2013 CFN Preseason Rankings - The Bottom 15
Georgia State WR/KR Albert Wilson
Georgia State WR/KR Albert Wilson
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 12, 2013


Preview 2013 CFN Preseason Rankings No. 111 to 125 ... The Bottom 15.


Preview 2013 - Rankings

Bottom 15 - No. 111-125

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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 
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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.

125. Georgia State
Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Special Teams
Relative Concerns: Defensive Line, Linebacker

Offense: At the very least, the Panther offense has a tremendous offensive coordinator in former Boston College head coach Jeff Jagodzinski to lead the way. All five starters are back on the offensive line that’s decent in pass protection, but it has to be far, far stronger for the ground game. JUCO transfer Gerald Howse has to ramp up a rushing attack that came up with just 1,216 yards on the year, while the quarterback derby has to produce a passer who can get the ball to possible Sun Belt all-star Albert Wilson. Ben McLane is the returning starter under center, but he’ll be pushed by former Ohio Bobcat Ronnie Bell and newcomer Clay Chastain, who’s more of a pure passer.

Defense: There’s experience and size, but new defensive coordinator Jesse Minter has to find something that this group can do well. The run defense was awful, the pass defense worse, and there wasn’t enough of a pass rush and there weren’t enough takeaways to make up for the issues. The change to a 3-4 should help the cause with a good, deep pack of linebackers in place to potentially start doing more to be disruptive behind the line. There’s bulk up front with Theo Agnew and Terrance Woodard two big, active linemen who’ll get around the ball, but they have to hold up better. The leadership and experience in the secondary has to translate into production.

124. Idaho
Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Receiver
Relative Concerns: Linebacker, Secondary

Offense: Paul Petrino was able to bring aboard offensive coordinator Kris Cinkovich, who played a huge part in making the Arkansas passing game go. He has a nice group of targets to work with in Nagee Lovett, Jahrie Level and Roman Runner, who should be steady, but now need to be more explosive. The coaching staff went JUCO for the top running back options, needing Jerrel Brown and Kris Olugbode to pound away behind a line that’s full of veterans and is good in pass protection, but has to do something for a ground game that scored three rushing touchdowns. The quarterback situation is up in the air with a few good prospects pushing veteran Taylor Davis.

Defense: Defensive coordinator Ronnie Lee has lots and LOTS of work to do. The positives are on the defensive front with Maxx Forde leading a decent group of promising ends, and the tackle options are in place to do a bit more against the run. The back seven is a huge issue with a slew of JUCO transfers needing to become instant starters at linebacker, while the secondary has to replace three starters and also has to hope for a slew of newcomers to make a big splash. After struggling with the pass rush and getting ripped apart by any decent passing attack, it’s going to be a struggle with so much turnover.

123. New Mexico State
Relative Strengths: Receiver, Linebacker
Relative Concerns: Offensive Line, Defensive Line

Offense: The offense fully made the change last season to more of a deep passing attack, and it worked relatively well with Andrew Manley throwing for 2,764 yards and receiver Austin Franklin turning into a statistical star. New offensive coordinator and former Bowling Green head man Gregg Brandon will change things up to more of a spread, Pistol-like attack. Because of the switch, Manley transferred, but Franklin is still around to lead a decent-looking receiving corps. The line that was a disaster last season gets everyone back, but there has to be more production for the ground game. The running backs are thin, needing options to emerge behind Germi Morrison, but the real key is the quarterback situation hoping for Travaughn Colwell to step into the role and shine.

Defense: The defense finished 117th in the nation in points allowed and gave up 476 yards per game with no pass rush, no pass defense, and nothing happening against the run. Even so, defensive coordinator David Elson was kept around. With all the experience returning, there’s hope for a quick turnaround – or at least a little bit of an improvement – with most of the key parts returning in the secondary and outside linebackers Bryan Bonilla and Trashaun Nixon two decent veterans. The non-existent pass rush has to emerge in whatever alignment is used – the Aggies will play around with the 3-4 – and there have to be more takeaways after coming up with just four picks.

122. Massachusetts
Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Secondary
Relative Concerns: Offensive Line, Defensive Line

Offense: Things might continue to get worse before they get any better. But how could the offense take another step back after finishing dead last in college football in scoring and passing efficiency? Nothing worked on a regular basis, starting with a line that was shaky throughout the season and now could be even worse with some key losses and an uncertain starting five. The skill players need room to work, but they also need to make things happen when given the chance. A No. 1 receiver has to emerge, the thin running back situation has to be more effective and the quarterback pecking order has to be settled.

Defense: The starting 11 should be fine with a good base of talent to work around, starting in the secondary with a nice corner tandem of Trey Dudley-Giles and Randall Jette. Throw in a decent-looking starting linebacking corps, especially on the outside, and all of a sudden the defense that was ripped to shreds on a regular basis has potential. The pass rush has to be better and the line needs to strengthen up against the run, especially in the interior, but the results should improve. However, there’s no developed depth whatsoever and there might be several steps taken back before making any leap forward.

121. Eastern Michigan
Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Secondary
Relative Concerns: Offensive Line, Defensive Line

Offense: The Eagle offense has to find one thing that it can do on a high level, and this year, that might be the running game. This was wildly inconsistent and stunningly disappeared in too many key situations. Seven starters are back with decent depth across the board, and that includes the line that shuffled starting five in every game but one. There’s speed and quickness in the backfield, but the passing game has to be more efficient and more dangerous to take the pressure off Bronson Hill and the good stable of backs. Tyler Benz took over the quarterback duties as the season went on, and while he showed signs of becoming a decent playmaker, like the rest of the offense he was way too inconsistent.

Defense: Just when it seemed like everything was going to be in place for a big year after finishing third in the MAC and 34th in the nation in total defense, everything went into the tank with no pass rush and a horrific year from the front line. The Eagles finished last in the nation against the run and was second-to-last in sacks, and now it’s time to try generating more pressure and come up with more big plays. The secondary should eventually be fine with several pieces to play around with, but it’s going to be a rough year unless Kalonji Kashama and the ends can hit a quarterback. Tackles Cy Maughmer and Travis Linser have to be far better, and while the entire starting linebacking corps has to be replaced, the new guys will be more athletic.

120. UTSA
Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Offensive Line
Relative Concerns: Defensive Line, Secondary

Offense: All but a single starter, LT Patrick Hoog, is back for the Roadrunners, who are hoping to parlay all of those familiar faces into better production in 2012. UTSA was fine a year ago, but that was when facing a schedule that included games with the likes of Texas A&M-Commerce, Georgia State, Northwestern Oklahoma and McNeese State. Maintaining an edge in Conference USA will be considerably tougher in 2013. The catalyst will again be QB Eric Soza, a gutsy playmaker who limits his mistakes. He's surrounded by all kinds of weapons, yet none in particular that'll force opposing defenses to scheme to specifically stop. Three returners ran for at least five scores, led by RB Evans Okotcha, and a whopping 13 Roadrunners caught at least 10 passes in 2012. If this attack can improve upon just one area, it'll be in the red zone, where UTSA had its struggles last fall.

Defense: Overmatched. It’s the only way to describe the UTSA defense a year ago. Non-stop motors and great work ethics will get a D only so far, especially as it prepares to join a much tougher league than was home in 2012. The Roadrunners are a collection of try-hard types struggling with the reality of being in existence for only three years. The team was especially scrappy against the run last fall, getting plenty of help from LB Steven Kurfehs and FS Triston Wade, an All-WAC selection. Pass defense and depth, though, will continue to be major concerns that have no easy answers. The team’s undersized cornerbacks are at an FCS level, a situation worsened by an intermittent and inconsistent pass rush. Former Oklahoma Sooner Bennett Okotcha has joined the mix at corner—and his older brother Evans in San Antonio—hoping to add some speed and attitude to the defensive backfield.

119. Florida Atlantic
Relative Strengths: Receiver, Linebacker
Relative Concerns: Offensive Line, Defensive Line

Offense: Second-year coordinator Brian Wright is just itching to unleash the totality of his spread option offense, which could happen this fall. A year ago, his quarterback, Graham Wilbert, was steady, but lacked the athleticism the coach needs to operate his aggressive attack. This fall, though, Wright will have access to two former JUCO dual-threats, Melvin German and Jaquez Johnson, who are better fits for his playbook. Florida Atlantic wants to keep defenses on their heels, forcing them to respect myriad different players and looks. The quarterback will, naturally, be the key. If German or Johnson delivers, it’s going to accentuate the budding talents of RB Jonathan Wallace, TE Nexon Dorvilus and the William Dukes-led corps of wide receivers. Wright must also contend with a rebuilding offensive line that should stand among the least effective in the FBS. The group got schooled routinely in 2012, and now must replace three of its starters.

Defense: There were growing pains on defense in 2012 for the personnel and the coaching staff at Florida Atlantic. Year 2 will be all about building on last season’s lessons. Coordinator Pete Rekstis has no shortage of priorities, but generating more money plays has to be at the top of his list. The Owls are far too athletic to repeat last year’s feeble numbers, ranking 99th nationally in takeaways and 118th in sacks. Rekstis and his staff are pleased to be bringing back many of last season’s starters, the foundation on which the program hopes to build. Linebackers Andrae Kirk, Adarius Glanton and Randell Johnson could form one of the top units in Conference USA. And seven players with starting experience return to the secondary. But Florida Atlantic will only make strides if the line doesn’t get manhandled the way it did last fall. The onus is particularly on senior ends Cory Henry and Martin Wright to get up-field and to disrupt the flow of plays at the line of scrimmage.

118. Miami University
Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Receiver
Relative Concerns: Running Back, Defensive Line

Offense: The RedHawk offense didn’t explode like it should’ve, but there’s hope for a little bit of an improvement with a good starting 11 helped by veteran Austin Boucher stepping in at quarterback for Zac Dysert. Dawon Scott is one of the MAC's top targets, and Jamire Westbrook is a good running back who’d put up nice numbers if he ever got the ball. The offense is all about the short-range passing game, and it should thrive if the line can improve in pass protection. Once a center is found, the starting five should be fine, but there’s no depth whatsoever. Defense: There’s lots and lots of work to do. Defensive coordinator Jay Peterson has to come up with a pass rush, stronger play against the run, and more playmakers who can take the ball away. This was the second-worst run defense in the nation that came up with just two fumble recoveries and was ripped apart for close to 2,900 rushing yards and 35 scores. There’s experience returning among the starters with the not-that-bad secondary the deepest area on the team, but it needs help from a pass rush that was non-existent for large stretches. The front four is full of linebacker-sized defenders and could use bulk against the run, meaning the linebacking corps has to do way too much. 117. South Alabama
Relative Strengths: Receiver, Linebacker
Relative Concerns: Quarterback, Running Back

Offense: It was a rocky first year for the USA spread attack after changing over from a pro-style system, but offensive coordinator Robert Matthews has lots of interesting pieces to work with to expect more consistency and pop. The passing attack has a world of upside with left-handed veteran Ross Metheny back under center and a loaded receiving corps to play with – just about all the top pass catchers are back. The line has promise after going through a rough year in pass protection, but it still might take a little while longer before everything starts to come together. Top running back Demetre Baker was kicked off the team, but there should be a decent rotation with Jay Jones and Kendall Houston.

Defense: After a great 2011, the hope was for the defense to surprise and be sneaky-good. Instead, the Jaguars had too many problems coming up with key stops and didn’t find much that worked outside of a decent pass rush. Defensive coordinator Kevin Sherrer has enough talent to work with to expect more consistency. The line has edge rushers in hybrid Pat Moore and end Alex Page, and Enrique Williams should be one of the Sun Belt’s top tacklers, but everyone has to be more disruptive and the secondary has to be stronger. Tyrell Pearson is a good ball-hawking corner, but all the JUCO transfers signed on over the last few years have to be steadier. All 11 projected starters are seniors; everyone should know what they're doing.

116. Akron
Relative Strengths: Receiver, Running Back
Relative Concerns: Defensive Line, Linebacker

Offense: The offense wasn’t timely, it didn’t do enough with the running game, and it wasn’t efficient enough, but it also wasn’t the problem averaging a solid 427 yards and 26 points per game. Quarterback Dalton Williams is gone along with No. 1 receiver Marquelo Smith, but there’s a good group of pass catchers coming back with almost all the other major contributors coming back. The running back situation should help out the emerging passing game with Jawon Chisholm and Conor Hundley providing a decent tandem that needs the ball more. The line struggled for the ground game but wasn’t awful in pass protection. It’s a good-sized front five with promise, but the right side needs new starters.

Defense: The defense welcomes back seven starters, but not enough playmakers after struggling way too much to come up with big plays and takeaways. The secondary came up with a mere five picks while the D fell on just eight fumbles. The lack of a steady pass rush resulted in way too many deep passes, and the defensive line didn’t do enough to hold up against the run. Finding a pass rusher to replace J.D. Griggs – who came up with six of the team’s 16 sacks – is Job One, while the linebacking corps needs tough run stoppers to replace the team’s top tacklers, Kurt Mangum and Troy Gilmer. Fortunately, there are plenty of options to play around with and depth shouldn’t be a problem – now the coaching staff has to find a solid starting 11.

115. FIU
Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Secondary
Relative Concerns: Running Back, Offensive Line

Offense: Buh-bye, spread. Hello, more conventional offense. New head coach Ron Turner will employ multiple looks, but achieving balance will be his ultimate goal in 2013. He and the staff want to keep defenses guessing, setting up the pass with the run, and even showcasing some two-tight end looks. Turner is going to play to his personnel, which is sound in the backfield, fast on the outside and frighteningly unsettled in the trenches. FIU is set at quarterback with Jake Medlock and E.J. Hilliard, though the former must find a way to absorb less contact than in the past. Unfortunately, RB Kedrick Rhodes, an all-star candidate, was dismissed from the team on July 15 for a violation of team rules. Medlock’s right arm might be sore by November as he attempts to reach fleet-footed senior receivers Willis Wright and Glenn Coleman. Wright was on a tear as last season came to a close. The O-line might be the weakest unit on either side of the ball. It returns just eight career starts, and both tackles will undergo a crash course on keeping the pocket clean.

Defense: The Florida International defense was a big disappointment in 2012. Coordinator Josh Conklin and the new staff of assistants are on board to make sure that a new trend is started in 2013. The coaches do not have an easy job, inheriting a unit moving forward without its two best players, NFL Draft picks Johnathan Cyprien and Tourek Williams. The Panthers are athletic and speedy, which is code for raw. They’ve got potential up front, with the likes of DE Giovani Francois and DT Greg Hickman, but the linebackers are undeniably green. Above all else, Conklin wants to transform his team’s speed into more money plays and fewer red-zone touchdowns allowed. FIU was toothless with its back to the end zone last fall, and were tied for 91st nationally in takeaways. A program with so many feisty athletes must do a better job of picking off throws and stripping balls for fumbles.

114. UAB
Relative Strengths: Running Back, Receiver
Relative Concerns: Offensive Line, Linebacker

Offense: So far, so good. In his first year as the head coach, Garrick McGee’s impact on the offense was evident. Running a balanced, pro-style attack, the Blazers went from 364 yards and 20 points a game in 2011 to 419 points and 28 points a game a year ago. That’s undeniable progress, especially since UAB broke in a rookie quarterback, a new feature back and a handful of new regulars in the trenches. With most of last year’s starters still in Birmingham, further progress is expected in 2013. QB Austin Brown provided a spark in his debut, throwing 15 touchdown passes, but he’ll need to take the next step. RB Darrin Reaves came out of nowhere to rush for more than 1,000 yards, the first Blazers back to do so in well over a decade. And the receivers are a big-play crew, with a wild card in underrated TE Kennard Backman. However, this system might need to once again overcome a flimsy O-line that lacks size and sure-fire maulers.

Defense: FCS talent facing an FBS schedule. Even by the Conference USA measuring stick, UAB is well behind the competition on defense … again. Last year’s lone all-star, LB Marvin Burdette, has used up his remaining eligibility, and none of the holdovers left in Birmingham are obvious preseason all-league candidates. Among coordinators, Reggie Johnson has one of the toughest jobs in America. The coach will rely on his team’s speed and athleticism, turning loose his kids in the hopes that they can create more havoc than in recent years. Candidates to become playmakers include DE Chris Rabb, LB Patrick Bastien and safeties Calvin Jones and Jake Ganus, all of whom have the right mix of measurables to contribute over a wide area of the field. The Blazers are hurting at all levels, but an improved pass rush might help the back seven, a cry for help that needs to be answered by veteran ends Connor Boyett and Diaheem Watkins.

113. Army
Relative Strengths: Receiver, Defensive Line
Relative Concerns: Running Back, Quarterback

Offense: You know what’s coming. After leading the nation with 346.5 rushing yards per game in 2011, the ground game was even better last season averaging 370 yards per outing thanks to quarterback Trent Steelman and a veteran line. Steelman is gone, but A.J. Schurr and Angel Santiago are speedy options who’ll keep the production going under center, while Raymond Maples and a veteran group of backs should be fantastic once again. Unfortunately, the passing attack was more than just the least productive in college football; it was also one of the most inefficient, but Chevaughn Lawrence is a good receiver who can do more if targeted. The line will come around with a little bit of time, but it’s small, quick and relatively inexperienced.

Defense: Co-coordinators Payam Saadat and Chris Smeland had a lot of work to do going into last season, and it didn’t work out well with the run defense having way too many problems against anyone who tried to get physical, and the secondary torched time and again. The lack of a steady pass rush was a huge issue, and it will be again, but the defensive backs should be the strength with several interchangeable parts and lots and lots of depth. The linebackers are the size of defensive backs and the linemen are the size of linebackers, but the smaller, quicker defenders have to get into the backfield far more.

112. UTEP
Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Receiver
Relative Concerns: Offensive Line, Secondary

Offense: Head coach Sean Kugler tabbed Patrick Higgins to be his first offensive coordinator with the Miners. The pair actually coached together in El Paso from 1998-2000. Higgins’ top objective in Year 1 will be to develop a new quarterback. Blaire Sullivan led Carson Meger at the end of spring, but things don’t truly get interesting until Texas A&M transfer Jameill Showers arrives in the summer. The potential is there for the newcomer to have an immediate and profound impact on an offense that ranked 100th nationally in scoring a year ago. UTEP likes its athletes at the skill positions, rarely a concern in these parts. RB Nathan Jeffery has enormous potential if he can stay healthy, Jordan Leslie heads a well-sized group of receivers and the tight ends are unusually deep and experienced for a school that doesn’t typically overwork its tight ends. The unit will be a work in progress for Higgins, whose holdovers have a lot of bad habits that need to be broken.

Defense: Scott Stoker has his hands full. What defensive coordinator at UTEP hasn’t in recent history? The Miners have long struggled to make key stops, a trend likely to continue in 2013. Stoker plans to fit his scheme to his personnel, while attempting to weave in some 3-4 looks along with a standard 4-3 alignment. The staff’s biggest concern, as if there’s only one, will be pass defense. Not only are the defensive ends, Adam Ayala and James Davidson, somewhat toothless at getting after the quarterback, but two new cornerbacks will be broken in as well. Most of the heat will come from LB Horace Miller, who has 11 career sacks since transferring from Louisville. UTEP likes its mix of talent on the interior of the line and at safety, where Richard Spencer is making his way back from a knee injury. Before getting hurt, he was headed toward 100 tackles, a bunch of big plays and a spot on the All-Conference USA team.

111. Southern Miss
Relative Strengths: Running Back, Secondary
Relative Concerns: Defensive Line, Quarterback

Offense: Southern Miss is starting from scratch … again. The Golden Eagles are learning a new system for a second straight year. With head coach Todd Monken and coordinator Marcus Arroyo on campus, USM promises to be inventive and aggressive in its offensive approach. Monken, in particular, is an innovator who likes to attack, a philosophy on display most recently at Oklahoma State. Of course, he’ll face a totally different challenge in Hattiesburg than he did in Stillwater. The Eagles sported one of the country’s worst offenses of 2012, averaging just 19.6 points per game, and not a single All-Conference USA player returns. Faint hope comes from the signing of Cal transfer QB Allan Bridgford, the presence of veteran skill players, such as RB Kendrick Hardy and WR Dominique Sullivan, and … Monken. The administration has put its faith in a young and energetic head man who’ll have a world of teaching and preaching that needs to be done throughout the balance of 2013.

Defense: Southern Miss was bad everywhere a year ago, but it was the defense that really left the locals shaking their heads. The Golden Eagles, tabbed the Nasty Bunch during good times, were a different kind of nasty last fall. The upcoming season marks the return of coordinator David Duggan, who coached in Hattiesburg from 2008-2011, and recruited some of the personnel still on the roster. As the co-defensive coordinator two years ago, his attacking unit set an NCAA record for most pick-sixes in a season. Duggan will have to break some bad habits the players picked up from the last staff, but the talent is not as shabby as the prior year’s numbers indicate. There will be veterans at each level of the D to help usher in a new attitude and a return to the standards to which this program is accustomed. While true star power comes at a premium now that Bandit Jamie Collins is a New England Patriot, USM houses a stable foundation of defenders.

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