2007 Preseason Rankings - No. 21 to 29

Posted Aug 3, 2007

Preview 2007 CFN Preseason Rankings No. 21 to 29 ... Conference Contenders

2007 Preseason Rankings

Possible Conference Contenders - No. 21 to No. 29

Dangerous players in the conference races

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 might indicate. Going into the year, these are how good the teams appear to be from No. 1 through 119.

21. Texas A&M 
- Texas A&M | Offense Preview | Defense | Depth Chart
The ranking is too low because ... the running game will be unstoppable. From the thunder of Jorvorskie Lane to the lightning of Mike Goodson, to the mobility of QB Stephen McGee, to a line filled with potential all stars, it'll be a shock if the Aggies don't finish in the nation's top ten in rushing. McGee can also throw, and while he won't be a 300-yard passing machine, he'll be efficient. Red Bryant is an All-America level defensive tackle to anchor the run defense around.
The ranking is too high because ... the defensive back seven is merely average. It's far better than it was a few years ago, but it's not nearly as good as several others in the conference. Overall, the defense has to show it's over getting blasted by Cal in the Holiday Bowl, but that game might be more indicative of what this year's group will be than the great performance against Texas. Outside of tight end Martellus Bennett and Joey Thomas, the pass catchers are nothing special.
Relative Strengths: Running Back, Offensive Line
Relative Weaknesses:
Linebacker, Wide Receiver

22. Florida State
- Florida State | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
The ranking is too low because ... Jimbo Fisher is the new offensive coordinator. All of a sudden, Florida State fans will see that running the ball isn't some myth talked about by other teams. Antone Smith is a phenomenal talent who should flourish behind a line that'll play better than its talent, thanks to the addition of former West Virginia line coach Rick Trickett. Receivers Greg Carr and DeCody Fagg will make big play after big play with Fisher wanting to bomb away deep.
The ranking is too high because ... the quarterback might not be there to consistently get the ball where it needs to be. After all the promise Drew Weatherford showed as a freshman, he regressed enough last year to allow Xavier Lee to be in the hunt, but neither one has made anyone forget about Charlie Ward or Chris Weinke. The linebacking corps is undersized and lacking depth, while a second end has to emerge on the other side of Everette Brown.
Relative Strengths: Secondary, Wide Receiver
Relative Weaknesses:
Offensive Line, Quarterback

23. Nebraska
- Nebraska | Offense Preview | Defense | Depth Chart 
The ranking is too low because ... Zac Taylor was good, Sam Keller is better. The Huskers were able to get to the Big 12 championship with a good passer in Taylor, but Keller is an NFL caliber bomber with all the skills to make the offense shine exactly like it's supposed to for the first time since the old school offense was blown up. While it might not be saying much, the receiving corps could be the best in school history. The linebacking corps should be outstanding, while the secondary will be far better than it's been over the past few seasons, even if it'll have its problems from time to time.
The ranking is too high because ... Keller isn't Taylor. Taylor had an even keel and a knack for making plays when he had to. Keller is still relatively unproven and needs to show he can get the job done for a full season. Also needing to prove himself is RB Marlon Lucky, an elite talent who hasn't lived up to his billing. The offensive line will be merely average unless the tackles are great out of the gate.
Relative Strengths: Linebacker, Wide Receiver
Relative Weaknesses:
e Line, Secondary

24. West Virginia 
- West Virginia | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
The ranking is too low because ... if Pat White and Steve Slaton are Pat White and Steve Slaton for an entire, injury-free year, the Mountaineers could be playing in New Orleans in early January. Slaton is bigger and stronger this year to be able to handle more of a pounding, while White has top target Darius Reynaud back to add a bit of pop to the passing game. The secondary should be able to handle most passing games if everyone plays up to their talent level.
The ranking is too high because ... the offensive line, while potentially good, has to rebuild. White and Slaton can make plays on their own, but if the front five isn't as productive as last year, there's a ceiling on what the team can do. Losing players is one thing, but the departure of line coach Rick Trickett really stings. The defense, at best, is pedestrian with little pass rush to count on and not enough veteran talent on the front six. Outside of Reynaud, there aren't any other receivers to speak of.
Relative Strengths: Running Back, Quarterback
Relative Weaknesses:
Wide Receiver, Linebacker

25. Tennessee
- Tennessee Preview
| Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
The ranking is too low because ... the Tennessee-like athleticism is still there. Just by showing up, this team can run past almost anyone in America. The defense has a slew of high school All-Americans with all the measureables, while the offense has enough speed at receiver to make up for the inexperience. The backfield should be great, with QB Erik Ainge almost certain to make the new receivers look good, and the trio of Arian Foster, LaMarcus Coker and Montario Hardesty could give the Vols the best ground game they've had in years.
The ranking is too high because ... everyone looks the part, but can they play like it? The defense has plenty of filling in to do around LB Jerod Mayo and FS Jonathan Hefney, and by the time it happens, the Vols could be in a deep, deep hole after playing at California, Southern Miss and at Florida to start the season. The offense loses its top three receivers and the two best players up front.
Relative Strengths: Linebacker, Running Back
Relative Weaknesses:
Wide Receiver, Secondary

26. TCU 
- TCU Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
The ranking is too low because ... the defense, with nine returning starters, is the absolute, 100% real deal. Don't dismiss the Horned Frogs, especially the D line, because they're in the Mountain West; they can play with anyone this year. Ends Tommy Blake and Chase Ortiz will be NFL starters in the very near future, the safeties are terrific, and the corners have all-star potential. Aaron Brown is a top-shelf running back who'll tear off yards in chunks behind a great line.
The ranking is too high because ... the passing game won't be up to BCS snuff. The receiving corps isn't awful, but it won't make QB Marcus Jackson shine. Jackson will eventually be a good one, and more than adequate to win a Mountain West title with, but if TCU wants to dream big, and it has any hopes of beating Texas early on, the quarterback play has to be stellar at times. To nitpick, the defense is missing raw bulk on the inside.
Relative Strengths: Defensive Line, Linebacker
Relative Weaknesses:
Wide Receiver, Quarterback

27. Boston College
- Boston College | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
The ranking is too low because ... of Matt Ryan. Because he has the same body type and because he plays in Boston, the comparisons to Tom Brady are going to come, and while Ryan isn't the nearly the talent the Patriot star is, he's the same type of player at the collegiate level. He'll make a decent receiving corps look great, while the veteran rushing tandem of L.V. Whitworth and Andre Callender will be good in the new zone blocking scheme. The defensive front seven should be dominant thanks to a deep and talented linebacking corps and a pair of NFL tackles in B.J. Raji and Ron Brace.
The ranking is too high because ... there are a just enough problems to potentially keep BC from being an elite team. The offensive line, while good, isn't quite right for the new offense that puts a premium on athleticism. The secondary has two All-ACC caliber stars in FS Jamie Silva and CB DeJuan Tribble, but there isn't a second corner to rely on and strong safety is a question mark. Of course, the big concern is the loss of head coach Tom O'Brien, who made BC into a consistent player. Jeff Jagodzinski has to prove he can handle leading an ACC title caliber team.
Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Linebacker
Relative Weaknesses: Wide Receiver, Secondary

28. Auburn
- Auburn Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
The ranking is too low because ... the defense has the potential to be dominant. The return of star pass rusher Quentin Groves makes the line dangerous, while the linebacking corps, as always for the Tigers, is lightning quick. QB Brandon Cox appears ready to make the jump from caretaker to playmaker, while the running backs are extremely talented and should be able to carry the attack from time to time. Unfortunately ...
The ranking is too high because ... the offensive line only returns one starter. The secondary is going to need a while to jell, while the linebacking corps, while talented, will need to be ready from the word go against Kansas State and South Florida in the first two games. Rodgeriqus Smith is a nice receiver, but he's nothing special and there isn't much in the way of proven talent to help him out. Basically, going into the year, this is a good Auburn team, but it'll take a while before it could an elite one.
Relative Strengths:
Running Back, Defensive Line
Relative Weaknesses:
Wide Receiver, Special Teams

29. Maryland
- Maryland | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
The ranking is too low because ... everything is in place for an ACC championship season, at least on offense. The line is experienced and talented, the receiving corps is big and next-level fast, and Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore can each run well. As long there's steady quarterback play, all should be fine. Defensively, the front seven should be good enough to win with. However ...
The ranking is too high because ... the secondary could be the downfall against the better passing teams. The quarterback play doesn't have to be spectacular, but it has to be steady, and that's not a given. A pass rush has to magically emerge, and the D can't always rely on coming up with the big play in the clutch. It has to be far more consistent. Offensively, everyone has to play up to their potential, and that hasn't happened for a while around the program.
Relative Strengths: Running Back, Wide Receiver
Relative Weaknesses:
Quarterback, Secondary


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