CFN 2013 First Look Rankings
No. 31 to 40
2013 CFN First Look Rankings
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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.
31. TCU (7-6)
Compared to last offseason, this one is a piece of cake. Despite all the controversy and all the issues, the Horned Frogs were still a respectable 7-6, fighting their way through a nasty Big 12 slate. This time around, they might actually have the pop and talent on both sides of the ball to be a major player.
Step One to throwing a bigger scare into the league was getting back Casey Pachall, the immensely talented bomber who returns after missing most of last year getting his life back in order after being arrested for a DWI and spending time in a treatment center. He loses receiver Josh Boyce early to the NFL, but Aaron Green and the running backs should be strong and the front line – particularly the tackles – will be terrific. LaDarius Brown and Brandon Carter aren’t bad targets to throw to.
The defense that led the Big 12 gets nine starters back including breakthrough star pass rusher Devonte Fields along with Stansly Maponga, forming one of the nation’s most dangerous pass rushing tandems. Outstanding corner Jason Verrett leads a loaded secondary, while linebacker Joel Hasley will have to do a bit more with the loss of the team’s leading tackler, Kenny Cain. Ethan Perry is back after leading the Big 12 in punting, and rock solid kicker Jaden Oberkrom also returns.
32. Oregon State (9-4)
After the stunning 2012, can the Beavers keep moving forward and be deep in the mix for the North title? With 18 returning starters and as much quality depth as Mike Riley has been able to amass, OSU shouldn’t be considered a sleeper.
The key to any improvement starts with an offensive line that struggled in pass protection and didn’t do nearly enough for the ground game. Right tackle Colin Kelly is the only one being replaced up front, and with three seniors back, there should be more consistency to pave the way for Storm Woods and a good-looking group of backs. The coaching staff has to once-and-for-all settle on Sean Mannion at quarterback, or Cody Vaz, or Mannion, or Vaz. Top receiver Markus Wheaton is gone meaning flanker Brandin Cooks has to be even more of a factor.
The defense that was rock solid throughout the year, especially against the run, loses starting tackles Castro Masaniai and Andrew Seumalo, but ends Scott Crichton and Dylan Wynn are good ones to rely on. The secondary loses pickoff artist Jordan Poyer, but the other three starters return in the secondary. Outside linebackers D.J. Alexander and Michael Doctor will make up for the loss of Feti Unga in the middle.
33. Missouri (5-7)
Well that didn’t work. Texas A&M was supposed to be good, but it was Mizzou that was expected to be the Big 12’s curveball thrown at the SEC. Instead, the quarterback play was inconsistent and spotty thanks to injuries and youth, which was a problem across the board. The team was never quite able to put it all together thanks to health issues, but more than anything else, the Tigers didn’t play grown man football often enough.
The offense can’t help but be better with eight returning starters, and that doesn’t include Dorial Green-Beckham, 2012’s super-recruit who didn’t exactly break out as the team’s top receiver. Also missing from last year’s attack was Henry Josey, who spent the season trying to get past a devastating knee injury. He’s expected to be back to normal, and he could have a great year behind a good-looking line that should improve with time. Quarterback James Franklin has to recapture the promise of his sophomore season and has to be more of a playmaker, and it’ll help to get the entire receiving corps back.
The defense is a different story, losing top defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson in the middle and linebackers Zaviar Gooden and Will Ebner. However, Kony Ealy has all the tools to become one of the SEC’s best pass rushers, and corner E.J. Gaines is a good-looking corner to count on.
34. Vanderbilt (9-4)
Going 9-4 with a bowl win over NC State might be just the start for a hot program that’s on the rise. Not only is head coach James Franklin doing a great job of making the Commodores a threat; but he’s loading up on the talent with the potential of cracking the top 20 in the Scout.com recruiting rankings. This year’s team won’t need too much help to be a factor once again.
The offense needs former Wyoming star Austyn Carta-Samuels to become the type of all-around playmaker who can pick up the slack for a backfield that has to replace starter Jordan Rodgers and leading rusher Zac Stacy. The line needs to replace two starters from a solid group, while the receiving corps is loaded thanks to the return of Jordan Matthews, who could’ve taken off early for the NFL.
The ball-hawking defense that was sixth in the nation in pass efficiency defense and 12th in tackles for loss has a little more reworking to do with tackle Rob Lohr and two other starters gone off the line. Leading tackler Kenny Ladler is back at free safety, helping out a secondary that should be one of the team’s biggest strength. Chase Garnham and Karl Butler for the foundation of what should be a good linebacking corps. Kicker Carey Spear is a good one to rely on, but losing excellent punter Richard Kent is a problem.
35. Baylor (8-5)
How was the Bear offense going to do without RG3? It finished second in the nation in total offense, fourth in scoring offense and fourth in passing thanks to quarterback Nick Florence, who finished second in the nation in total offense after leading the way for a big chunk of the season (some Manziel guy ended up taking over the top spot with a big bowl performance). This year, all eyes early on will be on Bryce Petty, an impressive 6-3, 235-pound junior with a live arm and all the tools to keep the Art Briles attack rolling. However, the real excitement is over Lache Seastrunk, the talented running back who dominated over the second half of the season and has already been bold enough to claim he’ll be in the Heisman race. Working behind a strong offensive front with three returning starters, led by blasting guard Cyril Richardson, the ground attack should be fantastic.
Defense has been an issue over the last several years and was the second-worst in the nation last season. Seven starters are back, but the interior will be an issue losing tackles Nick Johnson and Gary Mason, Jr. The horrible secondary in the 4-2-5 alignment gets almost everyone back and has solid depth. The key, though, going forward is the recruiting – the Bears are starting to get more and more looks from stronger prospect. BU is becoming one of the hot programs, especially on offense.
36. Georgia Tech (7-7)
After sneaking into the ACC championship thanks to Miami’s decision not to go, and making the most of the bowl opportunity with a win over USC, the Yellow Jackets have to be even better with 17 starters back and enough pieces in place to run Paul Johnson’s offense exactly the way he’d like.
Quarterback Tevin Washington is gone, but Vad Lee started to take over as the season went on anyway. Leading rusher Orwin Smith is done, but David Sims and Robert Godhigh lead a deep stable of backs that should keep the nation’s fourth-best ground game moving. Four starters are back, but the one loss – guard Omoregie Uzzi – is a big one. The efficient passing game gets back starting receivers Darren Waller and Jeff Greene.
The defense didn’t do quite enough to get behind the line, but outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu is back and should be among the league’s best pass rushers. All four linebackers return and corner Ron Sweeting is the only starter missing from the secondary that gets back leading tackler Isaiah Johnson. Tackle T.J. Barnes was a massive body on the inside, and while Tech has size up front, it’s not a massive wall.
37. Virginia Tech (7-6)
It wasn’t the season the Hokies were used to having, but three straight wins – with two in overtime – closed things out on a high note. The defense did its part, but can the offense start to find something that works again after sputtering and coughing in so many big games? Can Frank Beamer get Tech back to its normally high level? It will all start up front.
The line didn’t do much for the always-talented stable of Hokie backs and was mediocre in pass protection. Tackles Nick Becton and Brent Benedict are gone, but the interior returns intact. J.C. Coleman, Tony Gregory and Michael Holmes need to do more for the ground game, but more than anything else, quarterback Logan Thomas has to play up to his immense promise and be more efficient and more consistent. It won’t help losing top targets Marcus Davis, Corey Fuller and Dyrell Roberts.
The defense wasn’t the problem, finishing 18th in the nation thanks to a dominant pass rush that led the ACC in sacks. Linebacker Jack Tyler led the team in both tackles and tackles for loss, but he’s the lone returning starter to the corps with Bruce Taylor and Alonzo Tweedy gone. If the secondary isn’t the best in the ACC, it’ll be a close No. 2, while the front four should be dominant at times with three good starters returning and decent options to replace tackle Antoine Hopkins.
38. Boise State (11-2)
Is it safe to assume the Broncos are going to roll out of bed and come up with another double-digit win season? The defense that led the Mountain West and was so strong against the pass gets safety Jeremy Ioane, but loses both starting corners and has to replace linebacker J.C. Percy. The line should be terrific with Demarcus Lawrence and Sam Ukwuachu on the ends and Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe on the inside. Quarterback Joe Southwick is back after surviving the first season taking over for Kellen Moore, and while he gets his main man Matt Miller to throw to, he loses running back D.J. Harper and three starters off the line. Fortunately, left tackle Charles Leno and center Matt Paradis are two of the league’s best blockers, and Jay Ajayi is a good-looking back who brings the thump.
39. BYU (8-5)
The Cougars quietly had a terrific season, especially defensively, but eight wins with a bowl victory doesn’t generate too much noise for an independent. While there are always going to be changes in the personnel thanks to Church missions, there’s enough talent returning to push for a double-digit win campaign.
The biggest plus was the return of bowl star Kyle Van Noy for one more year. The weakside linebacker could’ve easily have gone pro a year early, but he’ll be back to anchor a defense that ranked third in the nation in both yards and points allowed. However, all the starters on the front three are gone along with leading tackler Brandon Olgetree.
Unless Taysom Hill is back to form after suffering a knee injury, the offense needs to come up with a new option at quarterback with both Riley Nelson and James Lark gone. Three starters are back up front to provide a push for Jamaal Williams and the ground game, but receivers Cody Hoffman and JD Falslev will be the stars of the attack if someone can get them the ball.
40. Rutgers (9-4)
The Scarlet Knights aren’t in the Big Ten quite yet. It’s going to be the narrative throughout the season as the program waits to step up into the bigger league, but first, it would be nice to make a step forward and get into the BCS with a strong final year and a Big East title. The team is in place to do it.
The defense needs to retool and reload in a hurry after finishing fourth in the nation in scoring and sixth against the run. Heart-and-soul playmaker Khaseem Greene and running mate Steve Beauharnais are gone from the linebacking corps, while tackle Scott Vallone leaves a big void inside. Corner Logan Ryan’s early departure for the NFL is hardly a plus for a secondary that already loses safety Duron Harmon and corner Marcus Cooper.
The offense that was so stagnant at times is full of veterans and potential. The line was a major plus – especially in pass protection – and this season it’ll welcome back four starters. Gary Nova is now a seasoned veteran under center, but top target Mark Harrison is done. Even though Jawan Jamison left early, the running game might be fine if Savon Huggins can have a big year.