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2011 CFN Preseason Rankings - No. 51 to 60
Georgia Tech QB Tevin Washington
Georgia Tech QB Tevin Washington
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 4, 2011


Preview 2011 CFN Preseason Rankings No. 51 to 60 ... Should Go Bowling


Preview 2011 - Preseason Rankings

Should Go Bowling - No. 51 to 60


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.

60. Vanderbilt Preview
Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

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

What to watch for on offense: The attempt to try to throw the forward pass. There was a time not all that long ago when Jay Cutler and Earl Bennett were lighting up SEC defenses with a dangerous passing attack. Cutler left, and the air show has been a rumor ever since. Things bottomed out last year finishing 105th in the nation, averaging just 159 yards per game, while finishing 119th in the nation, one spot ahead of Buffalo, in passing efficiency, with Vandy quarterbacks failing to complete half of their passes for just 1,913 yards with 11 touchdowns and 11 picks. This yearn the new coaching staff has come in and stated from Day One that there will be a passing game, but will it be Larry Smith under center or Jordan Rodgers, Aaron’s brother? There’s a chance that this could be the program’s biggest change from the last few years; at least that’s the goal.

What to watch for on defense: A nasty secondary. The pass defense wasn’t anything special last season, allowing 226 yards per game while getting burned way too easily, but all four starters are back led by two future NFL talents in corner Casey Hayward and strong safety Sean Richardson. The 6-2, 218-pound Richardson came up with a team-leading 98 tackles, Hayward made 70 stops and six picks, with 11 broken up passes, and free safety Kenny Ladler is coming off a whale of a first season with 57 tackles with 5.5 tackles for loss. There’s depth to go along with the experience, and if there’s any semblance of a pass rush to help the cause, the secondary should be the team’s biggest strength.

59. Colorado Preview
Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Running Back, Defensive Line
Relative Weaknesses: Quarterback, Special Teams

What to look for offense: The emergence of WR Paul Richardson into a star. Richardson was outstanding a year ago, catching 34 balls for 514 yards and six touchdowns … in his first season on campus. He’s going to get better in a hurry, especially with a little more support from the quarterbacks. Long and lean, he explodes off the snap and gets to second gear in an instant. He’ll quickly become one of the exciting, young imports from the Big 12, challenging Pac-12 secondaries that have yet to study him on film.

What to look for on defense: The corner quandary. The biggest issue heading into 2011 will be finding replacements for Jimmy Smith and Jalil Brown, who were both drafted by the NFL in April. As if that won’t be hard enough, the Buffs are trying to bounce back in the secondary after ranking 110th nationally in pass defense. Coming out of spring, the frontrunners to be in the lineup were Parker Orms, a sophomore who missed all but one game to an injury, and special teams ace Arthur Jaffee. Neither is in the same league as his predecessor, a harbinger of trouble for this year’s secondary.

58. NC State Preview
Offense | Defense | Depth Chart 

Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Linebacker
Relative Weaknesses: Offensive Line, Special Team

What to look for on offense: Greene energy. Regardless of the situation at quarterback, the Pack wants to establish a power running game, one of the staples of a Tom O’Brien team. However, ranking No. 95 nationally and averaging just 3.4 yards a carry a year ago cannot be repeated. NC State would like to unleash sophomore Mustafa Greene once he returns from a foot injury that required surgery in April. One of the highest-rated backs to ever sign with the program, he has the size and quickness to be the feature back this school has been seeking for years.

What to look for on defense: Pack attack. Regardless of the personnel mix, NC State wants to dial up the pressure from every angle possible. The defense is built on speed, quickness, and the timing needed to get into the backfield and in the face of the quarterback. The defensive ends are iffy, so bank on linebackers Audie Cole, Terrell Manning, and D.J. Green doing a fair amount of blitzing to support a secondary that needs all the help it can get from the rush. The Wolfpack will get burned on occasional, but hopes to offset it with an aggressive style that initiates money plays on defense.

57. Virginia Preview
Offense | Defense Depth Chart

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

What to look for on offense: Holy Moses. From the same school that sent Elton Brown, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Branden Albert, and Eugene Monroe to the NFL since 2005 comes Moses. An enormous talent—literally—the 6-6, 350-pounder is about to carve out his own path to stardom. Mike London’s first key signee as the head coach cracked the lineup last October and instantly upgraded the performance of the entire front wall. The only question about his immediate future is where he’ll line up. The sophomore can play multiple positions, showing up on the post-spring depth chart at both right tackle and right guard.

What to look for on defense: Blame it on Rijo. With all-star CB Chase Minnifield being avoided at all costs by opposing quarterbacks, the pressure will be on sophomore Rijo Walker to handle the demands of being targeted on the other side of the field. He’s the lone projected starter who’s not a senior and a sure-fire marked man in 2011. The Cavaliers are out to improve the overall play of a pass defense that failed to deliver enough game-changing plays a year ago.

56. Kansas State Preview
Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Running Back, Special Teams
Relative Weaknesses: Offensive Line, Defensive Line

What to watch for on offense: The new skill stars. Last year, Carson Coffman was the top quarterback option, Daniel Thomas was the key running back, and Aubrey Quarles and Adrian Hilburn were the top two receivers. Thomas was tremendous and will be missed, but it’s possible that Kansas State’s star players might be better. Justin Tuggle and Collin Klein should be more effective quarterbacks than Coffman for what the offense wants to do, while the healthy return of Brodrick Smith and Tramaine Thompson should be a huge boost for an already strong receiving corps. Bryce Brown has the potential to be even better than Thomas, while John Hubert and DeMarcus Robinson are speedsters who can come up with the home run from the backfield. If the line is merely competent, then the new starting skill players should blow up.

What to watch for on defense: The linebackers. The line was the major culprit for why the run defense was the second-worst in the nation, but the mediocre play of the linebackers was also a problem. Alex Hrebeck was all over the field and was great against the pass, and Emmanuel Lamur grew into the job after moving over from safety, but now the linebackers should go from a weakness into a major strength. Arthur Brown has the look of an All-Big 12 performer in the middle, Tre Walker should be fantastic on one side, and Lamur and Hrebeck should be solid as the defense goes to more of a 4-3 than a 4-2-5.

55. Texas Tech Preview
Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

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

What to watch for on defense: The 4-2-5. As much as it might pain Red Raider fans to acknowledge that TCU is running things better, it’ll all work out if new defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow can bring in what he learned and used in Fort Worth to improve the woeful Tech D. The fifth defensive back will be used in a variety of ways, bringing more speed to help out against the high-powered Big 12 passing attacks along with the strength to hold up against the run. There was a decent pass rush last year, and while that might not be too much better in this alignment, there should be more big plays overall.

The team will be far better if … the pass defense can slow someone down. The Big 12 is a passing league, and while it would be nice to be able to stuff the run, all that matters is getting good play out of the secondary to slow down the better throwing teams. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, and Missouri will all have the ability to put up 300 yards through the air without a problem, and yes, Texas might be able to chuck it, too, if the planets are aligned correctly. Tech, after dealing with a slew of injuries, has GOT to keep the better passing games from doing whatever they want to. The Red Raider D was good on third downs and didn’t give up too many huge plays, but it allowed 300 passing yards or more seven times with Baylor and Texas A&M each going over the 400-yard mark.

54. UCLA Preview
Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

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

What to watch for on offense: True Baca. A line that’s been decimated by injuries and academic issues for years desperately needs everyone at full strength, beginning with junior Jeff Baca. Slated to handle one of the open tackle jobs, the Bruin staff desperately needs him to recapture his 2009, pre-suspension form, when he started 13 games and played like a fringe all-star. However, in true UCLA form, he broke his ankle in the spring and is not a lock to be at 100% when summer drills begin in August.

What to watch for on defense: Jonesin’ for a pass rush. If the Bruins are going to rebuild the defense after last year’s debacle, it’ll all begin with a pass rush that disappeared in 2010. UCLA had 18 sacks during the first half of the year, yet only seven over the final six sacks. Hope comes in the return of junior DE Datone Jones, who missed all of 2010 with a foot injury. He hopes to spend the month of September reminding fans that he was on the fast track to bigger things in 2009, racking up 45 tackles, 11 stops for loss, and four sacks.

53. Purdue Preview
Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

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

What to watch for on offense: The ACLs in the backfield. Can Ralph Bolden hold up for a full season? If not, backup Akeem Shavers looks like a strong, talented backup running back who comes in from the JUCO ranks and should produce right away behind the veteran line. Robert Marve is a great talent who hasn’t had any luck – part of it his own doing – throughout his star-crossed career, but Rob Henry might be the main man at quarterback anyway. Bolden is ready to roll, while Marve has to be special to take back the starting job, but if nothing else, Purdue finally has quality options to play around with.

What to watch for on defense: The tackles. The focus and the spotlight will be on the end with the loss of Ryan Kerrigan, but the strength might be in the interior with 301-pound sophomore Bruce Gaston and 305-pound Kawann Short ready to form a terrific tandem. They’re not massive, but they’re big enough to hold up better against the run and they have just enough athleticism to get into the backfield once in a while. With an athletic group of veteran linebackers ready to clean up the mess, the run defense that allowed just 138 yards per game should be even better and more active. Can it be enough to stop the Wisconsin and Ohio State running games in Leaders play? No, but it should be able to slow them down a bit.
 
52. Baylor Preview
Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Receiver
Relative Weaknesses: Secondary, Linebacker

What to watch for on offense: Can the offense get even more from the passing game? It’s a common misconception that Baylor was just a running team last year, and the ground attack was fantastic with Jay Finley and Robert Griffin helping the Bears average 195 yards per game. The passing game was even better finishing 19th in the nation and third in the Big 12 in efficiency with Griffin coming into his own even more as a passer. Kendall Wright and Josh Gordon each caught seven touchdown passes, and they’re both back. Four of the top five receivers are back for an attack that should be able to keep up with almost everyone. The Bears are equipped for shootouts.

What to watch for on defense: The 4-2-5 alignment. The Bears are going to try to get even faster and even more active in the back seven, and they’re going to try to do more swarming and do less beefing up to stop the power running teams. The defense wasn’t even close to coming up with plays in the backfield and didn’t do anything against the pass when good quarterbacks got comfortable, and now Phil Bennett’s defense will try to get more production by flying around. It couldn’t hurt; Baylor’s defense was a disaster against the better offenses.

51. Georgia Tech Preview
Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Running Back, Linebacker
Relative Weaknesses: Wide Receiver, Secondary

What to look for on offense: Tevin vs. Synjyn. In the all-important battle to replace Josh Nesbitt at quarterback, junior Tevin Washington still maintains a lead over redshirt freshman Synjyn Days. However, it’s shrunk since last year ended. Days played well in the spring, showing playmaking ability on the ground and a nice grasp of the offense. Washington, on the other hand, was ineffective and then had to have his knee scoped following spring practice. While it’s still his job to lose, the cushion he enjoyed a few months back isn’t quite as thick or comfortable today.

What to look for on defense: Attaochu. God bless you. Although he’s started just a single game, the Yellow Jackets will soon be thanking the heavens that sophomore LB Jeremiah Attaochu chose to play for Georgia Tech a year ago. Signed as an ideal match for Al Groh’s 3-4 defense, he’s the kind of linebacker the team needed on the outside. A 6-3, 223-pounder, he’s explosive off the edge, possessing the athletic ability to attack the backfield or drop back into coverage. By the end of the year, he’ll be viewed as one of the futures cornerstones on defense.

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