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2013 CFN Preseason Rankings - No. 91 to 100
SMU QB Garret Gilbert
SMU QB Garret Gilbert
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 12, 2013


2013 CFN Preseason Rankings - No. 91 to 100 - Sure To Struggle


Preview 2013 - Rankings

Sure To Struggle - No. 91-100

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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.

100. Western Michigan
Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Receiver
Relative Concerns: Linebacker, Offensive Line

Offense: It wasn’t the unstoppable offensive juggernaut everyone expected it would be, but it wasn’t too bad averaging 439 yards per game and doing a decent job in shootouts. Offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca has some nice pieces in place, but it’s going to take some work. Tyler Van Tubbergen did a great job of filling in for a banged up Alex Carder at quarterback, and while he threw too many interceptions, he put up big yards. The receiving corps that was such a concern turned into a strength, helped by the emergence of Jaime Wilson, who exploded out of the gate but fizzled late. All four top running backs return to fill their roles and form a good rotation, but there might not be too much room to move behind a line that’s going to need lots and lots of time.

Defense: The defense needs to be better at taking the ball away, and it has to come up with a few more consistent pass rush, but it wasn’t miserable. It wasn’t a rock, and it’s not going to be this year, either, with defensive coordinator Ed Pinkham moving some parts around to go with more of a true 4-3. The defensive front should form a decent rotation around nose guard Travonte Boles, but the big move is at one of the outside linebacker spots with leading-tackler Johnnie Simon moving over from safety. The secondary won’t be bad as long as everyone stays healthy, but it’s going to take some time to develop the depth and find the right parts for the right positions.

99. Tulane
Relative Strengths: Receiver, Running Back
Relative Concerns: Linebacker, Secondary

Offense: Tulane harbors enough skill position talent to put up points. Running back and wide receiver are rarely a problem for the Green Wave. Orleans Darkwa has 1,000-yard legs, and the Ryan Grant-led receiving corps is terrific, but it’s the supporting cast that’ll dictate whether or not the attack can improve upon last season’s dismal results. The first order of business on the staff will be to decide between two green quarterbacks, JUCO transfer Nick Montana and rookie Devin Powell. And then the coaches will need to milk better play out of an offensive line that was among the nation’s worst last fall. If the blockers improve, Tulane will surprise some folks. If not, the Green Wave will once again stall, and attempt too many Cairo Santos field goals.

Defense: The Green Wave has had a long and painful history of being flattened on defense, a trend that shows no sign of letting up in 2013. Tulane lacks the talent, depth and especially the size to combat the offenses of Conference USA. How bad is the situation? The program has ranked 115th nationally in scoring D in consecutive years, producing just two honorable mention All-Conference USA performers in 2012. Noticeable gains are highly improbable. The Green Wave is small and quick at each level, creating takeaway opportunities, yet also leaving the team vulnerable to no-nonsense ground games. Up front, Tulane relies on DE Julius Warmsley, while holding out hope that LSU import Chris Davenport can bolster the nose. With a spate of young and active returning starters, like FS Darion Monroe and CB Lorenzo Doss, the secondary can’t help but be improved.

98. Temple
Relative Strengths: Running Back, Offensive Line
Relative Concerns: Secondary, Special Teams

Offense: Temple’s leading returning rusher and passer, Chris Coyer, is now lining up at H-back. And the guy who caught the most touchdown passes in 2012, Cody Booth, is taking a swing at left tackle. Yeah, it’s going to be a major transition year in Philadelphia. The Owls, under head coach Matt Rhule, are moving from Steve Addazio’s ground-based spread to a more passer-friendly pro-style system. As such, Coyer’s dual-threat persona is now persona non grata, soon to be replaced by either Connor Reilly or Clinton Granger. Reilly was the story of the spring, going from a holder on special teams to the top of the depth chart. His favorite target, assuming he remains in the pole position, will be Jalen Fitzpatrick, a dynamic playmaker underutilized by the previous regime. Temple will run it less in 2013, which is a good thing since a since a feature back might not emerge until the rookies arrive in the summer. The remaking of the Owls offense is going to take time and a much better fit of personnel than what currently exists on the roster.

Defense: You are not in the MAC any longer, Temple. The Owls were a dominant D back in their old stomping ground, but last season served as a rude awakening. The program pulled up the rear in the Big East in many major statistical categories, yielding at least 32 points in each of their final six games. New coordinator Phil Snow faces an uphill climb in 2013 and beyond. His inherited talent is decent, but will need to be coached up, much the way it was when Al Golden was piloting the program a few years back. The upcoming edition is no more talented than the last one. There are holes in run and pass defense, and depth will be an ongoing worry. Two of the Owls’ better players are young linebackers, Tyler Matakevich and Nate D. Smith, who ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in tackles last fall. Pro scouts will have an eye on NT Levi Brown, an underachiever in 2012 looking to make a salary run in 2013.

97. SMU
Relative Strengths: Running Back, Secondary
Relative Concerns: Defensive Line, Linebacker

Offense: What is wrong with the Run N’ Shoot? By now, shouldn’t head coach June Jones have the Mustangs among the nation’s most prolific offenses? He hasn’t. In fact, SMU has been ranked in the top 50 nationally in total offense just once in the last five years, and was an unacceptable No. 90 in 2012. In an effort to find answers, Jones hired pioneering “Air Raid” mastermind Hal Mumme as an assistant coach. The Mustangs had occasional outbursts in 2012, such as the 72-42 rout of Houston, but they were largely inconsistent. The cover boy of that inconsistency was Texas transfer QB Garrett Gilbert, who was a flop in his Dallas debut. He threw as many picks as touchdowns, stalled in the red zone and didn’t click with an up-and-down corps of receivers. Yet another former Longhorn has entered the discussion on the Hilltop. RB Traylon Shead has shown the power and the quickness to not just start, but also ably replace departed star back Zach Line.

Defense: Tom Mason’s defense was improbably solid a year ago, flying all over the field to rank third nationally in takeaways, pitch two shutouts and tie an NCAA single-season mark with eight pick-sixes. But, can the Mustangs even approach their 2012 revelry without four of last season’s top five defenders? SMU has taken a particularly forceful hit to the front seven, where linemen Margus Hunt and Torlan Pittman and linebackers Ja’Gared Davis and Taylor Reed have graduated. The line was obliterated, leaving behind three new starters who’ll labor to pressure the pocket in a new league. The linebackers, led by Randall Joyner, will continue to cover plenty of ground, and Kenneth Acker is one of the nation’s best cornerbacks that few people are talking about. However, all roads lead back to the play of that D-line. If SMU is pushed back on its heels against AAC opponents, it could be a very long year for Mason’s kids.

96. Ball State
Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Receiver
Relative Concerns: Defensive Line, Linebacker

Offense: The offense clicked averaging 457 yards and 33.6 points per game with a strong passing game and a terrific ground attack. The only real concern coming into the year is a revamped line that should be fine, but only gets back one full-time starter. If the blocking is sharp again, everything else will fall into place with quarterback Keith Wenning one of the MAC’s most experienced and effective passers getting to work with Willie Snead and all of the top targets from last year. The 1-2 rushing punch of Jahwan Edwards and Horactio Banks should combine for close to 2,000 yards, but the offense will mostly work around the direction of the rock-steady Wenning.

Defense: The defense that was such a disaster last season still needs plenty of work with several big changes all across the board. The D allowed 462 yards per game and didn’t get any semblance of a pass rush outside of the 8.5 sacks from Jonathan Newsome. The run defense was pushed around too easily and the secondary was beaten deep way too often. Depth is a problem with the starting 11 still needing to be figured out in the 4-2-5 alignment that often uses a fifth defensive back like another linebacker. There must be more takeaways and more big plays, but more than anything else, the D has to find something it can do well.

95. Troy
Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Receiver
Relative Concerns: Defensive Line, Linebacker

Offense: The offense should see more of the same. Offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield has a terrific quarterback situation with veteran bomber Corey Robinson and dual-threat Deon Anthony combining forces to make one of the nation’s most dangerous passing games go. The receiving corps should be excellent with a little bit of time, with Eric Thomas expected to grow into a dangerous No. 1 playmaker. The rushing attack will be a bit of a question mark with three untested speedsters trying to replace Shawn Southward while working behind a line that has to replace four starters and needs a ton of retooling.

Defense: With one of the worst defenses in the nation over the last few years, and without enough production against most offenses with a pulse, something had to change. Defensive coordinator Wayne Bolt is back after working with Gene Chizik at Auburn, and he has lots and lots of work to do. The pass rush was non-existent, the secondary was miserable and there weren’t enough takeaways. With more of a 4-2-5 alignment now, the hope will be for the secondary go come up with more big plays, but the front four has to start doing its job by getting to the quarterback. There’s a major overhaul across the board, but there’s hope with Miami transfer Keion Payne taking over one corner spot and big tackler Mark Wilson due for a huge season at middle linebacker.

94. Central Michigan
Relative Strengths: Running Back, Linebacker
Relative Concerns: Defensive Line, Secondary

Offense: It’s not like the Chippewa offense dominated, but it was excellent in several areas. Can the O be better without a 3,158-yard passer (Ryan Radcliff), a 74-catch No. 1 target (Cody Wilson) and the top overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft (OT Eric Fisher)? Maybe. Zurlon Tipton is a terrific running back to revolve the offense around, and despite the loss of Fisher, the line should be solid with good tackle Jake Olson coming back from injury. The receiving corps will stretch the field helped by deep threat Titus Davis, and eventually, the quarterback situation will be settled with a few tall, big, athletic options to play around with.

Defense: Pressure, pressure, pressure. That’s the problem for a Chippewa defense with experience, athleticism and talent. The defense came up with a miniscule 49 tackles for loss and just 18 sacks on the season, and the lack of production in the backfield showed with too many big passing days allowed and too many problems against the better running teams. Whether CMU goes with a 4-2-5 alignment or plays around with the 4-3 again makes a big difference considering the strength is at linebacker. There are question marks at end, and playmakers have to emerge in the veteran secondary, but Shamari Benton and Justin Cherocci are two good linebackers to work everything around.

93. UNLV
Relative Strengths: Running back, Defensive Line
Relative Concerns: Linebacker, Secondary

Offense: Offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach has an offense with the potential to be the breakout star of the Mountain West. All the pieces are there to be far better after years of building to this point, but the attack has to be far more consistent and more explosive. After a year of working the kinks out, quarterback Nick Sherry should be more efficient with Devante Davis and all the top receivers returning. The line was a plus last year, and now it gets back three starters and banged up tackle Brett Boyko to generate a push for Tim Cornett, one of the league’s best running backs.

Defense: It’s all relative, but the defense really did improve. Defensive coordinator Tim Hauck welcomes almost everyone back, and now it’s time to take an even bigger step forward. Leading tackler John Lotuleilei is the only starter missing, but there are plenty of veterans ready to pick up the slack. The run defense struggled too much against the teams that could run, the secondary didn’t stop the teams that could pass, and overall it was a fight to keep teams under 35 points, but the Rebels allowed almost eight fewer points per game. Again, there needs to be an improvement with all the youth and athleticism needing to translate into better production and bigger plays.

92. Rice
Relative Strengths: Running Back, Defensive Line
Relative Concerns: Offensive Line, Secondary

Offense: In 2008, Rice authored a historically good season on the shoulders of the offense. The 2013 squad possesses the potential to approach the program’s level of production from five years ago. All of the pieces are in place for the Owls to be dynamite with the ball this fall. Just about everyone is back from a group that scored at least 33 points in six of last year’s final seven games. The quarterbacks, starter Taylor McHargue and successor Driphus Jackson, are athletic dual-threats. Last season’s top eight rushers and leading receiver Jordan Taylor return to support the passers. And all five starters up front are set to reprise their 2012 roles in the trenches. Rice is going to run the ball about as well as anyone in Conference USA. If the passing game can produce a few more big plays than it did a season ago, look out.

Defense: The Rice D loses virtually no one to graduation. It remains to be seen whether that’s good or bad news for the program. The Owls are experienced, but that experience comes off a unit that ranked No. 81 nationally a year ago. The optimist, though, would quickly point out that Rice played its best defense toward the end of the season; the Owls allowed an average of 43.6 points over their first five games, yet only half that number over the final eight. The program will continue to struggle against quality offenses, particularly through the air. But coordinator Chris Thurmond’s kids are going to attack the ball, especially up front with DE Cody Bauer and shifty tackles Hosam Shahin and Christian Covington. The secondary can’t help but be improved. With all-star CB Phillip Gaines setting the tone in coverage, seven DBs who started games in 2012 remain on campus.

91. Hawaii
Relative Strengths: Receiver, Special Teams
Relative Concerns: Running Back, Defensive Line

Offense: Let’s try this again. The Hawaii offense went into the tank finishing with the third-worst attack in college football averaging under 300 yards per game with a passing game that didn’t work. The big plays weren’t there, the pass protection was non-existent, and it was like pulling teeth to score. Take away the 54 points scored against Lamar and the 48 in the explosion late in the year against UNLV, and the team struggled to average two touchdowns a game. But there’s hope. New offensive coordinator Aaron Price has a veteran crew to work with along with an upgrade at quarterback. Ohio State transfer Taylor Graham should help a passing attack that welcomes back almost all the top targets, and while the line won’t be fantastic, it’s full of veterans and should be far stronger.

Defense: While there were problems against the run, and the D gave up way too many points, there was decent production at times led by a pass defense that finished 11th in the nation. However, there was a reason the pass defense stats were so great – the defensive front seven was destroyed by anyone who could run. Defensive coordinator Thom Kaumeyer likes to get aggressive and wants to pressure the quarterback and it showed with a decent year getting behind the line. The ends should be terrific and all three starters return at linebacker, but can anyone stop the run? The secondary should be a strength with three starters back including safeties John Hardy-Tuliau and Marrell Jackson two solid playmakers to work around.

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