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2009 Preseason Rankings - No. 61 to 70
Nevada DE Dontay Moch
Nevada DE Dontay Moch
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 2, 2009


Preview 2009 CFN Preseason Rankings No. 61 to 70 ... Shooting for a Bowl

Preview 2009 - Preseason Rankings

Shooting For A Bowl - No. 61 to 70


These teams have realistic bowl hopes.

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

61. Nevada
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths:
Quarterback, Running Back
Relative Weaknesses:
Secondary, Linebacker
What to watch for on offense: More from the running game. Vai Taua and Luke Lippincott should form a deadly 1-2 punch in the Nevada Pistol offense, but it’s having a quarterback like Colin Kaepernick, who ran for 1,130 yards and 17 touchdowns, that truly makes the ground game special. Everyone’s going to bring the house to stop the Wolf Pack ground attack, and no one will have much luck on a regular basis.
What to watch for on defense: Aggressive vanilla. There’s your new extreme sport drink, and there’s the description of the Nevada 4-3 defense that defensive coordinator Nigel Burton put in last year to replace a 3-4 that didn’t work. The Pack doesn’t do anything crazy. There aren’t jailbreak blitzes and a lot of fancy schemes, but there’s lots of pressure into the backfield from all sides and the overall run defense has been solid.

62. Mississippi State

- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths: Linebacker, Running Back
Relative Weaknesses: Wide Receiver, Quarterback
What to watch for on offense: The receivers. The fan base will want Tyler Russell to be under center last year, but Tyson Lee might not be that bad an option if he gets a little more time to work and if he gets better play from the receiving corps. Brandon McRae is trying to get over a broken leg, but he should be ready by the start of the season to be a No. 1 to work around. The key to the offense might be the expected emergence of O'Neal Wilder, Terrance Davis and Leon Berry, three newcomers to the rotation who should provide an instant upgrade to the corps. If these three are merely adequate, the offense might finally start cranking out points and yards on a consistent basis.
What to watch for on defense: Pernell McPhee. The linebacking corps could be the best in the SEC West with the return of Jamar Chaney from injury and the addition of JUCO transfer Chris White to go along with veteran K.J. Wright, and the secondary will be solid with Charles Mitchell and Zach Smith two good young safeties ready to shine and with Marcus Washington a good veteran corner. Now the line has to come around, and it could all start on the inside with McPhee, an unstoppable pass rusher who was dominant in spring ball. If he's the anchor who makes offenses worry, the rest of the line should come around.


63. Purdue
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths:
Secondary, Running Back
Relative Weaknesses:
Offensive Line, Quarterback
What to watch for on offense: The quarterback situation. Here's the biggest early debate of the Danny Hope era. With Justin Siller booted off the team due to academic problems, Joey Elliott will be the main man early on. However, he's a limited talent and is gone next year. How quickly will Hope plug in Caleb TerBush, a big-armed redshirt freshman who'll be the triggerman when the program becomes bowl-good again? Playing TerBush might not be a concession for a rebuilding team; he's been almost as good as Elliott this offseason.
What to watch for on defense: How good can the line be? Shoved around against the run for the last several years, the line needs to be much better and far more productive against the better Big Ten O lines. End Ryan Kerrigan is one of the league's top pass rushers and can hold his own against the run, but the key to the season could be the play of tackles Mike Neal and Kawann Short. Neal is the veteran who appears to be on the verge of stepping up his game into all-star status, while Short could be special if he can take all his tools and grow into a consistent brick wall against the better ground attacks. If the line can get into the backfield more often, everyone in the back seven will be far better.


64. Fresno State

- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths: Running Back, Offensive Line
Relative Weaknesses: Secondary, Linebacker
What to watch for on offense: The quarterback situation. Tom Brandstater had size, experience, and a next-level arm, but he was never able to come up with the production needed to get the program over the hump. Now the offense is going to incorporate more spread and more running, even though the quarterbacks don't necessarily fit the type. Left-handed Ryan Colburn is a bomber who can get the ball anywhere he wants to, while David Carr's brother, Derek, a true freshman, appears to be ready to do big things from day one. And then there's Ebahn Flowers, the wild-card in the mix with a nice blend of quickness and passing skills.
What to watch for on defense: Pass rush. The Bulldogs were stunningly bad at getting into the backfield last season generating just 18 sacks while finishing last in the WAC and 108th in the nation in tackle for loss. That's where Chris Carter comes in. Part linebacker, part defensive end, the junior was moved around last season and ended up making 88 tackles with 3.5 tackles for loss. Now he'll be a pure pass rusher asked to shake things up in the backfield. There's enough quickness along the rest of the line to do more, but the Bulldogs need production from all four spots.


65. Washington
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Linebacker
Relative Weaknesses: Offensive Line, Secondary
What to watch for on offense: A more stationary Jake Locker. No, he’s not about to become Chris Chandler, but the staff isn’t sure it wants the second-coming of Marques Tuiasosopo either. Shades of Mark Brunell would be nice. Obviously, Locker is going to use all of his talents to make plays, which means tucking and running on occasion. However, the Huskies believe that the quarterback is surrounded by enough good, young talent at the skill positions to keep him from enduring such a pounding. A more balanced Locker is, in theory, going to be a more effective Locker.
What to watch for on defense: The evolution of the secondary. If it sounds like an old tune, that’s because it is one. While the front seven has potential, the defensive backfield is a total mess. CB Quinton Richardson and SS Nate Williams provide a nice start, but after them, it remains up in the air who’ll win the other two spots. The Huskies have provided no resistance to opposing passers over the last few years, a trend that needs to change if the defense, as a whole, is to make strides. The competition here figures to be as hot as the temperature when the team reconvenes in August. 


66. Kansas State
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths: Receiver, Defensive Line
Relative Weaknesses: Running Back, Quarterback
What to watch for on offense: The quarterback derby. In Bill Snyder's perfect world, his quarterback would be smallish, very quick, and a 1,000-yard runner who could also throw efficiently. There isn't a Michael Bishop or an Ell Roberson waiting around, but Carson Coffman is an agile, mobile passer who has been around just long enough to know what he's doing. Unfortunately, the previous coaching staff wanted big, tall bombers, and while that worked out well for Josh Freeman, that means the two best backup options, Collin Klein and Joseph Kassanavoid, are both huge. However, both can run. On the way is Daniel Thomas, a JUCO transfer who originally signed on in 2008 and has the speed and quickness Snyder wants, but he'll need time to become a passer.
What to look for on defense: Jeffrey Fitzgerald. Kansas State has lived, and mostly died, with JUCO transfers over the last few seasons and haven't developed enough defensive talent. Defensive end Brandon Harold is one of the homegrown stars who should become a terror of a pass rusher, while the program hit the jackpot by getting Fitzgerald. An ideal NFL 3-4 end, Fitzgerald is in a salary drive after leaving Virginia just when he was about to become a national superstar. With the defense going from a 3-4 to a 4-2-5, Fitzgerald will be the crown jewel up front.


67. Louisville
- Preview | Offense | Defense
| Depth Chart


Relative Strengths: Running Back, Receiver
Relative Weaknesses: Secondary, Quarterback
What to watch for on offense: A quarterback derby that lasts until deep into August. Hunter Cantwell has graduated, meaning the Cardinals will have a new starter behind center for the third straight year. There are four contenders at this point, none of whom has any significant experience at this level. Unless the unlikely happens and one of those players builds serious separation, head coach Steve Kragthorpe plans to let this play out until just before the opener.
What to watch for on defense: More attacking. Defensive coordinator Brent Guy favors a defense that can bring pressure and create turnovers with speedy, undersized defenders. Considering the turnover that’s taking place on the defensive line, he’ll have no choice but to get creative in order to rattle the other quarterback. The Cardinals do have decent athletes on the back seven, so Guy plans to turn them loose as long as the cornerbacks will allow it.


68. Duke
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Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Defensive Line
Relative Weaknesses: Running Back, Offensive Line
What to watch for on offense: The new receivers. Eron Riley is gone, taking 144 catches and 22 touchdowns with him to the NFL. The star may be gone, but the cupboard won’t be bare for QB Thaddeus Lewis. Johnny Williams caught 30 passes as a true freshman. Austin Kelly is poised for a breakthrough season after two years as an understudy. And tight ends Brett Huffman and Brandon King form a dangerous one-two punch at the position. With Riley gone, there’ll be a lot less me and a lot more we in the passing game.  
What to watch for on defense: Can the ends generate more pressure from the edge? They’ll have to, or else a vulnerable defensive backfield is going to pay the price. Vince Oghobaase will get his usual push from the inside, but with top pass rusher Greg Akinbiyi graduating, it’s incumbent upon Wesley Oglesby, Ayanga Okpokowuruk, and Patrick Egboh to crank up the heat from the outside. Oglesby is one to watch. He was eyeing a big sophomore season before an injury ended those thoughts. He’s healthy again and looking to make up for lost time.


69. Houston
- Preview
| Offense | Defense
| Depth Chart

Relative Strengths:
Quarterback, Receiver
Relative Weaknesses:
Secondary, Defensive Line
What to watch for on offense: More of the same. Despite losing a couple of next-level players to graduation, the Cougars didn’t skip a beat in 2008, averaging 562 yards and 40 points a game. By the second half of the year, coordinator Dana Holgorsen, a Mike Leach protégé, had the offense playing like it was in Lubbock. With QB Case Keenum, the four best rushers, and eight of the top nine receivers all back, are 600 yards and 50 points a game next? The lone speed bump will be an offensive line that moves on without three starters, including First Team All-Conference USA LT Sebastian Vollmer.  
What to watch for on defense: The pass rush. This isn't going to be a very good Houston defense. However, a feisty pass rush has a way of masking other problems on that side of the ball. The Cougars have lots of speed up front, but that alone won’t offset the departure of Phillip Hunt, who leaves with 37 career sacks and a bunch of hardware. There’s no obvious successor at defensive end, which puts a mess of pressure on Mohammed Usman, Tyrell Graham, or Michael Ray to have a career year. If Houston can’t disrupt the quarterback’s rhythm, the secondary will get routinely lit up.
 
 

70. Southern Miss
- Preview | Offense | Defense
| Depth Chart


Relative Strengths:
Running Back, Secondary
Relative Weaknesses:
Offensive Line, Special Teams
What to watch for on offense: The health of WR DeAndre Brown, who’s trying to return form a badly broken leg. Southern Miss can survive without him, but how does it thrive sans a 6-6, 228-pound human mismatch, who caught 67 passes and scored a dozen touchdowns as a true freshman? He is a difference-maker, the type of wide receiver who forces opposing defensive coordinators to gameplan just to slow him down. If they fail, he’s liable to take a game over and open up the field for the backs and other receivers. It has been a long and painful recovery since last December’s injury, but he’s still hoping to be at full speed in time for the opener.
What to watch for on defense: Life after Gerald McRath. You don’t get better after losing your next level linebacker. Southern Miss is going to test that theory this fall. Sure, things would be a lot rosier had McRath stuck around for his senior year, but don’t be shocked if the Eagles are stingier this season than they were in 2008. Last season was a transition in every sense of the word. The coaches were different, the system was new, and the two-deep looked like a whiffle ball. This season, McRath aside, there’s a sense of stability permeating throughout the D. The line should be better. The secondary will be among the best in Conference USA. And if Korey Williams can begin to fill some of the void at middle linebacker, there’s hope that this crew will flourish. 

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