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2008 Preseason Rankings - No. 70 to 79
Stanford DE Pannel Egboh
Stanford DE Pannel Egboh
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 6, 2008


Preview 2008 CFN Preseason Rankings No. 70 to 79 ... Dangerous Sleepers

Preview 2008 Preseason Rankings

Dangerous Sleepers - No. 70 to No. 79

Despite the low ranking, a bowl bid is the expected goal

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

70. Baylor 
- 2008 Baylor Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to look for on offense: A quarterback battle that might not ever really be settled. It's a four-man race for the starting gig with the final decision to determine the team's philosophy. If it wants to win right now, Miami transfer Kirby Freeman or junior Blake Szymanski, who was the main man last year, will get the nod. Neither one will scare anybody and they're not going to be around if and when the program gets to the point of being good. True freshman Robert Griffin is young and needs a ton of seasoning, but he's also the Big 12's fastest quarterback and he could be the face of the program for the next four years.  
What to look for on defense: The defense to be better in a 4-3. The 4-2-5 alignment of last year did nothing to play up to the scheme. The extra defensive back didn't help the pass defense, and the athleticism in the back seven didn't make the run defense any better. While the third linebacker is really going to be a safety who'll change his position name, the coaching staff is trying to make the defense more physical and force more big plays
.
Relative Strengths: Offensive Line, Defensive Line
Relative Weaknesses:
Special Teams, Running Back

71. Tulsa 
- 2008 Tulsa Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: A star will be born as soon as the staff decides on its next starting quarterback. The offense under Gus Malzahn is that prolific. The early edge goes to David Johnson, who backed up Smith for three seasons and spent a year in the system.  However, he’s no lock to win the job, and will get challenged by Clark Harrell and Jacob Bower, a coveted JUCO recruit. The transition to a new starter will be made easier by the presence of a veteran line and 1,000-yard receivers Brennan Marion, Trae Johnson, and Charles Clay. As if the Hurricane needs more weapons, the program’s leading rushers from the last two years are also back. Tarrion Adams ran for 1,225 yards and caught 30 passes after starter Courtney Tennial was lost with a season-ending Achilles injury.         
What to watch for on defense: Even more than the need to develop a quarterback, Tulsa has to remake a defense that allowed more than 40 points to six opponents, and graduated its best defenders. The linebackers, the backbone of the D, have been robbed of three all-league players, and the secondary needs a refresher course on how to stop the pass. The Hurricane is banking on holdovers Mike Bryan and Tanner Antle, and junior college transfer Kaipo Sarkissian to fill the voids at linebacker on a defense that’s putting out APBs for consistent stoppers. For a pick-me-up, the coaches will point to all-conference end Moton Hopkins, who led the linemen in tackles, tackles for loss, and sacks a year ago. 

Relative Strengths: Wide Receiver, Running Back
Relative Weaknesses:
Special Teams, Defense

72. Central Michigan 
- 2008 Central Michigan Orevuew | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart 
What to watch for on offense: A little less running from QB Dan LeFevour. Several offensive stars, like RB Ontario Sneed, RB Justin Hoskins and WR Bryan Anderson, were out this spring healing up. While the attack needs all of them to run at peak efficiency, the one guy it can't be without is LeFevour. While the junior might put up Tebow-like numbers, he's not the bruiser like the Heisman winner. At 6-3 and 226 pounds, LeFevour is hardly a lightweight, but with excellent backs to carry the ground game, there should be a few less carries for the star of the show.
What to watch for on defense: The pass defense. It has stunk for the last two seasons and CMU still won MAC titles. The coaching staff is trying to patch up the leaks with excellent tackling corner Chaz West, who hits like a linebacker but also covers like one, moving to strong safety where he should blossom into an All-MAC star. It's not like there isn't talent in the secondary, Josh Gordy is a good corner, there just needs to be a bit more production.

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

73. Miami University 
- 2008 Miami Univ. Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch on offense … The quarterback situation. Daniel Raudabaugh is a veteran who was supposed to have the total command of the attack. With an improved line, a good receiving corps, and a nice back in Thomas Merriweather around him, Raudabaugh needed to have a big spring, and didn't. The door is now open for redshirt freshman Clay Belton to step up and take the gig away. Can the coaching staff live through the young mistakes from Belton to get to the future upside? If Raudabaugh remains inconsistent, then yeah.
What to watch on defense … The health of the linebacking corps. The Clayton Mullins-Joey Hudson-Caleb Bostic triumvirate might be special, but the defense could fall flat if they're not 100%. Bostic has a foot issue, Hudson's knee is a problem, and Mullins is banged up. The backups aren't bad, but there's a huge drop-off from the ones to the twos.

Relative Strengths: Linebacker, Wide Receiver
Relative Weaknesses:
Offensive Line, Running Back

74. Nevada
- 2008 Nevada Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: The running game. While the main storyline is the quarterback situation, the running game will control the offense with 1,420-yard back Luke Lippincott running behind a dominant line. If Colin Kaepernick, who ran for 593 yards, is under center, the Wolf Pack running game will be the best in the WAC again.
What to watch for on defense: The 4-3. The 3-4 didn't work out as well as expected with way too much inconsistency when it came to getting into the backfield. New defensive coordinator Nigel Burton's goal is to help out the suspect secondary by getting the quarterbacks hit early and often. If you can't stop the pass, you're in trouble in WAC play. Nevada, compared to other league teams, wasn't bad, but 241 yards per game are still too many.

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

75. Stanford  
- 2008 Stanford Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: More from the running game. While the quarterback situation will be the biggest issue early on, the Cardinal should be able to run the ball better than it has in years with several good options working behind a veteran line. Helping the cause will be mobility at quarterback which should mean far more than 111 yards per game.  
What to watch for on defense: A killer pass rush. One of the biggest surprises last year was Stanford’s ability to get into the backfield. The overall defense might not have put up the best stats, but the Cardinal finished 11th in the nation in sacks and fifth in tackles for loss as the coaching staff successfully manufactured ways to disrupt things. Now there should be just as much havoc wreaked and just as much work to get to the quarterback. Only now there should be better overall results.

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

76. Hawaii  
- 2008 Hawai
i Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart 
What to watch for on offense: A bit less from the shotgun. The offense isn't going to change up from the formula that's worked so well over the last several years, but depending on who the starting quarterback will be, there might be less shotgun, a few more running plays, and moments now and then when the attack looks just like everyone else. The leading quarterback option going into fall, Inoke Funake, was far better under center, so if he's the man, there could be even less shotgun.
What to watch for on defense: The new corners. It's not like former corners Garard Lewis and Myron Newberry were bad, on the contrary. They were two tough defenders on the outside who combined for 104 tackles, six interceptions and 14 broken up passes with Newberry earning first-team All-WAC honors. However, those two weren't as talented as seniors Ryan Mouton and Jameel Dowling, who each have NFL potential. Dowling, a former Oregon Duck, has 6-3, 205-pound size and excellent speed, while Mouton has warp wheels but hasn't been able to show them off as much as he'd like. Banged up last year, Mouton could be a superstar, lock-down defender.

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

77. UCF
- 2008 UCF Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: Considering the gaping hole that exists in the running game, the Knights are going to need more production from a passing attack that was last in the league and 105th nationally a season ago. The battle to replace Kyle Israel at quarterback will focus on Joe Weatherford, brother of Florida State’s Drew Weatherford, and Michael Greco, a 220-pound dual threat southpaw that conjures up images of Tim Tebow-lite. 
What to watch for on offense: In light of the problems on the other side of the ball, the defense may have to carry the offense in the early stages of the season.  The secondary, in particular, is flush with senior talent, led by all-leaguers Joe Burnett and Sha’Reff Rashad.  It was those two ball hawks, along with Jason Venson and Johnell Neal that helped UCF lead the conference with two dozen picks a year ago. 

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

78. Wyoming 
- 2008 Wyoming Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: More of a reliance on the ground game. Devin Moore and Wynel Seldon form a talented, veteran running back tandem that deserves decent blocking for the first time. Moore is the speedster, and a strong kickoff returner, while Seldon is a banger. These two have to be the offense until more production and more consistency comes from the passing attack.
What to watch for on defense: John Fletcher and Mitch Unrein. Fletcher is 280 pounds and Unrein is 270, and together the two will wreak havoc on opposing backfields. The ideal linemen for the 3-4, these two should be unstoppable for stretches and could be the breakout names in the Mountain West season. They'll be strong against the run and could combine for 20 sacks.

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

79. Houston 

- 2008 Houston Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: Passes. Lots of them. New coordinator Dana Holgorsen is a disciple of Texas Tech’s Mike Leach, the architect of one of the most successful passing games in college football history. While there’ll be differences between the two offenses, the goal will essentially be the same—spread the field with four receivers and quickly distribute the ball with safe passes that move the chains. Unless the new pass catchers are slow getting up to speed, Holgorsen’s system is going to make a statistical star out of Case Keenum or Blake Joseph.    
What to watch for on defense
: Development of the secondary. The fact that Houston led Conference USA in pass defense is a giant tease. Sure, no one allowed fewer yards per game, but the Cougars also yielded twice as many touchdown passes as their number of interceptions. With four starters returning, including all-star FS Kenneth Fontenette, there’s no good reason why Houston shouldn’t begin turning the corner and limiting the number of big plays allowed.       

Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Offensive Line
Relative Weaknesses:
Linebacker,
Special Teams

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