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2011 CFN Preview - Unit Rankings, Spec. Teams
Georgia P Drew Butler
Georgia P Drew Butler
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 16, 2011


CFN 2011 Preview Unit Rankings from top to bottom - Special Teams


Preview 2011 - Unit Rankings

Special Teams


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2011 CFN Preseason Rankings
 
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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CFN 2011 Unit Rankings
- Offenses | Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Receivers | Offensive Lines
- Defenses | Defensive Lines | Linebackers | Secondaries  | Special Teams  
- Preview 2011 | 2010 Unit Rankings

Note: This is based on talent, returning starters, and skill. It’s not necessarily based on what the final total offense statistics will be.

1. Georgia
After improving the coverage teams in a big way, the special teams became dominant last year. The kicking game will be phenomenal again and the return game will be explosive. It’ll be a shocker if the Dawgs don’t have the best special teams in the SEC, if not the country. There are kicking tandems out there with as much experience, but punter Drew Butler and placekicker Blair Walsh were the best 1-2 punch last year and they will be again. Georgia has a huge advantage here.

2. Florida State
It’s going to be difficult to find much fault in the Florida State special teams, one of the sneaky-good units on this squad in 2011. From a group that performed well last fall, the Seminoles welcome back their punter, placekicker, and top return man. Although none of the individuals comprising the ensemble will garner as much attention as, say QB E.J. Manuel or DE Brandon Jenkins, they’re still to have an underrated impact on the program’s overall success. There will be at least two wins solely on its special teams superiority. PK Dustin Hopkins, P Shauwn Powell, and KR/PR Greg Reid are all difference-makers, providing a boost by doing the little things well. By the end of the year, the ‘Noles will be able to stake claim to one of the top five or six units in America.

3. TCU
The Horned Frogs will once again have some of the best special teams in America. The coverage teams are solid, the kicking game is terrific, and even without Jeremy Kerley, the return game will be a major positive. PK Ross Evans is ultra-reliable anywhere inside the 45, while P Anson Kelton is a weapon who can air it out when needed and is also strong at putting it inside the 20.

4. Oregon
One of the quiet reasons for Oregon’s success over the past few years, special teams continues to be a strength. The kickers are solid, but little used because of the high-octane offense, the coverage units are effective, and the returners will change the tempo of a game. All eyes will be on Cliff Harris, who makes a good group otherworldly when he gets back in the good graces of the coaching staff.

5. Ohio
The special teams should be fantastic with one of the best all-around kicking games in America, strong coverage teams that allowed just 6.6 yards per punt return and 18.6 yards per kickoff try, and dangerous returners who’ll be among the best in the MAC. Ohio should have a huge advantage here on a weekly basis. PK Matt Weller is an all-star, but the punting game needs to get better.

6. Ole Miss
The kicking game will be phenomenal and the return game, thanks to Jeff Scott, will be strong. If the coverage teams can be merely adequate, the Rebel special teams will be among the best in the nation. It’s not a stretch to suggest that the Rebels have the best kicker-punter combination in college football. Punter Tyler Campbell is a weapon who can blast the ball 60 yards without a problem, while Bryson Rose could be a star if he hits a few bombs.

7. Kent State
Can the new coaching staff keep the production going? The kicking game will be fine, with punter Matt Rinehart among the best in America, while the coverage teams should be strong again and returner Eric Adeyemi will be a playmaker.

8. Wisconsin
After a horrible 2009, the special teams improved last year in every way but kick coverage. PK Philip Welch and P Brad Nortman are terrific, and the return game will turn out to be fine, but keeping big, game-changing returns to a minimum is a must. Welch was a Lou Groza semifinalist in 2008 and has been solid ever since. A big bomber, he has connected on 54-of-70 field goals in three years. Nortman has been a good three-year veteran averaging 42.1 yards per kick on 153 career attempts with 50 put inside the 20.

9. Missouri
The Missouri special teams are among the best in the nation on a yearly basis, and this season won’t be the exception with excellent kickers, enough speed to hope for more from the return game, and good enough coverage teams to get by. The Tigers will almost always have a big advantage here. It’s not like the high-octane Mizzou offense needs more help, but it’s an automatic three points whenever Grant Ressel inside the 20. He’s one of the best in America.

10. Virginia Tech
Despite the turnover, Frank Beamer and his staff always seem to find a way to piece together an air-tight special teams unit. This fall should be no different in Blacksburg. PK Cody Journell has an all-star upside, and the return game and coverage teams are well above average. The situation at punter is the one dicey area that’ll take time to resolve, but there aren't too many worries with several contenders. The key, though, will be the return game that should grow into something special..

COULD EASILY BE IN TOP TEN

Houston C-USA
Louisiana Tech WAC
Michigan State Big Ten
Middle Tennessee Sun Belt
North Carolina ACC
Oklahoma Big 12
Oklahoma State Big 12

SOLID, WILL BE A POSITIVE

Alabama SEC 
Arizona State Pac-12
Arkansas SEC
Arkansas State Sun Belt
Army Ind
Boise State M-West
Boston College ACC
BYU Ind
California Pac-12
Clemson ACC
Colorado State M-West
Connecticut Big East
FIU Sun Belt
Florida SEC
Fresno State WAC
Kansas State Big 12
Louisville  Big East
LSU SEC
Miami   ACC
Mississippi State SEC
New Mexico State WAC
Northwestern Big Ten
Notre Dame Ind
Oregon State Pac-12
San Jose State WAC
South Florida Big East
Southern Miss C-USA
Stanford Pac-12
Tulsa C-USA
UCLA  Pac-12
USC Pac-12
Utah   Pac-12
Vanderbilt SEC
Virginia   ACC
Western Michigan MAC

AVERAGE

Air Force M-West
Arizona Pac-12
Auburn SEC
Ball State MAC
Baylor Big 12
Cincinnati Big East
Duke ACC
East Carolina C-USA
Georgia Tech ACC
Idaho WAC
Indiana  Big Ten
Iowa Big Ten
Iowa State Big 12
Kentucky SEC
Maryland  ACC
Nebraska Big Ten
Nevada WAC
North Texas Sun Belt
Ohio State Big Ten
Penn State Big Ten
Rice C-USA
Rutgers  Big East
San Diego State M-West
Syracuse Big East
Temple MAC
Tennessee SEC
Texas Big 12
Texas A&M Big 12
Texas Tech Big 12
Troy Sun Belt
UCF C-USA
UL Monroe Sun Belt
UNLV M-West
UTEP C-USA
Wake Forest ACC
Washington   Pac-12
West Virginia Big East

NEEDS WORK

Colorado   Pac-12
Minnesota Big Ten
Navy Ind
NC State ACC
SMU C-USA
Utah State WAC
Wyoming M-West

A PROBLEM

Akron MAC
Bowling Green MAC
Eastern Michigan MAC
Hawaii WAC
Illinois Big Ten
Kansas Big 12
Miami Univ. MAC
Michigan Big Ten
New Mexico   M-West
Northern Illinois MAC
Pitt Big East
Purdue Big Ten
South Carolina SEC
Washington State Pac-12

THE BOTTOM TEN

Buffalo MAC
Central Michigan MAC
Florida Atlantic Sun Belt
Marshall C-USA
Memphis C-USA
Toledo MAC
Tulane C-USA
UAB C-USA
UL Lafayette Sun Belt
Western Kentucky Sun Belt

CFN 2011 Unit Rankings
- Offenses | Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Receivers | Offensive Lines
- Defenses | Defensive Lines | Linebackers | Secondaries  | Special Teams  
- Preview 2011 | 2010 Unit Rankings