The Indispensables: 5 Players Teams Can’t Live Without

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In case you live under a rock, apparently Braxton Miller, all-world Ohio State quarterback, won’t be playing football again this year because of a re-bummed shoulder. All is not lost in Buckeye land, mostly because Urban Meyer coaches, and the only time you worry about an Urban Meyer coached team is when Urban Meyer is the guy injured.

Bleed not for OSU, for the Buckeyes recruit well enough and are coached by the aforementioned guy so their floor is pretty high. Losing Miller probably means being unable to compete for a College Football Playoff Championship, not that the program is dead to rights.

But it gets you thinking … football is the quinnessential team game, and when one guy goes down, everyone does the whole cliche “next man up” thing. Yet, aren’t there some guys that are just too hard to replace? I figure it this way… if these five guys woke up tomorrow and couldn’t play football in 2014 for their teams, there would be the most drastic difference in results.

1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State: This is sort of like going to Outback Steakhouse and the waitress announcing that they’re out of steak. And Bloomin’ Onion. Yes, the other options are still good enough for a well above average meal, but damn, it could have been great supplemented with a “20,000 onion” dipped in some sort of horseradish thingy and a nice mid-rare filet. Florida State would probably still contend in the ACC sans Famous Jameis, but with him, the Seminoles have potential to go undefeated and cement their place as potentially one of the best two-year football teams of all stinking time. Soooo, that’s kind of a drop off.

2. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA:
In part, Hundley could be No. 1, but the level of iconic FSU could be with Winston sort of pushed it over the edge. Hundley could be No. 1 because after him, UCLA looks like it could go 6-6 if he wakes up tomorrow and decides he hates football. Asiantii Woulard and Rick Neuheisel’s kid Jerry both are a steep drop off (think, dating Jennifer Aniston to … just about whomever you date AFTER you date Jennifer Aniston) from Hundley. UCLA probably isn’t ranked if he’s not around. With him, folks are talking that playoff jargon.

3. Keenan Reynolds, QB, RB, Everything, Navy: You know when you tell a gal you’re dating, “You look like (insert celebrity here that she barely looks like but will be highly complimented by),” and she swoons? Well, that’s the equivalent of being compared to Roger Staubach … only in Keenan Reynolds’ case, the shoe fits and it’s not a made up line. Reynolds holds both the single season record for rushing touchdowns in a season and Navy points in a season which … you know … has stood for 97 years. Navy will always have tough, never say die players who get the absolute most out of every season, but Reynolds is a joy to watch and really should be in the Heisman discussion. Watch him against Ohio State …

4. Shane Carden, QB, East Carolina:
Probably the least known player on this list, Carden will lead a Pirate offense that could be total burnt toast this season, returning only five other starters. Carden, the Conference USA Player of the Year, will try his hand in the AAC where it figures to be tougher, but sans him, the Pirates have literally a one-armed puncher’s chance at competing in the new conference at a high level. He’s one of those guys about whom you’ll say, “Who is this dude? He’s good?”, and then hopefully reference this small blurb.

5. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska: If you can get past the narrative that running backs are as easy to find as McDonald’s, Starbucks on a corner, or terrible Adam Sandler movies over the last five years … you might see that a guy like Abduallah has the talent to make Nebraska a contender and is the heart and soul of an offense that always seems to be trying to find something other than Ameer Abduallah every fall. With an eternally shaky passing game, the lean on Abduallah is deep.