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2009 Preseason Rankings - No. 81 to 90
Syracuse RB Delone Carter
Syracuse RB Delone Carter
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 2, 2009


Preview 2009 CFN Preseason Rankings No. 81 to 90 ... Admittedly Underrated

Preview 2009 - Preseason Rankings

Likely Underrated - No. 81 to 90


No argument here if you think some of these teams should be higher.

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

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2008 Preseason Rankings | 2007 Preseason Rankings


81. Northern Illinois

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Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Offensive Line
Relative Weaknesses: Wide Receiver, Secondary
What to watch for on offense: More from the running backs. Me'co Brown, Chad Spann, and Ricky Crider all go around 5-9ish and around 190 pounds. They're smallish, quick backs who can cut on a dime and have the potential to rip off big runs when given the chance. They're all tremendously athletic, and they all have the potential to carry the ground game from time to time. Throw in Justin Anderson into the mix, the star of 2007 who hasn't been able to stay healthy, and NIU is loaded with good runners. So why did QB Chandler Harnish lead the team in rushing with just 539 yards? That will change this season, and while Harnish won't stop running, the backs will carry the ground game.
What to watch for on defense: Pat Schiller. The 6-2, 225-pound sophomore linebacker could be the key to the defense. Starting in the middle in place of Tim McCarthy, he could become a statistical all-star with everything being funneled to him. If he's great, the linebacking corps will be special with stars Alex Kube and Cory Hanson on the outside. The line has work to do and the secondary has questions at corner, but the linebackers could carry the team at times against the better MAC spread attacks.


82. Washington State  
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Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths: Running Back, Linebacker
Relative Weaknesses: Quarterback, Defensive Line
What to watch for on offense: RB James Montgomery. Not just any Scout Team Player of the Year, Montgomery was a top recruit of Cal in 2006, who has reps in the Pac-10. While the Cougars already have a capable back in Dwight Tardy, Montgomery has the ability to leap frog him and become a true catalyst of the running game. Although he was No. 2 on the depth chart coming out of spring, that might be a temporary station that changes by the end of summer. The Cougars need dynamic playmakers on this side of the ball, especially now that WR Brandon Gibson has graduated. Montgomery has that type of potential.
What to watch for on defense: The back seven. If you’re a glass-is-half-full kind of guy, this is where you want to focus your attention. Relatively speaking, Washington State has a decent collection of talent at linebacker and the defensive backfield. It better because the front four has a strict open door policy when it comes to opposing offenses. At linebacker, frenetic Louis Bland is a rising star and senior Andy Mattingly is going to get looks from the NFL. In the secondary, three starters return and the one newcomer, Cal transfer Brandon Jones, has already earned the title of best cover corner. It won’t reverse last season’s defensive futility, but it is a start.


83. San Jose State
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths: Receiver, Defensive Line
Relative Weaknesses: Running Back, Offensive Line
What to watch for on offense: The passing game. With the addition of offensive coordinator Terry Malley from the Arena League, after his offenses put up record-setting numbers, there will be more firepower to a passing attack that muddled along throughout last year. If QBs Kyle Reed and/or Jordan La Secla can be more consistent, and if they can get a little time, the tremendous receiving corps will make big things happen. That should open things up for the running game that struggled so much last year.
What to watch for on defense: The pass rush. The Spartans were among the best in the nation when it came to pressuring the quarterback and coming up with tackles for loss. New Chicago Bear Jarron Gilbert had a lot to do with that, making 9.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss, but the rest of the defense found ways to get into the backfield as well. The pressure will continue, and that's a must considering the corners are green and need all the help they can get.

84. Toledo
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths: Wide Receiver, Quarterback
Relative Weaknesses: Defensive Line, Secondary
What to watch for on offense: The up-tempo spread. Everyone's doing the same thing now, trying to run the Oklahoma offense with a fast-paced attack, but Toledo has the veterans to actually do it. Aaron Opelt has been the starting quarterback for the last three years and knows his receivers, while DaJuane Collins and Morgan Williams should run wild with bigger holes to cut through. This was a high-powered offense to begin with, and now it could explode.
What to watch for on defense: Barry Church as a linebacker. The all-star, NFL-bound safety will be used to do more as the team's third linebacker. The Rockets had a 4-2-5 alignment over the last few years, with a Rover being used as a part safety and part linebacker. Now, Church will be all over the place as a pass rusher and in pass coverage. He should put up huge numbers.

85. New Mexico
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Offensive Line, Special Team
Relative Weaknesses: Wide Receiver, Secondary
What to watch for on offense: The quarterback situation. Donovan Porterie, bum knee and all, is the team's best quarterback. He didn't look like it in a disastrous first few games of last year before tearing up his knee, but he's the one who can make everyone around him better. However, the coaching staff would prefer to have a runner at quarterback, and that's not Porterie. Brad Gruner is the best combination of run/pass skills, but he didn't lead the way to many wins when he got his chance. Tate Smith is an interesting option, but he's not the passer Porterie is.
What to watch for on defense: The pass rush. For the defense to work, the Lobos have to get into the backfield on a regular basis. They struggled to do that last year, and now they have to replace the entire defensive front and there isn't a sure-thing pass rusher to build around. Defensive coordinator Doug Mallory will try to manufacture pressure from the quick, athletic linebackers, but it would be a huge plus is an end like Jaymar Latchison or DeAndre Davis could shine.


86. Louisiana Tech 
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths: Offensive Line, Defensive Line
Relative Weaknesses: Secondary, Quarterback
What to watch for on offense: A dominant year from the offensive line. The Bulldog line wasn’t awful in pass protection and paved the way for 187 rushing yards per game. Now it should be terrific with all five starters returning and decent prospects on the way. Left tackle Rob McGill is an all-star and center Lon Roberts is a good one. This won’t just be a great line this year, it’ll be nasty next year, too, with four starters expected to come back.
What to watch for on defense: A dominant year from the defensive line. The front four can’t lose star DT D’Anthony Smith, but there’s great depth and several pass rushing option on the outside. The run defense was strong last year, partly because everyone threw the ball, but it really will be good against good ground games. There will be even more pressure into the backfield and plenty of big sacks.


87. Syracuse
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Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Receiver, Running Back
Relative Weaknesses: Linebacker, Offensive Line
What to watch for on offense: More of an attitude. With the new coaching staff will come a quest for an old school, smash-mouth approach on offense. Now, that doesn’t mean the Orange will ignore the pass once the quarterback situation gets settled in the summer. No, Syracuse wants to get the passing attack cranking as quickly as possible, but it also wants to eventually intimidate opponents with their physical play in the trenches and between the tackles. For a while, the running game will be setting up the passing game, which is a good fit for how the personnel is currently assembled.
What to watch for on defense: The development of the pass rush. There’ll be no overnight solution for this defense, but if more heat can be generated conventionally, the glaring problems in the back seven may not be so obvious. While new coordinator Scott Shafer has had a history of coaching attacking units, he’ll have to be careful not to leave the pass defense without ample protection. Ideally, he can get more pressure from defensive ends Jared Kimmel and Chandler Jones, who’ve got the physical ability to come through. If the rush remains feeble, however, the secondary will be toast.

88. Navy
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Running Back
Relative Weaknesses: Wide Receiver, Defensive Line
What to watch to watch for on offense: More passing ... at least a little more. Ricky Dobbs is the most talented passer the offense has had in years, and while he's not going to be Sam Bradford winging it around, he has the arm to push the ball deeper and make things happen with the offense that the past several Navy quarterbacks couldn't. Dobbs can run, too, and it's not like the offense is going to stop doing what it does best, but it could be interesting to see if the attack can open things up a bit.
What to watch to watch for on defense: The linebackers. Ross Pospisil led the team with 106 tackles, Clint Sovie made 60 stops, Ram Vela made three sacks and 33 tackles, Tony Haberer made 41 tackles, and Craig Schaefer is a good veteran who appears to be ready to come up with a good year. This group is tough, quick, and will be flying all over the place to not only add more to the pass rush but to be even better against the run.


89. Western Michigan
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Receiver
Relative Weaknesses: Defensive Line, Secondary
What to watch for on offense: The new receivers. It’s asking a lot to replace Jamarko Simmons, Schneider Julien, and Branden Ledbetter, who were all major producers in the passing game over the last few years, but WMU’s cupboard might not be completely bare. Juan Nunez flourished with all the attention paid to the other stars, and now he has to prove he can be a decent No. 1 and more than just a deep threat. Newcomers Ansell Ponder and Chleb Ravenell could take starting jobs right away. If they don’t, there’s no way the MAC’s best air attack can reach last year’s level of success.
What to watch for on defense: The linebackers. The starting threesome of Austin Pritchard, Mitch Zajac, and Harrison Porter should be among the most productive in the conference. All three can move and all three can hit, but they’ll have to come up with more big plays and they’ll have to do even more to keep decent running games in check. Last year was about learning the ropes. This year is about blowing up offenses.


90. Ball State
- Preview | Offense | Defense
| Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Running Back, Receiver/Tight End
Relative Weaknesses: Quarterback, Offensive Line
What to watch for on offense: Problems in pass protection. Last year’s line struggled when it came to protecting Nate Davis, and now four starters are gone. With a new starting quarterback and only one player, guard Michael Switzer, to rely on up front, quick passes and runs will be the gameplan until the right combination is found on the line.
What to watch for on defense: More sacks. Defensive coordinator Doug Graber likes to use several defensive backs and will mix up the schemes week by week. The one constant should be the defensive front that gets all four starters back. There isn’t any bulk, but there’s plenty of speed and quickness to send into the backfield.

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