrich to demote him and turn the keys over to the former Michigan head coach. Quarterback is a concern, but not as much as the downward trend on defense. -- Bonagura

20. TCU Horned Frogs

Who's going to lead this powerful offense? Trevone Boykin leaves big shoes to fill, and TCU coaches have remained noncommittal about who leads the race between Kenny Hill and Foster Sawyer. Even though Hill has SEC experience and was named the Big 12's preseason newcomer of the year, Sawyer has a shot to win the job. It's going to come down to how the QBs fare in scrimmages this month. -- Max Olson

21. Texas A&M Aggies

How quickly will the offensive line jell? The Aggies graduated three starters, which means a lot of new faces are being plugged in this year. Erik McCoy's development at center and Koda Martin's progress at right tackle are of particular importance as the Aggies try to improve in an area in which they have been maddeningly inconsistent the past two years. For new offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone's offense to start on the right foot, the Aggies need to be good up front. -- Khan

22. UCLA Bruins

How will the Bruins adapt to a new scheme on offense? They'll look more traditional -- tight ends, fullback and snaps from under center -- and rely heavily on sophomore quarterback Josh Rosen. -- Bonagura

23. Iowa Hawkeyes

Who is going to do the punting and kicking? The Hawkeyes return starters at almost every position from their undefeated 2015 regular season, but special teams is undergoing a changing of the guard. Punter Dillon Kidd and kicker Marshall Koehn (who hit seven kicks from 40 yards or more last fall) are gone. For a team that plays in a lot of close battles, building trust in young specialists could be a deciding factor in the bid for another divisional title. -- Murphy

24. Miami Hurricanes

Brad Kaaya has first-round potential, but will the offensive line allow the offense to flourish? Mark Richt is determined to run the football to help the passing game, but Miami was 61st among 65 Power 5 teams in rushing yards before contact last season. The good news is the Hurricanes return a lot along the offensive line, so there should be more cohesion, despite adjusting to a new coaching staff. -- Shanker

25. Louisville Cardinals

The offensive line. Plenty of attention has gone to QB Lamar Jackson, who we're told has made huge strides as a pocket passer this offseason. None of that will matter, however, if his line doesn't take a big step forward. Last season, Louisville allowed the third-highest rate of pressures in the Power 5 (38.9 percent of dropbacks), and its ground game offered little support, which forced Jackson to become a runner rather than a passer. Most of last year's O-line returns this season, but it'll need to be a year better -- not just a year older. -- Hale