Spring ball has already begun with North Texas kicking off its
off-season sessions on February 13th and with Texas, Auburn and UCLA
starting soon. Here are twenty questions heading into this important time
to keep you going during this brutally painful time before March
Spring Questions 14-20
Spring Questions 7-13 |
Spring Questions 1-3
6. The unknown
players you'll know about by the end of 2006 are ...
10. Keynovis Bouie, LB FIU
While he's a safety-sized 217 pounds, Bouie is a fierce tackler
with great speed to the ball. In only nine games last year he made
118 tackles with 18 stops against MTSU, 18 against Troy and 19
against UL Monroe. He also made 14 against Kansas State.
9. Chase Daniel, QB Missouri
You don't replace Brad Smith, but Daniel is a solid all-around
quarterback who shouldn't have a problem keeping the Tiger offense
going. He completed 38 of 66 passes last year for 347 yards and a
touchdown with two interceptions, and he ran for 58 yards and a
8. Amir Pinnix, RB Minnesota ...
... or Gary Russell. With Laurence Maroney bolting early for the
NFL, the plum job of being the featured ball-carrier for Minnesota
was supposed to go to Russell after rushing for 1,130 yards and 18
touchdowns. But the potential junior had problems with his
eligibility and withdrew for school. He can reenroll in the fall
once his grades get back up, but in the meantime, it'll be up to the
quicker Pinnix to be the main man until someone else emerges. The
junior-to-be ran for 467 yards and a touchdown last year with a
206-yard day against Michigan State.
7. Rafael Little, RB Kentucky
The SEC's best all-purpose back in 2005 was Auburn's Kenny
Irons, right? Nope. Darren McFadden of Arkansas? How about Alabama's
Ken Darby or Mississippi State's Jerious Norwood? Not even close.
Kentucky's Rafael Little ran for 1,045 yards, caught 449 yards worth
of passes, returned 355 yards worth of punts and 133 yards of
kickoffs. He had 124 rushing yards, 122 receiving yards and four
touchdowns against Auburn and tore off 198 yards and three scores,
along with 86 receiving yards, against Vanderbilt.
6. Micah Andrews, RB Wake Forest
Chris Barclay ran for over 4,000 yards with 40 touchdowns in his
Wake Forest career, but Andrews will step in and be just as
productive. Andrew ripped off 254 yards in the opener against
Vanderbilt and 142 against East Carolina, but was used sparingly the
rest of the way. He'll be one of the ACC's leading rushers.
5. Allan Evridge, QB Kansas State
Thrown to the wolves midway through his freshman year, Evridge
was sensational at times highlighted by a 357-yard, three touchdown
passing day against Texas A&M. He showed off his running skills with
a 138-yard, two touchdown day in the 27-25 loss to Nebraska. He'll
be the main focus of the Ron Prince offense early on.
4. Josh Williams, LB Arkansas State
It's not a stretch to say the nation's best linebacker might be
in the Sun Belt. Williams was a terror as a freshman with 110
tackles, but was booted off the team last summer. He's being allowed
to walk on and appears ready to take full advantage of the second
chance. Word is he's working out like a madman and will be even
3. Graham Harrell, QB Texas Tech
If you're the starting quarterback for Texas Tech, you'll put up
huge numbers. Harrell was just this close to being the
starter in 2005, but he broke his leg in summer practice. Now he's
expected to be the triggerman for the attack for the next few years,
or at least until top recruit Taylor Potts is ready.
2. Steve Levy, QB California
... or Nate Longshore or Joe Ayoob or Kyle Reed. Longshore was the 2005
opening day starter until he broke his leg. Ayoob was way too
inconsistent after taking over the job, and Levy stepped in and was
fantastic over the final three games completing 30 of 45 passes for 387
yards and three touchdowns and an interception in wins over Stanford and
BYU along with mop-up time against USC.
1. Chauncey Washington & Desmond Reed, RB USC
Don't shed any tears for USC over the loss of Reggie Bush and
LenDale White. Washington has first round talent, but he has to keep the
academic side of things straightened out. Reed is a poor man's Bush, but
he has to get healthy. If those two don't work out, incoming freshmen
C.J. Gable and Staphon Johnson will keep the ground game going.
5. The pain in the butt in each
conference race will be ...
ACC - North Carolina
If the quarterback situation stabilizes early on and there's a home
upset or two over Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, John Bunting's crew
has the talent to be a thorn in the side of the Coastal Division powers.
Big East - Connecticut
Call 2005 a transition season with an injury to starting QB Matt
Bonislawski and preseason problems with the defense keeping the Huskies
from getting back to a bowl. That'll change this year as they could ruin
West Virginia's dream season in Storrs on October 20th in a nationally
Big Ten - Purdue
All together now ... there's no Ohio State or Michigan on the schedule.
Again. The Big Ten road games are at Iowa, Northwestern, Michigan State
and Illinois. Winning three of four is very doable, while winning all
three tough Big Ten home games against Minnesota, Wisconsin and Penn
State is possible.
Big 12 - Oklahoma State
Mike Gundy's program is at least a year away from being a player in the
Big 12 South, and more likely two or three after his fantastic 2006
recruiting class has time to mature. Even so, his Cowboys showed some
heart last year beating Texas Tech and scaring Texas for a half. Texas
A&M, Nebraska and Oklahoma have to go to Stillwater.
Conference USA - East Carolina
If Skip Holtz's team could've just played a little bit of defense, it
would've finished with a winning season. The offense should be one of
the best in Conference USA making up for more defensive deficiencies.
It'll all come down to a three week span against East favorites Southern
Miss, UCF and Marshall.
MAC - Ball State
The Cardinals weren't all that bad last year once they got through with
their suspensions. QB Joey Lynch might be the MAC's best quarterback
good enough make BSU a deep sleeper in the West.
Mountain West - San Diego State
For the 19th straight year, San Diego State is supposed to turn a
corner. That might actually happen in Chuck Long's first year at the
helm as he gets to take advantage of some great recruiting classes from
the past regime and star RB Lynell Hamilton.
Pac 10 - Stanford
Walt Harris had his down moments in his first season on The Farm
highlighted by a loss to UC Davis, but there were good battles in losses
to UCLA and Notre Dame along with wins over Washington State, Arizona
State and Oregon State. Everyone in the Pac 10 will be taking the
Cardinal lightly, but the Harris offense is good enough to pull off a
SEC - Arkansas
With an opening day game against USC and SEC home dates against Alabama,
Tennessee and LSU, Houston Nutt's club should make plenty of noise in
the West. The SEC road slate isn't horrible thanks to trips to
Vanderbilt and Mississippi State.
Sun Belt - FIU
The Golden Panthers won four of their final five games in 2005 and
should be even better this year. Defending Sun Belt champion Arkansas
State has to come to Miami, as does UL Monroe and UL Lafayette. FIU's
final four games, all against Sun Belt teams, are at home.
WAC - San Jose State
Don't expect miracles in Dick Tomey's second season, but the Spartans
should be even more competitive than last year when they finished the
season with a two game winning streak. 5-5 speedster Yonus Davis is a
nice running back to build around.
are some of the already known players who'll go nuclear in 2006?
Rhett Bomar, QB Oklahoma
Dogged after struggling early and without Adrian Peterson to count
on over a stretch, Bomar got better as the year went on against a nasty
schedule. He's a superior all-around talent who should grow into his
prep hype this year.
John David Booty, QB USC
Or Mark Sanchez, but more on that in a moment. It was Booty as a
17-year-old true freshman who was supposed to take over for Carson
Palmer, and then Matt Leinart turned into a legend. Booty has first
round NFL skills along with the nation's best receiving corps to throw
Alley Broussard, RB LSU
The star of the LSU backfield late in the 2004 season, Broussard
missed all of last year with a knee injury. He won't be back at 100% for
spring ball, but he should be the focal point of the tremendous Tiger
offense by opening day.
Colt Brennan, QB Hawaii and Davone Bess, WR Hawaii
When it comes to Brennan, think Timmy Chang with talent. He threw
for 4,301 yards and 35 touchdowns in his first year, along with showing
off some good mobility, and now he has a more experienced receiving
corps to work with. Head coach June Jones has said Bess, a true
sophomore going into this year, is the best receiver he has ever been
around. Bess caught 89 passes for 1,124 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Jamaal Charles, RB Texas
Overshadowed by Vince Young, Charles should be the star of the
nation's top team after a 878-yard, 13 total touchdown season. While all
the other great Longhorn backs could dip into the numbers, 1,500 yards
and 15 touchdowns won't be out of reach.
Calvin Johnson, WR Georgia Tech
He'll be a top 15 pick in 2007. Johnson finally started to use his
size and strength last year catching 54 passes for 888 yards and six
touchdowns, and now he should make a huge jump in overall production
with QB Reggie Ball experienced enough to be more accurate.
Sam Keller or Rudy Carpenter, QB Arizona State
Until he got hurt, it could've been argued that Keller was the Pac
10's best quarterback throwing for 2,165 yards and 20 touchdowns, along
with nine interceptions, in just over seven games. Carpenter came in and
finished as the nation's most efficient passer throwing for 2,273 yards
with 17 touchdowns and only two interceptions while completing 68% of
his passes. If one of the quarterbacks plays the entire year, 4,500
yards and 40 touchdown passes are possible.
Marshawn Lynch, RB California
Dinged up for most of the year, Lynch still finished with 1,246
yards and ten touchdowns capped off by a 194-yard, three score day
against BYU. Justin Forsett will certainly be a factor in the Cal ground
game, but Lynch might pull a J.J. Arrington and could hit 2,000 yards if
he can stay healthy.
Sidney Rice, WR South Carolina
Rice became unstoppable with six 100-yard days in the final seven
games highlighted by a 12-catch, 191-yard, one touchdown day against
Missouri. QB Blake Mitchell will have a year of experience under his
belt and will be even better at getting his star target the ball.
Zac Taylor, QB Nebraska
The light bulb went on as last year went on, and now Taylor should
blossom in his second year as the starter. He has good receivers to work
with like Nate Swift and Terrence Nunn, so a 3,000-yard, 25 touchdown
season has to be expected.
Drew Weatherford, QB Florida State
Did anyone else realize that Weatherford was hung out to dry as a
freshman? With no running game, a depleted offensive line and lousy
play-calling from the coaching staff, Weatherford still led the Noles to
the ACC title throwing for 3,208 yards and 18 touchdowns. If he can cut
down on his 18 interceptions, and develop more of a rapport with top
target Greg Carr, Weatherford should be in the hunt for ACC Player of
the Year honors.