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2011 Ind. Preview - Team-By-Team Lookaheads
BYU DT Romney Fuga
BYU DT Romney Fuga
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 9, 2011


Preview 2011 - CFN Independent Team-By-Team Quick Looks and Predicted Finish


Preview 2011

Independent Team By Team



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- 2011 Army Preview | 2011 BYU Preview
- 2011 Navy Preview | 2011 Notre Dame Preview
 
- 2011 Independent Preview | 2011 Independent Unit Rankings
- 2011 Independent Schedules & Picks | 2011 Independent Thoughts
- 2011 CFN All-Ind Team & Top 30 Players
- 2011 Independent Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish 

Note: Predictions based on team talent and schedules.

Predicted Champion: Toledo over Temple

Ind. Predicted Finish

1. Notre Dame

Offense: Brian Kelly and offensive coordinator Charley Molnar had to completely rework the line, lost the best tight end in the nation – Kyle Rudolph – early on, and lost the one player the team couldn’t lose – QB Dayne Crist – to a knee injury. With a mediocre ground game and a true freshman under center, the Irish offense pressed on to finish with a decent kick. The line figured out what it was doing, and now it should be a killer with four starters back. The running game will always play second-fiddle to the Irish passing game, but Cierre Wood is an exciting back leading a good rotation. The question marks are at receiver, where someone like Theo Riddick or John Goodman must step up and produce more no matter what the final outcome is from superstar WR Michael Floyd’s legal troubles and suspension. The quarterback situation will be a non-stop source of discussion with Crist back and getting healthy, Tommy Rees now a grizzled veteran, and with two terrific athletic prospects in Andrew Hendrix and Everett Golson to add some flash in gimmick packages.

Defense: The defense made the strides the new coaching staff were hoping for. It wasn’t a rock of a D, but it did enough to get by finishing 50th in the nation in yards allowed and 23rd in scoring defense. Improving as the season went on, things started to click over the second half allowing just 39 points over the final four games – and against real teams, too – giving up more than 20 points just twice over the final eight outings. Now the defense should be even better with the 3-4 getting an infusion of superior talent up front to go along with a strong group of veterans. Manti Te’o might be the best linebacker in America, and he’s flanked by a nice array of talents with good pass rushers on the outside to go along with tough inside presences. The secondary had a few night-and-day transformations, and now it’s a good, sound, veteran defensive backfield that should keep the mistakes to a minimum.

2. BYU
Offense: The offense had to undergo a rebuilding project last year with the idea of taking a step back for the promise of a giant leap forward, but changes were still made with Brandon Doman taking over the offensive coordinator job this offseason. Halfway through the year, super-recruit QB Jake Heaps started to settle in, the ground game got better, and the production started to come. It also helped that the schedule got a lot easier. Now Heaps is the main man, and he has a good group of skill players to work with led by J.J. Di Luigi and Bryan Kariya in the backfield, and with Cody Hoffman a rising star at one receiver spot. The biggest plus should be a talented, veteran line led by all-star left tackle Matt Reynolds and with four starters back. The production might not be like the BYU days of old, but it’ll be close.

Defense: The defense wasn’t getting the job done early last year, and while the offense was a night-and-day bigger issue, the problems were enough to get defensive coordinator Jaime Hill canned. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall took over the duties, and the results were better with more takeaways over the final five games of the season and with better production against the run. BYU allowed 1,296 rushing yards and 13 scores over the first five games, and allowed a mere 506 yards and one score over the last eight games. Now the production should be even better with a terrific front three returning and a deep and tough linebacking corps that’ll make up for its shortcomings by throwing waves of players into the equation. The secondary will be fine with a little time, but the deep group has to come up with a solid starting foursome early on. Everyone can hit and it’s a versatile backfield, and the production should be terrific with more of a pass rush from the veteran front seven.

3. Army

Offense: The offense started to hum last season with a veteran line paving the way for a good group of skill players. Now the attack should blow up if, and it’s a big if, the line can jell right away with four new starters. QB Trent Steelman has 25 games of experience under his belt and is a terrific conductor for the triple option, while FB Jared Hassin is one of the nation’s most effective inside runners and a pounder who’ll be everyone’s top option to key on. As expected, there’s speed on the outside, but the offense has to produce more big running plays. The nation’s least-productive passing game in college football has two big, veteran targets to work with in Davyd Brooks and Austin Barr, and now they need the ball more and have to start hitting a few more home runs when they get their opportunities.

Defense: The Double-Eagle Flex scheme has worked over the last two years and takes advantage of having undersized, athletic players who try hard. The problem is that there really, REALLY isn’t any size to count on this year with a linebacker-sized defensive front that will get beaten on more than usual. The biggest overall problem is turnover with so many new starters to the mix, especially up front. The strength is at corner with several options led by good ball-hawkers in Josh Jackson and Richard King. Steven Erzinger is a veteran linebacker who’ll move to the middle after spending the last two years on the outside, while Jarett Mackey is a good pass rusher who has to be the star of an emerging line. The problem, again, is that there simply isn’t any bulk up front. The biggest player is 266-pound A.J. Mackey, and the other big linemen are around 235 pounds.

4. Navy

Offense: Could this be the year the running game gets back to being the best in America? After leading the nation for a record-setting four straight seasons, the Midshipmen finished fourth in 2009 and sixth in 2010. That could change with even more of an emphasis on the ground game than usual with Kriss Proctor taking over at quarterback for Ricky Dobbs. The line returns four starters and the running backs are solid, led by fullback Alexander Teich, and Proctor is a veteran who knows what he’s doing. The key to the attack, again, will be hitting on the deep ball on a regular basis. Proctor isn’t Dobbs throwing the ball, and it’s asking a lot for Navy to finish ninth in the nation in passing efficiency.

Defense: Defensive coordinator Buddy Green’s 3-4 style doesn’t generate any production into the backfield, and it doesn’t hit the quarterback, but it’s effective enough to get by … usually. Last year’s defense was a disappointment considering the experience and the talent level compared to previous Midshipmen teams, and while there might be a little bit of panic considering all the turnover, the results shouldn’t be so bad. End Jabaree Tuani might go down as one of the greatest defensive linemen in school history, but he needs help. The D needs inside linebackers Matt Warrick and Max Blue to stay healthy and shine, and strong safety Tra’ves Bush needs to come up with a huge year. The secondary has to come up with more big plays, the linebackers have to be more disruptive, and the line has to prove it can hold up against the better running teams. More than anything else, the defense needs the offense to control the ball.

- 2011 Army Preview | 2011 BYU Preview
- 2011 Navy Preview | 2011 Notre Dame Preview
 
- 2011 Independent Preview | 2011 Independent Unit Rankings
- 2011 Independent Schedules & Picks | 2011 Independent Thoughts
- 2011 CFN All-Ind Team & Top 30 Players
- 2011 Independent Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish