2013 CFN Preseason Rankings - No. 31 to 40
BYU LB Kyle Van Noy
BYU LB Kyle Van Noy
Posted Aug 12, 2013

2013 CFN Preseason Rankings - No. 31 to 40 - Fringe Conference Contenders

Preview 2013 - Rankings

Fringe Contenders - No. 31 to 40

See something we've missed or has changed since originally posted? E-mail Us

2013 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 125 
 - CFN Preseason Rankings 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007  
- Preview 2013 - All The Team & Conference Previews

- Suggestions or something we missed? Let us know
- Follow us ... @ColFootballNews  

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 indicates. Going into the year, these are how good the teams appear to be from No. 1 through 125.

40. Auburn
Relative Strengths: Running Back, Defensive Line
Relative Concerns: Quarterback, Linebacker

Offense: Last in the SEC in total offense, 112th in the nation in scoring and pass offense, last in sacks allowed – enough of that. Gus Malzahn is back at the helm with co-offensive coordinators Rhett Lashlee and Dameyune Craig ready to change things around in a big hurry. The talent across the board is undeniable with a roster loaded with four and five-star talents who haven’t come close to reaching their potential. The line has a world of upside and the receiving corps has prototype size/speed ratio targets, but someone needs to get them the ball on a regular basis with the quarterback situation an ongoing fight. Running back Tre Mason is a good piece of the puzzle to work around, but with the offense about to go into hyperdrive with the pace cranked up, getting steady quarterback play is a must.

Defense: The woes on offense were one thing considering all the talents were trying to figure out what to do, but the defense’s problems were unacceptable considering 2011 was supposed to be the rebuilding year. The pass rush was non-existent at times, the front seven was like tissue paper against the run, and the entire D came up with a grand total of two interceptions. Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson is changing things up to a 4-2-5 alignment to try be far more active and far more disruptive. The talent is undeniable on the line with Dee Ford leading a deep and athletic group. The secondary has experience, but playmakers have to emerge around corner Chris Davis, who’s great in coverage but doesn’t pick off passes. The linebackers will be asked to hold up against the run, and veteran Jake Holland can do that.

39. Miami
Relative Strengths: Running Back, Offensive Line
Relative Concerns: Defensive Line, Secondary

Offense: Miami has no good excuses for not having one of the most potent offenses along the Eastern Seaboard. And coordinator James Coley was lured away from Florida State to ensure that the Canes fulfill their potential. He’ll attempt to blend his own penchant for an up-tempo, passer-friendly attack with head coach Al Golden’s philosophy of a more conservative pro-style system. Egos will need to be left at the front door this season. Coley inherits a slew of ready-made talent. His quarterback, Stephen Morris, will play in the NFL. His running back, Duke Johnson, is one of the game’s emerging young stars. And his corps of receivers and collection of offensive linemen are flush with gifted returning starters. The key in 2013 will be to get this unit, which misfired too often a year ago, to perform at a much higher level of efficiency. In 2012, the Hurricanes were just 68th nationally on third-down conversions, and 97th in red-zone touchdowns, numbers that need to be turned around this year.

Defense: If Miami is going to take a step forward in 2013, it’ll have to be initiated by Mark D’Onofrio’s defense. The unit was historically atrocious a year ago, yet another disturbing reminder of how far the Hurricanes have fallen from their glory days. The D was brutal in every imaginable facet, bending and breaking at the same time. Fixing the problems that plagued the 2012 team won’t happen overnight. Miami just doesn’t have that kind of talent on hand. LB Denzel Perryman is a nice player, and DE Anthony Chickillo and S Deon Bush are two of a handful of kids capable of blooming, but the front seven figures to again struggle at the point of attack. And if the Canes get bullied near the line of scrimmage, it’ll mean the run defense remains on its heels, and a young secondary in transition will get no help from the pass rush. D’Onofrio has a tough challenge ahead, and a shortage of slam-dunk talent with which to clear it.

38. BYU
Relative Strengths: Receiver, Linebacker
Relative Concerns: Running Back, Offensive Line

Offense: The offense wasn’t consistent, but it started to find something that worked towards the end of the regular season blowing up in three of the final four games, but it helped that Idaho and New Mexico State were part of the mix. This year, offensive coordinator Robert Anae’s attack has a lot of nice pieces, but they all have to come together. Taysom Hill is a dangerous quarterback with great running skills, but he has to be healthy after suffering a knee injury. The line has the potential to be solid with a nice base to work with, and Jamaal Williams is a nice back who should lead a decent ground attack. The strength by far is the receiving corps thanks to the return of All-America candidate Cody Hoffman, who’s coming off a 100-catch season and in range to become the school’s all-time leading receiver.

Defense: The defense went from excellent in 2011 to phenomenal in 2012 allowing just two 300-yard passing days and giving up a mere five touchdown runs. Of those five, two came in the blowout win over Weber State and two more came against Notre Dame. The pass rush was phenomenal with linebacker Kyle Van Noy leading the way, and now he’s back for what should be an All-America season on the weakside. The secondary should be a strength again with three returning starters including big-hitting safety Daniel Sorensen and corner Jordan Johnson, but help is needed from a revamped front line that has to replace Ezekiel Ansah and nose tackle Romney Fuga. The D won’t finish third in the nation in total and scoring defense again, but it’ll be very, very good.

37. Baylor
Relative Strengths: Running Back, Offensive Line
Relative Concerns: Defensive Line, Secondary

Offense: How good is the Baylor offensive coaching staff? The Bears lost Robert Griffin III, Kendall Wright, a few key offensive lineman and running back Terrance Ganaway from an offense that cranked up 587 yards and 45 points per game, and there was a negligible drop-off averaging 572 yards and 45 yards per outing. Expect the production to continue highlighted by a running game that might be unstoppable with the combination of Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin cranking up yards. The receiving corps is fast and explosive, and quarterback Bryce Petty appears to be ready to be the next statistical superstar. The line is a slight issue with health problems and little developed depth, but the starting five should be fine.

Defense: There’s lots and lots of speed, lots and lots of athleticism, and enough experience to come up with a great year, but it’s Baylor – the defense is going to get torched. With the second-worst D in America – allowing 502 yards per game – and doing next to nothing against the pass even with a slew of all-star talents, it’s going to be another work in progress. Defensive coordinator Phil Bennett’s D will stick with a 4-2-5 alignment for the most part, and the hope will be for the five defensive backs to start coming up with more stops in the pass-happy Big 12. The run defense wasn’t awful, and linebackers Bryce Hager and Eddie Lackey should be as strong as any twosome in the conference, but the pass rush needs to be better and more consistent and the secondary can’t be so miserable each and every week.

36. Kansas State
Relative Strengths: Offensive Line, Running Back
Relative Concerns: Defensive Line, Linebacker

Offense: The offense might not be as good, but it’ll be effective again. The offensive coordinator combination of Del Miller and Dana Dimel have a few tweaks to do, but they have a tremendous base of veterans to work with. First and foremost, the attack has to replace Heisman-caliber quarterback Collin Klein, but Daniel Sams is even more athletic and Jake Waters is a better pure passer – they’re not Klein, but one of them will be more than fine. No. 1 receiver Chris Harper is gone, but the rest of the top wideouts are back led by the explosive Tyler Lockett. The key will be the running game that welcomes back John Hubert in the backfield working behind a terrific line that returns all five starters.

Defense: Defensive coordinator Tom Hayes has lots and LOTS of work to do. Kansas State is used to having to replace lots of talents and starters, but this is ridiculous. The entire front seven has to be replaced after doing a fantastic job against the run and getting to the quarterback on a regular basis, and finding a new leader to take over for linebacker Arthur Brown will be next to impossible. The secondary that struggled against the better Big 12 passing teams has to replace Nigel Malone and Allen Chapman, but has two nice veterans in Ty Zimmerman and Randall Evans to work around. Forget about any developed depth, and the talent level is taking a huge dip, but the Wildcats always seem to make big things happen defensively out of the blue.

35. Tennessee
Relative Strengths: Running Back, Offensive Line
Relative Concerns: Secondary, Quarterback

Offense: Offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian inherits an awesome offensive line that grew and matured last season allowing just eight sacks, and now it comes back loaded with veterans and fringe all-star candidates. Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane are terrific backs who’ll crank out yards in chunks at times, and there’s decent upside at quarterback with excellent young prospects battling veteran Justin Worley to replace Tyler Bray. And then there’s the receiving corps. No one could instantly replace the over 2,200 yards and 21 touchdowns from Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson and Zach Rogers, and losing tight end Mychal Rivera will also hurt. If the receivers don’t shine quickly, the offense will sputter.

Defense: The pieces are there to play around with, and there should be a massive overall improvement, but there’s a long way to go for the defense to be merely decent. The D made a few big adjustments from the old Monte Kiffin Tampa-2 and the results were completely and utterly disastrous finishing dead last in the SEC in total defense and scoring defense with no toughness up front and few stops from the secondary. Defensive coordinator John Jancek’s first job was to switch things up to a true 4-3 and simplify the roles a little bit. On the plus side, he has plenty of experience to work with and lots of promise across the board starting with one of the SEC’s best linebackers, A.J. Johnson. The expected return of linebacker Curt Maggitt and safety Brian Randolph from torn ACLs should give the D two top playmakers, but they need to be 100% and the production needs to come from all the other pieces. The corners have to start picking off passes and the big line has to start stopping the run on a consistent basis.

34. Fresno State
Relative Strengths: Receiver, Quarterback
Relative Concerns: Offensive Line, Linebacker

Offense: After finishing 16th in the nation in total offense and 17th in scoring, the potential is there to be even better. The line has an all-star in Austin Wentworth at left tackle to work around, and enough quickness and experience to be a bit stronger in pass protection while doing the job for the ground game. Workhorse Robbie Rouse is gone, but the combination of Marteze Waller and Josh Quezada should get the job done. The running attack will be fine, but it’ll be the passing attack that makes the offense devastating, getting back quarterback Derek Carr for one more season with an unstoppable receiving corps to work with. Davante Adams is coming off a breakout year, but the return of Josh Harper from injury should up the passing production even more.

Defense: The new coaching staff was supposed to come in with a reputation for cranking up the defense, and boy did Tim DeRuyter and defensive coordinator Nick Toth do their jobs. Helped by a defensive front that got to the quarterback on a regular basis, cranking out 40 sacks on the year and 94 tackles for loss to turn up the intensity, everything else worked from there with the secondary getting time to dominate and make big plays. The Bulldogs finished second in the nation in pass defense and fourth in pass efficiency defense, and while the numbers are inflated a bit with few teams on the schedule who could throw, the defensive backs really were that good. Dominant safety Phillip Thomas is gone, but the rest of the key parts are back.

33. UCLA
Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Linebacker
Relative Concerns: Running Back, Secondary

Offense: Jim Mora deservedly got a lot of credit for last year’s Bruins’ turnaround. But coordinator Noel Mazzone sure earned his attaboys as well. Under his guidance, the pro-style UCLA offense went from 88th nationally in scoring in 2011 to 31st last year. And the seasoned coach did it with a new system and a rookie, Brett Hundley, under center. Hundley is back for Year 2, and by all measures, is looking better than ever. Just a sophomore, he’s on the verge of becoming the kind of quarterback that gets talked about as a future first-round NFL Draft choice. Unfortunately, he’ll need to accept an expanded role now that Johnathan Franklin is in the NFL. The running back was outstanding in 2012, leaving uncertainty at the position in his wake. Hundley will evolve as a passer, but only if his youthful O-line can do a better job of protecting him. If given time to check down, No. 17 has an emerging trio of sophomore receivers, Jordan Payton, Devin Lucien and Devin Fuller, who’ll complement go-to guy Shaq Evans.

Defense: Lou Spanos’ D was a microcosm for the entire program in 2012—major strides, yet a lot more work to be done. The Bruins took a gigantic step forward last fall, attacking incessantly to finish No. 8 nationally in sacks and No. 9 in takeaways. Under Spanos, a former running back, Anthony Barr, blossomed into a menacing pass rusher off the edge, and DE Datone Jones parlayed one big year into the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Barr is back, as is rising DE Cassius Marsh and tackle-happy LB Eric Kendricks. But so are many of the same issues that got exposed in last year’s Holiday Bowl undressing at the hands of Baylor. UCLA still needs to showcase better fundamentals and an ability to slow down opposing ground games. Not to be forgotten, the secondary was garroted by graduations and the offseason dismissal of S Tevin McDonald. There’ll be no glass ceiling for the rookies, who are both talented and needed. The staff stockpiled four and five-star recruits, some of whom are going to crack the two-deep before Labor Day.

32. Vanderbilt
Relative Strengths: Receiver, Secondary
Relative Concerns: Quarterback, Defensive Line

Offense: No, the Vandy attack won’t blow up on the top SEC defenses, but it’ll be extremely effective. The offense was expected to be stronger last season with eight starters back, and it came up with a good year averaging 380 yards and 30 points per game. Eight starters return to this year’s attack with the talent and upside to do even more and be more explosive. The strength is at receiver where Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd are back, but they need someone to throw them the ball. Jordan Rodgers is gone, but former Wyoming starter Austyn Carta-Samuels is a good baller and there are a slew of good young options ready to show what they can do. The line technically gets four starters back, but it might as well be five and should be dominant at times for a ground game loaded with a great group of speedy backs ready to do more.

Defense: Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop did a whale of a job. The Vandy defense finished last in the SEC three years ago, but it kept improving and last season managed to move on despite the loss of a few irreplaceable starters. With a solid pass rush, great tackling and an aggressive style, the 2012 defense finished 19th in the nation. The secondary that turned into a killer gets three starters back, and while the depth might be a bit lacking, this group will be a positive. Chase Garnham leads a deep and athletic linebacking corps, and the line, while inexperienced, has a world of upside and won’t have any problems replacing three starters.

31. Northwestern
Relative Strengths: Running Back, Special Teams
Relative Concerns: Offensive Line, Linebacker

Offense: While the offense didn’t explode, it was extremely effective. Offensive coordinator Mick McCall got less out of the attack than he did two seasons ago, but the running game was terrific thanks to Venric Mark and quarterback Kain Colter. They’re both back along with Trevor Siemian, quarterback No. 1A in tandem with Colter, and all the top receivers return. It wasn’t an efficient passing game, but it dinked-and-dunked its way down the field when it had to. The problem this year is a line that needs some major rebuilding and retooling around left tackle Jack Konopka and center Brandon Vitabile.

Defense: After a stunningly disappointing 2011, the defense came up with a whopper of a 2012 with the youth rising up right away to create more of a pass rush and be far more disruptive. This is still a young defense, but now it’s experienced led by a terrific group of linebackers. Damien Proby and Chi Chi Ariguzo will once again best statistical stars behind a decent line that can get into the backfield on a regular basis. Tyler Scott is one of the Big Ten’s best pass rushers, and he’ll get help with athletes up front at the other three spots. Corner Nick VanHoose and safety Ibraheim Campbell are two of the league’s top defensive backs, and once the cracks are filled in around them, the secondary should be a strength.

2013 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 125 
 - CFN Preseason Rankings 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007  
- Preview 2013 - All The Team & Conference Previews