2009 Spring Preview - Teams That'll Tumble
Missouri WR Danario Alexander
Missouri WR Danario Alexander
Posted Mar 23, 2009

What big-name teams have the potential to be like Tennessee and come up with a disappointing year? Whether it's because of the loss of several starters, a rough schedule, or both, these teams could have problems. Here are ten teams that could tumble in the CFN 2009 Pre-Spring Overview.

Spring Preview 2009

The 20 Big Questions ... No. 8

By Pete Fiutak 

Spring Preview 2009
20 Big Questions

- No, 9 - The teams that could surprise

- No, 10 - The 10 coaches who must win now
- No, 11 - Is the SEC worth the hype?

- No. 12 - Will the Pac 10 finally get some respect?
- No, 13 - The top BCS. vs. non-BCS games

- No. 14 - Why no Big East love?
- No, 15 - Does the Big Ten suck?

- No. 16 - Was the Big 12 exposed?

- No, 17 - Just how good is the ACC?
- No. 18 - Are we any closer to a playoff?

- No, 19 - Potential BCS Busters

- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 1 to 10)
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 11 to 20)
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 21 to 30)
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 31 to 40)
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 41 to 50
With spring ball underway, here are the 20 Big Questions to start off the offseason.

8. The Tennessee … The teams that will tumble.

Tennessee was supposed to be decent last year, partly because of the talent level and partly because of brand name. One 5-7 season with a fired head coach later and the Vols are undergoing an overhaul. The same fate might not happen to the big-name teams listed, but they are likely headed for a bit of a down year.

Boston College
The Eagles were able to overcome a struggling offense, hurt mostly by the graduation of Matt Ryan, by getting a great season from the defense to get to the ACC title game. Former defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani knows the team and should keep it from falling off the map, but he’s got work to do losing NFL defensive tackles B.J. Raji and Ron Brace and Kevin Akins and Paul Anderson from the secondary. The offense that was so inefficient needs to get more pop from the backfield and has to hope that Dominique Davis can throw. While the Eagles might still come up with a winning season, and might not lose more than the five games they dropped last year, it’ll take something special to get back to the championship for a third straight season.

The Bearcats will still be good, but it’ll be asking for too much for a third straight double-digit win season. Head coach Brian Kelly has done a great job of building the program into a Big East champion, but he hasn’t had to come up with the replacements he’ll have to this year. Ten starters are gone off the defense with only SS Aaron Webster returning while two key starters, Trevor Canfield and Khalil El-Amin, are gone off the offensive line. Punter Kevin Huber will also be missed. The schedule is interesting with Oregon State, Fresno State, and Illinois on the non-conference slate and Big East road games against Rutgers, South Florida, and Pitt.

Head coach Kirk Ferentz came up with a nice rebound season out of the blue, but sustaining the success might be hard it he can’t replace the production in the middle of the defensive line with Mitch King and Matt Kroul gone. However, the rest of the defense has the potential to be fantastic with almost everyone else of note returning. Offensively, the most attention will be paid to the loss of Shonn Greene, but there are good replacements waiting in the wings. So what’s the problem? The schedule. It’ll be tough to repeat the 9-4 record of last season with road games at Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State.

No one in the ACC is more hit-or-miss than Maryland. The Terps were flaky enough to lose to Middle Tennessee and follow it up with a win over Cal. They were blown out by Virginia 31-0 and shut out Wake Forest 26-0 the following game. It should be more of the same with three key starters gone off the offensive front and the passing game losing Darrius Heyward-Bey, Danny Oquendo and tight end Dan Gronkowski. The backups are iffy at several key spots; it’ll be a total disaster if injuries strike at quarterback and linebacker. The schedule could be murder with an opener at Cal and an ACC stretch of four road games in six weeks.

This year will be the big test for Gary Pinkel. It’s one thing to get the program to a high level, but it’s another to sustain the success. The Tigers will have to go one without Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin, Chase Coffman, and three other offensive starters. The defense loses three starters off the front, MLB Brock Christopher, and three starters in the secondary including FS William Moore. Adding to the problems is the loss of ultra-accurate PK Jeff Wolfert and offensive coordinator Dave Christensen (who took the head coaching job at Wyoming).

Ohio State
The record might be better than the team. While the Buckeyes will be tremendous in 2010 and beyond, thanks to terrific recruiting class after terrific recruiting class, there will be a year to rebuild a defense that loses five starters and an offense that loses seven including Beanie Wells and receivers Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline. Even though there’s a massive talent void with so many all-stars gone to the next level, the not-that-bad schedule could mean another BCS appearance with only two games that OSU could be the underdog: USC and at Penn State. The second toughest road trip, behind the date in Happy Valley, is at Michigan. However, if the team needs a year to jell there could be problems at home against Illinois, Wisconsin, and/or Iowa.

Oregon State
Mike Riley has put together a ridiculously underappreciated three-year run going 10-4, 9-4, and 9-4 with three bowl wins and last season’s shocker over USC. That should all change this season with top targets Sammie Stroughter and Shane Morales gone, all four starters needing to be replaced in the secondary, pass rushing terrors Victor Butler and Slade Norris to be sorely missed, and more of a reliance than ever placed on the Rodgers brothers. Jacquizz and James have to prove they can hold up for a full season and QB Lyle Moevao will have to come up with another strong year. How’s this for a Pac 10 road slate? Arizona State, USC, Cal, Washington State (yeah, but it’s a fifth conference road game), and Oregon.

South Florida
Things are looking up for the program after a few strong recruiting classes, but this year might be tough with four starters gone off the offensive line, defensive backs Carlton Williams and Tyller Roberts gone, and a few key skill players like RB Benjamin Williams and receivers Marcus Edwards and Taurus Johnson needing to be replaced. If this year’s recruiting class, especially from the JUCO ranks, doesn’t shine right away, there will be problems. The schedule is a joke early on, but playing Florida State and Miami from the ACC and going on the road to face Pitt, Rutgers, and UConn over the second half of the season won’t be a plus.

Texas Tech
The system is sound, the system is proven, the system has been able to overcome major personnel losses. However, there will be an adjustment period of at least a year with seven starters gone off the offense including Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree. The defense should be able to carry things for a little while, if needed, but the secondary has issues with FS Darcel McBath and SS Daniel Charbonnet gone. Losing star pass rusher Brandon Williams will hurt, too. Playing at Nebraska isn’t a break, but the bigger problem is November. At Texas, at Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and at Baylor.

Call this a rebuilding year before a monster 2010 campaign. USC always reloads with new superstars waiting to take the place of the departed ones. However, considering the program has only gone unbeaten once in the Pete Carroll era, and considering there are some major personnel changes, the potential is there for this to be USC’s first season since 2001 with more than two losses. Most of the defense needs to be replaced, both kickers are gone, WR Patrick Turner is a key veteran off to the next level, either Mitch Mustain or Aaron Corp has to prove to be ready to handle the attack, and there’s an overhaul in the coaching staff. Of course, no one’s going to be crying any tears for a team that’ll still be the star of the Pac 10 going into the season, but a stretch of six road games in eight would be trying for anyone. Fine, so USC will likely be 10-2 at absolute worst, but it’s not going to be a national title team without a few minor miracles.