2009 Preseason Rankings - No. 101 to 110
UTEP QB Trevor Vittatoe
UTEP QB Trevor Vittatoe
Posted Aug 2, 2009

Preview 2009 CFN Preseason Rankings No. 101 to 110. ... Near the Bottom

Preview 2009 - Preseason Rankings

Near The Bottom - No. 101 to 110

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 120.

CFN 2009 Preseason Rankings

- 2009 Preview
1 to 10 | 11 to 20 | 21 to 30 | 31 to 40 | 41 to 50 | 51 to 60
61 to 70 | 71 to 80 | 81 to 90 | 91 to 100 | 101 to 110 | 111 to 120

2008 Preseason Rankings | 2007 Preseason Rankings

101. Kent State
- Preview | Offense
| Defense
| Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Running Back, Secondary
Relative Weaknesses: Linebacker, Wide Receiver
What to watch for on offense: More passing. It's not that Julian Edelman couldn't throw, it's that he didn't really have to considering his running talents. Giorgio Morgan can't run like Edelman, but he's a better pure passer with greater upside. The receiving corps didn't help the cause, but even with the loss of top target Shawn Bayes it should be better with the expected emergence of receivers Kendrick Pressley, Derek McBryde and Tyshon Goode into more dangerous playmakers.
What to watch for on defense: The corners. They've been able to tackle over the last few seasons, but they haven't been able to make too many big plays. The one new starter to the secondary, Josh Pleasant, is a fantastic-looking sophomore who could quickly become the team's top cover-corner. Danny Sadler is a decent veteran on the other side, but he has to come up with a few picks and make teams scared to go at him.

102. Florida Atlantic
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Receiver/Tight End
Relative Weaknesses: Defensive Line, Running Back
What to watch for on offense: A better year from the passing game. It’s not like FAU was all that bad throwing the ball, it finished first in the Sun Belt, but it wasn’t an efficient passing game and it wasn’t consistent. With Smith a sure-thing veteran, the return of TE Jason Harmon, and with Cortez Gent one of the Sun Belt’s top weapons, expect far more than 255 passing yards per game.
What to watch for on defense: A decent year from an unheralded linebacking corps. Two starters have to be replaced, with the loss of 154-tackling middle linebacker Frantz Joseph a killer, but there’s good potential with Malik Eugene and Michael Lockley working around veteran Edward Bradwell. If super-recruit Toney Moore is ready for primetime from day one, the linebackers could even be a strength.

103. Middle Tennessee
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Secondary
Relative Weaknesses: Linebacker, Running Back
What to watch for on offense: The spread. It’s not a night-and-day difference from what the Blue Raiders did in the past, but the offense will undergo a change with offensive coordinator Tony Franklin’s spread attack. With so much returning experience, the learning curve might not be all that steep, but the experience and the strengths of the team, like the solid receiving corps and the speedy running backs, has to translate into a bigger offensive year.
What to watch for on defense: Even more of a pass rush. The defensive front has been great at getting into the backfield and has been among the best in the Sun Belt at making tackles for loss. Now it has to do more when it comes to getting to the quarterback, and it will. With a talented, veteran secondary to rely on, the defense can take a few more chances to come up with the big play.

104. UTEP
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| Offense
| Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Wide Receiver, Quarterback
Relative Weaknesses: Running Back, Defensive Line
What to watch for on offense: The receiving tandem of Kris Adams and Jeff Moturi. Although it won’t make many headlines outside West Texas, this is one of the sneaky-good receiving duos in America. Both have a chance to play beyond UTEP, which is not something you normally hear about Conference USA wideouts. Adams and Moturi are big, fluid, and paired with a quarterback, junior Trevor Vittatoe, who’ll get the most out of their talents. Alone, either of these guys is an all-star. Together, they’ll combine for at least 100 catches and 20 touchdowns, causing fits for opposing secondaries.
What to watch for on defense: Progress from the secondary. The only way is up, right? After getting shredded on a weekly basis, the Miners are banking on making strides with the help of a good mix of youthful enthusiasm and veteran leadership. Four regulars are back, joining underclassmen, like safeties Nick Sampson and DeShawn Grayson, who’ll be looking to inject some new energy into the unit. Although a miraculous turnaround isn’t going to happen, the defensive backfield should be a little tighter if health doesn’t become a concern.

105. Eastern Michigan
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| Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Wide Receiver
Relative Weaknesses: Linebacker, Defensive Line
What to watch for on offense: The running game to take the pressure off the passing game. There won't be 80-pass games like there were at the end of last year with English wanting more production from the ground game. He praised the improvement of the O line as the offseason went on, and he has three nice backs in Corey Welch, Dwayne Priest, and Terrence Blevins to take the load off Schmitt, who has to keep his running to a minimum so he can stay healthy.
What to watch for on defense: The JUCO transfers. The line might have to go with defensive tackles that would barely be big enough to be linebackers for some schools unless two new recruits can step up and come through big, literally. Delano Johnson is a big defensive end prospect who has excellent upside, but it's 6-0, 290-pound tackle Ryan Leonard who could be the key to the defense. At his size, he has to be an anchor so Brad Ohrman can work on the end on a regular basis.

106. UCF
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Defensive Line, Linebacker
Relative Weaknesses: Quarterback, Offensive Line
What to watch for on offense: New offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe. Brought over by George O’Leary to revive the offense, he’s got an extensive track record in the college game and a reputation as a teacher. His most important pupil in 2009 will be sophomore QB Rob Calabrese, who needs a dedicated mentor to guide him. Although he’s installing a pro-style offense with hints of the option, he’ll still be flexible and adaptive to the talent in the program. At least in the beginning, there’ll be plenty of one-back sets, which is great news for sophomore Brynn Harvey, last year’s leading rusher and a budding star.   
What to watch for on defense: The development of the rebuilt defensive backfield. There’s just no preparation for losing all four starters, especially when they’ve been contributing since their freshmen years. However, life goes on in Orlando. The Knights do have the luxury of boasting the best front seven in Conference USA. Now, it’s up to converted LB Derrick Hallman and a trio of career backups to rise up in a league that’s becoming defined by its high-octane passing attacks. The favorites to join Hallman in the starting lineup are strong safety Reggie Weams and corners Emery Allen and Darin Baldwin.

107. Temple
- Preview | Offense | Defense
| Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Defensive Line, Wide Receiver
Relative Weaknesses: Quarterback, Running Back
What to watch for on offense: Plenty of shifting across the offensive line. There’s loads of experience up front, but there’s little in proven production after finishing last in the MAC in sacks allowed and led the way for the league’s worst running game. The one sure thing, center Alex Derenthal, is gone. Expect it to take at least half the season before the right combination is found.
What to watch for on defense: More of a pass rush. The Owls weren’t bad at getting into the backfield last year, but Junior Galette, the team’s leading sacker, isn’t a sure thing after missing the final few games of last season. With good size and excellent quickness across the front four, there must be more than 18 sacks. Brian Sanford, Adrian Robinson, and LB John Haley should be regulars to get to the quarterback.

108. Louisiana-Lafayette
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart 

Relative Strengths: Offensive Line, Linebacker
Relative Weaknesses: Wide Receiver, Defensive Line
What to watch for on offense: The O line. Starting in the middle with Chris Fisher and with Brad Bustle back at left guard, the Ragin’ Cajuns have two first-team all-stars to start with, and then there’s Jonathan Decoster at right tackle and Kyle Pirtle at left who might end up seeing time on the All-Sun Belt team. This line, if it can stay healthy, will ease the transition at a lot of key positions.
What to watch for on defense: The return of injured players. The linebacking corps was a mess last season, and now it gets back Grant Fleming and Richard Brooks from knee injuries. Maurice Rolle was bothered by a shoulder injury, but now he’s healthy and could push out long-time starter Gerren Blount from the free safety spot. All across the board there are healthy players returning to add depth, options, and talent to a defense that needs a major improvement.

109. FIU
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Wide Receiver, Secondary
Relative Weaknesses: Running Back, Defensive Line
What to watch for on offense: A great year from the passing game. Paul McCall is a nice veteran who already holds the school’s single-season record for touchdown passes throwing 15 last year. It’ll be a shock if he doesn’t shatter the mark with T.Y. Hilton one of the Sun Belt’s best receiver, Greg Ellingson a big, talented target who can hit the home run, and good up-and-comers with Junior Mertile and Marquis Rolle two players to get excited about. Tight end Eric Kirchenberg, if healthy, could be a big part of the attack.
What to watch for on defense: The line. The back seven will be good, possibly the best in the short FBS history of FIU football. However, the front four is starting from scratch after a mediocre year. There was no pass rush and unless Cody Pellicer and Armond Willis can become the flashes into the backfield they’re expected to be, there won’t be much of an improvement. There should be a decent rotation on the inside, but can anyone stuff the run? 340-pound Jonas Murrell will be an interesting piece of the puzzle.

110. Rice
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Wide Receiver
Relative Weaknesses: Offensive Line, Secondary
What to watch for on offense
: The summer quarterback battle. All eyes will be on the trio of passers, who are looking to fill the 16 EE shoes of Chase Clement. Senior John Thomas Shepherd, Alabama transfer Nick Fanuzzi, and redshirt freshman Ryan Lewis battled to a deadlock in the spring. Chapter two takes place this August with more at stake and far more eyes watching their development. Whoever is left standing at the end of the month will get the keys to an offense that’s been highly productive and downright explosive the last three seasons.
What to watch for on defense: More pressure the old-fashioned way. Rice would like to use a variety of blitz packages to get after the quarterback, but too much selling out leaves an already sketchy secondary naked. Instead, the Owls will pin their hopes on a pair of junior defensive ends, Scott Solomon and Cheta Ozougwu, who are blossoming into Conference USA all-stars. If they can collapse the pocket on their own, it’ll allow the linebackers and safeties to stay back on passing downs and support the young cornerbacks.