2013 CFN Preseason Rankings - No. 41 to 50
Georgia Tech QB Vad Lee
Georgia Tech QB Vad Lee
Posted Aug 12, 2013

2013 CFN Preseason Rankings - No. 41 to 50 - Mid-Level Bowl Teams

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Mid-Level Bowlers - No. 41 to 50

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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

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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.

50. NC State
Relative Strengths: Receiver, Defensive Line
Relative Concerns: Offensive Line, Secondary

Offense: Just about everything is set to change on offense at NC State, and that is not such a bad thing. Gone is Tom O’Brien’s conservative attack, replaced by Dave Doeren’s faster tempo that uses more read-option looks and hurry-up situations. Other than at wide receiver, where Quinton Payton and Bryan Underwood are all-star-caliber, the Pack has question marks that transcend just playbooks and formations. Either Pete Thomas or Manny Stocker will be replacing current Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Mike Glennon, a key battle that likely won’t be decided until the summer. It was Doeren’s system that birthed Jordan Lynch at Northern Illinois, so Raleigh is beginning to look attractive to high school and transferring quarterbacks. Above all else, though, NC State needs to somehow bolster the front wall. The Pack was an absolute sieve in the trenches in 2012, and will be replacing three key starters from that unit.

Defense: Head coach Dave Doeren hired long-time veteran coordinator Dave Huxtable to guide a defense undergoing a transition in 2013. Yeah, the base D remains a 4-3, but the terminology is naturally changing, and last season’s top four Pack tacklers have exhausted their eligibility. Most of NC State’s talent is going to be concentrated along the D-line, where ends Art Norman and Darryl Cato-Bishop and tackles T.Y. McGill and Thomas Neal have all shown a penchant for busting gaps and generating heat. They’ll need to do that plenty this fall in order to support a suspect back seven. The linebackers do get a boost from the return of D.J. Green, who was suspended for all of 2012. And senior CB Dontae Johnson appears capable of using his finale as a launching pad to the NFL. Still, unless the front wall can completely controls the tempo of games, the Pack will have problems slowing down the ACC’s more accomplished offenses.

49. Penn State
Relative Strengths: Receiver, Linebacker
Relative Concerns: Quarterback, Secondary

Offense: Head coach Bill O’Brien did wonders for the passing game and made it shine – and now he has better pieces to work with. It might take a little while, but superstar recruit Christian Hackenberg is going to be an elite quarterback who’ll eventually make the passing game explode. The loaded group of tight ends might be the best in college football, and wideout Allen Robinson could be the best in the Big Ten – they all have to make the new starting quarterback better. Zach Zwiniak is a dependable workhorse to revolve the running game around, and the line is loaded with enough experience to expect a big overall improvement. It might not be the most efficient or explosive offense, but it should be solid as the season goes on.

Defense: New defensive coordinator John Butler welcomes in plenty of starting experience, but he’s missing stars and doesn’t have much depth to play around with. Linebackers Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges are gone along with tackle Jordan Hill, and now the hope is for Glenn Carson and Mike Hull go become stars in the linebacking corps and for DaQuan Jones to be an all-star anchor up front. On the positive side, the pass rush that led the Big Ten last season should be fantastic with Deion Barnes a rising star on one side and the athletic C.J. Olaniyan and Anthony Zettel two specialists combining forces on the other. The secondary welcomes back three starters, but there’s no depth and it’s a mediocre unit that doesn’t do enough to take the ball away.

48. Rutgers
Relative Strengths: Running Back, Defensive Line
Relative Concerns: Receiver, Linebacker

Offense: Rutgers remains in a rut. The Scarlet Knights have ranked no higher than 97th nationally in total offense over the last four seasons, slipping to 104th a year ago. New coordinator Ron Prince will need to dig deep into his coaching bag of tricks in 2013. Most of Prince’s attention will justifiably go in the direction of the backfield, which houses a confidence-deprived quarterback and a running back hoping to fulfill lofty expectations. QB Gary Nova was up-and-down throughout his sophomore year, finishing it with a thud. He’s the starter, though, and someone Prince feels is capable of far more consistency. RB Savon Huggins gets his best chance to start since becoming one of the highest-rated recruits in school history two years ago. He has to be up to the challenge since Rutgers puts such a heavy emphasis on the ground game. Rangy WR Brandon Coleman should again be the star of the offense, while the line is the offensive strength. However, there could be some shuffling up front before the staff finds the right combination in the trenches.

Defense: The Scarlet Knights are on their third defensive coordinator, Dave Cohen, in the last three years, but for all of the good reasons. Assistants are not getting canned, rather promoted for the work that’s perennially being done with the Rutgers D. Year-in and year-out, the Knights are producing NFL talent, while residing among the nation’s stingiest units. In 2012, for instance, they ranked No. 4 nationally in points allowed. RU performs like an old-school, blue-collar Big Ten defense, though that reputation is going to be tested in 2013. Only four starters are back On the Banks, and last season’s four First Team All-Big East performers have graduated. The Knights are going to lean heavily on the Merrell twins, DE Jamil and LB Jamal, and the coaching staff for guidance and leadership. Rutgers has recruited well over the years, but now it’s up to Cohen and his assistants to make sure all of that young talent is ready for action once the season begins at the end of August.

47. Cincinnati
Relative Strengths: Offensive Line, Linebacker
Relative Concerns: Defensive Line, Receiver

Offense: One of Tommy Tuberville’s first hires in the Queen City was Eddie Gran, who has more than a quarter-century of coaching experience. His official title will be offensive coordinator, but he’ll also be a central figure in the recruitment of new talent, especially in Florida. Gran has minimal experience running an offense, and would be wise not to tinker too much with a system that was very successful under prior regimes. He has a few things on the agenda, headed by choosing between Brendon Kay and Munchie Legaux at quarterback. Legaux was the starter at the beginning of 2012, but Kay came on late to provide an infusion of stability. Whoever gets the ball will be well-protected by the American Athletic Conference’s premier offensive line. But who will be on the receiving end of throws and handoffs? The Bearcats lost last year’s top rusher, George Winn, and their two best pass-catchers, WR Kenbrell Thompkins and TE Travis Kelce, to graduation. While RB Ralph David Abernathy IV and WR Anthony McClung are slick playmakers, both are going to need help from their skill position teammates.

Defense: Under recent coordinators, Bob Diaco and John Jancek, Cincinnati had a habit of making the most of the talent on hand. The Bearcats excelled at signing snubbed recruits and transforming them into all-stars with NFL potential. First-year coordinator Art Kaufman, who was on Tommy Tuberville’s Texas Tech staff last year, will attempt to emulate a similar model. Cincy welcomes back a handful of starters from another overachieving unit, but only one, sixth-year LB Greg Blair, who earned All-Big East honors in 2012. The line doesn’t look special, and other than CB Deven Drane, the secondary is pretty commonplace as well. The Bearcats are holding out hope that a spate of transfers, such as LB Jeff Luc from Florida State, DT Marques Aiken from Marshall and JUCO imports, can help fill in the gaps where they currently exist. Cincinnati has beaten the odds before, but the new staff still has some heavy lifting to do.

46. Arkansas
Relative Strengths: Running Back, Defensive Line
Relative Concerns: Secondary, Receiver

Offense: Don’t expect the stunning efficiency and brutish power of the Wisconsin offense quite yet. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will want to get the passing game moving in a balanced attack that can do a variety of things well, but Bret Bielema likes the power game and he likes to control games with a ground attack that beats people up. The running backs are there with super-recruit Alex Collins joining Jonathan Williams and a good backfield that should move on and be fine without Dennis Johnson and Knile Davis. Can the line start to blow people off the ball? After finishing dead last in the SEC and 104th in the nation in rushing, there’s work to do. Brandon Allen is a decent quarterback prospect, but he needs help from a revamped receiving corps that loses Cobi Hamilton.

Defense: There’s an interesting mix of talents that have to come together in a big hurry. Defensive coordinator Chris Ash inherits a loaded defensive front that should be able to hold its own with any SEC offensive line. The pass rush should be terrific with the combination of Chris Smith and Trey Flowers on the end, while there’s terrific size to play around with in the interior. However, the front four will have to make up for the concerns in the back seven. The secondary gets everyone back from a group that got lit up by a Christmas tree finishing last in the league in pass defense and pass efficiency defense. The linebacking corps has to replace all three starters, but it’s full of upperclassmen and brings in a few good JUCO transfers.

45. Iowa
Relative Strengths: Linebacker, Special Teams
Relative Concerns: Quarterback, Receiver

Offense: Offensive coordinator Greg Davis has to come up with more pop. The receiving corps didn’t get downfield enough and it needs to be stronger and more dangerous with a new starting quarterback trying to get his feet wet. It’ll be a fight for the starting gig until the finish, and the new guy should get time to work behind a decent line that could be great at tackle but needs experience in the interior. For the first time in a long time, the running game doesn’t appear to be a problem with three healthy and able bodies – a rarity for the Hawkeye backfield. However, everyone has to stay in one piece to form a good rotation. Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz is a talent who needs the ball in his hands more.

Defense: Second year defensive coordinator Phil Parker got a decent first year out of a D that wasn’t ripped apart, but it didn’t do too much to change games around. The linebacking corps should be the team’s biggest strength with three excellent starters in Christian Kirksey, James Morris and Anthony Hitchens, but they have to be more disruptive to help a line that was woeful at getting into the backfield and hitting the quarterback. Corner Micah Hyde is done, but three starters are back in a serviceable secondary that avoided the big bomb but got dinked and dunked on.

44. Arizona
Relative Strengths: Running Back, Linebacker
Relative Concerns: Defensive Line, Receiver

Offense: The read-option is off and running. In its first year with Rich Rodriguez in charge, the balanced Arizona attack ranked No. 7 in the country in total offense … with another regime’s players. Once RichRod gets more of his athletes to Tucson, the Cats will be even tougher to stop. In the short-term, though, the program needs to replace two-thirds of last year’s triplets. Junior All-American RB Ka’Deem Carey returns for what will likely be his final season, but QB Matt Scott is a Jacksonville Jaguar and WR Austin Hill has been lost to an ACL injury. Carey is an elite back, but this offense is predicated on the ability to throw as well as run. It’s a three-man race to replace Scott, with heralded rookie Anu Solomon set to join senior B.J. Denker and junior Jesse Scroggins, a former USC Trojan, in August. The new go-to guy in the receiving corps is an even more complicated situation. The O-line was an underrated participant in last year’s success. The tackles, Mickey Baucus and Fabbians Ebbele, are solid. The ability of veteran guard Chris Putton to succeed Kyle Quinn at center, though, will go a long way toward determining the front wall’s final grade.

Defense: The Arizona D really never had a chance in 2012. The Cats were starting over last fall--new coordinator, Jeff Casteel, new system, the quirky 3-3-5 stack, and new personnel everywhere. The fact that this unit ranked 118th nationally in total defense was about as shocking as a warm day in Tucson. After using a mess of underclassmen and walk-ons, while retaining last season's top 15 tacklers, the D can't help but be improved in 2013. But by how much? Arizona still has glaring holes everywhere, except maybe at linebacker, where Jake Fischer and Marquis Flowers are underrated standouts. The worries are bountiful, from a line that doesn't get enough pressure to a secondary that was overmatched throughout the 2012 campaign. Quick-fixes are not available, though a better understanding of the scheme and a year of seasoning for the young kids will certainly help. Topping the to-do list is to generate more heat in the backfield, something that has eluded this program over the last two seasons.

43. Texas Tech
Relative Strengths: Receiver, Linebacker
Relative Concerns: Offensive Line, Secondary

Offense: You know what’s coming. Texas Tech didn’t exactly get away from the passing game last season, leading the Big 12 averaging 356 yards per game, but now the attack is going to be ramped up in a big way with the quarterbacks being allowed to do even more. Former Texas Tech star quarterback Sonny Cumbie and co-offensive coordinator Eric Morris will speed things up and try to generate even more big plays. Michael Brewer doesn’t look the part, but he’s a smart, accurate quarterback with a great receiving corps to work with. The line needs a little time, but it should be fine once the starting five is settled on. The backfield is full of typical ultra-quick, athletic Red Raider running backs.

Defense: The Red Raider defense finally seemed to get it right, and now it’s all changing. The D finished second in the Big 12 in total yards allowed, led the way against the pass and wasn’t bad against the run, but now it’ll be up to new coordinator Matt Wallerstedt to prove the production can continue. There aren’t enough returning interceptions, and the stats are a bit misleading, but with eight starters coming back there’s hope for the transition to not be a problem. The key will be flexibility in a league where playing five defensive backs on a regular basis is a must, but a few hybrid positions will allow the coaching staff to play around with different formations on the front seven when needed. The hope is for more of a pass rush and more big plays for a team that finished dead last in the conference in turnover margin, but it’ll take a while to develop the depth and come up with steadier playmakers.

42. Georgia Tech
Relative Strengths: Linebacker, Running Back
Relative Concerns: Defensive Line, Receiver

Offense: Changes are taking place on the Georgia Tech offense in 2013. No, the Yellow Jackets will not be shifting away from the triple-option that’s been the staple since Paul Johnson came aboard more than five years ago. However, Tech will be running it with a new man at the pivot, likely up-and-coming sophomore Vad Lee. Lee played some a year ago, and showed flashes, but he’s now poised to pilot the attack from the opener forward. He’s got as much potential as any of Johnson’ former pupils, and has been groomed the last two years for this moment. Behind the quarterback will be an eclectic mix of B-backs and A-backs that are long on diversity, yet short on star power. Powerful David Sims is the best of the lot, and the one most likely to lead the team in rushing. The ground game should be well-supported form a veteran line that returns four starters. But, the homerun-hitting passing game could suffer a power outage if a capable receiver doesn’t step up. The role was supposed to belong to Jeff Greene, but he’s since transferred to Ohio State.

Defense: The Yellow Jackets have found their permanent replacement for deposed coordinator Al Groh, veteran assistant Ted Roof, who’ll be doing his second stint on the Flats. Roof assumes control of a veteran defense that has the parts to evolve beyond last season’s sloppy and inconsistent results. He inherits eight starters and a swath of seniors who’ll be asked to assume more of a leadership role as the unit switches from a 3-4 to a 4-3. Tech will be especially stable in the back seven, where only two underclassmen might be starting. Linebackers Quayshawn Nealy, Jabari Hunt-Days and Brandon Watts each have All-ACC potential. And CB Jemea Thomas and S Isaiah Johnson are playmakers from the last line of defense. It’s up front where the Jackets need to get much nastier. Roof instantly upgraded the front wall by relocating pass-rushing specialist Jeremiah Attaochu from outside linebacker. But the ACC’s No. 3 sack man in 2012 needs more help if Tech is going to be tougher at the point of attack.

41. Boise State
Relative Strengths: Offensive Line, Defensive Line
Relative Concerns: Linebacker, Running Back

Offense: It always seems like Boise State’s offense is rebuilding in some way, but it’s always effective. Overall it took a step back last season, lacking the pop and explosion it enjoyed with Kellen Moore, Doug Martin, Titus Young and Austin Pettis around, but it did its job. Now the pressure is on offensive coordinator Robert Prince to keep the production rolling. It might not have been pretty, but quarterback Joe Southwick and his serviceable group of veteran receivers kept the mistakes to a minimum and came up with an effective year. The running back situation isn’t deep, and the line has to replace three starters, but the ground game should be solid with Jay Ajayi and Derrick Thomas a good twosome to take over for D.J. Harper, and the blocking up front will be fantastic – especially in pass protection – led by all-stars Matt Paradis at center and Charles Leno, Jr. at left tackle.

Defense: The whole is going to be better than the sum – again. The Boise State D always seems to find production from several surprising areas, and it always reloads in a big hurry. The pass rush should be fantastic again with Demarcus Lawrence leading the way on the outside, but there’s a big, gaping hole at linebacker where options need to step up in the 4-2-5 attack. The secondary loses star corner Jamar Taylor, but Jeremy Ioane and the safeties are going to be terrific. The D had to replace nine starters last season and finished 12th in the nation in total defense, eight in scoring defense and fifth against the pass. This year’s defense doesn’t have nearly as much work to do.

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