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2011 CFN Preseason Rankings - No. 61 to 70
Nevada DT Brett Roy
Nevada DT Brett Roy
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 3, 2011


Preview 2011 CFN Preseason Rankings No. 61 to 70 ... Shooting for a Bowl


Preview 2011 - Preseason Rankings

Shooting For A Bowl - No. 61 to 70


2011 CFN Preseason Rankings  
Preview 2011 | 1 to 5 | 6 to 10 | 11 to 20 | 21 to 30 | 31 to 40 | 41 to 50
51 to 60 | 61 to 70 | 71 to 80 | 81 to 90 | 91 to 100 | 101 to 110 | 111 to 120 
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There's one very important distinction in the CFN preseason rankings: these are based on how good the teams are going into the season and NOT how they're going to finish. Some teams have easier schedules than others, some get tougher road games and some will need a little bit of time to jell meaning they might be better than their final record might indicate. Going into the year, these are how good the teams appear to be from No. 1 through 120.

70. Rutgers Preview
Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Linebacker, Receiver
Relative Weaknesses: Offensive Line, Secondary

What to watch for on offense: Osei can you C? Rutgers knew it was going to have a problem at center before spring began. The situation, however, got far worse when projected starter Dallas Hendrikson suffered a season-ending knee injury in the spring. Enter sophomore David Osei, who’s about to be thrust into the pivot on a line that’s already the weakest link of the 2011 squad. Fortunately, he played well in April and adapted quickly to his promotion. He does have to add weight to his 6-4, 266-pound frame, though, or else he could get overpowered by opposing linemen.

What to watch for on defense: Going Greene. Junior Khaseem Greene was one of the brightest defensive stars on last year’s team, making 77 tackles and three picks in his debut in the lineup. However, that was when he was a free safety. This season, he’ll be playing weakside linebacker, the staff’s attempt to bring more speed and ferocity to the second level of defense. While he’ll be undersized at 6-1 and 215 pounds, he plays fast and much bigger than his size, packing a punch in run defense and against unsuspecting receivers.

69. Northern Illinois Preview
Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Offensive Line
Relative Weaknesses: Receiver, Linebacker

What to watch for on offense: The running backs. Chad Spann ran for 1,388 yards and 22 touchdowns on his way to winning the MAC Player of the Year honor. He was a very good, very talented back, but with all five starters returning to the strong offensive line, and with QB Chandler Harnish a possible Player of the Year if he builds on his tremendous 2010, the production should be just as strong from the rotation of backs. Jasmin Hopkins is a big-time talent with the ability to break off huge runs at any time, averaging 9.6 yards per carry last year on his 38 attempts. Akeem Daniels can fly, Leighton Settle is fast, and Jamal Womble is a power runner. The backs should all combine for well over 2,500 yards.

What to watch for on defense: The linebackers. Alex Kube led the team with 81 tackles and was a strong team leader. Devon Butler did a little bit of everything finishing second on the team with 80 tackles with 4.5 sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss, a pick, and five broken up passes, but he’s out for at least this year recovering from gunshot wounds. Pat Schiller is back after missing time last year hurt, and the veteran should be the leader. Jordan Delegal is a terrific-looking outside linebacker prospect who’s due to breakout, but he actually has to do it. The big question is in the middle where former fullback Victor Jacques and sophomore Cameron Stingily working to replace Butler.

68. Kansas Preview
Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Linebacker, Running Back
Relative Weaknesses: Quarterback, Defensive Line

What to watch for on offense: The quarterback situation. Jordan Webb, Quinn Mecham, and Kale Pick combined forces to lead Kansas to the nation’s 110th most efficient passing game and the 103rd ranked air attack. Even though things fell off the map in 2009, KU was seventh in the nation in passing and 40th in efficiency, dropping an average of 149 passing yards per game. In the high-octane Big 12, that’s not going to work. Pick was moved over to receiver and Webb and Mecham are fighting it out for the job, but everything might changes when Berglund gets to school. The key, though, will be to find one quarterback, live through the mistakes, and have a player to build around.

What to watch for on defense: The linebackers. KU used a 4-2-5 alignment throughout last season, but it’ll be tempting to stick with the base 4-3 this year with the talent stepping in. While two key players from last year’s corps, Justin Springer and Drew Dudley, are done, there’s an upgrade on the way with Huldon Tharp returning from injury to man the weakside job and Buffalo transfer Darius Willis ready to man the middle. With leading returning tackler Steven Johnson able to move to the strongside, KU has the makings of its best group of linebackers in years if everyone can stay healthy.

67. Louisville Preview
Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Running Back, Defensive Line
Relative Weaknesses: Offensive Line, Secondary

What to watch for on offense: The development of the offensive line. Up front, there’s going to be C Mario Benavides and everyone else. The Cardinals must replace four of last season’s starter, a process that began in earnest during the spring. The tackles, Ryan Kessling and Hector Hernandez, are seniors, but projected starting guards Kamran Joyer and Jake Scott are going to be green. If this unit can mesh during the summer, the ramifications will be felt most in the running game. Victor Anderson and Jeremy Wright can move the chains on the ground when they get the proper support from their blockers.

What to watch for on defense: The ends to be mean. Charlie Strong has three quality options with which to attack opposing quarterbacks this fall. The veterans are William Savoy and Greg Scruggs who has a shot to play on Sundays now that he’s shifting back to his natural position. The rising star, though, is sophomore B.J. Butler, an SEC-caliber player set to shake up the Big East. A terrific athlete, who decommitted from Georgia to play for Strong, he has the right skill set to be the Cardinals’ best pass rusher in just his second year on campus.

66. Air Force Preview
Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Running Back, Secondary
Relative Weaknesses: Receiver, Defensive Line

What to watch for on offense: The offensive line. Every year, Air Force talks about the idea of balancing out the attack and getting more passing involved, but why fight it? The ground game was dominant averaging 307 yards per game while the passing attack finished 118th in the nation in yards averaging 119 per game. This year, there might not be any pretending; the ground game is going to own the offense thanks to the line. Tim Jefferson is a perfect leader and conductor to make the offense go, and Asher Clark is a dangerous back who can hit the home run whenever he gets the ball in his hands. They’ll both have room to move with guard A.J. Wallerstein, center Michael Hester, and tackle Jason Kons leading the most talented line yet in the Calhoun era, and it should be terrific from the opening snap once again.

What to watch for on defense: The back eight. The three man line is full of experience, but as always, size is a problem with three beefed up linebackers having to hold down the fort. Fortunately, the linebackers and secondary are experienced, talented, and they can all hit. Linebacker Jordan Waiwaiole is an all-around playmaker to work everything around, while Jon Davis is a big-hitting free safety who is always around the ball. Four of the top five tacklers are back, and the Air Force run defense should be sound, mistake-free, and a major factor in the Mountain West race.

65. Houston Preview
Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Receiver
Relative Weaknesses: Offensive Line, Secondary

What to watch for on offense: The backs. Sure, the passing game makes the headlines, but the running backs are the most underrated cogs in this system. Starter Bryce Beall has a 5-11, 215-pound frame that’s going to attract interest from the NFL and second-year JUCO transfer Michael Hayes proved to be a dynamite runner and receiver in his debut. Oh, and don’t forget about Charles Sims, the 2009 Freshman of the Year, who sat out last season for academic reasons. Whether running the ball or taking dump-offs, it’s a dangerous trio that cannot be dismissed by opposing defenses.

What to watch for on defense: The new cornerbacks. Just as the Cougars started making progress in 2010, the defensive backfield gets gutted by graduation, leaving behind a mess of uncertainty. In response, the staff went to Navarro (Tex.) College to sign corners D.J. Hayden and Chevy Bennett, who quickly rose to the top of the depth chart in the spring. Both imports have good size and instincts, needing to quickly plug the holes in a pass defense poised to spring all kinds of leaks. Houston has had success with JUCOs recently, and has its fingers crossed that Hayden and Bennett are quick learners.

64. Nevada Preview
Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Running Back, Quarterback
Relative Weaknesses: Receiver, Defensive Line

What to watch for on offense: The backfield. How do you replace an all-timer of a quarterback like Colin Kaepernick and a 1,000-yard rushing machine like Vai Taua? Nevada has to try to get the running game cranked up again without its stars, but the combination of Mike Ball and Lampford Mark should bring some flash and put up big numbers if the Pistol offense works like it’s supposed to. The big question is Tyler Lantrip, the likely starting quarterback with good speed and a live passing arm. The offense might not be as explosive or as dangerous as it was in past seasons, but that doesn’t mean it still can’t be among the best in the WAC.

What to watch for on defense: Who’s going to get to the quarterback? From Kevin Basped to Dontay Moch, the Wolf Pack has had some superior pass rushers flow through the program over the last few seasons. After coming up with a tremendous season of getting into the backfield, helped by returning star tackle Brett Roy, the line has to replace Moch and his 8.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss, and running mate, Ryan Coulson, who cranked out 2.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss. Albert Rosette and Brock Hekking can move, and they need to take advantage of the experience inside to hit the quarterback on a regular basis. The secondary might be fine, but it needs all the help it can get so it doesn’t regress.

63. Wake Forest Preview
Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Running Back, Linebacker
Relative Weaknesses: Quarterback, Secondary

What to look for on offense: Is the Price right? Although veteran Ted Stachitas is going away without a fight, sophomore Tanner Price has held on to the starting quarterback job until the summer. He won’t be easy to unseat, though, he’ll still have to make a quantum leap from his rookie season. There’s raw and then there was last season, when the lefty looked overwhelmed for much of the fall. The staff is focusing on the fact that he throws an accurate ball and is more poised than most teenagers thrust into this kind of a situation. The Deacons need to see considerable progress for the good of the entire program.

What to look for on defense: Nikita’s encore. At this time last year, Wake Forest was in dire need of help on the interior of the defensive line. Who would’ve known that an answer would come from a 5-11, 260-pound freshman nose guard? The Deacons’ Nikita Whitlock was a very pleasant surprise for the program, making 44 tackles, 10.5 stops for loss, and three sacks. A year older and every bit as explosive off the snap as he was in his debut, there’s no telling how disruptive he can be in his second season as a starter in the middle.  

62. Minnesota Preview
Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Linebacker
Relative Weaknesses: Defensive Line, Running Back

What to watch for on offense: The maturation of MarQueis. “O.J” Gray is a 6-4, 229-pound athlete who was good enough to be the team’s No. 2 receiver last year, despite coming to Minnesota a few years ago as a savior of a dual-threat spread quarterback. Kill likes his quarterbacks to move, but he also wants a downfield passing game. Gray was assumed to have the job no matter what after the graduation of Adam Weber, but the new coaching staff wanted to see if he was ready. He made himself ready. By doing the work and taking the attitude needed, he earned the starting job and this is now his offense and his team. With all the tools, everything is in place, including the players around him, to be a breakout star.

What to watch for on defense: B-E-A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E, be aggressive, got to be aggressive. Every defensive coordinator wants his D to fly all over the field and make big plays, even the vanilla ones who don’t want to utilize a slew of crazy blitzes, but new defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys really means it when he says he wants to get things moving. He has to be creative and inventive considering Minnesota was 120th out of 120 teams when it came to sacking the quarterback, but with six returning starters in the front seven, the experience is there and the athleticism is in place to turn everyone loose into the backfield.

61. Syracuse Preview
Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Secondary
Relative Weaknesses: Running Back, Linebacker

What to watch for on offense: Run total of the Bailey. The biggest offensive loss was Delone Carter, a 1,000-yard rusher and draft choice of the Indianapolis Colts. His successor will be senior Antwon Bailey, a solid career backup about to assume the feature role. No one doubts he can make plays as a runner and a receiver, but how will a 5-7, 197-pounder handle the punishment of being an every-down back? He’s never carried the ball more than 20 times a game, a concern as he prepares to be the focal point of a ground game that’s the backbone of the Orange offense.

What to watch for on defense: Pressure from the edge. Coordinator Scott Shafer and the Orange aim to dial up pressure whenever possible. However, with two new starting cornerbacks being broken in, the defense might be forced to be a little more conservative this fall. Enter veteran ends Chandler Jones and Mikhail Marinovich, two of the defense’s steadier performers. Both are returning starters, but their production has yet to match their physical ability. It’s incumbent upon both to turn more of their hurries and pressures into sacks and tackles behind the line. 

2011 CFN Preseason Rankings  
Preview 2011 | 1 to 5 | 6 to 10 | 11 to 20 | 21 to 30 | 31 to 40 | 41 to 50
51 to 60 | 61 to 70 | 71 to 80 | 81 to 90 | 91 to 100 | 101 to 110 | 111 to 120