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2009 Preseason Rankings - No. 71 to 80
Texas A&M WR Jeff Fuller
Texas A&M WR Jeff Fuller
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 2, 2009


Preview 2009 CFN Preseason Rankings No. 71 to 80 ... Dangerous Sleepers



Preview 2009 - Preseason Rankings

Dangerous Sleepers - No. 71 to 80


These teams will screw up several strong teams.

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
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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

71. Texas A&M
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Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Receiver
Relative Weaknesses: Linebacker, Offensive Line
What to look for on offense: Ryan Tannehill. It'll be an interesting experiment. The team's leading receiver last year, Tannehill, will also be a part of the quarterback mix as head coach Mike Sherman has gone out of his way to say the job is still open, even though the incumbent, Jerrod Johnson, showed signs of potentially being excellent. Is Sherman using NFL coaching skills to light a fire under Johnson and make him more focused? Maybe, but Tannehill really is a good quarterback option with a live arm to go along with his speed. In the end, he's probably going to be the No. 2 quarterback when he returns this fall from a shoulder injury and he'll probably be back in the receiving mix. For a team that needs as much pop as this one, it'll be hard to keep Tannehill on the bench, even if he is a valuable backup quarterback.
What to look for on defense: The Jack. Matt Featherston was the team's leading tackler last season making 94 tackles as a middle linebacker. Von Miller was a spot starter and a key backup at outside linebacker. Now the two will rotate in the Jack position, a defensive end job that could also serve as a fourth linebacker. Miller has the best all-around skills of any A&M defender and could be a pass rushing superstar for a line that generated nothing in the way of consistent pressure throughout last year.


72. Central Michigan

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Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Receiver
Relative Weaknesses: Running Back, Secondary
What to watch for on offense: Even more of an emphasis on the passing game. QB Dan LeFevour wasn't quite his 1,000-yard rushing self last season thanks to a few dings and with the upgrade in the passing attack. With Onterio Sneed gone, the running backs aren't going to be quite as strong even though Bryan Schroeder and Carl Volny are good speedsters to crank out a few big runs now and then. With an NFL-caliber passer like LeFevour, and two receivers in Antonio Brown and Bryan Anderson who'll get more than just a cup of coffee from the big league, it'll be bombs away for a passing attack that should average around 300 yards per game.
What to watch for on defense:
The pass defense. It was awful for two seasons and CMU won two MAC titles. It was the third-worst in the nation last year and CMU was probably the league's second best team and went to a bowl. Injuries were an issue, and still are, but it's a deep secondary with a fast group of veterans returning at all four spots. It doesn't have to be USC's pass defense of last year, but if it's just average, or merely not miserable, the rest of the team should be able to take care of the rest.

73. Air Force

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Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Offensive Line, Secondary
Relative Weaknesses: Receiver, Defensive Line
What to watch for on offense:
The quarterback situation. Tim Jefferson was special as a freshman, but he was a good, mature leader for his age and inexperience and showed the upside to potentially be the face of the franchise for the next few years. The coaching staff put a halt to that by moving speedy Asher Clark to quarterback this spring. Decision-making skills are nice, but the offense wants more pop from the position.
What to watch for on defense: A great year from the secondary. Chris Thomas is a special safety who made 200 tackles over the last few years and is a lock for 100 stops this year. Reggie Rembert might only be 5-7, but he’s one of the Mountain West’s most dynamic all-around players. Jon Davis is a rising star, and Anthony Wright will be a major producer for the secondary over the next three years. These four form a defensive backfield that should make far more plays and should be one of the team’s major positives.

74. Iowa State
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Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


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

What to look for on offense: The shotgun spread. While the offense will put the ball up early and often, there will be a major rushing element to the attack. Alexander Robinson is a good back who can explode, while Florida transfer Bo Williams and battering ram Jeremiah Schwartz will add more power. Meanwhile, backup quarterback Jerome Tiller is a speedster who was made for the spread. Even so, QB Austen Arnaud is the all-around talent who should put up huge numbers once he gets used to the new style.     
What to look for on defense: More sacks. The Cyclones will forget about trying to whip the guys up front and will try to find the holes and fly through them. Nothing worked last year, with the run defense pushed around way too much and the pass rush non-existent for stretches. This year's D will try to do at least one big thing right, and that will be getting into the backfield with all four spots up front being asked to get into the backfield while the linebackers will be allowed to do more to hit the quarterback. After registering 17 sacks last year, the ISU D might flirt with 30.


75. Troy

- Troy | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart 

Relative Strengths: Linebacker, Defensive Line
Relative Weaknesses: Running Back, Secondary
What to watch on offense: The quarterback situation. If Levi Brown is under center, the running game will revolve around DuJuan Harris and the running backs with Jerrel Jernigan getting work here and there. If Jamie Hampton is back and starting after he missed most of last year with a knee injury, the spread attack will take on a whole new look. It’s possible the quarterbacks will rotate from time to time to mix things up.
What to watch on defense: The alignment. Defensive coordinator Jeremy Rowell likes to use five defensive backs as much as possible. With so many talented defenders in the secondary last year, LB David McDowell ended up redshirting because he wasn’t going to get on the field. This year, McDowell will be a bigger part of the mix while the secondary has to replace five starters from last year’s 4-2-5 alignment. Rowell will still use a nickelback, but it just might not be as often.

76. Indiana
- Preview
| Offense
| Defense | Depth Chart


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

What to watch for on offense: QB Ben Chappell. The coaching staff wants to power the ball using more of the Pistol offense that’s been so successful at Nevada. However, the option of the team’s top running quarterback, Kellen Lewis, is gone after he was dismissed from the team, and if he was on it, he was going to be a receiver, anyway. Now it’s up to Chappell to be the man to lead the offense, and he won’t have to look over his shoulder at Lewis. There isn’t a thumper at running back, but if Indiana wants to be Nevada (who finished third in the nation in rushing and fifth in total offense), it has the speed backs to break off big runs. Chappell will have to make things happen through the air on a consistent basis.
What to watch for on defense: The injury report. The defense will try to incorporate some more Cover-2 schemes, but there’s one problem with that: the defensive backs. The Cover-2 only works if the safeties are fantastic, and Nick Polk and Austin Thomas are really good. However, they’re both coming off ACL injuries and might not be 100% all year. With WR Ray Fisher being used at one corner and Chris Adkins still learning on the fly on the other side, the key to the season could be the health of the safeties. Throw in LB Will Patterson’s wrist injury and DT Deonte Mack’s hip, and the injury report will need to be monitored all fall.

77. Arkansas State  
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Running Back, Quarterback
Relative Weaknesses: Offensive Line, Receiver
What to watch for on offense: The emergence of the receivers. Lost in the shuffle of the tremendous running game is the efficient passing attack. Leonard makes his targets better, but he also has help from a group of playmakers who take advantage of the passes that come their way. Senior Brandon Thompkins averaged 16 yards per catch last year, while Jahbari McLennan averaged 14.1 yards per try. While star tight end David Johnson is gone, Trevor Gilliott is a promising receiver who should help pick up the slack. The attack will still work around Arnold, Lawson and the ground game, but the receivers will have their moments, too.
What to watch for on defense: The tackles. Alex Carrington will require full-time double and triple teaming on the outside, and everyone else on the front four must take advantage. Bryan Hall is the team's best interior lineman, but Khari Mays is a good veteran who should be able to do far more than just gum up the works. The entire line will be active, and if the tackles can collapse the pocket on a regular basis, Carrington will be that much freer to work.


78. Colorado State

- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths: Receiver, Offensive Line
Relative Weaknesses: Defensive Line, Linebacker
What to watch for on offense:
The offensive line. Losing RB Gartrell Johnson and solid QB Billy Farris might be a concern if there wasn’t a great receiving corps returning and a veteran line to work behind. The line was among the worst in college football a few years ago, but it worked through the growing pains to come up with a  good 2008, and now it should be fantastic with three likely all-stars, guard Shelley Smith, center Tim Walter, and tackle Cole Pemberton, leading the way.
What to watch for on defense: A desperate attempt to find something that works. The Rams came up with a few stunning defensive performances, like in the 13-7 loss to TCU and the 20-6 win over New Mexico, but those were the rare exceptions. The pass rush came up with a nation-low ten sacks, CSU was next-to-last in the country in tackles for loss, and the run defense didn’t do anything. Considering six starters need to be found in the front seven (actually, it’s five, but DT James Morehead is hurt), and with major issues in the secondary, being able to do anything well early on will be a plus.

79. UNLV

- Preview |
Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Receiver, Linebacker
Relative Weaknesses: Running Back, Secondary
What to watch for on offense: Even more of a reliance on the passing game. With Frank Summers gone, there’s no power and there isn’t a sure-thing back for the ground attack to rely on. That will mean even more pressure will be put on QB Omar Clayton to make things happen, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The receiving corps should be fantastic and the tight ends will be used more, so the potential is there for a good year through the air.
What to watch for on defense: The newcomers in the secondary. The defensive backs didn’t get a lick of help from a pass rush last season, and under the circumstances, weren’t quite as bad as the overall stats. Now it’s panic time with three spots needing to find a new starter and the fourth, the right cornerback job, occupied by Quinton Pointer, who’s just coming off a bad shoulder injury. JUCO transfers Warren Zeigler, Alex De Giacomo and Kenny Brown all have to be tremendous from day one to at least provide quality depth and a challenge to the players already in place.

80. Wyoming

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Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths: Defensive Line, Secondary
Relative Weaknesses: Receiver, Quarterback
What to watch for on offense: Darius Terry. There wasn’t any room for the junior running back to see much work with Devin Moore and Wynel Seldon combining for 394 carries, but now the job is his. The quick all-around playmaker will be used as a receiver, a runner, and under center in the Wildcat formation. With the quarterback situation an issue and with the O line a positive, Terry will be the offense early on to get the ground game moving.
What to watch for on defense:
More of a pass rush. John Fletcher and Mitch Unrein were supposed to be regulars into the backfield throughout last season, and it didn’t happen. With quick linebackers on the outside and the veterans up front, there’s no reason the Cowboys can’t come up with more than 17 sacks and 52 tackles for loss. Defensive coordinator Marty English will make sure more pressure is generated from all areas.

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