Fiu, Cirminiello, Mitchell on TV - Campus Insiders | Buy College Football Tickets

2009 Preseason Rankings - No. 51 to 60
UCLA WR Terrence Austin
UCLA WR Terrence Austin
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 2, 2009


Preview 2009 CFN Preseason Rankings No. 51 to 60 ... Should Go Bowling

Preview 2009 - Preseason Rankings

Bowl Teams - No. 51 to 60


These teams will go to bowls ... but not good ones.

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

51. Northwestern
- Preview | Offense |
Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths: Secondary, Offensive Line
Relative Weaknesses: Receiver, Running Back
What to watch for on offense: More running. Head coach Mick McCall's offense didn't work quite as well as expected, with the idea that the playmakers should have the ball in space as much as possible. C.J. Bacher was good at distributing the ball around, but he had three veteran receivers to work with and a do-it-all back in Tyrell Sutton to rely on. All the top skill players are gone, and while the receiving corps is the biggest question mark, there are talented runners ready to pick up the slack. Mike Kafka is a dangerous running quarterback, and backs Stephen Simmons, Alex Daniel, and Jeravin Matthews are all quick. McCall will still try to get his top players in places where they can do something with the ball, but it might just look a bit different.
What to watch for on defense: The health of the defensive front. Long-time defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz got a ton of production out of a defense that was camped out in opposing backfields led by Corey Wootton. The junior has always had the tools and the potential, and he put it all together last season with a ten-sack season that made him finally look like the top NFL prospect everyone expected him to become. Now he has to get over a bad knee injury suffered in the December loss to Missouri, and that might still take a while get to 100% once the season starts. Tackle Adam Hahn is trying to get over a foot injury  and versatile tackle/end Corbin Bryant is trying to get past a knee injury. On the plus side, the injuries allowed others, like end Vince Browne, to get more work this offseason, but if the starters aren't healthy, the defensive pressure of last year will diminish.


52. Maryland
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Running Back, Special Teams
Relative Weaknesses: Offensive Line, Defensive Line
What to watch for on offense: Sophomore WR Torrey Smith. Former Terp Darrius Heyward-Bey was the No. 7 overall pick in April’s NFL Draft. In time, Smith will be better. While not as fast, he’s a more complete receiver, and has the work ethic and demeanor of a budding superstar. The program couldn’t keep him off the field as a freshman, and he wound up taking over a starting job midway through the year. Now that there’s an opening for a go-to receiver, he’s on the tarmac and preparing for lift-off as one of college football’s bright young playmakers.
What to look for on defense: More pressure. With the arrival of new coordinator Don Brown comes a mandate to force the issue on every level of the defense. That means more blitzes from outside linebackers Adrian Moten and Demetrius Hartsfield and more press coverage from the defensive backs. When Brown looked at Maryland, he saw a team that was on its heels too often rather than dictating the tempo of the game. He has the athletes to make this system fly, but now he has to make sure that the execution is clean. If successful, it’ll mean sacks and more takeaways than a year ago.


53. East Carolina
-
Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths: Defensive Line, Quarterback
Relative Weaknesses: Running Back, Offensive Line
Best Offensive Player: Senior QB Patrick Pinkney. Some players aren’t easily defined by statistics alone. Pinkney is one such athlete. He’s not going to be Houston’s Case Keenum, but then again, he isn’t asked to be a prolific passer, who throws 40 passes a game. No, the staff expects him to be efficient and put the Pirates in the best possible position to win games, which he does as well as anyone in Conference USA. A low-risk playmaker, he brings a calming influence to the offense, especially late in games. In East Carolina’s three huge wins over Virginia Tech, West Virginia, and Tulsa, he accounted for four touchdowns and not a single turnover.  
Best Defensive Player: Senior DE C.J. Wilson. Not your typical Conference USA defensive end, who’d be an outside linebacker in other leagues, Wilson is a 6-4, 271-pound pro-in-waiting. One of the country’s premier pass rushers, he also has the size and strength to be a force against the run. He enters his fourth year as a starter with a sparkling resume that includes 135 career tackles, 35 tackles for loss, and 21.5 sacks.


54. Baylor
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Linebacker
Relative Weaknesses: Offensive Line, Defensive Line
What to watch for on offense: More passing. With a speed-racer like QB Robert Griffin under center, especially in his true freshman season, the offense relied mostly on running him as much as possible while keeping the passing game relatively safe. Now, with a veteran receiving corps, led by basketball-playing sophomore Kendall Wright, and with a smart, quick-study in Griffin, the offense will open things up a bit more and push the ball down the field on a regular basis.  
What to look for on defense: Phil Taylor. The defense wasn’t all that bad considering it played in the pinball machine of a conference, but it didn’t do any one thing all that well outside of take the ball away. With nine returning starters, and several good athletes and big hitters, there will be a ton of takeaways once again, but the real story will be up the middle of the defense with 335-pound Penn State transfer Phil Taylor clogging everything up. He’s the type of defensive talent the program hasn’t had in a long, long time up front, and he should instantly make the defense even better.


55. Kentucky
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Offensive Line, Linebacker
Relative Weaknesses: Running Back, Receiver
What to watch for on offense: The line. There needs to be a No. 2 wide receiver to help out Randall Cobb, Mike Hartline needs to become more of a playmaker at quarterback, and the speedy, versatile running backs have to be more productive, and it can all happen if the line becomes the strength of the team. Last year's front five helped UK finish first in the SEC and fourth in the nation in sacks allowed, giving up 13, and it wasn't awful for the ground game. Now with four senior starters, and a fifth in sophomore guard Stuart Hines who might be the most talented one of the bunch, this group should allow everyone else to do their jobs. While this might not be the high-flying spread attack of 2007, it should be more balanced and better than last year when injuries struck. The line will have a major part in the turnaround.
What to watch for on defense: The ends. Not only does Kentucky have to replace its two starting ends, it has to replace Jeremy Jarmon, who came back for his senior year but was suspended, and Ventrell Jenkins, who's off playing for the Buffalo Bills following a great career. Collins Ukwu has big-time upside as a pass rusher on one side, while 296-pound Chandler Burden has good athleticism for his size on the other side. These two have to do something, anything on the outside early on to take the pressure off the tackles who have to focus on holding up against the run. If the ends don't produce, the rebuilding secondary will have issues.


56. UCLA

-
Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Special Teams, Linebacker
Relative Weaknesses: Quarterback, Running Back
What to watch for on offense: The crowning of a Prince. While sloppy in spring scrimmages, redshirt freshman Kevin Prince left few doubts that he’ll be the starting quarterback when the Bruins host San Diego State on Sept. 5. He has far more upside than incumbent Kevin Craft and an extra year of experience over true freshman Richard Brehaut. He also has a strong arm, nimble feet, and a nice feel for the offensive system. It’s been years since UCLA has had stability at quarterback. The program hopes Prince can be the answer early in his career.
What to watch for on defense: The cubs. Brian Price, Reggie Carter, and Alterraun Verner will gobble up all of the preseason pub, and deservedly so. However, the impact of Rick Neuheisel is most evident with the freshmen and sophomores, who’ve begun to initiate a coup on the depth chart. While their names are less familiar, future stars, such as DE Datone Jones, LB Akeem Ayers, S Rahim Moore, and CB Aaron Hester, represents the future on defense at the program. All four underclassmen have played well in the offseason, solidifying starting jobs and giving a glimpse of the future at UCLA.


57. Stanford
- Preview | Offense | Defense |
Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Defensive Line, Running Back
Relative Weaknesses: Secondary, Receiver
What to watch for on offense: The Major League Baseball draft. Where would the Stanford offense be without RB Toby Gerhart, the 1,000-yard rusher and All-Pac-10 second teamer? The program hopes not to find out until 2010. The problem is that Gerhart is also a talented slugger, who’s likely to get drafted in June. How high he goes could impact what type of helmet he’s wearing in August. Now, he’s expressed a desire to play football for one final season, but that’s subject to change, depending upon the outlook of his baseball career.
What to watch for on defense
: Developments in the secondary. The front seven is fine. The defensive backfield, however, is in a state of flux. The staff has pulled out all the stops, moving some of its better athletes from offense over to the other side of the ball. The Cardinal yielded 18 touchdown passes and picked off just seven in 2008, despite getting plenty of help from the pass rush. The coaches are keeping their fingers crossed that sophomore Michael Thomas can develop into a lockdown cover guy, and former playmakers Delano Howell and Richard Sherman can multi-task in 2009.


58. Wake Forest  
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Running Back, Secondary
Relative Weaknesses: Receiver, Linebacker
What to watch for on offense: The offensive line. This is ground zero for the fortunes of Wake Forest in 2009. If the unit can’t rebound from last year’s horrible performance, the Deacons might struggle to make it into the postseason. If, however, it gels, you never know what Jim Grobe and his staff are capable of concocting. The encouraging news is that everyone returns from a year and the group consists predominantly of upperclassmen. The line should be improved. The line has to be improved.
What to look for on defense: Fewer takeaways. In the past, the Demon Deacons were built on disruption and big plays, but that’s about to change as the back seven gets a more youthful look. It’s not that the replacements don’t have upside because they do. LB Hunter Haynes and safeties Alex Frye and Chyl Quarles, in particular, are going to be good ones in time. However, inconsistency and instability are pretty much built into the equation when all three linebackers and three-quarters of the secondary are first-time starters.


59. Vanderbilt
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths: Linebacker, Defensive Line
Relative Weaknesses: Quarterback, Running Back
What to watch for on offense: The receivers. The offensive line struggled a bit last year with all five starters needing to be replaced, but now the front five should be a strength. The running game will be mediocre and there’s a question about the ability of any of the quarterback options to throw, but the receivers will be better. How bad were things last year? Vandy finished 112rh in the nation in passing and 110tin in efficiency. How good do things look this year? Jamie Graham, arguably the team’s best all-around athletes, is moving from receiver to corner. The addition of transfers Tray Herndon from Minnesota and Terence Jeffers from Connecticut provides two proven targets who should be better than anyone Vandy had last year. John Cole is an exciting young player who appeared to be ready to explode before getting hurt in his true freshman season. Justin Wheeler is solid, Udom Umoh is fast, and Alex Washington is a good veteran. Throw into the mix rising sophomore tight end Brandon Barden and big junior Austin Monahan, and Vandy has the makings of one of its best groups of receivers in the Bobby Johnson era.
What to watch for on defense:
The pass rush should be fantastic. With Broderick Stewart returning after getting hurt late last year, to go along with Steven Stone, Tim Fugger and Teriall Brannon on the outside, the Commodore ends will get to the quarterback early and often. The tackles are great at generating pressure from the inside while the speedy linebackers can fly into the backfield. And then there’s corner Myron Lewis, who tied for the team lead with five sacks. The Commodores will bring the noise from all angles.


60. Minnesota
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths:
Quarterback, Receiver
Relative Weaknesses:
Running Back, Secondary
What to watch for on offense: Less spread, possibly no spread. New offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch might not completely scrap the spread, but the Gopher offense will take on a new look with more power running, the use of a fullback, and less of a reliance on QB Adam Weber to carry the entire offense by himself. However, that could all go out the window if and when MarQueis Gray comes in the game. A big-time spread prospect, he can do a little of everything and he could be used to get more running production from the quarterback spot.
What to watch for on defense: More hitting. Defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove will be looking to build on what Ted Roof, who left for Auburn, started last year. The defense isn’t good enough to stop anyone cold, but it’ll hit like a ton of bricks and do everything possible to force turnovers. The D will be relatively basic with no bells or whistles, and it should be able to win its share of battles. Offense will go on several big drives, but many will end with a turnover.

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