2008 Preseason Rankings - No. 50 to 59
Miami RB Javarris James
Miami RB Javarris James
Posted Aug 6, 2008

Preview 2008 CFN Preseason Rankings No. 50 to 59 ... Should Go Bowling

Preview 2008 Preseason Rankings

Shooting for a Bowl - No. 50 to No. 59

Some lower-level BCS conference teams and top mid-majors

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

50. North Carolina
- 2008 North Carolina Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: Running back Greg Little. The former receiver took over the ground game late last year showing good quickness and surprising power for a wiry 6-3, 210-pound runner. Athletic enough to be a walk-on for the basketball team, he has a little bit of everything for the offense. After a great spring, he’s the main man the running game will revolve around from the start. He earned the job.  
What to watch for on defense: The tackles. While the loss of first round draft pick Kentwan Balmer will hurt, there’s enough talent on the inside for the run defense to be strong in the middle. Marvin Austin was a big-time recruit a few years ago, and he’s about to become the star good enough to replace Balmer. Aleric Mullins is a promising inside presence who should be a rock against the run. As long as the interior is sound, the coaching staff can work on the ends, which are a bit more of an issue.       

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

51. Northwestern
- 2008 Northwestern Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: QB C.J. Bacher to be the triggerman for an interesting offensive scheme. Using more hurry-up and no-huddle, offensive coordinator Mick McCall's goal is to control the tempo. A great quarterbacks coach at Bowling Green, McCall will look to get Bacher to make quick reads, quick throws, and to make everyone around him better by getting the ball to the veteran playmakers in places where they can do something with it. This was the league's No. 1 passing offense last year, and while it wasn't efficient, it should be this season as Bacher will make more short to midrange throws and will try to keep defenses on their heels.
What to watch for on defense: New defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz to release the hounds. He doesn't have the most athletic defense around, but it's far speedier and with far more talent than it has had in the past. Pat Fitzgerald has done a good job of recruiting to a type, and Randy Walker brought in some nice talent a few years ago that's ready to shine. After struggling so much to force turnovers and get into the backfield, the Wildcat defensive front will do more blitzing and more attacking than in year's past.

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

52. Miami
- 2008 Miami Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: The last time Miami started a freshman under center, Bernie Kosar was a teenager on campus in the 1980s. It’ll happen again this year as Robert Marve tries to reverse a recent trend of inconsistency at quarterback and a last place ACC finish in passing.  He’ll be surrounded by 10 players with something to prove, particularly RB Javarris James and WR Sam Shields. James is looking to bounce back from an injury-riddled sophomore season and a drop in production. Shields has a world-class blend of speed, burst, and leaping ability, but needs to put it all together to finally reach his enormous potential.
What to watch for on defense
: The Cane defense will be looking to rebound from a November collapse that saw it sink to an un-Miami-like 10th place ACC finish in scoring D. While LB Colin McCarthy and DE Eric Moncur will be the catalysts, new coordinator Bill Young will also be weaving in a handful of younger players, including blue-chip true freshmen Marcus Forston, Arthur Brown, and Sean Spence. Keep an eye on sophomore DE Allen Bailey, a converted linebacker who has torn it up in the offseason and possesses a ridiculous combination of size, speed, and strength. 

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

53. Boise State
- 2008 Boise State Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: Can the offensive line somehow rebuild in a month? Let's cut through the bull. Boise State isn't going to lose to Idaho State, and it's not likely to lose to Bowling Green. It'll lose at Oregon, but there's an off-week before the WAC season kicks in against Louisiana Tech. By October 1st, a lighter, more athletic, far less talented, inexperienced line will have to be ready to let the skill guys do their thing. If the line isn't ready for primetime, all the experience and all the talent elsewhere won't matter.
What to watch for on defense: The ends. Mike T. Williams has seemingly been a part of the Broncos since the program was back in the Big West, but he just now appears to be blossoming into an all-around star. Sophomore Ryan Winterswyck led the team in sacks in a strong first season, and now he's about to go nuclear as, possibly, the WAC's most dangerous defensive player. These two need to make up for a mediocre group of tackles, and they need to set the tone for the rest of the D.

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

54. Colorado
- 2008 Colorado Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: Speed up the pace. The coaching staff wants to quicken things up on offense with a no-huddle, hurry-up style that'll get the offense in a faster, better rhythm. Colorado was a great momentum team last year as it did a good job of producing when things were going its way. By looking to dictate the pace, the goal is to control games better and keep defenses on their heels.
What to watch for on defense:
The middle. The Buffs are strong inside, and questionable outside. Tackles George Hypolite and Brandon Nicolas, and safeties D.J. Dykes and Ryan Walters, are rock-solid veterans who should be able to make up for plenty of mistakes from the ends and corners. The defense is being built on very athletic players who can move around and wreak more havoc, but there's a whole bunch of youth that needs to grow up right away. The tackles and safeties will help ease the transition.

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

55. Arizona
- 2008 Arizona Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: QB Willie Tuitama to blow up in the offense. He has the experience, he has the receivers, and he has the coaching. It's all there for him to finally live up to his immense promise and potential and come up with the type of season everyone's been waiting for. However, he has to stay healthy and he has to be consistent. He's been around way too long to not become a difference maker after years of seemingly being on the verge of big things. If everything clicks just right, he could be the Pac 10 breakthrough/breakout player of the year. 
What to watch for on defense: Plenty of young players seeing plenty of key playing time early on. While that's almost by default because of all the new starters, several fresh faces will have to play big from day one, especially if injuries strike. There are only five players with more than one start under their belts, and only two projected backups have a game of starting experience. It'll be trial by fire with several mistakes needing to be tolerated. The team gets one game against Idaho before needing to be jelled. Toledo's offense could make things nasty on September 6th.

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

56. Arkansas
- 2008 Arkansas Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: The new and improved Casey Dick. He was much better last year than he was over the second half of 2006, but Dick still wasn't exactly the type of quarterback who could step up and beat a team by himself. That might change if this spring was any indication. He threw for 18 touchdown passes with 10 interceptions last season, but his job, to put it nicely, was to be a game-manager. Now he's the main returning offensive weapon and he'll get to be a passing quarterback and a true leader. He's experienced and he has been a quick study, and now the offense is on his shoulders.
What to watch for on defense: The linebacker situation. If you can play linebacker, send in your résumé. This was going to be a potential problem spot going into the season anyway, and then Freddie Fairchild, the team's leading returning tackler,
was booted of the team after getting charged with suspicion of third-degree battery and false imprisonment. Likely middle man Wendel Davis is also in hot water for an off-the-field incident. That means veteran Elston Forte, redshirt freshman Jerry Franklin, and sophomore Ryan Powers, all undersized but all athletic, will have to be stars from day one.
Relative Strengths: Offensive Line, Defensive Line
Relative Weaknesses:
Linebacker, Wide Receiver

57. Louisville
- 2008 Louisville Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: Sophomore RB Bilal Powell. The veteran line can run block. The backfield has been depleted by transfers, suspensions, and relocations. In other words, Powell is about to see a dramatic spike in his production. Sure, he’ll share touches with Brock Bolen, but there’ll be enough work to keep everyone happy. When the season was spinning out of control last November, Powell provided an unexpected spark, running with intensity and a blend of speed and power that gave a glimmer of hope about the future. The future is now for one of Louisville’s most exciting offensive weapons.  
What to watch for on defense: The linebackers. On a defense filled with concerns, this is Steve Kragthorpe’s biggest heading into the season. Not only have last year’s three starters left the program, but many of this year’s key replacements spent the spring sidelined with an injury. A lot will be expected from senior James Bryant, a hard-hitting import from Miami, and Chris Campa, a junior college transfer who’s trying to get right after undergoing surgery on a torn labrum in his shoulder.        

Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Defensive Line
Relative Weaknesses:
Linebacker, Secondary

58. Washington
- 2008 Washington Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: True freshman WR Chris Polk. How good is Polk? Good enough that USC had to have him. Good enough that coordinator Tim Lappano is searching for new ways to design the offense. Polk is the kind of playmaker the Huskies haven’t had for years, a versatile athlete who’ll be used plenty as a runner and a receiver. In other programs, he might spend a year on the scout team, getting a little bigger and a lot wiser. At Washington, however, players of Polk’s caliber have to be prepared to take off the training wheels shortly after arriving on campus.   
What to watch for on defense: The evolution of the secondary. While the Huskies are loaded with veterans and quality athletes, that’s hardly enough to begin predicting a turnaround for the leaky pass defense. Washington’s response to its struggles has been to shift Mesphin Forrester from strong safety to cornerback, slide Darin Harris over from free safety, and promote talented neophytes Nate Williams and Quinton Richardson into starting role. The defense is noticeably bigger, but will it be better at stopping opposing quarterbacks? It’ll have to be if the overall defense is going to improve.

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

59. Ole Miss
- 2008 Ole Miss Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: Improvement in the passing game. Snead appears to be the real deal, and he has a good group of receivers just waiting to break out. Shay Hodge, Mike Wallace, and Dexter McCluster have the experience and have the speed to form one of the SEC's better unsung corps. Now they have a consistent passer to get them the ball.
What to watch for on defense: Cornerback. Linebacker is a bit of a concern and the line needs to start playing up to its talent level, but the big issue is at corner. Needing immediate help, Nutt brought over receiver Marshay Green and running back Jeremy McGee to combine at one corner spot. While Green appears to be a natural, this will still be an issue until he, along with Cassius Vaughn or Dustin Mouzon on the other side, can prove they can handle the job.

Relative Strengths: Defensive Line, Offensive Line
Relative Weaknesses:
Secondary, Linebacker

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