CFN 2013 First Look Rankings
No. 51 to 60
2013 CFN First Look Rankings
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CFN 2013 Pre-Preseason Rankings By Conference
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- Based On Opinion ... CFN 2012
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It might seem way too early, but considering the
returning starters and all the other factors before
Signing Day and spring ball, where does everyone
stand? Here's CFN's first look at all the teams for
2013. The First Look Ranking is based on how good
the teams appear to be at the moment.
51. UCF (10-4)
One of Conference USA’s star programs should make an immediate impact in the Big East. George O’Leary’s club has the athletes and the depth to battle with everyone on the college schedule, but offense needs to find a little more punch.
The passing game was among the most efficient in the old league, and Blake Bortles should be able to bomb away with Rannell Hall and J.J. Worton two good young targets to throw to. The ground game has been the key to O’Leary’s teams, and while Latavius Murray is gone, Dontravius Floyd and pounding Storm Johnson should take over and be fine. The line needs to replace tackle Phil Smith and center Jordan Ray after doing a nice job of pounding away last year.
The pass defense led the Conference USA and the D topped the conference in points allowed. There wasn’t too much of a pass rush, and losing top sacker Troy Davis won’t help. The defensive tackles will be a strength with Thomas Niles and E.J. Dunston two promising tough guys in the interior. Outside linebacker is a concern, but Terrance Plummer is a good one to work around in the middle.
52. San Diego State (9-4)
Welcome to a potentially dangerous sleeper on a national scale. The Aztecs came up with a shocking 9-4 rebound year, and now they’re loaded with 20 starters back including ten on defense, depending on the alignment. Unfortunately, the one big loss is corner Leon McFadden, but the D that led the Mountain West in rushing gets everyone else back including linebacker Jake Fely and safety Nat Berhe. The offense is also ready to roll with nine starters returning led by quarterback Adam Dingwell and running back Adam Muema, who pounded out 112 yards per game. Gavin Escobar is one of the nation’s top returning tight ends, and wide receiver Colin Lockett will be on a few All-America watch lists.
53. Minnesota (6-7)
Jerry Kill has been slowly building the Gophers back up to respectability, and getting off to a 4-0 start and going bowling was a huge move forward. But can they start to compete with the bigger boys? The two Big Ten wins came against Purdue and Illinois, getting blown out by Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska.
Depending on the formation, ten starters are back losing quarterback/receiver MarQueis Gray and fullback John Rabe, but everyone else of note returns. The quarterback situation will be a fight between Phillip Nelson and Max Shortell, and running back Donnell Kirkwood needs to build off a good year as the main man for the ground game. Finding more explosiveness in the passing game is a must from an experienced receiving corps. The line gets all five starters back and should be one of the team’s biggest positives.
The defense finished 33rd in the nation and was 12th against the pass has to replace corners Michael Carter and Troy Stoudermire, and it’ll be tough to replace end D.L. Wilhite and linebackers Mike Rallis and Keanon Cooper, but the line gets back three starts including big tackles Ra’Shede Hageman and Cameron Botticelli, who should be among the Big Ten’s better interior pass rushers.
54. Indiana (4-8)
Is Kevin Wilson going to be able to take the program to another level? The 4-8 record might not have been a positive, but the Hoosiers went into mid-November with a chance to win the Leaders. The three game slide to close things out was ugly, but it was still a step forward.
Center Will Matte is gone from the offense – that’s it. The Hoosier offense led the Big Ten in passing and ran relatively well when it wasn’t trying to keep up in shootouts, and now ten starters are back helped but the improvement of a young line that should be grown up and more consistent. Cameron Coffman is a nice quarterback and Stephen Houston is a talented back who could do far more. The upside is there.
The defense is another story, even with nine starters returning. The D finished last in the Big Ten in total defense and scoring defense, having the biggest problem against the run. That’s an issue considering tackles Larry Black and Adam Replogle, the team’s two top pass rushers, are the two losses. The entire back seven is back led by leading tackler, safety Greg Heban. Linebacker David Cooper has the potential to be a major factor.
55. Virginia (4-8)
It was forgotten about as the season went on, but this was among the nation’s most disappointing teams, especially after beating Penn State for a 2-0 start. The offense didn’t work, the defense fizzled in key spots, and the special teams were lousy. However, head coach Mike London might not have that might work to do.
Quarterback Michael Rocco started out the season looking like the main man for a solid offense, but he transferred to Richmond to open the door for former Alabama transfer Phillip Sims to try to fulfill the immense promise and potential he showed as one of the nation’s top prospects. Tackle Oday Aboushi is gone, but four starters are back up front led by tackle Morgan Moses. Running back Kevin Parks finished as the team’s leading rusher, taking the sting off of the loss of top pass catcher Perry Jones. Darius Jennings, Tim Smith, Dominique Terrell and E.J. Scott are small, speedy receivers who should make Sims look great.
The defense that finished fourth in the ACC has to make more big plays. Tackling machine linebacker Steve Greer is gone from the middle, as is La’Roy Reynolds, who led the team in tackles for loss. However, all four starters from a secondary full of underclassmen return to a pass defense that only allowed 208 yards per game. There should be more of a rotation up front with Chris Brathwaite ready to do more in the interior next to Brent Urban.
56. Wake Forest (5-7)
The Demon Deacons had an inconsistent first nine games, but all they had to do was win one game in the final three to go bowling, and they couldn’t. With 17 starters back, the team needs to at least get a 13th game, but can Jim Grobe get the offense going?
Last in the ACC and 114th in the nation in scoring, and 117th in total offense, getting points was like pulling teeth. Wake scored more than 16 points just twice over the final eight games, and while the defense didn’t always help the cause, the problems were on the O. Four starters are back up front, only losing center Garrick Williams, and all the skill players of note are back thanks to the return of receiver Michael Capanaro, quarterback Tanner Price and running back Josh Harris.
The defense was awful against the pass and struggled against the run, but three starters return to the secondary and leading tackler Mike Olson is back at middle linebacker. Top pass rushers Zach Thompson and Justin Jackson are also back on the front seven, but tackle Hasan Hazime and end Joey Ehrmann are done.
57. Syracuse (8-5)
New head coach, new league. With Doug Marrone off to Buffalo, Scott Schafer gets the job of leading the Orange into the ACC after the team closed out 2012 winning six of the final seven games including a stomping of West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl. There aren’t that many huge changes to be made, but the losses are big.
Step One, besides working on the miserable special teams, will be replacing quarterback Ryan Nassib, who bombed away for the nation’s 17th-ranked offense. Also gone is backup Charley Loeb, making it a fight this offseason for the starting job. Making matters worse is the loss of top targets Alec Lemon and Marcus Sales. So what will Schafer do? Hand the ball off time and again to bowl stars Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley to run behind a line with three starters back. However, one of the losses is left tackle Justin Pugh, who’ll start on some NFL team’s line next year.
The defense doesn’t have as many problems, but top pass rusher Brandon Sharpe is done along with leading tacklers Shamarko Thomas and Siriki Diabate. Dyshawn Davis and Cameron Lynch are playmaking linebackers who should do more, and end Markus Price-Brewster and linebacker Marquis Spruill are active.
58. Purdue (6-7)
New head coach Darrell Hazell has to try to get more out of the team against the better squads on the slate, and that will start with a more powerful offense and a defense that doesn’t get pushed around so often. Both will take time and a few decent recruiting classes. Fortunately, he has a slew of veterans returning to rely on right away.
The quarterback situation that’s been so muddled over the last few seasons might be a bit more settled with Robert Marve and Caleb TerBush gone – it should be Rob Henry’s gig now. Akeem Hunt has to show he can handle the full-time workload at running back, but it’s the passing game that should shine brightest with O.J. Ross and Gary Bush returning to make up for the loss of Antavian Edison. Three starters return to the offensive front that did a decent job.
The defense has to do the near-impossible and replace Kawann Short on the defensive interior, but Bruce Gaston is a rising star at tackle. More of a pass rush is needed on the outside from Ryan Russell and Ryan Isaac. Sean Robinson is a big-hitter at linebacker, and all three starters are back in the secondary. There’s depth and a few nice options for several jobs, but overall, the D needs more playmakers.
59. California (3-9)
Can Sonny Dykes crank up an offense that finished tenth in the Pac-12 and struggled so much throwing the ball? Considering his Louisiana Tech Bulldogs did absolutely nothing defensively in 2012, will he be able to help a defense that was near the bottom in the conference in almost every category? There’s a lot of work to do.
With seven starters back on defense, the secondary has to be far better despite the loss of leading tackler Josh Hill and decent corner Mack Anthony. The linebacking corps is all back full with four starters returning to the 3-4 alignment that will be played around with. Linebacker Nick Forbes and corner Steve Williams can hit, but they need the line to do far more against the run. The pass rush is fine, but nose tackle Aaron Tipoti and 4-3 tackle Kendrick Payne is done.
The offense has to get a big start out of quarterback Allan Bridgford, and he needs time to work behind a porous offensive line that had major problems last year and now has to replace center Brian Schwenke and tackle Tyler Rigsbee. Young receivers Chris Harper, Darius Powe, Maurice Harris and Bryce Treggs will be major factors over the next few years, but the coaching staff has to find a new back to take over for Isi Sofele and C.J. Anderson.
60. Utah (5-7)
After a disastrous season with no offense, weak special teams and not enough strong defensive performances in key games, the Utes have some work to do. The big problem is the rest of the division and the conference; both are getting better while Utah is trying to rebuild the league’s worst passing game and a defense that allowed 34 points or more in each of the last three games.
Losing running back John White takes away the team’s top weapon and puts more pressure on quarterback Travis Wilson, who struggled to find his way through a true freshman season. However, the 6-6, 230-pound bomber has the tools, and he has a few interesting receivers in Kenneth Scott and Drew Anderson to throw to. The line that had problems has to replace three starters and needs big young tackle Jeremiah Poutasi to become a rock.
There’s no replacing Star Lotulelei off the defensive front, and losing end Joe Kruger early to the NFL and Dave Kruger to graduation will hurt. The entire linebacking corps returns and needs to be stronger so the secondary doesn’t have to bear so much of the workload – it won’t be a positive if safety Brian Blechen is leading the team in tackles again. Both corners Ryan Lace and Reggie Topps are gone from a secondary that wasn’t that bad.