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2009 Preseason Rankings - No. 31 to 40
Tennessee QB Jonathan Crompton
Tennessee QB Jonathan Crompton
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 2, 2009


Preview 2009 CFN Preseason Rankings No. 31 to 40 ... Fringe Top 25 Teams

Preview 2009 - Preseason Rankings

Fringe Top 25 Teams - No. 31 to 40


Several of these teams will end up in the top 25.

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

-
2008 Preseason Rankings | 2007 Preseason Rankings

31.North Carolina
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Defensive Line, Running Back
Relative Weaknesses: Offensive Line, Receiver
What to watch for on offense: The young receivers. The future is bright. The present is a little scary. While there are blue-chippers up and down the roster, most of them are underclassmen with little or no experience. Junior Greg Little is the veteran of the wideouts. The same Greg Little, who was the starting running back at the beginning of 2008 and has just 24 career receptions. It’ll be worth monitoring the progress of Dwight Jones, Joshua Adams, Rashad Mason, Todd Harrelson, and Jheranie Boyd because they could look like very different players by November.
What to watch for on defense: The pass rush. There’s talent and speed everywhere on this defense, yet getting to the quarterback required the help of blitzes and trickery last year. After getting just 11 sacks all year from defensive linemen, Carolina needs more pressure from the guys up front. In particular, ends E.J. Wilson, Robert Quinn, Quinton Coples, and Michael McAdoo are being told to spend a lot more time in the other team’s pocket. Although the secondary harbors a decent group of defensive backs, the coaches prefer not to put them in too many man-to-man situations.


32. Tennessee
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths: Secondary, Defensive Line
Relative Weaknesses: Quarterback, Running Back
What to watch for on offense: Power running. The coaching staff will try to pound the ball, rely on the tremendous defense, and try to control the game and the clock. The passing game will try to push the ball deep a little more to stretch things out, but the offense will spend most of its time using its humongous, veteran line to pave the way for a fantastic group of backs. The backfield was good enough to get by, and then came the recruiting class with Toney Williams, David Oku, and the No. 1 prospect in America according to CFN, Bryce Brown, all ready to make a huge impact and upgrade the stalled ground attack.
What to watch for on defense: A ton of interceptions. All the pieces are there for the secondary to come up with a phenomenal year. Not only is there track star speed across the board, but there’s all-everything safety Eric Berry as the sheriff in the Tampa 2 scheme, but the pass rush should be better. Even with Robert Ayers off to the NFL, the Vol defensive front should be more active with Ben Martin and Chris Walker two speedsters on the ends who should be camped out in opposing backfields.


33. Texas Tech
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Receiver, Linebacker
Relative Weaknesses: Secondary, Defensive Line
What to watch for on offense: An attitude. How many times do you think the offensive players and coaches will have to answer questions about what life will be like without Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree? How much fire will there be to prove to everyone that Texas Tech football can still produce and win without the two superstars? The nice part about it for new QB Taylor Potts and the receiving corps is that the pressure will be off from everyone other than head coach Mike Leach. No one will expect last year to happen right away, but the numbers will still be there. Remember, this is also the program of B.J. Symons, Kliff Kingsbury, and Sonny Cumbie.
What to expect on defense: A desperate hope for a pass rush. After losing Brandon Williams to the NFL and McKinner Dixon to academic issues, the Red Raider line needs to figure out how to get into the backfield on a regular basis. Daniel Howard has a great burst and could be the breakout player on one side, while part-tackle, part-end Ra'Jon Henley will be counted on in a variety of ways. In a dream world, Brandon Sesay is half as good as his hype after coming out of the JUCO ranks last year.


34. Wisconsin
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths: Running Back, Offensive Line
Relative Weaknesses: Quarterback, Defensive Line
What to watch for on offense: The quarterback situation … again. For yet another year, there’s going to be a summer of controversy surrounding the starting quarterback job. While Dustin Sherer might be the safe choice, considering he started over the second half of last year and is a solid senior, redshirt freshman Curt Phillips could be the guy who makes everyone wonder why the issue was even up for discussion. Phillips will likely make more mistakes if he’s the No. 1, but he has the mobility to make the quarterback spot plus this year, rather than make it a caretaker’s job.
What to watch for on defense: The defensive tackles. The back seven will be solid and the pass rush will be hit or miss, but the Badgers can’t do much this year if the tackles aren’t great. There aren’t any big names, with Dan Moore and Jeff Stehle seniors who haven’t set the world on fire so far as backups, but the coaching staff likes the rotation and there’s talk that the interior could quietly grow into a plus as the season wears on.


35. Auburn

- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Running Back, Linebacker
Relative Weaknesses: Quarterback, Receiver
What to watch for on offense: The quarterback battle ... again. This was the concern going into last year for the Tony Franklin attack, which best suited the running option, Kodi Burns. However, he didn't get the starting nod until midway through the year and he struggled throwing the ball. Now, under offensive coordinator Guz Malzahn, Burns is listed on top of the depth chart, but it's Neil Caudle who likely has the inside track. That could all quickly change with the addition of star recruit Tyrik Rollison and with the job wide open going into the fall. Malzahn isn't going to rotate quarterbacks, preferring to find his guy and then work through the rough patches.
What to watch for on defense: More takeaways. Minnesota's defense turned out to stink, but it hit like a ton of bricks and forced big play after big play, at least over the first half of last year. New Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof, who led the Gopher D, will bring that same intensity to this year's athletic Tiger defense that forced just 19 turnovers last year. Now there will be a greater emphasis on going for the big shot and to gamble a wee bit to get the ball.

36. NC State  
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Defensive Line
Relative Weaknesses: Offensive Line, Secondary
What to watch for on offense: Run blocking. There are a few knocks on this offense, but none bigger than its inability to create space for the backs. Tom O’Brien craves an attack that can run it between the tackles and play-action defenses to death. It’s hard to fool the opponent, however, when it’s constantly putting offensive linemen on their backs. Jamelle Eugene and Brandon Barnes are exciting players, who can bring a crowd to its feet with their shifty moves. Bulldozing Toney Baker appears to be back after a two-year hiatus. It’s up to the line to make sure that these runners get the room they need to give the offense the balance it requires.
What to look for on defense: The play of the secondary. If NC State is to indeed meet growing expectations, it absolutely, positively must step up and play better pass defense. The front seven should do its job, getting more pressure and continuing a trend of better run defense. However, the defensive backfield will be the target of every team until it can prove otherwise. And there should be no excuses for progress in 2009. There’s good, young talent, especially at the corners, and the schedule has just one opponent that ranked in the top 50 last year in passing efficiency.


37. BYU
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Receiver
Relative Weaknesses: Secondary, Running Back
What to watch for on offense: The tight ends. Max Hall will will make the receivers shine, he was terrific this offseason, but it'll be the tight ends who help bail him out from time to time on key downs. Dennis Pitta is a tremendous receiver who came up with 83 catches for 1,083 yards and six touchdowns last season, while Andrew George caught 23 passes and scored six times. These two will be an even bigger part of the offense early on.
What to watch for on defense: The corner situation. There wasn't much help from a shockingly disappointing pass rush, but the corners weren't nearly as good as they needed to be. This year, the departure of Brandon Howard, who left the team for personal reasons, leaves a gaping hole that needs to be filled by either Garrett Nicholson or Steven Thomas. They each have the potential to be good, and starter Brandon Bradley will be fine, but for a team that struggled so much with efficient passers, the spotlight will be on the secondary.


38. Nebraska
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths: Defensive Line, Offensive Line
Relative Weaknesses: Receiver, Linebacker
What to watch for on offense: The tight ends. The wide receivers are speedy, and the veterans have great high school résumés, but the tight ends will be the stars of the passing game.  Mike McNeill is a great pass catcher who can block a little bit, while Kyler Reed is a great-looking prospect for the midrange throws. Ben Cotton would start for most teams without a problem, and he's expected to shine when he's in. Zac Lee will have plenty of outlet targets to rely on who'll do more than just move the chains; they'll come up with deep balls.
What to expect on defense: Utter dominance from the front four, no matter what configuration. DT Ndamukong Suh is an elite pro prospect and is coming off of one of the greatest statistical seasons for a tackle in the history of college football. He's the one everyone will work around, but there are other linemen, like Pierre Allen and Barry Turner, who's returning from a broken leg, on the outside. They should blow up and help lead a defense that will be among the best in the nation at getting into the backfield. Throw in promising sophomore tackles Jared Crick and Terrence Moore, along with superstar-in-the-making, Baker Steinkuhler, and the line will control games.


39. Colorado
- Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


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

What to watch for on offense: Darrell Scott. Yeah, this is what recruitniks have been waiting for. Scott was the crown jewel of the 2008 recruiting class as the Buffs were able to steal him away from Texas. Minor injuries, lack of conditioning, and the emergence of other backs led to a disappointing first year, but that has all changed going into this season. He's 202 pounds, has 4% body fat, and he has looked like the NFL-bound total package who can carry the offense through the rough patches.
What to watch for on defense: Part 3-4, part 4-3. The Buffs will try to get more out of a front four that has decent size on the outside, but might be better if the ends were used in a three-man front. The strength of the team, other than running back, is at linebacker where Jeff Smart, Marcus Burton, Shaun Mohler, Michael Sipili, and B.J. Beatty are all good enough to start. The coaching staff will try to get as many linebackers on the field as possible to combat spread offenses, and as the season goes on the defense, which wasn't bad last year, should have some big moments and some great games thanks to the back eight.


40. Utah

- Preview |
Offense | Defense | Depth Chart


Relative Strengths: Defensive Line, Linebacker
Relative Weaknesses: Special Teams, Quarterback
What to watch for on offense: More running out of the quarterbacks. If it’s Terrance Cain under center it’ll be another year of Brian Johnson-like passing efficiency. However, Corbin Louks will likely get the first shot, even if there’s a rotation, and he’ll come up with at least 500 rushing yards and add a dimension to the attack that was missing after Johnson’s knee injuries.
What to watch for on defense: The corners. Everything else is in place for the Utes to boast the Mountain West’s best defense, or at least be in the race with TCU. The line is fantastic, the linebackers are terrific, and the safeties are all-stars. But there will be an early concern that the new corners might struggle a bit early on, even though they’re experienced and bring blinding speed to the table. R.J. Stanford, Brandon Burton, Kamaron Yancy and Justin Jones can move. Now they have to show they can cover. If they’re good, the defense will be a brick wall.

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