2008 Preseason Rankings - No. 100 to 109
Buffalo RB James Starks
Buffalo RB James Starks
Posted Aug 6, 2008

Preview 2008 CFN Preseason Rankings No. 100 to 109. ... Near the Bottom

Preview 2008 Preseason Rankings

Near the Bottom - No. 100 to No. 109

These teams should struggle to make much noise

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.

CFN 2008 Preseason Rankings
1 to 10 | 11 to 20 | 21 to 29 | 30 to 39 | 40 to 49 | 50 to 59
60 to 69 | 70 to 79 | 80 to 89 | 90 to 99 | 100 to 109 | 110 to 119

100. Marshall  
- 2008 Marshall Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: Mark Cann. Although it feels like a few decades, it’s only been a few years since Byron Leftwich left Marshall, leaving a giant void behind center. The Herd has been pining for its next big-time quarterback, a role Cann is hoping to fill. Just a redshirt freshman, he took a lead in the spring to replace Bernard Skinner, an underachiever for much of his career. He’s got a big arm and a firm grasp of a new up-tempo offense that could help transform him into a monster producer.
What to watch for on defense: A greater reliance on the 3-4. New coordinator Rick Minter wants to get as many of the program’s big, fast linebackers on the field at the same time, and a shift in alignment is one way to get it done. Plus, most of the Herd’s defensive ends, such as Albert McClellan, Ian Hoskins, and John Jacobs, are built like outside linebackers anyway. If Minter can get his 11 best athletes on the field at the same time, he believes more pressure and big plays will be the result.

Relative Strengths: Wide Receiver, Running Back
Relative Weaknesses:
Secondary, Quarterback

New Mexico State   
- 2008 New Mexico State Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: Chase Holbrook to go ballistic. As if he didn't put up big enough numbers so far, with a loaded receiving corps, two years of experience at NMSU, and the expectations to come out winging it, he might have a realistic shot at a 5,000-yard, 40 touchdown season. Oh sure, there will be talk about a little more running game here and there. Whatever.
What to watch for on defense: A lot more pressure. The overall results might not be that much better, but coordinator Joe Lee Dunn will make sure someone in the backfield is getting hit. Of course, the plan last year was to sell out more and get to the quarterback on a regular basis, and that didn't happen, but Dunn's scheme will come up with the pressure needed to help out a beleaguered secondary.

Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Receiver
Relative Weaknesses:
Running Back, Linebacker

102. Akron

- 2008 Akron Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: The running game. Ineffective for long stretches last year, Dennis Kennedy appears to have regained his 2006 form, Alex Allen is a dangerous speedster, and Andrew Johnson could be a find. Most importantly, the line, with four starters returning, should be far better and should create the necessary holes on a more regular basis.
What to watch for on defense: The middle. The 3-3-5 is solid up the gut with Bain showing the potential to be dominant this spring, Kevin Grant one of the MAC's best middle linebackers, and Bryan Williams appearing to be a natural at strong safety. Now the outside defenders have to work around the middle men and flourish.

Relative Strengths: Running Back, Offensive Line
Relative Weaknesses:
Quarterback, Defensive Line

- 2008 Tulane | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: Toledo is an inventive coach who craves an entertaining and unpredictable offense that keeps the opposition guessing. To get to that point, however, he needs a triggerman that can consistently make things happen. Enter sophomore Kevin Moore, a young gun who made some plays at the end of last season and pulled ahead in April’s quarterback derby. If he’s truly ready for a promotion, the Green Wave has enough talent around him to make the coach’s vision for the offense begin coming into focus.
What to watch for on defense: New coordinator O’Neill Gilbert has a number of objectives in his first season, none more pressing than tightening up a pass defense that was overmatched throughout 2007. He’ll have his hands full, inheriting a secondary that lacks size and a true lockdown corner.  The linebackers, however, are prepared to do their part to help out, as former safety David Skehan has been moved to strongside, and weakside favorite Travis Burks has prior experience in the secondary as well. 

Relative Strengths: Wide Receiver, Linebacker
Relative Weaknesses:
Secondary, Special Teams

104. UTEP

- 2008 UTEP Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: Who else is going to step up at wide receiver? The pitch-and-catch combo of Trevor Vittatoe to Jeff Moturi is already the best in Conference USA, but even it will sputter if someone doesn’t adequately replace Lorne Sam, Joe West, and Fred Rouse. The Miners are loaded with good athletes at wide receiver, but not one that caught more than five passes a year ago. The onus falls on unknowns, such as Tufick Shadrawy, Kris Adams, and Pierce Hunter, to make opponents pay for tilting the defense in Moturi’s direction.     
What to watch for on defense
: Osia Lewis’ new 3-3-5 scheme. Playing to its strength, UTEP is taking a lineman off the field and replacing him with a miner, or a hybrid of a safety and a linebacker. The Miners just don’t attract enough stoppers up front to go with a traditional set, opting instead for a smaller, faster D that’ll look to bring pressure from every angle imaginable. Considering how putrid the defense was a year, allowing 37 points a game, what’s the harm in trying something new?     

Relative Strengths: Wide Receiver, Quarterback
Relative Weaknesses:
Defensive Line, Secondary

105. Arkansas State   

- 2008 Arkansas State Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: The line. Left tackle Matt Mandich is one of the best linemen in the Sun Belt, but he's it for experience on the offensive front. There's promise among the four new starters, and some JUCO help, but there's no sure thing to give Mandich any help. Considering ASU was 110th in the nation in sacks allowed, a little change might not be a bad thing.
What to watch for on defense: The secondary. All four starters are gone off of the nation's 19th best pass defense, and while there's good experience returning with some of last year's backups ready to shine, it'll be up to JUCO superstar Corderious Mingo, and a few other new recruits, to pick up the slack.

Relative Strengths: Running Back, Quarterback
Relative Weaknesses:
Offensive Line, Defensive Line

106. Idaho

- 2008 Idaho Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: The running game. It wasn't bad last year, thanks to Deonte Jackson, but it should be even better with redshirt freshmen Princeton McCarty and Corey White ready to add even more dash, and with a veteran, good line to pave the way. With a shaky passing game needing to improve, the offense will rely on the ground attack early and often.
What to watch for on defense: The safeties. Shiloh Keo has been one of the WAC's best strong safeties over the last two seasons, and now he's joined by Virdell Larkins, a JUCO transfer who originally signed with Cal. The two are great athletes who'll make up for the mistakes made by the corners.

Relative Strengths: Running Back, Offensive Line
Relative Weaknesses:
Linebacker, Defensive Line

107. Rice   

- 2008 Rice Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: A run-pass mix that looks an awful lot like last season. While the Owls’ desire for more balance sounds good in theory, it won’t be possible unless the running game makes a quantum leap and the defense makes a stop once in a while. Keeping defenses honest is an admirable quest, but if Rice is constantly trying to erase huge deficits, it’ll be bombs away once again for Chase Clement & Co.        
What to watch for on defense
: More pressure the old fashioned way. Rice would like to use jail breaks to get after the passer, but too many blitzes will leave an already horrible secondary naked. Instead, the Owls will pin their hopes on a group of sophomore defensive ends to get penetration without having to move linebackers or safeties too far from their comfort zones. Leading the way will be Scott Solomon, who had a smashing debut and looked even more disruptive in the spring.

Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Wide Receiver
Relative Weaknesses:
Special Teams, Defensive Line

108. Buffalo  
2008 Buffalo Preview | Offense | Defense  | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: Excellent balance. With all the returning starters, and a veteran ring-leader in senior QB Drew Willy to spread the ball around, all that's needed is a little bit of time for him to work. The decent line should provide that, while the skill trio of RB James Starks and receivers Naaman Roosevelt and Ernest Jackson should be more explosive.
What to watch for on defense: Position movement, and lots of it. The linebacking corps will be a major work in progress with at least two freshmen likely to start. The defense is built on speed and quickness over size, but the problem is there isn't nearly enough size with the safeties as big, or bigger, than some of the linebackers. There will be plenty of moves all over the place to try to get the best players on the field, and several recruits will get their chance to play right away.

Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Secondary
Relative Weaknesses:
Linebacker, Wide Receiver

UL Monroe   
- 2008 UL Monroe Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: A decent balance. It'll be up to Frank Goodin to take over for heart-and-soul running back Calvin Dawson, and he has the quickness and the talent to explode behind a big, decent line. he receiving corps might be among the Sun Belt's most talented with Darrell McNeal and LaGregory Sapp a dangerous wideout tandem and tight end Zeek Zacharie a good NFL prospect. The offense was one of the worst in the Sun Belt last year, but it won't be again. 
What to watch for on defense: The league's best run defense could be even better. Everyone was able to throw on the ULM secondary, so the stats are a bit skewed, but the Warhawk run D really was good. Tackles Alex Ford and Brandon McCray will bottle up everything inside, while linebacker Cardia Jackson is a machine. The safeties can hit.

Relative Strengths: Running Back, Offensive Line
Relative Weaknesses:
Defensive Back, Defensive Line

CFN 2008 Preseason Rankings
1 to 10 | 11 to 20 | 21 to 29 | 30 to 39 | 40 to 49 | 50 to 59
60 to 69 | 70 to 79 | 80 to 89 | 90 to 99 | 100 to 109 | 110 to 119