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2008 Preseason Rankings - No. 30 to 39
Connecticut QB Tyler Lorenzen
Connecticut QB Tyler Lorenzen
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 6, 2008


Preview 2008 CFN Preseason Rankings No. 30 to 39 ... Fringe Top 25 Teams

Preview 2008 Preseason Rankings

On the Fringe - No. 30 to No. 39

These teams should probably be in the top 25

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

30. Michigan State
- 2008 Michigan State Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: Can Mark Dell become a star receiver? He was a great recruit last year, and he came up with a decent 20-catch true freshman season, but now he has to become a special, No. 1 type of target at the X. Tight end is going to be the bigger issue, replacing Kellen Davis, and QB Brian Hoyer will make everyone better, but if Dell isn't great right away, the Spartans could quickly become more one-dimensional.
What to watch for on defense: Stars to build around. James Laurinaitis has already been handed the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year trophy, and there are good defensive players throughout the league, but MSU DE Trevor Anderson, LB Greg Jones, and SS Otis Wiley are as talented as any three at their positions. Anderson is going to be a one-man wrecking crew into the backfield, Jones was a freshman sensation who'll do even more now that he's in the middle, and Wiley should be a top NFL prospect again at strong safety.

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

31. South Carolina
- 2008 South Carolina Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: The quarterbacks. What would a Spurrier-led team be without a quarterback controversy, and the Gamecocks have a doozy. Tommy Beecher is the safe, steady option coming out of spring ball, but almost no one believes he'll be the sure-thing starter come opening day. Chris Smelley has the talent, but he can't produce on a regular basis. Stephen Garcia is the best of the three options, but he can't stay out of off-the-field trouble. True freshman Aramis Hillary might get a shot at a little time to throw his athleticism into the mix, while excellent recruit Reid McCollum will redshirt. Get all that?
What to watch for on defense: The swap. Eric Norwood turned into a whale of an all-around defensive end last season finishing second on the team in tackles while growing into an elite pass rusher. Now he'll move to linebacker, while Cliff Matthews, an outside linebacker last season, will move to the end. Potentially a special pass rusher, Matthews should shine in the new role, while Norwood will have more room to move on the weakside.

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

32. Oklahoma State
- 2008 Oklahoma State Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to look for on offense: Robinson's passing totals. Robinson threw for fewer than 200 yards in five games last year. The Georgia game doesn't really count since Reid was the starter, but OSU lost to Troy, Texas A&M and Oklahoma when Robinson struggled, and he had to run for 109 yards to overcome an 11-of-25 passing day in a close shave against Kansas State. On the flip-side, the Cowboys went 6-2 when Robinson threw for over 200 yards.
What to look for on defense: Better play from the defensive front. There wasn't a steady enough pass rush throughout last year, and it showed as the secondary got picked to shreds with star Big 12 passers getting ten days to throw. There was a better push throughout the off-season, even without former starting ends Marque Fountain and Nathan Peterson, and the tackles, helped by JUCO transfer Swanson Miller, should be stiffer against the run.

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

33. Connecticut
- 2008 Connecticut Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: CB Darius Butler’s role in the offense. In dire need of a spark in the passing game, the Huskies have acquiesced to Butler’s pleas to line up at wide receiver this year as well as covering them. He’s a naturally gifted athlete with terrific ball skills, but how many snaps a game he gets will depend on his impact. While the coaches don’t want to wear out one their premier players, if he can help move the chains, Butler should get a handful of appearances on offense every game.
What to watch for on defense: A much greater emphasis on speed. Rewind the tape of last November’s 66-21 loss to West Virginia and you’ll understand why the Huskies have become downright obsessed with getting faster. The program realizes it’s a must if it has any hope of reaching a new plateau in the Big East. The need for speed is the primary reason why LB Scott Lutrus has been shifted inside former S Dahna Deleston was moved to strongside linebacker.

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

34. Oregon State
- 2008 Oregon State Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: Sammie Stroughter. The wide receiver and punt returner extraordinaire is returning from a tumultuous year marked by personal tragedy and a season-ending kidney injury. He’s back with the same energy and infectious smile that permeated throughout the program before last season, which is great news for a Beaver offense searching for new playmakers and greater consistency in the passing game. Whether it’s Sean Canfield or Lyle Moevao, the starting quarterback will benefit greatly from having No. 19, one of the Pac 10’s premier playmakers, to work with.     
What to watch for on defense: The emergence of new stars on the front seven. Sure, Oregon State was gutted by graduation, but that only means that a new wave of smart, speedy defenders is set wash over the rest of the Pac-10. Players, such as DE Victor Butler and LBs Keaton Kristick and Bryant Cornell, are upperclassmen pining for an opportunity to step out of ex-Beavers’ shadows. They’ll all excel this season as key cogs in a Mark Banker-coached defense that perennially plays well beyond its perceived talent level.

Relative Strengths: Receivers, Secondary
Relative Weaknesses:
Quarterback, Offensive Line

35. Kansas State
- 2008 Kansas State Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to look for on offense: The JUCO transfers, part one. Last year, the offense needed the JUCO players to help boost the line. This season, the new guys will provide more weapons for QB Josh Freeman to work with. Receivers Aubrey Quarles, Brandon Banks, Adrian Hilburn and Attrail Snipes are very fast, very good producers who could instantly take over starting spots. Keithen Valentine was a walk-on this spring who grabbed a second-string running back spot going into the fall. The line gets help from Wade Weibert, a starting left guard, and Edward Prince will work at tackle.
What to look for on defense: The JUCO transfers, part two. The switch back to a 4-3 is the biggest key, at least more of a rotation between the 3-4 and the 4-3, as it should allow Campbell be the Campbell who dominated the Big 12 in 2006, but the big help to improve the dying D will come from the new guys. The new star isn't from the JUCO ranks, but from Virginia. Olu Hall was a big-time recruit for the Cavaliers who should now grow into a major NFL prospect. Hansen Sekona and Ulia Pomele will be major factors at linebacker, Daniel Calvin is a run-clogging tackle, and Dustin Bell is a ball-hawking defensive back.

Relative Strengths: Offensive Line, Special Teams
Relative Weaknesses:
Running Back, Receiver

36. Cincinnati
- 2008 Cincinnati Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart  
What to watch for on offense: Was it the system or the quarterback which was responsible for Ben Mauk, a journeyman before 2007, delivering one of the best seasons in school history. Each of the three contenders at quarterback has a steep hurdle to clear before approaching Mauk’s 31 touchdown passes and sterling passer efficiency rating. Dustin Grutza has underwhelmed in past opportunities. Demetrius Jones is coming off shoulder surgery. Anderson is a freshman, but impressed enough this spring to be the likely starter if he comes up with a big fall. Cincy fans better hope it’s the system because the program is a little light on proven talent heading into the season.      
What to watch for on defense: More blitzes from the linebackers and safeties. What happens when your strength is at cornerback and your weakness is a lack of proven pass rushers? You take more chances in order to get in the face of the quarterback. Cincinnati already likes playing an aggressive brand of defense that flies all over the field and causes turnovers. This season, it might become a necessity if adequate replacements for ends Anthony Hoke and Angelo Craig can’t be found. As long as Mike Mickens and DeAngelo Smith are the corners, the Bearcats will be able to leave them on an island and turn a linebacker or safety loose on a blitz.

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

37. Mississippi State
- 2008 Mississippi State Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: Is Wesley Carroll going to be any better? Thrown to the wolves as a freshman, he threw for 421 yards and four touchdown in the loss to Arkansas, but he also threw four interceptions and finished with seven picks on the year. Closing out by completing eight of 18 passes for 39 yards with an interception in the win over UCF, which didn't exactly inspire confidence, but he'll need to be a more efficient, more explosive passer if MSU is going to make any real noise.
What to watch for on defense: The linebackers. The line will be strong thanks to a great pair of tackles, Kyle Love and Jessie Bowman, and the linebackers will clean up everything that gets by. Seniors Jamar Chaney and Dominic Douglas combined for 167 stops, while sophomore K.J. Wright is a 6-3, 215-pound speedster on the strongside who might lead the team in tackles. This should be the team's strength, if it's not the running back corps.

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

38. Virginia
- 2008 Virginia Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to look for on offense: Things should open up a little bit. Virginia won’t be channeling Texas Tech any time soon, but some of the program’s coaches did spend time in Lubbock in the offseason trying to pick the complex brain of Red Raider head coach Mike Leach. While the attack will still strive for balance, new quarterback Peter Lalich gives the offense a young hurler with the live arm needed to distribute the ball to an improving receiving corps.  
What to look for on defense: The secondary will struggle against quality passing teams. Yes, there’s talent in the defensive backfield, but most of it is young and prone to making mistakes in coverage. The Cavs were helped immensely last year by the pressure generated by Chris Long and Jeffrey Fitzgerald, but both are gone meaning opposing quarterbacks will get an extra second or two. That’s troubling news for a defensive backfield breaking in three new starters.

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

39. Wake Forest
- 2008 Wake Forest Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to look for on offense: An even greater reliance on the running game. The development of young backs Josh Adams and Brandon Pendergrass, and the loss of WR Kenneth Moore should mean less balance from the offense than in the past. Wake will be content to pound away with its two gifted runners, occasionally look for the backs and tight ends on short routes, and let the defense do the rest. Knowing they don’t have the weapons to beat defenses downfield, the Deacons will be content to play to their strengths and limit mistakes.
What to look for on defense
: Tons of speed from the back seven. Grobe has been fixated with speed during recent recruiting cycles, and it shows with this year’s fleet-footed, ball-hawking defense. Wake is loaded at linebacker and the secondary with experience athletes who’ll fly to the ball and take it back the other way whenever possible. Led by the dynamic duo of LB Aaron Curry and CB Alphonso Smith, the Deacon D had eight touchdowns, which was more than the number of touchdown receptions caught by the wide receivers.

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