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2013 CFN Preseason Rankings - No. 71 to 80
UCF QB Blake Bortles
UCF QB Blake Bortles
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 12, 2013


2013 CFN Preseason Rankings - No. 71 to 80 - Also-Rans


Preview 2013 - Rankings

Also-Rans - No. 71 to 80

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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. 
 
80. Ohio
Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Running Back
Relative Concerns: Defensive Line, Linebacker

Ohio

Offense: Veteran offensive coordinator Tim Albin might have his best attack yet. The Bobcats had a nice running game and some good pop with the MAC’s fourth-best offense in yards and scoring, but now the experience is in place and the talent is there to be dominant at times. For this team, consistency is a must, and the veterans should provide it. Tyler Tettleton is an ultra-efficient, scrappy quarterback who pushed the ball down the field well, and he has a good No. 1 target in Donte Foster to work with. Running back Beau Blankenship put up huge numbers, and he should be able to do even more behind a strong line that gets back enough starting experience to build on a good 2012.

Defense: It’s not going to be a brick wall, but the defense should be able to hold serve more often than not. The key will be to find a few disruptive forces. A couple of dangerous pass rushers would be nice, and more interceptions from the corners is a must, but there will be times when the D has to hold on for dear life in shootouts. Everyone can tackle and this is a sound group, but steady defenders have to fill in the gaps around middle linebacker Keith Moore and strong safety Josh Kristoff.

79. Nevada
Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Running Back
Relative Concerns: Linebacker, Secondary

Nevada

Offense: Don't expect anything to change. Offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich is known for his days as a bomber in the high-octane Hawaii offense, but he's controlling the Wolf Pack's Pistol offense that needs a little retooling after cranking up 271 rushing yards per game, 515 total yards per outing and 38 points per game. Cody Fajardo should be among the Mountain West's best quarterbacks, and he has a nice receiving corps to work with led by veteran Brandon Wimberly. RB Stefphon Jefferson is gone, and now it's up to JUCO transfer Don Jackson to be ready to rock right out of the box behind a rebuilt line that's replacing three starters.

Defense: Defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton has to try to improve a defense that finished 110th in the nation against the run and allowed 442 yards and 34 points per game. The defensive front needs to be the centerpiece to work around with all four starters returning and two dangerous ends in Brock Hekking and Lenny Jones the stars. However, the run defense has to be far stronger and the pass rush has to come from other spots. The back seven has to undergo a massive makeover, but it’s a great-sized, athletic lot of prospects who look the part and have to play like it.

78. Utah State
Relative Strengths: Offensive Line, Quarterback
Relative Concerns: Receiver, Secondary

Offense: Offensive coordinator Kevin McGiven isn’t going to change things up too much, and why would he? The Aggies were terrific throughout last season with a nasty running game and one of the nation’s most efficient passing attacks. It all starts up front with a strong line that gets back all five starters including All-America candidate Tyler Larsen at center. Quarterback Chuckie Keeton will be in the hunt for Mountain West Player of the Year honors with pinpoint passing ability and good rushing skills, but he’s going to have to be even better with a shaky receiving corps to work with and the loss of speedy running back Kerwynn Williams. There’s potential with Joe Hill and the rest of the backs, but the short-to-midrange passing attack will carry the offense.

Defense: Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando has plenty of talent to work with, but he’s going to have a tough time repeating the production of last year’s defense. The Aggies came up with a brilliant campaign, finishing 14th in the nation in total defense and seventh in scoring D helped by a pass rush that brought the heat from all sides and was dominant against the run. The linebacking corps should be among the best in the Mountain West with Zach Vigil and Jake Doughty a devastating twosome. The front three is big and active with Connor Williams an elite pass rusher, while corner Nevin Lawson will be one of the league’s better all-around corners. The depth is a bit lacking and a few parts are missing, but it should be business as usual.

77. Colorado
Relative Strengths: Running Back, Receiver
Relative Concerns: Quarterback, Secondary

Offense: New head coach Mike MacIntyre is installing a version of the Pistol offense in Boulder. Now the Buffs must make sure they don’t shoot themselves in the foot. Colorado has been abysmal for years with the ball, ranking 116th in total offense and 117th in scoring offense in 2012. And while no change in scheme will have an overnight impact, it’s worth noting that it didn’t take MacIntyre very long to inject life into San Jose State, which ranked No. 6 nationally in passing a year ago. The Buffs need to improve … everywhere. However, no player will be more important than wayward QB Connor Wood, who transferred from Texas and then struggled for playing time. He’ll be surrounded by a decent corps of skill players, like RB Christian Powell and big-play WR Paul Richardson, who’s finally healthy again. The line houses next-level blockers—again—yet needs to start performing like a cohesive unit. Any progress on offense will be measured in baby steps, with the main goal being to fully digest the system before the end of the year.

Defense: Colorado is struggling to keep up with Pac-12 offenses. Heck, the Buffs would labor to stop Big Sky offenses these days. It’s back to the drawing board—again—for a unit that yielded at least 30 points to each of its last 11 opponents in 2012. The talent on hand is marginal, presenting coordinator Kent Baer with one of the toughest assignments of his 40-year coaching career. Colorado can count on DE Chidera Uzo-Diribe, LB Derrick Webb and CB Greg Henderson. But after that trio, the team is going to need the youngsters to play well above their pay scale in order to help incite incremental progress against the run and the pass. DT Josh Tupou, LB Addison Gillam and CB Kenneth Crawley, for example, are being asked to build on their spring performances. The Buffaloes are so far away from being competitive that Baer and his assistants are staring at a two-year project at an absolute minimum.

76. Northern Illinois
Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Secondary
Relative Concerns: Defensive Line, Receiver

Offense: Eight starters are back to an offense that led the MAC in scoring, yards and rushing, and while it would be nice if there was a No. 1 receiver to rely on, and it would be great if a go-to running back emerges early on, this should once again be a devastating attack. Quarterback Jordan Lynch will put up mega-stats again as one of the nation’s top dual-threat playmakers working behind a veteran line that welcomes back four starters up front. The receivers will be fine, but Tommylee Lewis and Da’Ron Brown have to be bigger playmakers, while Akeem Daniels needs to shine as the main back.

Defense: The defense was okay two years ago on the way to the MAC title. Last year it was fantastic considering opposing offenses had to bomb away to try to keep up the pace. Now there’s a little bit of work to do on the front seven after losing five starters, but there’s athleticism and pass rushing options to try replacing terrors Sean Progar and Alan Baxter up front. The secondary is by far the biggest strength with three starters returning along with excellent depth. It’ll be an attacking D that comes up with its share of big plays, but overall there will be a step back.

75. Washington State
Relative Strengths: Receiver, Quarterback
Relative Concerns: Offensive Line, Secondary

Offense: Patience will need to be exercised when it comes to the Washington State offense. Getting the Cougars to play up to head coach Mike Leach’s expectation will be a process. After installing the Air Raid in 2012, the coaching staff is hoping to see better execution and a higher degree of output this fall. Leach made an important offseason addition, adding inventive offensive assistant David Yost, who’ll bring fresh energy and ideas to the staff. Obviously, Wazzu plans to air it out, spreading the field with four receivers to create wider lanes for all of the playmakers. For starters, the Cougars need to see improvement at quarterback, likely Connor Halliday, and with an O-line that’s been the bane of the offense for many years. Halliday is the veteran, looking to hold off freshmen Austin Apodaca and Tyler Bruggman. The strength of the attack will be at wide receiver, a corps of young pass-catchers on the verge of becoming assets to the passing game. Sophomores Dominique Williams and Gabe Marks, in particular, are about to hit the runway.

Defense: All things being relative, Washington State took some forward steps in its first year under Mark Breske and his 3-4 alignment. But the Cougars are a long way off from being Pac-12-caliber on this side of the ball. The unit will continue to attack with a group of athletes who can cause problems in opposing backfields, yet often at their own expense. Wazzu lacks the size, depth and overall talent pool to keep pace with the league’s better attacks; in the month of November, it yielded an average of 42 points over four games. The Cougs are going to feature playmakers on the front seven, such as linebackers Darryl Monroe and Cyrus Coen and tackles Xavier Cooper and Ioane Gauta. The secondary, though, will be easy pickings for quarterbacks, especially since BUCK Travis Long is no longer around to pressure the pocket the way he did the past few seasons. Washington State really needs someone, like Logan Mayes, to give the pass rush some teeth off the perimeter.

74. UCF
Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Receiver
Relative Concerns: Offensive Line, Linebacker

Offense: UCF is entering a tougher defensive league armed with what might be its best offense in school history. The Knights are loaded just a year after finishing 25th nationally at more than 35 points per game. Everything begins with junior QB Blake Bortles, who’s about to build on a breakthrough debut as the starter. He’ll be surrounded by an assortment of playmakers, like budding feature back Storm Johnson and a stacked corps of athletic receivers comprised of Breshad Perriman, J.J. Worton and Ranell Hall. Bortles’ backside will be ably protected by LT Torrian Wilson, a Second Team All-Conference USA pick in 2012. The rest of the O-line, though, is pedestrian, especially unproven C Joey Grant, the lone potential chink in the Knights’ armor. If this group can hold up against American Athletic Conference competition, the attack will hum for coordinator Charlie Taaffe.

Defense: For many years now, the Knights have signed quality athletes, and methodically transformed them into the cornerstones of one Conference USA’s nastiest defenses. They’ll attempt to now take that formula for sustained success to the American Athletic Conference. UCF is busy trying to rebuild a D that lost six starters to graduation, including its three best players. The program will again rely on speed, especially in the back seven, swarm tackling and closing quickly on the man with the ball. The new figureheads in Orlando will be LB Terrance Plummer and S Clayton Geathers, both of whom should be good for more than 100 tackles in 2013. The two-deep will have no choice but to be young, meaning the fate of the defense in 2013 will rest heavily on a handful of untested underclassmen.

73. Tulsa
Relative Strengths: Running Back, Quarterback
Relative Concerns: Defensive Line, Secondary

Offense: Coaches change. Personnel changes. Tulsa, though, remains one of the most potent and balanced offenses in the FBS. Life after star QB G.J. Kinne wasn’t so bad after all last season, as the Golden Hurricane cranked out an average of 457 yards and 34 points per game. Back from that attack are QB Cody Green, the dynamite running duo of Trey Watts and Ja’Terian Douglas and leading receiver Keyarris Garrett. Gone, though, is three-fifths of a starting O-line that was quietly terrific a year ago. The program must retool the unit, which for years has been the unheralded hero of the offense’s success. Tulsa is also seeking far more consistency out of Green, the one-time Nebraska transfer, who did a lot of good things in his debut with the program, but also struggled with his accuracy and decision-making as a thrower.

Defense: Well-traveled coordinator Brent Guy is coming off one of his best seasons as a defensive assistant. His Golden Hurricane D was the stingiest unit in Conference USA in 2012, ranking no lower than second in the league in run defense, pass efficiency defense, scoring D and sacks. Employing largely blue-collar athletes that were overlooked by bigger schools coming out of high school, Tulsa was aggressive to the ball and opportunistic. This program is adept at coaching up raw talent, which is a good thing since only three starters return. The Hurricane is getting a facelift after losing its entire D-line and three-fourths of the secondary to graduation. LB Shawn Jackson and FS Demarco Nelson will be physical leaders of the new-look defense, while DE Brentom Todd, DT Derrick Luetjen, LB Trent Martin and Bandit Michael Mudoh are asked to operate with a next-man-in mindset.

72. San Jose State
Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Receiver
Relative Concerns: Running Back, Defensive Line

Offense: Kaboom. The Spartan passing game was terrific in 2011, but it was inefficient and didn’t explode. In 2012, thanks to the emergence of quarterback David Fales, the attack was occasionally unstoppable finishing sixth in the nation in passing and third in passing efficiency. Expect more of the same with a loaded receiving corps returning and four starters back on a decent line that should give Fales more time to work. The running game will never be special, but there are a slew of quick backs with the upside to combine forces to replace De’Leon Eskridge. But it’ll all come down to Fales, who needs to come up with a repeat performance for the team to have any chance in the Mountain West.

Defense: The defense came up with a phenomenal season with a night-and-day difference in the pass rush and huge improvement against the run. After allowing 204 yards per game on the ground and generating 16 sacks, the Spartans ripped off 42 tackles and allowed a paltry 122 rushing yards per game. There might be some key losses in the secondary, and losing pass rushing star Travis Johnson hurts, but the new 3-4 alignment should take advantage of the hybrid prospects on the outside while relying on tackle Travis Raciti to get behind the line on a regular basis. Outside linebacker Vince Buhaguar, inside linebacker Keith Smith and corner Bene Benwikere are all all-star candidates to rebuild around.

71. South Florida
Relative Strengths: Offensive Line, Defensive Line
Relative Concerns: Quarterback, Secondary

Offense: New head coach Willie Taggart plans to operate a version of the San Francisco 49ers’ pro-style offense, the same one he learned from Jim Harbaugh at Stanford. The Bulls are going to be a power running team that makes use of the fullback and the tight ends. In the early going, the quarterbacks won’t be asked to carry the team, a good thing since USF has a gaping hole behind center. Senior Bobby Eveld and sophomore Matt Floyd battled to a dead heat in the spring, with Penn State import Steven Bench joining the competition in the summer. The program will need a feature back to carry out the wishes of the coaching staff; Marcus Shaw is first in line for the job, though former JUCO transfer Michael Pierre is not far behind. The star of the offense is big-play WR Andre Davis, but his talents and production could be stunted by the situation behind center. At times, the quarterbacks will be more comfortable dumping the ball off to the backs or locating one of two quality tight ends, Sean Price or Mike McFarland.

Defense: The South Florida defense has lost its swagger. Longtime NFL coordinator Chuck Bresnahan has been hired by Willie Taggart to help restore it. The Bulls weren’t just bad a season ago—they were feeble, causing just nine turnovers in 12 games. What happened to the electric, attacking unit that had become a trademark of the program back when Jim Leavitt was turning USF into a nationally-known commodity? The Bulls still attract speed and tenacity to Tampa, though there are going to be glaring holes in the back seven. DeDe Lattimore is the only sure-thing at linebacker, and the pass defense needs a total overhaul. It’s up front where the greatest hope exists. South Florida is loaded with depth and promising linemen, none with a greater upside than DE Aaron Lynch. The first-year transfer from Notre Dame is poised to explode out of the chute, taking NFL scouts on a wild ride that could wind up being his only year as a Bull.

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