College GameDay Preseason Guide

Discussion in 'Second to None' started by KnightNoles, Jul 9, 2012.

  1. KnightNoles

    KnightNoles Learn to Compete

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    Pre Season Media Guide
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    Welcome to Second to None and over the next few days we will go through and preview the teams and coaches of the ACC, Big Ten along with Notre Dame and the SEC.
    From the Atlantic Coastal Conference we have Clemson and Florida State from the Atlantic Division while the Coastal is represented by North Carolina and Miami.
    The Big Ten gives us from the Legends Division Michigan and Nebraska while the Leaders Division will have Wisconsin represent them while Notre Dame will be Independent but will have most of their ties to the Big Ten.
    The Southeastern Conference West Division will be represented by LSU and Mississippi State and the East Division is represented by Georgia and South Carolina.
    Most of these are scout.com 's season previews. Most copied and pasted, I sometimes threw in a random period or comma to end/combine sentences.

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    Last edited: Jul 14, 2012
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  2. KnightNoles

    KnightNoles Learn to Compete

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    YOUR ACC PREVIEW
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  3. KnightNoles

    KnightNoles Learn to Compete

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    Head coach: mikedredd
    First Year: 0-0
    Returning Lettermen
    Off. 22, Def. 24, ST 3
    Lettermen Lost: 23

    After an embarrassment and abysmal shellacking to West Virginia in the BCS Orange Bowl, the Clemson brass decided to fire Head Coach Dabo Swinney after four years and an ACC Championship. Talk about pressure for Coach Dredd to step into a situation where a team is comming off an ACC Championship, BCS Bowl and has 7 Offensive Starters returning along with QB Tajh Boyd and now super Sophmore WR Sammy Watkins, while the defense returns 7 Offensive Starters and made a Defensive Coordinator change bringing in Oklahoma DC Brent Venables. Building on the momentum that the school captured in 2011, though, will require more than just a bunch of highlight-reel plays and offensive explosions. The Tigers need to get tougher at the point of attack, especially on defense, or else their potential won’t exceed last year’s ceiling.

    OFFENSE

    Returning Leaders
    Passing: Tajh Boyd 298-499, 3,828 yds, 33 TDs, 12 INTs
    Rushing: Andre Ellington 223 carries, 1,178 yds, 11 TDs
    Receiving: Sammy Watkins 82 catches, 1,219 yds, 12 TDs

    The first question is what kind of offense Coach Dredd will use but whatever the answer is, he has a lot of talent to work with. Tajh Boyd era exceeded most expectations, even for one of the most coveted recruits of the 2009 class. The strong-armed 6-1, 225-pounder led the Tigers to an ACC championship, while setting numerous single-season school marks along the way. Caddying for Boyd for a second straight year will be 6-4, 200-pound sophomore Cole Stoudt then 6-2, 200-pound redshirt freshman Morgan Roberts and lastly incoming rookie Chad Kelly , Jim Kelly’s nephew, is the type of dual-threat who fits the system well.

    Senior Andre Ellington could have left early for the 2012 NFL Draft, opting instead to return for one final year. Coming out of spring, Ellington’s backup was 5-11, 195-pound sophomore D.J. Howard, then the most gifted by far is 5-10, 175-pound sophomore Mike Bellamy , the former four-star prospect who’s had off-field distractions.

    Then outside you have Sammy Watkins of course but to complement him, 6-1, 200-pound junior DeAndre Hopkins is no slouch either. The third receiver in the three-man sets will be 6-2, 200-pound senior Jaron Brown , a three-time letterwinner with the program. The Tigers have a trio of talented sophomores, Martavis Bryant , Charone Peake , and Adam Humphries. Clemson's largest hole on offense is potentially replacing TE Dwayne Allen. Filling his shoes will be 6-4, 235-pound senior Brandon Ford.

    The OL loses three starters from a year ago, leaving senior C Dalton Freeman as the undisputed leader of the front wall. The other returning starter is 6-3, 300-pound junior Brandon Thomas, who’s in the process of making the move from guard to left tackle. If true freshman Isaiah Battle or redshirt freshman Shaq Anthonyappears ready to handle left tackle, Thomas will be shifted back inside. For the time being, 6-6, 315-pound sophomore Gifford Timothy has been penciled in at right tackle but 6-6, 260-pound redshirt freshman Joe Gore might have the higher ceiling. 6-3, 295-pound Tyler Shatley, the junior, who arrived as a fullback before moving to the D-line, is now slated to start at right guard. The final piece of the starting lineup figures to be 6-5, 335-pound sophomore Kalon Davis , the biggest member of the O-line.

    DEFENSE

    Returning Leaders
    Tackles: Rashard Hall, 89
    Sacks: Malliciah Goodman, Stephone Anthony, 2
    Interceptions: Jonathan Meeks, 3

    Like the O-line, the D-line is retooling for 2012 as well. Three starters are gone, including recent NFL Draft picks Andre Branch and Brandon Thompson. Senior DE Malliciah Goodman is hoping to become this year’s Branch. Goodman’s partner at end, 6-5, 280-pound sophomore Corey Goodman, one of the gems of the 2011 recruiting class. The situation on the interior is far less settled, and won’t be until August when four sophomores will again lock horns. The battle at nose guard is pitting 6-0, 295-pound Grady Jarrett versus 6-4, 270-pound Tavaris Barnes. Defensive tackle is shaping up as a race between 6-1, 290-pound DeShawn Williams and 6-4, 290-pound Josh Watson.

    Sophomore Stephone Anthony , in particular, is on the verge of becoming one of the young stars of the ACC. At strongside, 6-2, 220-pound junior Quandon Christian is looking to go from a temp worker in 2011 to a permanent employee this fall. The coaches will wait until August to decide between a pair of seniors at weakside, 5-11, 230-pound Corico Hawkins and 6-2, 220-pound Jonathan Willard.

    The defensive backfield is an awful lot like the linebackers—lots of familiar faces, a competitive atmosphere and a mandate requiring that the unit improve as a whole. There’s an interesting competition taking place at safety, with 6-1, 210-pound senior Rashard Hall serving as the swing man at both positions. If Hall plays free safety, 6-1, 210-pound senior Jonathan Meeks will be the team’s strong safety. If, however, Hall lines up at strong safety, the free safety job will belong to 5-11, 190-pound Xavier Brewer. The secondary will begin the summer with defined starters at cornerback. The up-and-comer of the group is 6-0, 185-pound Bashaud Breeland. Breeland expects to be partnered with junior Darius Robinson, 5-11, 170-pounder.

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    The Tigers welcome back an all-star placekicker and return man, but need to develop a new punter. Junior PK Chandler Catanzaro delivered a bounce back season in 2011. The graduation of Dawson Zimmerman means senior Spencer Benton is slotted in to become the team’s next punter. Clemson is home to two of the most exciting special teamers in America, sophomore kick returner Sammy Watkins and junior DeAndre Hopkins.
     
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  4. KnightNoles

    KnightNoles Learn to Compete

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    Head coach: KnightNoles
    First Year: 0-0
    Returning Lettermen
    Off. 32, Def. 33, ST 6
    Lettermen Lost: 19

    The Seminoles will essentially be looking for a do-over in their return to glory, which took a sudden detour in the wrong direction a year ago, due to injuries to QB EJ Manuel and a very young, inexperienced OL. That led to a disappointing 9-4 season, failing to even capture the ACC Atlantic Division. With as many as 18 starters back from last year’s underachieving squad, the ‘Noles are hell-bent on putting it all together, and possibly vying for national championship contention in 2012.

    OFFENSE

    Returning Leaders
    Passing: EJ Manuel 203-311, 2,666 yds, 18 TDs, 8 INTs
    Rushing: Devonta Freeman 120 carries, 579 yds, 8 TDs
    Receiving: Rashad Greene 38 catches, 596 yds, 7 TDs

    Coach Knight will adopt the Fisher PB but going back to the roots of his LSU days. Senior EJ Manuel is about to begin his fifth season in Tallahassee—and second as the starter. The receiving corps has lots of potential. The line is mercifully a year older. His physical ability has never been a concern, a big-armed athlete packaged in a 6-5, 238-pound frame. Sophomore Clint Trickett appears as if he’ll be Manuel’s caddy for a second straight year, building a bulge on 6-5, 232-pound redshirt freshman Jacob Coker. The biggest key here is for EJ to stay healthy and that goes into the gameplanning for him.

    A horrible regression in the ground game by a talented backfield happened in 2011, which might be accredited to the young OL. Since 15 practices in the spring weren’t enough to decongest the logjam at running back, Florida State plans to stage a four-man competition for playing time in the fall. A lack of support and an early-season injury to Chris Thompson limited the group’s potential. The 5-8, 187-pound senior was the big-play guy of 2010. When he went down, then-freshman Devonta Freeman took over and played surprisingly well for such a young player. Sophomore James Wilder Jr. would seem to be, at worst, a logical choice to be the team’s short-yardage back. At 6-2 and 220 pounds, the five-star recruit from 2011 is the biggest and most physical of the Florida State options. Finally, the program’s most recent five-star gem, Mario Pender is already on campus, bucking for his piece of the pie. The 6-0, 190-pounder might be the squad’s best combination of speed and toughness.

    6-0, 229-pound senior Lonnie Pryor, Florida State boasts one of the game’s best all-around fullbacks.

    Nine ‘Noles caught at least 10 passes a season ago. Just one, Bert Reed, has exhausted his eligibility. 6-0, 175-pound Rashad Greene was playing like Florida State’s version of Clemson’s Sammy Watkins. Greene is planning to unleash his jets and explosive first step on defensive backs for an entire season. Behind Greene at “X” is 5-11, 170-pound Kenny Shaw. At flanker, or “Z” receiver, the ‘Noles are counting on a big season out of senior Rodney Smith. The most unmistakable target among the regulars, he goes 6-6 and 219 pounds, with the enormous wingspan to pluck balls that are away from his body. Smith’s caddy at “Z”, 5-11, 185-pound junior Greg Dent showed flashes of potential from off the bench last season. The Seminoles have yet to decide on their slot receiver, or “Y”, an ongoing competition between 6-1, 187-pound junior Jarred Haggins and 6-2, 206-pound sophomore Christian Green. The wildcard is 6'6'' Kelvin Benjamin who is a RS FR and is being hyped up out of spring practice. And Willie Haulstead who missed 2011 with a concussion.

    Sophomore Nick O’Leary is going to entice the coaching staff to get the ball in the hands of the tight end a little more often in 2012. As a rookie, the 6-4, 240-pound elite recruit

    Welcome to the single most important unit in Tallahassee. In fact, the Florida State O-line will be one of the more pivotal groups in the FBS in 2012. Bryan Stork who is making the shift from starting right guard to right tackle this season. Assuming Stork remains at right tackle, his backup will be sophomore Bobby Hart, who went through a baptism by fire in his first year on campus. 6-5, 313-pound sophomore Cameron Erving is in the midst of making a successful shift from defensive tackle to EJ Manuel’s bodyguard. Playing center will be 6-3, 295-pound sophomore Austin Barron, a part-time starter as a rookie. To the left of Barron, at guard, will be 6-5, 325-pound sophomore Josue Matias. Sophomore Tre’ Jackson is the frontrunner at right guard. At 6-4 and 325 pounds, he has terrific size and strength.

    DEFENSE

    Returning Leaders
    Tackles: Christian Jones, 56
    Sacks: Brandon Jenkins, 8
    Interceptions: Lamarcus Joyner, 4

    The defense should absoultely be one of the best and potentially could reach all time heights. From a unit that ranked no lower than No. 8 nationally in run defense, scoring defense, sacks and total D, the ‘Noles return just about every one of last year’s starters. Each level boasts an all-star caliber defender, and the rotation is SEC deep.

    Leading the charge for one more year will be 6-3, 260-pound DE Brandon Jenkins. Joining Jenkins in the starting lineup at end will be 6-4, 272-pound junior Bjoern Werner. The first defensive end off the bench will be 6-5, 264-pound senior Cornellius Carradine. The 6-2, 301-pounder, Senior Everett Dawkins is the veteran leader of a group of tackles enjoying an embarrassment of riches on the interior. 6-2, 302-pound senior Anthony McCloud has the edge to start at the other tackle position. McCloud better not get too comfortable with 6-3, 301-pound Sophomore Timmy Jernigan playing the same position. For good measure, the ‘Noles will also have a couple of quality vets coming off the bench, 6-2, 290-pound junior Demonte McAllister and 6-1, 301-pound senior Jacobbi McDaniel. As if Florida State isn’t already loaded up front, here comes 6-4, 305-pound DT Eddie Goldman and 6-4, 290-pound DE Mario Edwards.

    Junior Christian Jones has made the shift from strongside to weakside. At 6-4 and 237 pounds, he’s an all-around impressive physical specimen. Taking over Jones’ old strongside spot will be senior Nick Moody, the former safety who now goes 6-2 and 242 pounds. He’s the headhunter of the group, prowling the field looking for someone to hammer. In the middle, the Seminoles plan to employ two players in order to get the job done. In the lead to start is 6-3, 209-pound junior Telvin Smith. When the staff wants to use a more traditional run stopper in the middle, it’ll turn to 6-1, 245-pound senior Vince Williams.

    Both corners decided to stay in Tallahassee, Junior Xavier Rhodes is the next-level prototype at the position, a 6-2, 208-pounder who loves to hit, yet also has good instincts in coverage. Teaming up with Rhodes will be 5-8, 185-pound Greg Reid. The new first man off the bench will be 5-10, 165-pound sophomore Nick Waisome. Leading the charge from strong safety will be 5-8, 193-pound junior Lamarcus Joyner. Free safety, 5-11, 189-pound junior, Terrence Brooks is the least known of the regulars, but certainly not a weak link. While sophomore Karlos Williams has all kinds of potential and incredible measurables, he’s just not as polished as Brooks at free safety at this time.

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    The Seminoles will sorely miss strong-legged P Shawn Powell, who has graduated, but the special teams remains one of the ACC’s best units. Senior PK Dustin Hopkins, another boomer in Tallahassee, has one more year of eligibility. Replacing Powell will be a recent signee, 6-3 235 pounder Cason Beatty, who graduated early to take part in spring drills. The return game will once again be lethal. Big sophomore Karlos Williams and junior Lamarcus Joyner are expected to share kickoff duties. On punts, few in America are better than senior Greg Reid.
     
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  5. KnightNoles

    KnightNoles Learn to Compete

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    Head coach: mcyork
    First year: 0-0
    Returning Lettermen
    Off. 17, Def. 22, ST 2
    Lettermen Lost: 16

    Few programs in America are looking forward to the start of a new season more than the Hurricanes, which had to deal with all kinds of off-field problems a year ago. Al Golden decided to bolt for a more stable coaching venue and entered York, who loves this University and will try to put the team back in its rightful place.

    OFFENSE

    Returning Leaders
    Passing: Stephen Morris 26-37, 283 yds, 0 TDs, 2 INTs
    Rushing: Mike James 72 carries, 275 yds, 7 TDs
    Receiving: Allen Hurns 31 catches, 415 yds, 4 TDs

    The most important decision for York to make first is to decide on his starting quarterback, The newcomer in the hunt is 6-6, 220-pound sophomore Ryan Williams, a transfer from Memphis or 6-2, 210-pound Stephen Morris who has been medically cleared for contact, the battle behind center is about to really heat up.

    Lamar Miller’s decision to bolt early for the NFL Draft, where he was selected in the fourth round by the Miami Dolphins, has left his alma mater in a tough spot in the backfield. The staff is hoping senior Mike James will answer. Right behind James at No. 2 is 5-9, 195-pound junior Eduardo Clements. The Hurricanes are excited to inject rookie Duke Johnson , the local five-star pickup, into the equation. He’s an electrifying 5-9, 188-pounder who runs with more power than his modest size might indicate. Forget the redshirt!

    The thumper opening holes for James and Clements will be 5-11, 240-pound FB Maurice Hagens, a proven blocker for the Hurricanes.

    Miami has its work cut out for it in the receiving corps after last year’s top two receivers, Tommy Streeter and Travis Benjamin, left school early and graduated, respectively. Leading returning pass-catcher, junior Allen Hurns , is in a fight just to win a starting job. The 6-3, 190-pounder did play well a year ago. 6-2, 198-pound sophomore Rashawn Scott took full advantage of the opportunity to work with the first team. 5-10, 186-pound sophomore Phillip Dorsett is in pretty good shape to nab the other wide receiver job. Backing up Dorsett will be the most seasoned member of the group, 5-10, 182-pound senior Kendal Thompkins.

    Junior Asante Cleveland is making a strong push to win the starting job at tight end, a position the Hurricanes like to use in the passing game. Hanging close to Cleveland is last year’s most productive pass-catching tight end, 6-4, 250-pound sophomore Clive Walford.

    In a word, the offensive line competition in the trenches this summer will be intense. After losing three starters. One of the sure-things is 6-6, 310-pound RG junior Brandon Linder. At left guard, a starter won’t be named until the summer. Sophomore Jon Feliciano but a knee put him on the shelf at the end of spring, opening the door for 6-6, 320-poun junior Jermaine Johnson. At the pivot, the coaching staff is showing increased faith in 6-5, 290-pound Shane McDermott. At 6-7 and 325 pounds, left tackle belongs to sophomore Malcolm Bunche. Backing up Bunche on the left side will be 6-5, 320-pound senior Ben Jones. And what is the deal with Seantrel Henderson?

    DEFENSE

    Returning Leaders
    Tackles: Denzel Perryman, 69
    Sacks: Anthony Chickillo, 5
    Interceptions: Multiple, 1

    Despite a slew of graduations and early defections, the Miami D should be alright for the upcoming season. There’s speed and young talent at every level. This sentence seems familiar, a couple of graduations and a couple of early departures to the NFL have Miami in scramble mode. This time along the D-line and especially in depth.

    One of the young building blocks of the future is DE Anthony Chickillo , the five-star recruit who played like a five-star recruit in his first season on campus. The 6-4, 258-pounder started the final nine games. On the opposite side, the job of 6-3, 260-pound Shayon Green. Coming off the bench, the staff is intrigued by the potential of junior Kelvin Cain . The 6-3, 238-pounder who came to Miami as a linebacker made the transition to DL. On the inside, it’s go time for 6-1, 300-pound junior Curtis Porter. Next to Porter at tackle will be senior Darius Smith, the second-year starter out of Lackawanna (Pa.) College. The prototypical space-eater goes 6-2 and 360 pounds. The first tackle off the bench will be sophomore Olsen Pierre at 6-4 and 265 pounds, a recruit that Al Golden liked so much he lured over from his final Temple class.

    Sean Spence may be irreplaceable, three ‘Canes with starting experience are back, none more promising than second-year sophomore Denzel Perryman at 6-0 and 225 pounds. At one outside spot, the program is excited about the return of senior 6-1, 222 pounder Ramon Buchanan. Rounding out the starting lineup will be junior Jimmy Gaines a 6-3 230 pound man. The ‘Canes do not have much experience off the bench, especially since Kelvin Cain has officially moved to defensive end. Of the potential backups, only 6-2, 210-pound junior Tyrone Cornelius and 6-0, 230-pound sophomore Gionni Paul have seen the field.

    No team was thrown on less than Miami in 2011, partially out of fear of subjecting receivers to the Hurricanes hard-hitting safety tandem, which has a chance to be one of the best in America. Senior FS Vaughn Telemaque is about to enter his third year as a starter. He has undeniable physical gifts, a 6-2, 211-pound enforcer. An even bigger gem of the secondary is senior SS Ray-Ray Armstrong at 6-4, 215 pound thumper but is in some hot water with the coaching staff. Lurking behind the starters is 6-0, 205-pound junior A.J. Highsmith, a former quarterback. The team’s top cornerback should be 6-0, 190-pound senior Brandon McGee. If McGee does let the door open, 5-10, 183-pound Thomas Finnie is liable to jet through it. Bucking for a starting spot at the other cornerback spot is a newcomer, Fort Scott (Kans.) Community College transfer Ladarius Gunter. Incoming Freshman Tracy Howard could also come in and get playing time at the corner, most likely in the nickle.

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    The Hurricanes special teams unit returns virtually intact. Senior PK Jake Wieclaw performed well in his first season of duty. Miami couldn’t have been much happier with the play of P Dalton Botts in his first year out of Moorpark (Calif.) College. Looking to become the next Benjamin in the return game, both punts and kickoffs, will be sophomore Phillip Dorsett, one of the fastest players on the roster.
     
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  6. KnightNoles

    KnightNoles Learn to Compete

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    Head coach: krtgolfing
    First year: 0-0
    Returning Lettermen
    Off. 17, Def. 20, ST 3
    Lettermen Lost: 19

    The dark clouds have begun to gradually move out of Chapel Hill. Let the healing begin. It’s been a gut-wrenching couple of years for Carolina, both on the field and especially away from it. Following a 20-month NCAA investigation, the Heels were slapped in March with a series of penalties that include a postseason ban in 2012, a reduction of 15 scholarships over the next three seasons and three years of probation. After the Butch Davis era, the Tar Heels believed they found a good coach in Larry Fedora but they went with a gem in KRT.

    OFFENSE

    Returning Leaders
    Passing: Bryn Renner 239-350, 3,086 yds, 26 TDs, 13 INTs
    Rushing: Giovani Bernard 239 carries, 1,253 yds, 13 TDs
    Receiving: Erik Highsmith 51 catches, 726 yds, 5 TD

    Will we see a Pro-Style offense here in Carolina or will we see more of a spread? One thing is for sure, just feed Giovani Bernard the damn ball! Last season was a pretty good one to be a Carolina quarterback. Not only did T.J. Yates lead the Houston Texans to their first-ever playoff victory, but his successor, junior Bryn Renner, delivered one of the best seasons ever for a Tar Heel hurler.

    The can’t-miss recruit from 2009 was terrific in his debut as the starter, completing 239-of-350 passes for a school-record 26 touchdowns, 13 picks and 3,086 yards. He led the ACC in passing efficiency, and was 10th in the country, showcasing his accuracy, soft touch and outstanding footwork in the pocket. Hot on the heels of Renner is the gem of the 2011 recruiting class, 6-2, 220-pound redshirt freshman Marquise Williams.

    The program knew it had a special player in Giovani Bernard, but it didn’t anticipate him being so good, so fast in Chapel Hill. The 5-10, 205-pounder was last season’s breakout star for Carolina. There’s an interesting two-man battle to be Bernard’s primary backup this fall. Junior A.J. Blue was a quarterback when he arrived, but was moved to running back a year ago. He’ll be the bruiser of the trio, a 6-2, 230-pounder who does not lumber when he picks up a head of steam. Redshirt freshman Romar Morris created quite a stir in his first spring with the team. A very different complement than Blue, he’s a 5-10, 180-pound jackrabbit with track speed.

    Go-to receiver Dwight Jones may be off to the NFL, but last season’s next five most productive pass-catchers remain in Chapel Hill. evelop enough reliable targets for an attack that’ll regularly go three and four-wide. The most likely breakout star of the corps is senior Erik Highsmith at 6-3, 190 pounds. Highsmith is expected to be joined in the starting lineup by another senior, 6-2, 195-pound Todd Harrelson. Rounding out the post-spring starters among the wide receivers is 6-1, 185-pound sophomore Sean Tapley, a little-used letterman in his debut. Where does 6-2, 190-pound senior Jheranie Boyd fit into the picture? The Heels are hoping to work 6-0, 190-pound sophomore T.J. Thorpe into the mix a bit more in his second year.

    The battle at tight end pitting sophomores Jack Tabb and Eric Ebron will continue in the summer. Both players are a bit undersized for traditional tight ends, looking more like H-backs. The 6-3, 240-pound Tabb might have the best combination of skills, and is an extremely quick study, a plus as a new offense is being installed. The 6-4, 230-pound Ebron is a tremendous all-around athlete at the position.

    With four starters—and a pair of all-stars—back up front, Carolina could boast one of the sneaky-good offensive lines in the country. At tackle, 6-7, 310-pound junior James Hurst is carving out the kind of career that’s going to get him drafted in 2014. Next to Hurst at left guard will be 6-3, 305-pound Jonathan Cooper. Cooper’s partner at right guard will once again be 6-7, 345-pound senior Travis Bond. Returning to right tackle will be 6-7, 315-pound Brennan Williams. The newcomer of the line is 6-4, 305-pound sophomore Russell Bodine, Cam Holland’s replacement at center. Junior Peyton Jenest will be an important component to the line, even if he doesn’t start a single game. He’s vying for the backup job at left guard and center.

    DEFENSE

    Returning Leaders
    Tackles: Kevin Reddick, 71
    Sacks: Kareem Martin, 4
    Interceptions: Tre Boston, 3

    Like the offense, the Tar Heels defense is undergoing some philosophical changes as well. What will KRT bring to the defense? It’s a good thing that the prior regime did a perennially fantastic job of recruiting D-line talent, because it’ll come in handy this fall. The interior will be built around 6-3, 315-pound DT Sylvester Williams. The identity of the nose tackle lining up next to Williams has yet to be determined. The coaches have yet to decide between a pair of sophomores, 6-1, 300-pound Shawn Underwood and 6-3, 295-pound Devonte Brown. The new standard at defensive end will be set by junior Kareem Martin, a 6-6, 260-pounder coming off a table-setting campaign. The Heels have a pretty good backup at end, 6-5, 265-pound junior Tim Jackson. If Carolina elects to go with the 4-2-5, they will will be adding a Bandit to the two-deep this fall, a hybrid between an end and an outside linebacker. The frontrunner is 6-4, 235-pound senior Dion Guy, a career backup linebacker and special teamer.

    The leading man in the middle will be 6-3, 240-pound senior Kevin Reddick. Reddick’s partner at weakside will come out of sophomores, 6-2, 225-pound Travis Hughes and 6-1, 215-pound walk-on Tommy Heffernan, who’ll continue to duke it out in the summer. Not to be forgotten, 6-3, 230-pound junior Darius Lipford is trying to make his way back from an ACL tear suffered in the Independence Bowl.

    Again if they employ the 4-2-5, Carolina will employ a Ram in the secondary, a position that does a lot of freelancing, from blitzing liberally to dropping into coverage. Handling the role will be 5-11, 190-pound senior Gene Robinson who may have finally found a home. The Heels’ top overall defensive back is 6-1, 190-pound Tre Boston. Free safety will be manned by one of the youngsters, 5-11, 175-pound redshirt freshman Sam Smiley. Providing veteran competition is 6-0, 205-pound junior D.J. Bunn, a far more physical option than the frontrunner. The team’s most experienced cornerback will be 6-0, 190-pound junior CB Jabari Price who got a taste of action with a pair of starts in 2011. He’s on his way back after missing the final four games with torn tendons in his right hand. Price’s partner at corner figures to be 5-11, 180-pound sophomore Tim Scott, an eight-game starter as a true freshman in 2011.

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    The big news on special teams is that senior PK Casey Barth was granted a medical hardship after missing the bulk of 2011 with a strained groin. Former walk-on P Tommy Hibbard made his case for a free ride by beating out C.J. Feagles for the starting job in 2011. Sophomore T.J. Thorpe should thrive as Carolina’s primary punt and kickoff return man.
     
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  7. KnightNoles

    KnightNoles Learn to Compete

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    Your Big Ten Preview
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  8. KnightNoles

    KnightNoles Learn to Compete

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    Head coach: redwings8831
    First Year: 0-0
    Returning Lettermen:
    Off. 22, Def. 24, ST 4
    Lettermen Lost: 24

    Here is one of the biggest turnarounds in the 2011 season, can Coach Redwings step right in and deliver the ultimate goal of a National Title? Will he keep the focus of the spread offense after Denard leaves town or will he go back to Big 10 three yards and a cloud of dust? For this year, Wings' team has the talent, the breaks - with the rest of the Big Ten down or rebuilding - and the coaching to win the Big Ten title if everything goes according to plan.

    Denard Robinson is way overdue to be considered a legitimate Heisman candidate past the first half of a season, and he has a good line to work behind and a great running mate in Fitzgerald Toussaint to help carry the load. The defense needs to make some major replacements up front, but the coaching is peerless and the back seven has the right combination of experience, smarts and athleticism to be outstanding.

    Everything is in place, but more importantly, everything is improving to the level that Michigan fans have been waiting for. Michigan isn’t close to being Michigan again. It’s close to being better.

    OFFENSE

    Returning Leaders
    Passing: Denard Robinson 142-258, 2,173 yds, 20 TD, 15 INT
    Rushing: Denard Robinson 221 carries, 1,176 yds, 16 TD
    Receiving: Jeremy Gallon 31 catches, 453 yds, 3 TD

    The offense might not have been as explosive as it was under Rich Rodriguez – finishing eighth in the nation in 2010 – but it didn’t have to be thanks to a defense that didn’t force the O to push to keep pace. The 2011 attack might have dipped a bit in total yards, but the running game stayed strong thanks to another phenomenal season from QB Denard Robinson. The backfield is terrific and the line, with a little tweaking, will be more than fine if everyone stays healthy. The problem is a receiving corps that took a step back last season and needs Roy Roundtree to bounce back to 2010 form and Jeremy Gallon to shine as a possible No. 1 target.

    Senior Denard Robinson is what he is, and that’s one of the most electrifying players in college football, taking off for 1,176 yards and 16 scores last season. He’s a mediocre passer – completing 55% of his throws for 2,173 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 15 picks last season – and he seems to have a habit of throwing bad interceptions at puzzling times, but any of the negatives are offset by his phenomenal playmaking skills. 6-4, 205-pound junior Devin Gardner is supposed to be the passer in the equation, occasionally coming in when the offense needs a bit of a boost through the air, but he’s been awful when given the chance completing just 48% of his throws last year for 176 yards with a touchdown and a pick. 6-3, 189-pound redshirt freshman Russell Bellomy is a dual-threat playmaker with nice size and a good arm, but the Elite 11 camper will have to keep working and has to keep shining when he gets his chances. This is an audition year with Shane Morris expected to sign on with the 2013 recruiting class. With a big arm and pro-style skills he’s the exact type of quarterback Hoke wants for his attack.

    The Wolverines have their No. 1 tailback, and it’s not Denard Robinson. Junior Fitzgerald Toussaint emerged last year as a star to use as a nice complement to Robinson finishing the year with 1,041 yards and nine touchdowns with six receptions for 28 yards and a score. While he’s not big at a slim 5-10 and 195 pounds, he’s slippery through the line with excellent breakaway speed, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. 5-6, 172-pound Vincent Smith is another speedster with the talent and ability to break off big plays whenever he has the ball in his hands. 5-10, 219-pound sophomore Thomas Rawls, Big, strong, and quick, he has just enough talent to be a part of the rotation, while 5-10, 176-pound redshirt freshman Justice Hayes has a world of upside as one of the team’s star recruits from last year.

    The offense doesn’t really use a fullback all that often, but 6-0, 228-pound junior Stephen Hopkins will occasionally be used like one.

    Can Jeremy Gallon build off his terrific season? Mostly a kickoff returner under the old regime, the 5-8, 185-pound junior turned into a steady and productive part of the attack. With the emergence of Gallon, now it’s up to 6-0, 177-pound senior Roy Roundtree to find his groove again. 6-1, 206-pound sophomore Jerald Robinson is a big, physical target with just enough speed to get by. Also in the mix will be 5-10, 172-pound junior Drew Dileo, a quick inside presence.

    Replacing tight end Kevin Koger and his 23 catches will be a little bit of a problem. 6-5, 255-pound senior Brandon Moore looks the part, but he hasn’t done much being used mostly as a special teamer. 6-4, 234-pound junior Ricardo Miller will get a look at tight end with good athleticism and smarts, but the star of the position might be new recruit Devin Funchess, a 6-5, 205-pound pass catcher.

    The line did a nice job last season and looks strong coming into this year if it can find a suitable replacement for David Molk in the middle, Molk was the perfect fit for the transition of coaching staffs, and now it’ll be up to 6-3, 292-pound senior guard Ricky Barnum to take over. Bringing stability up front is 6-8, 302-pound junior left tackle Taylor Lewan, a second-team All-Big Ten choice after coming up with a solid season as a 13-game starter. Taking over for Mark Huyge at right tackle is veteran left guard Michael Scofield, a solid run blocker who was always a bit out of position. At 6-7 and 299 pounds he’s built like a tackle, but he wasn’t going to move Huyge out of a spot. With Schofield moving out, 6-5, 310-pound senior Elliott Mealer will move into a full-time job at left guard. 6-4, 299-pound senior Patrick Omameh is an academic all-star and a steady, unsung blocker who might start to get all-star recognition for what he does on the field. On the way is Kyle Kalis, a 6-5, 302-pound ready-made tackle who could take over a job from the moment he gets off the bus.For now, the hope is for 6-7, 285-pound sophomore Kristian Mateus to be ready to go after working as a practice player for the last two years. 6-8, 312-pound junior Erik Gunderson has seen just enough time at right tackle to potentially step in and not force the entire line to shuffle.

    DEFENSE

    Returning Leaders
    Tackles: Kenny Demens, 94
    Sacks: Jordan Kovacs, Craig Roh, 4
    Interceptions: Courtney Avery, J.T. Floyd, 2

    Michigan turned its experience and savvy up front into a pass rushing machine with pressure coming from all angles and sides in a night-and-day improvement overall from previous seasons. Losing heart-and-soul linemen Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen is a problem, and now it’s up to Will Campbell and the tackles to step up and become rocks on the inside so Craig Roh and the speedy pass rushers can shine. Kenny Demens leads a strong linebacking corps helped by the expected emergence of Desmond Morgan into a statistical star, while the loaded secondary is deep at corner and experienced at safety.

    Leading sacker Ryan Van Bergen and his 5.5 sacks are gone from one end putting the pressure on 6-5, 269-pound senior Craig Roh to do even more. Stepping in on the other side will be sophomore Brennen Beyer, a promising 6-3, 225-pound who doesn’t have the size but is a pure pass rusher with phenomenal speed. 6-2, 228-pound sophomore Frank Clark is another undersized option for the rotation. 6-5, 322-pound senior Will Campbell will not only stay put on the inside of the line, but he should blossom as a full-time starter. While undersized for a Big Ten tackle at 6-2 and 260 pounds, junior Jibreel Black is strong enough to make up for it. Because of Black’s size 6-4, 302-pound junior Quinton Washington will see time to hold up against the power running teams. Also bringing size to the interior is 6-3, 301-pound sophomore Richard Ash, a huge prospect with shocking speed and athleticism for his size and a world of upside.

    Senior Kenny Demens worked his way into the starting lineup in the middle of 2010 and last year he took the job in the middle and made it his. He’ll be backed up 6-3, 230-pound freshman Joe Bolden, one of the team’s top recruits and the heir apparent to the job for next season. Back to his spot on the strongside is 6-3, 230-pound sophomore Jake Ryan after starting most of last season when the defense wasn’t going with a 4-2-5 alignment. He’ll work in the mix with 6-3, 222-pound veteran Cameron Gordon, who came up with four tackles in a limited role thanks to a back problem. 6-1, 220-pound sophomore Desmond Morgan was thrown to the wolves as a true freshman and turned in a fantastic season making 63 tackles with a sack and four tackles for loss. The sky is the limit, while 6-0, 214-pound senior Brandin Hawthorne will once again work in the equation after making 43 tackles with a sack and three tackles for loss. On the way is No. 2 middle linebacker, 6-2, 215-pound Royce Jenkins-Stone, who’s coming off a 145 tackle season and a spot in the U.S. Army All-America game.

    With help from the pass rush the secondary turned in a big 2011, and it could be even better if true sophomore Blake Countess grows into the star he’s expected to become. At 5-10 and 176 pounds he’s not all that big and he’s a bit thin, but he’s not afraid to tackle. Back again is 6-0, 185-pound senior corner J.T. Floyd, who bounced back from a foot injury that limited him in 2010. 6-0, 197-pound senior safety Jordan Kovacs has been one of the team’s best tacklers over the last few seasons. Veteran Thomas Gordon finished third on the team with 67 tackles with a pick and two broken up passes as a ten game starter at free safety. At 5-11 and 208 pounds he’s big enough for the position and is extremely fast with great range. The Wolverines are loaded at corner. Countess and Floyd are sure things, but Courtney Avery can step in without a problem working behind Countess or in nickel and dime situations. On the way is top recruit Terry Richardson, a 5-9, 160-pound baller who doesn’t have size and isn’t all that fast, but makes up for it with a nose for the ball.

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    Junior Brendan Gibbons hit just one of five chances on field goals two years ago, but he bounced back in a big way nailing 13-of-17 kicks last year. Junior Will Hagerup had a rough year averaging 36 yards per kick and was replaced by Matt Wile, a sophomore who improved things a bit averaging 41.6 yards per kick with four put inside the 20. Both have big legs, and Wile was a top recruit, but consistency is a must. The kickoff return game has to be far better after finishing 117th in the nation averaging just 18.43 yards per try. Justice Hayes will have to try to add more pop in place of Martavious Odoms, who averaged 21.2 yards per try. WR Jeremy Gallon had a nice year on punt returns averaging 10.1 yards per attempt.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2012
  9. KnightNoles

    KnightNoles Learn to Compete

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    19,823
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    Head coach: jusblaze09
    First Year: 0-0
    Returning Lettermen:
    Off. 27, Def. 27, ST 3
    Lettermen Lost: 27
    Now that all the thrill and novelty of joining the Big Ten has worn off, maybe Nebraska can get back to the business of being Nebraska again. QB Taylor Martinez and RB Rex Burkhead have to stay healthy for a full season again. If either one of those two go down, the offense that sputtered and coughed way too much will be dead in the water. The defense needs more from the front four and has to get by without star linebacker Lavonte David and corner Alfonzo Dennard, but there’s talent coming in from the JUCO ranks and the starting 11 should be good enough to win at least a division title. No, this isn’t going to be 1997 Nebraska by any stretch and the expectations of the former superpower have slipped from national-title-or-bust to hoping for ten wins, but the program still matters.
    OFFENSE
    Returning Leaders
    Passing: Taylor Martinez 162-288, 2,089 yds, 13 TD, 8 INT
    Rushing: Rex Burkhead 284 carries, 1,357 yds, 15 TD
    Receiving: Kenny Bell 32 catches, 461 yds, 3 TD
    The goal for the offense when coordinator Tim Beck took over last season was to simplify everything to make the attack faster and more efficient to keep defenses on their heels. The problem, though, was that the O came down to Taylor Martinez or Rex Burkhead running over and over and over again. Can Coach JB bring a much more efficient offense and a third weapon to this team to take the pressure off the two main men?
    Is this the year it all comes together for Taylor Martinez? The 6-1, 200-pound sophomore looked like a world-beater at times as a freshman. Last season he managed to be the main man at quarterback for the entire year completing 56% of his passes for 2,089 yards and 13 touchdowns with eight picks while finishing second on the team with 874 yards and nine touchdowns. 6-1, 200-pound sophomore Brion Carnes is a fast, fast, fast, extremely athletic dual-threat quarterback from Bradenton, Florida, the hometown of Nebraska legend Tommie Frazier – Carnes is Frazier’s cousin. 6-1, 210-pound junior Ron Kellogg has been a good scout teamer and has been great in practices, but he hasn't seen any time yet. Redshirt freshman Tyson Broekemeier is a 6-1, 185-pound walk-on who dominated after dominated as a Nebraska high school star. How long will it take before Tommy Armstrong is ready? The 6-2, 210-pound top recruit can do it all with one of the best arms on the team and with terrific rushing skills.
    The might have been better running backs in the Big Ten last season, but there wasn’t a more valuable player than Rex Burkhead, a 5-11, 210-pound senior who led the team with 1,357 yards and 15 touchdowns to go along with 21 catches for 177 yards and two scores.Sophomore Ameer Abdullah came up with a phenomenal year as one of the nation’s top kickoff returner averaging 29.3 yards per try, at 5-9 and 185 pounds he’s not all that big, but he can fly and he needs to use his jets to make more big plays with a long run of just 24 yards last season. At 5-11 and 185 pounds Braylon Heard he’s built like a defensive back, and he has the speed and athleticism to grow into a playmaking defender, but he might be needed more on the offensive side. He’ll work where needed.
    6-2, 250-pound junior Mike Marrow is expected to be the main option at fullback with the ability to carry the ball a little bit as well as block. It’s been a long journey to Lincoln after starting out his career at Alabama before transferring to Eastern Michigan. . Junior C.J. Zimmerer has been a special teamer so far and has yet to touch the ball, but he has been around just long enough to be a part of the attack. At 6-0 and 230 pounds has decent size and enough ability to do a little of everything for the attack.
    The Nebraska receivers have to be a bigger part of the fun, and that means that Kenny Bell needs to be even more of a factor. A bit of a surprise, the 6-1, 185-pound sophomore stepped up and became the team’s leading receiver with 32 catches for 461 yards and three scores. Junior Quincy Enunwa his real strength is as a blocker. The 6-2, 215-pounder isn’t exactly a gamebreaker – most steady than spectacular – but he’s strong and isn’t afraid to make the tough play when needed. Senior Tim Marlowe has been a decent returner while also serving as a strict possession target. The 5-10, 185-pounder is smart and quick. He’ll combine in the rotation with 6-1, 185-pound sophomore Jamal Turner, an elite athlete who has the skills and upside, but lacks consistency.
    Senior tight end Ben Cotton caught 14 passes for 189 yards, but he’s a blocker. An all-star in the classroom, the 6-6, 255-pounder is at his best when he’s able to shove people around for the running game. He’ll combine with 6-3, 230-pound senior Kyler Reed, a nice deep play target.
    For the second straight season the Nebraska offensive line has to undergo some major changes up front, but the one key mainstay will be junior right guard Spencer Long. Undersized senior Seung Hoon Choi started six times at left guard, taking over the job late in the season. The walk-on isn’t a road grader at 6-2 and 295 pounds, but he moves well and has a full-tilt motor with the ability to finish his blocks. He worked last year at the position with Andrew Rodriguez, a big, versatile junior who’ll likely kick outside to tackle at some point. Replacing mainstay Mike Caputo at center will be tough, but longtime backup Cole Pensick will give it a shot. The 6-2, 275-pounder isn’t big, but he’s a feisty former defensive lineman who’s active enough, smart enough and quick enough to handle the job. With Yoshi Hardrick gone at right tackle, it’ll be up to 6-6, 300-pound sophomore Tyler Moore to try to fill in the gap after coming up with a nice first season. With Moore moving and Jones gone, 6-6, 310-pound junior Jeremiah Sirles will take over the right tackle job.
    DEFENSE
    Returning Leaders
    Tackles: Will Compton, 82
    Sacks: Cameron Meredith, 5
    Interceptions: Several with 1
    The Huskers finished dead last in the league in tackles for loss and need end Cameron Meredith and tackle Baker Steinkuhler to be even more active. The linebacking corps loses tackling machine Lavonte David, but Will Compton is a strong hitter in the middle and there are just enough good prospects to get by. The strength of the defense will be a secondary that won’t have any problems replacing corner Alfonzo Dennard.
    The line struggled last season with Ndamukong Suh long gone and with Jared Crick getting hurt, but senior Baker Steinkuhler did what he could on the inside earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors. Working next to Steinkuhler on the inside will be a combination of players. 6-3, 285-pound sophomore Chase Rome. Also in the mix will be 6-1, 300-pound junior Thaddeus Randle, a big, squatty nose tackle-like body for the interior. The Nebraska pass rush has to be better and it has to start with the veteran 6-4, 265-pound senior Cameron Meredith on the outside. 6-4, 265-pound junior Jason Ankrah started most of last season on the other side of Meredith. Also in the rotation will be senior Eric Martin, a 6-2, 255-pound veteran with tremendous speed and burst off the ball.
    The linebacking corps loses leading tackler Lavonte David, but it gets back a strong veteran in Will Compton for the middle. The 6-2, 230-pounder can play any of the three linebacking positions. Senior Sean Fisher stepped in when needed starting four times with 24 tackles with three tackles for loss after missing all of 2010 with a broken leg. At 6-6 and 235 pounds he has excellent size with nice size and great ranger, while 6-1, 230-pound senior Alonzo Whaley should be ready to do far more after making 11 tackles with two tackles for loss. 6-2, 235-pound sophomore Trevor Roach spent last year working behind Compton in the middle. The walk-on will be a key part of the rotation, while star recruit Zaire Anderson could be a huge factor right away. The 6-1, 220-pound JUCO transfer is a huge hitter with the ability to fly into the backfield on a regular basis.
    A strength last season, the secondary has to come up with several new playmakers with the biggest loss Alfonzo Dennard at one corner. Junior Andrew Green turned into a nice defender on the right side over the second half of last season. On the way is JUCO superstar Mohammed Seisay, who has all the tools and all the ability to be the team’s best cornerback from Day One. The 6-2, 200-pounder has size, speed and the smarts to know what he’s doing right away. Junior Ciante Evans has done a little of everything working both as a corner and a nickel defender. The versatile 5-11, 185-pounder is a strong all-around defensive back who has to prove he can do more when the ball is in the air. He’ll work where needed, while running back Braylon Heard will start working more and more at corner. The 5-11, 185-pound sophomore is one of the team’s faster players with tremendous athleticism. 6-1, 205-pound senior Daimion Stafford came up with a great year at strong safety earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors. Senior P.J. Smith has seen plenty of time and action as a backup and spot starter at safety. At 6-2 and 210 pounds he’s a strong safety who might see time at free safety.
    SPECIAL TEAMS
    There was some concern that the Huskers might have a hard time replacing Alex Henery, arguably the nation’s best all-around kickers. Senior Brett Maher wasn’t necessarily supposed to step in and handle all of Henery’s duties, but he was phenomenal nailing 19-of-23 field goal attempts with his three misses coming from beyond 50 yards. He also turns in a huge year replacing Henery as the team’s top punter averaging 44.5 yards per kick putting 25 inside the 20. The Huskers finished second in the Big Ten and seventh in the nation in kickoff returns thanks to Ameer Abdullah, the speedy sophomore running back who ripped off 29.3 yards per try, he was also the team’s top punt returner averaging 7.1 yards per try – he was much more dangerous as a kickoff returner.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2012
  10. KnightNoles

    KnightNoles Learn to Compete

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Head coach: trevorg234
    First Year: 0-0
    Returning Lettermen:
    Off. 21, Def. 19, ST 1
    Lettermen Lost: 23
    Wisconsin has been close, but it's time to make a few changes to finally become a true national title threat. They made that change hiring Coach Trev in replace of Bielema. The Badgers have been excellent since Nebraska graduate Barry Alvarez came up with one of the greatest building jobs in college football history in the early 1990s. Bret Bielema has taken things to a whole other level over the last two seasons and would’ve played LSU for the national title had the secondary not given up two big bombs to Michigan State and Ohio State. However, they were outplayed and outwitted by an inferior TCU team in the 2011 Rose Bowl and got their doors blown off by Oregon in a wild and wacky 2012 game. While losing big bowls is hardly fun, Bucky had the puck on the stick in both games with a chance to win each one, which was the last straw for Bielema and Compay.
    OFFENSE
    Returning Leaders
    Passing: Joe Brennan 6-15, 48 yds, 0 TD, 1 INT
    Rushing: Montee Ball 307 carries, 1,923 yds, 33 TD
    Receiving: Jared Abbrederis 55 catches, 933 yds, 8 TD
    Run, run some more, and run even more. Wisconsin, as always, will have one of the best ground games in America led by Heisman finalist Montee Ball, who along with Melvin Gordon and James White should combine for over 3,000 rushing yards working behind yet another massive line. But the big question mark will be a passing game that was among the most efficient in college football with Russell Wilson at the helm. Maryland transfer Danny O’Brien isn’t Wilson, but he’s a talented passer who could be in a perfect situation to maximize his skills.
    The big question is, is it possible for lightning to strike twice? Russell Wilson stepped in as a one-year rental and led the Badgers to a Big Ten title. Now the spotlight is on Danny O’Brien, a 6-3, 215-pound junior from Maryland. Redshirt freshman Joel Stave has been just good enough to potentially make it a battle for the starting job. The 6-5, 223-pound walk-on was hardly a hot recruit, but he’s extremely smart, is a great athlete, and adds a rushing element to the equation. 6-3, 213-pound sophomore Joe Brennan was the No. 2 man by attrition last season with all the other options going down.
    There were rumblings as a freshman that senior Montee Ball might be special. The coaching staff loved to talk about his potential and made him a big part of the offense by the end of his freshman season. Robert Griffin III might have been brilliant and dynamic on the way to winning the Heisman, but Ball was arguably the more valuable player tearing off 1,923 yards and 33 touchdowns on the ground with 24 catches for 306 yards and six scores as a receiver. Will James White get more work in the rotation again, after a tremendous true freshman? The coaching staff has been raving about redshirt freshman Melvin Gordon, who was able to keep his eligibility despite playing in three games and running for 98 yards and a score.
    With Bradie Ewing gone, 6-3, 236-pound sophomore Sherard Cadogan will get the first look at the starting fullback job. While he’s built more like a tight end, and he came to Wisconsin as a defensive end, he’s a tough blaster of a blocker. 6-0, 230-pound redshirt freshman Derek Straus is a good rushing option at the position who could find a role as a short yardage back.
    Can 6-2 and 180 pounds Jared Abbrederis become a No. 1 target? The former walk-on was an all-star high school quarterback and track star setting the Wisconsin state record in the 110-meter high hurdles while winning the state title in the 300-meter hurdles. 6-0, 212-pound junior Jeff Duckworth has seen a little time over the last few years. At 6-5 and 212 pounds, sophomore Chase Hammond is a big target with terrific upside. Hammond provides the size, while 6-1, 194-pound sophomore Isaiah Williams will provide the wheels. While the offense might be looking for more wide receivers to step up and shine, it has a great pass catcher in junior Jacob Pedersen, the team’s next great tight end. He’ll be backed up by 6-4, 260-pound junior Brian Wozniak, a big blocker who spent most of his time on special teams.
    The Badger offensive line will once again be the Badger offensive line, and while it’ll have its share of all-stars, senior Ricky Wagnerwill be the one everything works around. It’s not like Travis Frederick was a big-time recruit or a special talent coming out of high school, but the 6-4, 328-pound junior saw time right away earning the distinction of being the first true freshman in Wisconsin history to start the first game of his career on the line, suffered an ankle injury, redshirted in 2010, and then came back last season to dominate. 6-5, 322-pounder Junior Ryan Groy is a big, versatile blocker who looked like a possible center when he started his career but now will work at left guard. 6-6, 334-pound junior Casey Dehn will push for the right guard job after getting a start two years ago and seeing a little time over the first half last year. He has to hold off freshman Dan Voltz, a true freshman who qualifies as a lightweight at 6-4 and 288 pounds. 6-8 and 343 pound Sophomore Rob Havenstein was a key backup last season and a spot starter at right tackle, and now the job should be his. 6-7, 320-pound senior Robert Burge will be a key swing reserve.
    DEFENSE
    Returning Leaders
    Tackles: Mike Taylor, 150
    Sacks: Beau Allen, 4
    Interceptions: Shelton Johnson, 4
    Somewhat quietly compared to the press the offense gets, the defense should be outstanding with a little more help from the pass rush. The linebacking corps is loaded with Mike Taylor and Chris Borland two tackling machines who should be all-stars with All-America potential. s good as the linebackers will be, the secondary could be even better with the return of top corner Devin Smith from a foot injury and with the safety tandem of Shelton Johnson and Dezmen Southward among the best in the Big Ten.
    Senior Brendan Kelly to grow even more after making 35 tackles with three sacks and five tackles for loss. At 6-6 and 255 pounds he has the size and the look of a Big Ten end. Trying to do more on the other side will be just Pat Muldoon, a 6-3, 258-pound junior who made 14 tackles with three broken up passes. He’ll have to battle with junior David Gilbert, a 6-4, 250-pound key reserve who’s one of the team’s strongest players for his size. 6-6, 305-pound junior Ethan Hemer is hardly a household name, but he’s on the verge of being an all-star with great quickness and enough experience to be a rock. He’ll work in a rotation with junior Jordan Kahout, a 6-3, 292-pound veteran who had problems with an ankle injury. At 6-3 and 323 pounds, junior Beau Allen is a strong, large body in the middle who came up with a shockingly great season as one of the team’s best pass rushers making four sacks and 5.5 sacks with 22 tackles.
    Mike Taylor, at 6-2 and 222 pounds he’s built for the weakside. Junior Chris Borland became a cult hero in his first season earning Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors. 6-2, 225-pound junior Ethan Armstrong can see time in any of the three spots and should get the call on the strongside to start. He’ll have to battle with 6-1, 219-pound junior A.J. Fenton, a smallish special teamer. Somewhere in the mix will be Conor O’Neill, a 6-0, 225-pound junior who has seen a little time over the last few years and played a much bigger role last year.
    The safety situation is expected to be a major positive thanks to the return of Shelton Johnson, a good-hitting 6-0, 200-pound senior. Jumping into a starting role at free safety is talented junior Dezmen Southward, a 6-2, 210-pound tackler. 6-1, 188-pound senior Marcus Cromartie went from being a reserve to a good starter. ne of the biggest boosts to the defense is the return of senior Devin Smith, who comes back from a foot injury that knocked him out after the second week of the season. At 5-11 and 190 pounds he has good size to go along with tremendous smarts and all-star ability both on the field and in the classroom. 5-11, 190-pound sophomore Peniel Jean was a good recruit two years ago and was supposed to see time right away. At 6-0 and 210 pounds Michael Trotter has great size and hits like a linebacker, but he doesn’t have elite speed.
    SPECIAL TEAMS
    Gone is Phillip Welch, the longtime kicker who was a Lou Groza semifinalist in 2008 and nailed 5-of-6 field goals last year. Sophomore Kyle French worked a little bit on kickoffs and stepped in for short field goals in the middle of the season. Brad Nortman was a terrific punter who averaged 42.2 yards per kick and put 19 inside the 20. Gone, now it’ll be up to redshirt freshman Drew Meyer, part placekicker and part punter who should be able to average more than 40 yards per punt without a problem, but it’s asking a lot to replace a four-year starter who was as steady as Nortman. Receiver Jared Abbrederis showed signs of potentially being a strong punt returner a few years ago, he’ll also be the main kickoff returner after averaging 24.6 yards per attempt. Running back James White will also get a few tries after averaging 21 yards per try.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2012
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  11. KnightNoles

    KnightNoles Learn to Compete

    Joined:
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    Head coach: Nautica
    First Year: 0-0
    Returning Lettermen:
    Off. 18, Def. 20, ST 4
    Lettermen Lost: 30

    What’s the point of being an independent if you’re going to put together a schedule like this?

    Notre Dame has been building and building well talent-wise under Brian Kelly, and well the ND brass said it was time for a change and bringing in the RIGHT coach in Coach Mike (nautica) to do the job. Kelly improved the speed and athleticism across the board, especially on defense, and he has enough returning starters and enough talent to ask for more production from a potentially high-octane offense to go along with more toughness from a decent defense. The problem, though, has been being able to take a next step forward with too many self-destructive moments proving costly. Without a conference title to play for it’s BCS or bust for all the independents. It’s different for Notre Dame as opposed to BYU because it’s Notre Dame, but if you’re going to beat your head against the wall with an unmanageable slate, then why not join a league? With these schedules, it’s almost as if Notre Dame is trying to do everything possible not to succeed. In other words, 2012 Notre Dame could’ve been deep in the hunt for a BCS slot if it was part of any conference other than the SEC, but instead it might go 9-3 and be happy to get there.

    OFFENSE

    Returning Leaders
    Passing: Tommy Rees 269-411, 2,871 yds, 20 TD, 14 INT
    Rushing: Cierre Wood 217 carries, 1,102 yds, 9 TD
    Receiving: Tyler Eifert 63 catches, 803 yds, 5 TD

    The first step will be to find a starting quarterback and stick with him, but with four good options the issue probably won’t be settled all season long. Step Two will be to get everyone to hang on to the ball after the O turned it over 29 times. The running game has the potential to be more dangerous with Cierre Wood and speedsters Theo Riddick and George Atkinson III working behind a very good, very experienced line. The front five will be terrific again in pass protection, but the passing game will take a step back with Michael Floyd gone. Tyler Eifert might be the nation’s best tight end, but the Irish desperately need TJ Jones to become a No. 1, go-to wideout.

    The four-way quarterback battle will come down to who’s the most efficient and who’ll give the ball away the least. The most experienced option on the lot is junior Tommy Rees, a 6-2, 210-pound bomber who had a few moments of brilliance last year marred by big, giant mistakes coming at the worst possible times. It might be Everett Golson’s time to show what he can do. The superstar recruit of last year is only 6-0 and 185 pounds, but he’s mobile, accurate, and athletic enough to consider playing for the Irish basketball team. While Andrew Hendrix is being given every shot to win the starting job, and he saw a little time last year. He’s not as experienced as Rees; he’s not as dynamic as Golson; and he doesn’t have the upside of Gunner Kiel, one of the nation’s top recruits. Kiel chose Indiana, and then LSU, and then Notre Dame, with much fanfare and controversy. The 6-4, 220-pound nephew of the late Blair Kiel gas great size, a pro-style passing arm and good enough running skills to not be a sitting duck.

    Don’t forget about the running game. With all the attention paid to the Notre Dame passing attack, it’s been easy to overlook a terrific year from senior Cierre Wood, a former superstar recruit. 5-11, 199-pound senior Theo Riddick was used as a receiver over the last few years. While Riddick is quick, sophomore George Atkinson III is really, really fast.

    The passing game lost the greatest receiver in school history, Michael Floyd, but it got a huge break when senior Tyler Eifert decided to come back for one more year. Notre Dame has become a factory for tight ends over the last few years, and Eifert has the potential to be an even better pro prospect than Kyle Rudolph was. At 6-6 and 251 pounds he has prototype size with great route running ability and terrific hands. With Floyd gone and Theo Riddick moving to running back, TJ Jones will be asked to do even more. At 5-11 and 190 pounds he has decent size and he’s a great route runner, but he needs to do more with the ball in his hands. 5-9, 185-pound senior Robby Toma is a smallish, quick receiver who’ll need to find the holes across the middle. There will be a battle for one of the receiver spots between senior John Goodman and sophomore DaVaris Daniels, with Daniels showing the bigger upside. At 6-4 and 215 pounds, junior Daniel Smith has tremendous size, and he has the high school résumé, but he hasn’t been anything more than a special teamer after getting hurt last season. He’ll be a big backup, while 6-7, 252-pound sophomore Troy Niklas and 6-4, 250-pound sophomore Alex Welch will be the main backups working behind Eifert.

    The line has three returning starters led by the quarterback up front, Braxston Cave, a 6-3, 304-pound senior who has been one of the team’s offensive rocks over the last few years before getting knocked out late last season with a foot problem. As a backup behind Cave or as a possible replacement for Trevor Robinson at right guard will be 6-3, 295-pound senior Mike Golic Jr. He’ll have to battle with Nick Martin for the right guard gig. The 6-4, 285-pound sophomore didn’t play last year and is built more like a tackle, but he’ll be part of the starting mix somewhere up front soon. Cave might be the leader of the line, but 6-4, 304-pound senior Zack Martin should be the star. Working on the other side is junior Christian Lombard was a backup and special teamer last year but now will get the first shot at Taylor Dever’s right tackle job. At 6-5 and 309 pounds he’s big and talented. 6-3, 310-pound senior Chris Watt started every game last year after stepping in as the one new starter up front. A good, sound veteran with the versatility to play any spot up front, including center.

    DEFENSE

    Returning Leaders
    Tackles: Manti Te’o, 128
    Sacks: Manti Te’o, 5
    Interceptions: Zeke Motta, Jamoris Slaughter, 1

    The talent and athleticism on the Irish defense has improved by leaps and bounds over the last few years, but now it all has to come together for a more consistent season with more big plays. The concern is a secondary that’s paper thin across the board, but is athletic enough to get by. What will Coach Mike go with, what kind of scheme will this defense best suit for this year and beyond?

    With the transfer of Aaron Lynch, the Irish needs senior Kapron Lewis-Moore to become more of a pass rushing playmaker. The 6-4, 306-pounder is more of a tackle in the 3-4 than a true end. He’ll be backed up by Sheldon Day, a 6-2, 286-pound true freshman who’s a tackle working on the end. Fast and quick off the ball, he could be a pass rushing specialist right away on the inside. 6-6, 295-pound sophomore Stephon Tuitt stepped in as a true freshman and was every bit as good as advertised. Clogging things up inside will be Louis Nix III, a huge-bodied run stuffer. He’ll be backed up by 6-6, 290-pound sophomore Tony Springmann, a nice-looking 3-4 tackle who’ll see time on the nose with good athleticism and quickness, while 6-4, 286-pound junior Kona Schwenke will move from end to the nose with good upside as an interior pass rusher. 6-4, 265-pound Chase Hounshell saw time as a backup throughout his true freshman season.

    One of the biggest and brightest recruits from the Charlie Weis era Manti Te’o more than lived up to his billing. The 6-2, 255-pound senior has tremendous size, terrific instincts, and enough range to get to most things that aren’t funneled his way. The NFL scouts are split on how he’ll translate to the next level, but he’s a peerless hitter who doesn’t miss anything that comes his way. With one more big year it’s not crazy to suggest that he might end his career as the best linebacker in Notre Dame history. Junior Prince Shembo is a nice pass rusher who forced his way behind the line for two sacks with 31 tackles as a spot starter getting the call eight times. At 6-2 and 250 pounds he has great size for an outside linebacker with a phenomenal burst off the ball. ither backing up Shembo or starting on the other side will be sophomore Ishaq Williams, a superstar recruit who’s a pure hybrid with 6-5, 255-pound size and lightning fast speed. 6-3, 240-pound senior Dan Fox turned into a good starter. Senior Carlo Calabrese has made more noise off the field than on last season by allegedly telling the police, “my people will get you,” after the problems at the same party that led to Tommy Rees’s problems. 6-2, 248-pound junior Danny Spond will fight for a starting job with Williams.

    The corners are a bit of a question mark but the safeties should be solid. The loss of Harrison Smith might hurt, but Zeke Motta appears to be ready to step in and play a bigger role. Senior Jamoris Slaughter returned after struggling through a foot injury two years ago, at 6-0 and 200 pounds he’s big with corner speed and athleticism, but he has to do more with the ball in the air after coming up with just one pick with two broken up passes. 6-0, 185-pound junior Bennett Jackson will get a long look at one of the starting corner jobs after moving over from wide receiver two years ago. There will be an ongoing battle for one of the corner spots between junior Lo Wood and sophomore Josh Atkinson, two solid prospects with Wood the more experienced of the two.

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    David Ruffer nailed 10-of-16 field goals last year, but now it will likely be up to Kyle Brindza, a blaster of a kickoff specialist who should add even more pop as the main placekicker, while senior Nick Tausch will get a shot. The punting game was miserable last season even though Ben Turk averaging 40.2 yards per kick with 18 put inside the 20. Accurate and experienced, he doesn’t put it in the end zone and does a nice job of pinning teams deep. Running back George Atkinson III turned into one of the nation’s best kickoff returners averaging 26.1 yards per try. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the punt return game was abysmal, averaging 3.69 yards per pop. Receiver John Goodman averaged just 0.6 yards per try while the electric Theo Riddick had three attempts for -1 yard. Michael Floyd had one 41-yard return to save the average from being even more of a disaster.
     
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  12. KnightNoles

    KnightNoles Learn to Compete

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    YOUR SEC PREVIEW
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  13. KnightNoles

    KnightNoles Learn to Compete

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    Head coach: Coach_III
    First Year: 0-0
    Returning Lettermen:
    Off. 24, Def. 29, ST 1
    Lettermen Lost: 20

    Georgia went 10-4, won the SEC East and lost a triple overtime Outback Bowl thriller to Michigan State that could’ve easily have gone the other way, and even with all of that the program still might not be all that close to winning a national title. The problem with the 2011 season was that it gave the program a false sense of everything being on the right track. Instead, the Bulldogs appear to be further mired in a sort of SEC purgatory that they haven't been able to get out of for several years, staying one step behind the biggest of the SEC big boys depending on the season, but being just good enough under Mark Richt to make it seem like they’re just one tweak, one good break, one big everything-goes-right season away from finally winning the national title for the first time in over thirty years.

    Well that one tweak came when Georgia announced that they would hire Coach III to lead this team to Glory, Glory, Hallelujah! With a slew of suspensions, defections and off-the-field problems, Georgia has come under fire for having the most disastrous offseason by anyone outside of Happy Valley. Three starters in the secondary aren’t going to be around for the first part of the season – have fun with that, Missouri – but it was star running back Isaiah Crowell’s arrest on felony weapons charges that put the cherry on top. Everything will quickly be forgotten if Georgia beats the teams it’s supposed to. Unfortunately, at this point going 11-1 and playing for the SEC title still wouldn’t be enough for a program that’s way overdue to go 13-1 and win the national title.

    OFFENSE

    Returning Leaders
    Passing: Aaron Murray 238-403, 3,149 yds, 35 TD, 14 INT
    Rushing: Brandon Harton 53 carries, 247 yds, 2 TD
    Receiving: Tavarres King 47 catches, 705 yds, 8 TD

    There are just enough pieces in place for the Bulldog offense to come up with a solid year, but it’s going to require some tinkering to make everything work. Having a strong veteran quarterback in Aaron Murray is an excellent start, and while he throws way too many picks he’ll make up for a lot of problems elsewhere. The receiving corps should be excellent with a nice group of speedsters led by the return of leading receiver Tavarres King. The loss of former star running back prospect Isaiah Crowell might have been a big problem if there wasn’t so much hope for top recruit Keith Marshall and with several different options to work in a rotation.

    Junior Aaron Murray won the starting job as a freshman and showed he deserved the gig with 3,049 yards and 24 scores, and last year he was even better – especially considering A.J. Green was rocking with the Cincinnati Bengals. He struggled with interceptions late in the season giving away six in the final four games, and he threw three in the win over Mississippi State, but he often made up for his mistakes by keeping the offense moving. The unquestioned leader of the offense, the 2009 superstar recruit out of Tampa has emerged as one of the SEC’s top quarterbacks on the way to becoming a great pro prospect. He’s not all that big at just 6-1 and 211 pounds, but while he doesn’t look like the prototype he has a huge arm and is just mobile enough to get by with. 6-3, 196-pound junior Hutson Mason has gotten in a little bit of work here and there over the last two seasons. Considering Mason is likely going to sit out this season to save his eligibility, the spotlight will be on 6-2, 198-pound redshirt freshman Christian LeMay, a superstar recruit with all the talent and all the skills to take over the starting job and add more pop to the position if Murray goes down.

    So much for that. When superstar prospect Isaiah Crowell was dismissed from the team after being arrested on felony weapons charges. The team’s leading rusher enrolled at Alabama State, so now it will be up to a rotation to pick up the slack led by sophomore Ken Malcome, a 6-0, 226-pound banger. 5-11, 202-pound freshman Keith Marshall isn’t in Crowell’s class, but he was still a nice recruit this season with good toughness and lightning speed winning the North Carolina 100-meter championship. Junior Brandon Harton isn’t exactly an SEC household name, but the former receiver, only 5-6 and 174 pounds, the former walk-on can be used as a third-down playmaker as well as a shifty speed back in the rotation.

    For the moment, 5-11, 216-pound redshirt freshman Merritt Hall is the starting fullback, mainly because he’s just good enough to block and tough enough to be a solid power runner. He might be just keeping the seat warm for Richard Samuel, who started out his career at running back, moved to linebacker, came back as a tailback rushing for 240 yards and a score last season before suffering a bad ankle injury, and now he’s a fullback. At 6-2 and 243-pounds, the senior is a big, bruising runner who has done just enough throughout the course of his career to fill any role in the backfield.

    The Bulldogs had to replace A.J. Green, and while no one expected senior Tavarres King to be the same type of playmaker, he did a nice job of helping to pick up the slack. At 6-1 and 192 pounds he has decent size and has been extremely steady with the skills to be a nice No. 1 target to work around. While there’s a chance second-leading receiver Malcolm Mitchell could end up back on offense after making 45 catches for 655 yards and four touchdowns, he’s needed more on defense and will likely spend his entire season as a defensive back. That means it’ll be up to senior Marlon Brown to finally play up to his tremendous prep hype after struggling to make a big impact throughout his career and having problems last season with a bad ankle. The 6-5, 222-pounder has tremendous size and looks the part, and he showed he could come up big with four catches for 121 yards and two scores in the win over Vandy, but he has to put it all together and finish out his career with a flourish. 6-3, 208-pound Marcus Bennett provides the deep speed to be a matchup nightmare in three-wide sets. Working behind King at Flanker will be promising 5-11, 218-pound redshirt freshman Justin Scott-Wesley, a lightning fast speedster who won the 2010 Georgia state championship in the 100 meter dash and won the 200 in both 2009 and 2010, while also in the mix will be 5-10, 185-pound junior Rantavious Wooten who returns after suffering a concussion in a car crash missing most of last season. Somehow, 6-3, 202-pound sophomore Chris Conley will be on the field.

    The tight end situation might be seen as a problem after losing Orson Charles and his 45 catches for 574 yards and five scores, but 6-6, 254-pound redshirt freshman Jay Rome has the potential to be even better. He’ll start out playing behind 6-5, 272-pound junior Arthur Lynch, a very big, very strong option who’s a blaster of a blocker to go along with Rome’s receiving ability.

    The line struggled a bit in pass protection, and now it needs junior Kenarious Gates to step up and be fantastic. The 6-5, 328-pound veteran started out his career at guard and now will hold down the left tackle job where he needs to use his bulk and his strength to be good in pass protection in place of Cordy Glenn. Stepping in on the other side is sophomore Kolton Houston, a 6-5, 291-pound with tremendous upside after missing all of last year with issues with the NCAA. Versatile, he could play guard if he doesn’t end up sticking at tackle, which could be a problem if top recruit John Theus is every bit as good as expected. At 6-6 and 292 pounds he has the size to step in and start right away, and he has undeniable talent as a potential anchor at either tackle spot. Looking to anchor the middle for the next three years is sophomore David Andrews, a 6-2, 280-pound athlete who has to come up big. While he has the size to work at guard, he was brought to Georgia as a top center prospect with good physical tools and enough pass blocking skills to get by. If he can’t get the job done, then one of the guards could move over with 6-2, 313-pound junior Chris Burnette likely to take over. 6-4, 300-pound junior Dallas Lee spent last year as a part-time starter and versatile blocker before getting knocked out with a broken leg. If he moves, 6-5, 290-pound JUCO transfer Mark Beard will likely step in after earning NJCAA All-America honors at Coffeyville CC. Originally a Troy Trojan, he has decent size and can move around where needed.

    DEFENSE

    Returning Leaders
    Tackles: Shawn Williams, 72
    Sacks: Jarvis Jones, 13.5
    Interceptions: Bacarri Rambo, 8

    It might be hard for a defense to stand out in the SEC, but Georgia’s was able to do it last year finishing fifth in the nation in yards allowed. It wasn’t always great at keeping the better offenses under wraps – allowing 75 points to LSU and Michigan State to close things out – but overall it was a good D. Now it should be even better. The front seven in the 3-4 alignment has the potential to be a killer with a loaded line led by the tackle rotation of John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers. Pass rushing terror Jarvis Jones is one of the nation’s top outside linebackers in an athletic and active corps. Will Coach stick with the 3-4 scheme or will he scrap it to bring back a dominate defense?

    The defensive line was terrific against the run and decent at getting into the backfield, but the job of the front three is to hold up against the power teams with senior John Jenkins the perfect anchor to be the main man to work around. The 6-3, 351-pound former superstar JUCO transfer wasn’t a disappointment in his first year, but considering the hype and potential he wasn’t quite the dominant force he was expected to be. While Georgia will mostly work in a 3-4, it could easily play a 4-3 with junior Kwame Geathers strong enough to be used as a second starting tackle if and when he’s not backing up Jenkins. At 6-6 and 350 pounds he’s a massive body on the inside. The linebackers will take care of the pass rush, but that doesn’t mean that senior Abry Jones won’t be asked to get to the quarterback, a 6-3, 309-pound tackle playing end. He’ll be backed up by 6-3, 294-pound junior Garrison Smith, another tackle-sized end who came to Georgia to play in the interior but worked at end. Former linebacker Cornelius Washington was tried out at end this offseason, and while it’s been rocky at times in practices, the move appears to have worked as he finished spring ball looking like a natural. At 6-4 and 260 pounds he’s built for the job and he should be able to shine as a pass rusher. He has the speed, and now he appears to be in the right position, while fellow linebacker Ray Drew will also be given a shot at an end job after making eight tackles with half a sack. At 6-5 and 263 pounds he has good size to go along with excellent athleticism.

    There was never a question mark about junior Jarvis Jones’ talent. The 6-3, 241-pounder came to Georgia from USC with a world of skill and upside, size, and elite skills, but there was a huge concern about his health after injuring his neck in 2009. With all the attention paid to Jones on one side, the hope will be for 6-3, 227-pound junior Chase Vasser to dominate on the other. 6-3, 236-pound junior Alex Ogletree is a safety playing inside linebacker, and is shows making 52 tackles with three sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss in just eight games after coming back from a broken foot suffered in the opener against Boise State. He’ll be backed up by senior Christian Robinson, a veteran starter. Able to play in the middle or in more of a strongside role, he’s a bit smallish at 6-2 and 226 pounds but can move. Senior Michael Gilliard turned into a nice starter finishing third on the team with 65 tackles with two sacks and seven tackles for loss. At 6-2 and 220 pounds he’s built like a defensive back, but he’s a great hitter who has no problems getting physical and holding up well against the run. At 6-2 and 231 pounds, sophomore Amarlo Herrera is a bigger option who started eight times making 37 tackles and three tackles for loss. He’s not a pass rusher, but he’s a solid part of the system.

    Eventually the secondary will be a major plus, but first the team has to get through a slew of suspensions and other problems after defections have made a possible strength into a concern. Eventually, All-America free safety Bacarri Rambo will be back in the mix, The 6-0, 218-pound senior has great rang and the versatility to play just about anywhere in the secondary to become a statistical star, but first he has to get back in the mix after being slapped with a four-game suspension for violating the school’s drug policy. While Rambo is out, 5-10, 208-pound sophomore Connor Norman will play a significant role. Able to play strong safety or free, the walk-on has mostly been a special teamer. Also facing a suspension will be veteran corner Branden Smith, a 5-11, 176-pound senior who’ll miss the opener after being arrested for pot possession. A jack-of-all-trades who’s versatile enough to see time on offense if absolutely needed as a running back, he’s one of the team’s best athletes with cut-on-a-dime quickness and great speed. While Smith is out, sophomore Damian Swann, an excellent athlete who can play anywhere in the secondary, should make a nice impact. The other big loss early on will be junior Sanders Commings, a 6-2, 217-pound veteran lock-down defender. Stepping in during Commings’ suspension will be receiver Malcolm Mitchell, a 6-1, 184-pound sophomore. With so much hullabaloo over all the suspensions and all the problems, unfortunately, 6-1, 220-pound senior Shawn Williams hasn’t received the attention he deserves.

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    Gone is PK Blair Walsh, who went from being one of the nation’s most reliable kickers to hitting just 21-of-35 shots last year. Senior walk-on Jamie Lindley will get a long look at the job after looking just strong enough this offseason to potentially be ready to handle the work. However, on the way is freshman Marshall Morgan with the idea that he’s going to be the main man from Day One. With a cannon, the 6-3, 195-pounder is a big kicker with 50+ range and the talent to be expected to come through on big bombs after nailing a 59-yarder in high school. Former Ray Guy winner Drew Butler averaged 44.2 yards per kick and put 21 inside the 20, but he didn’t get much help from the coverage team. This year, true freshman Collin Barber is expected to step in and shine as one of the nation’s better punting prospects. Also getting a look is walk-on sophomore Adam Erickson, who’ll also compete for the placekicking job. Brandon Boykin was everything to the return game averaging 12.9 yards per punt return with a 92-yarder for the score in the bowl game and averaging 22.4 yards per kickoff return. Corner Branden Smith averaged 7.8 yards per punt return on nine tries and 18.7 yards per kickoff return, but several options will be tried out with Smith suspended early on.
     
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  14. KnightNoles

    KnightNoles Learn to Compete

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    Head coach: DrunkenSoldier
    First Year: 0-0
    Key Players Returning:
    RB Spencer Ware, RB Michael Ford, RB Kenny Hilliard, WR Russell Shepard, WR Odell Beckham, LT Chris Faulk, RT Alex Hurst, DE Sam Montgomery, DE Barkevious Mingo, DT Bennie Logan, DT Michael Brockers, LB Kevin Minter, CB Tyrann Mathieu, CB Tharold Simon, S Eric Reid, K Drew Alleman, P Brad Wing

    Has any team ever had a better year with less to show for it? Last year’s Tigers – by the CFN Season Rankings – would’ve had the greatest year in the history of college football by a ten-mile wide margin had they beaten Alabama in the BCS championship. No team in the history of the sport has ever put together a stronger résumé considering it beat two BCS game winners – Oregon and West Virginia – and, oh yeah, it beat the eventual national champion in its own house. LSU finally ran Miles out of town and brought in one of the brightest passing coaches in the land to figure it out in Baton Rouge, an offense that only mustered 53 yards in the biggest game of the season through the air! Rarely does a team improve by losing its veteran starting quarterback, but the Tiger passing game should be leaps and bounds better with Zach Mettenberger pushing the ball down the field a bit more. The D lost Thorpe winner Patrick Peterson last season, and it was even better. This year it loses Thorpe winner Morris Claiborne and dominant tackle Michael Brockers, and it should be every bit as good as long as everyone stays healthy. The defensive line will be a brick wall, and the second, as always, is full of NFL talent. Throw in the special teams led by punter Brad Wing and steady kicker Drew Alleman, and LSU has all the talent and potential for another run for the national title. And this time, it’ll have a passing game that can generate more than 53 yards in the championship.

    OFFENSE

    Returning Leaders
    Passing: Zach Mettenberger 8-11, 92 yds, 1 TD, 0 INT
    Rushing: Spencer Ware 177 carries, 727 yds, 8 TD
    Receiving: Odell Beckham Jr. 41 catches, 475 yds, 2 TD

    All that was missing last year was the threat of a passing game. The Tigers were able to charge through the season with a very simple formula: start running, come up with the efficient throw now and then, and then keep running with big back after big back behind a powerful line that wore down every defense but Alabama’s. Now the job is to stick with what worked while throwing in a little bit more of a deep passing game with pro-style passer Zach Mettenberger taking over at quarterback for Jordan Jefferson. The stable of running backs is very deep and very talented; the offensive line full of size and experience; and the receiving corps, even with the loss of Rueben Randle and TE Deangelo Peterson, should flourish with more downfield throws.

    It was a little bit of a shocker that the coaching staff didn’t turn to Zach Mettenberger for more than just garbage duty last year. The 6-5, 222-pound junior started off his career as a Georgia Bulldog before getting kicked off the team. It’s Mettenberger’s job, but the Tigers have another interesting bomber waiting in the wings. 6-7, 212-pound redshirt freshman Stephen Rivers is a pro-style passer who knows how to move an air attack. The brother of San Diego Charger star, Phil Rivers, has a little bit of mobility and a live arm, but he needs seasoning, as does 6-1, 180-pound redshirt freshman Jerrard Randall.

    Junior Spencer Ware was the main man for the Tiger offense over the first half of the season, coming out with a strong 99-yard, one-score day against Oregon to kick things off and dumping 109 yards and two touchdowns against Florida. But he went from being a workhorse to just a guy in the rotation after being suspended midseason during allegations of a failed drug test. A big slimmed down. He’s at 223 pounds on his 5-11 frame and now should be in for a huge season after averaging four yards a pop and running for 707 yards and eight scores. While Ware was a star early and then evened out over the second half of the season, junior Michael Ford was even throughout. At 5-10 and 225 pounds he has excellent size and is a smart, tough runner, but six of the seven scores came in the first four games and now he’ll have a tough time fighting through the traffic in the rotation. 6-2, 215-pound junior Alfred Blue came up with a nice offseason showing off good speed and enough power to potentially take on more of a lead role. Sophomore Kenny Hilliard was a good recruit last year who made a little bit on an impact right away finishing fourth on the team with 336 rushing yards with eight scores. The nephew of former Tiger and New Orleans Saints running back Dalton Hilliard bring 225-pound thump on his 5-11 frame, and he can move a bit, too.

    Hilliard will work in a rotation with 6-2, 225-pound freshman Jeremy Hill, who got to school early and showed off a little of his impressive skills. He might get lost a bit in the shuffle this year, but he has big-time potential, as does Terrence McGee, another big, strong back at 5-9 and 212 pounds. Massive 6-1, 280-pound fullback J.C. Copeland only got two carries for no yards but was a banger of a blocker.

    Rueben Randle is gone, and now it’s Odell Beckham Jr.’s time to be the new star, an All-Freshman performer last year. It’s time for Russell Shepard to show he was worth all the hype. A top recruit in 2009 as a quarterback, he was brought in to be a gamebreaking wide receiver, but he hasn’t come up with nearly enough big plays. At 6-1 and 185 pounds he has good size and elite athleticism and speed, but he has yet to find a niche. 6-0, 190-pound sophomore Jarvis Landry didn’t make the impact that Beckham did as a true freshman thanks to a broken foot suffered just before the season, but he still showed a little bit of potential. Gone is Deangelo Peterson, a talented tight end who was underutilized in the LSU attack. 6-5, 251-pound senior Chase Clement is more than ready to take over and shine. 6-2, 201-pound junior James Wright got a few starts and saw time in every game. Also in the mix will be 6-0, 195-pound junior Kadron Boone, a top recruit in 2010 who caught seven passes for 82 yards and two scores with most of his production coming in garbage time. The skills are all there to be a playmaker in the open field.

    The offensive line was phenomenal last year for the ground game and was excellent in pass protection. There’s a little bit of turnover, but one of the mainstays will be Alex Hurst, a 6-6, 325-pound blaster of a run blocker with a tremendous frame and NFL athleticism. 6-6, 325-pound junior Chris Faulk earned second-team All-SEC honors after starting 12 times at left tackle and turning into a dominator. Is senior P.J. Lonergan ready to get more recognition as the leader of the great line? Experienced, the 6-4, 305-pound veteran has All-American potential with the strength to flatten and destroy the man in front of him. Staying healthy, though, will be a key after missing a little time with a leg injury. It’ll be an ongoing battle at left guard, but it looks like 6-5, 320-pound sophomore La’el Collins is ready to take the job over and make it his. One of the top recruits in the country last year, he was considered one of the best offensive line recruits in the state of Louisiana history. Considered a possible tackle when he came in, he started seven times as a true freshman when Josh Dworaczyk got hurt. The 6-6, 301-pound senior was knocked out with a knee injury and was allowed to fight for his left guard job when he came back this offseason. 6-7, 324-pound junior Josh Williford turned into a spot-starter last year getting the call eight times at right guard. Senior Matt Branch saw a little time in the rotation last year and has been solid over the last few years when he’s had his chance inside. The 6-6, 287-pound right guard is a bit tall for the position and looks like a tackle, but he’s physical, while 6-4, 320-pound junior Chris Davenport should be the team’s best tackle reserve with a little bit of time last year. It’s just a question of time before 6-6, 315-pound true freshman Vadal Alexander becomes a mainstay up front.

    DEFENSE

    Returning Leaders
    Tackles: Eric Reid & Tyrann Mathieu, 76
    Sacks: Sam Montgomery, 9
    Interceptions: Tyrann Mathieu, Eric Reid, Tharold Simon,2

    The LSU defense has been among the best in the nation over the last several years, and last season it took things to another level with a dominant defensive front, a phenomenal secondary, and a solid linebacking corps with it all adding up to a group that allowed just 262 yards and 11.3 points per game. There are some massive losses, including Thorpe-winning corner Morris Claiborne and star tackle Michael Brockers, but defensive coordinator John Chavis is locked up with a whopper of a contract to keep him around. This won’t be the defense it was last year, but it won’t be too far off.

    The Tigers are known for cranking out top-flight tackles, but their star or stars on this year’s great defensive line is end Sam Montgomery, a 6-4, 245-pound pass rushing terror. Working on the other side will be Barkevious Mingo, a 6-5, 237-pound junior with the game to go along with the phenomenal name. Built like an NBA power forward, the former star recruit is ultra-athletic and is great at getting around the edge and into the backfield. So who’s the next great LSU defensive tackle? It’s 6-3, 294-pound sophomore Anthony Johnson, who’s nicknamed the Freak for a reason. Johnson is the star, but he might start out the year behind 6-1, 287-pound senior Josh Downs, the most experienced option for the left side. 6-3, 287-pound junior Bennie Logan went under the radar last season as a 12-game starter next to Brockers. He’ll stay fresh working in a rotation with sophomore Ego Ferguson, a superstar recruit in 2010 who started to blossom last year. At 6-3 and 283 pounds he has good size and great quickness making 13 tackles in the rotation. 6-5, 264-pound senior Lavar Edwards was a key part of the rotation.

    Junior Kevin Minter was able to make a name for himself in the middle of the dominant D last year, at 6-2 and 242 pounds he beefed up in a big way over the last few years after already being among the strongest players on the roster. There’s nothing flashy about his game, but he’s great against the run. 6-3, 220-pound junior Luke Muncie will go from being a key reserve and special teamer to the possible starter on the strongside. He’ll have to work hard to hold off Lamar Louie, a 6-0, 220-pound true freshman with tremendous speed and athleticism. 6-2, 229-pound junior Lamin Barrow will look to take over on the weakside after spending the first two years of his career as a good reserve. He’ll work in a rotation with sophomore D.J. Welter, a smallish 6-0, 226-pound part-timer who spent most of his time on special teams. On the way is Ronnie Feist and Kwon Alexander, two top recruits who’ll eventually be a big upgrade for the linebacking corps. The 6-2, 225-pound Feist will work in the middle with unlimited range and mature strength beyond his years. Alexander is a special talent, at 6-2 and 220 pounds he still needs to get bigger, but he’s a hitting machine who’ll be able to play in any of the three spots once he’s 100%.

    Is there another Thorpe-winning defensive back in the LSU secondary? Patrick Peterson won it in 2010 and Morris Claiborne won in 2011, but it was Tyrann Mathieu who ended up as a Heisman finalist and was the best all-around playmaker on the LSU defense. Teams are going to stay away from Mathieu on one side meaning passing games are going to challenge junior Tharold Simon on the other. At 6-3 and 190 pounds he has excellent size and is built like a safety, but he moves extremely well and is physical enough to beat up receivers and take them out of their game. Lost in the shuffle with all the publicity given to Mathieu and Claiborne was Eric Reid, a terrific all-around free safety with 6-2, 207-pound size and unlimited range. While Reid will be the team’s best safety – and possibly the nation’s top defensive back – the hope is for junior Craig Loston to live up to his prep All-America billing and be the next great Tiger defender. The 6-2, 200-pound strong safety. It’ll be up to a slew of freshmen to provide the quality depth. There are other options, but the backup talent will come in from the recruiting class led by Derrick Raymond, a 6-1, 175-pound corner who was a Louisiana state champion sprinter with terrific coverage skills. While he’ll work on the outside, 5-11, 194-pound redshirt freshmen Micah Eugene will see time at strong safety. A speedster, he could work a bit as a nickel and dime defender, while 6-1, 199-pound sophomore Ronald Martin should see more time in both safety spots.

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    Senior Drew Alleman turned in a terrific season hitting 16-of-18 field goals and showing decent range. He’s not going to blast any 50+ yarders – with a 50-yarder one of his two misses – but he’ll be a rock from 40 yards and in. He nailed his last ten field goals including all three in the win over Alabama. Punter Brad Wing will forever be known for being the first player to cost his team a touchdown because of a premature celebration, but the sophomore will now get more credit for being among the nation’s best punters. WR Odell Beckham will take over more of the kickoff return duties from Morris Claiborne averaging 24 yards per try on his five returns. Tyrann Mathieu is one of the nation’s elite playmakers on the coverage teams as well as on punt returns averaging 15.6 yards per try with backbreaking touchdowns against Arkansas and Georgia late in the year.
     
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  15. KnightNoles

    KnightNoles Learn to Compete

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Head coach: broth262
    First Year: 0-0
    Returning Lettermen
    O 28, D 23, ST 3
    Lettermen Lost: 17

    Yes, it stinks to be in the SEC West right now. It stinks to be in a division that’s full of national championship-level programs – and Ole Miss – and it stinks to be getting another very, very good team in Texas A&M to deal with. It stinks that MSU head coach Dan Mullen can come up with several nice recruiting classes and can upgrade the overall talent and consistency and still not come close to winning a division title, much less a conference one. It stinks that Mississippi State would be the favorite to win the Big East and would’ve been deep in the hunt for a conference title in any other BCS conference, but it’s in the SEC and it’s in the SEC West and it’s not moving any time soon. Will these stinks turn into past tense, stunk? Miss State decided to go with Coach Broth and Mullen left a pretty talented cupboard for him to work with.

    OFFENSE

    Returning Leaders
    Passing: Tyler Russell 69-129, 1,034 yds, 8 TD, 4 INT
    Rushing: LaDarius Perkins 87 carries, 422 yds, 2 TD
    Receiving: Chris Smith 35 catches, 330 yds, 2 TD

    Will Coach Broth keep offensive coordinator Vic Koenning and if he does, he might need to change things up a little bit to match the personnel. Last year, dual-threat quarterback Chris Relf and workhorse running back Vick Ballard carried the offensive workload, but now the passing game could get a bit more work. The running game won’t be forgotten about with a rotation of four good backs working behind a decent line. The interior of the front five will be strong, but both starting tackles have to be replaced.

    Is this the year that Tyler Russell finally starts to play up to his hype? The team’s best pure passing option over the last few years, he didn’t get too much work in last year. While he’s not a runner, he’s hardly a stick in the mid with 45 net rushing yards and a score. However, the 6-4, 220-pound junior is at his best as a pure pocket passer and he appears to have made big enough strides this offseason to start to do more. Redshirt freshman Dak Prescott is the dual-threat option to Russell’s passing ability. The 6-2, 225-pound athlete was wanted by LSU and a slew of other SEC schools, but he was promised a shot to play quarterback at Mississippi State and he’ll eventually get his chances.

    The running game might lose Vick Ballard, but junior LaDarius Perkins should be ready to pick up the slack. The 5-10, 190-pounder was a nice recruit three years ago who has become the No. 2 back over the last few seasons. Sophomore Nick Griffin, at 6-0 and 225 pounds he brings a decent thump with the smarts to have been offered scholarships from Stanford and Vanderbilt. Ready to blossom in the rotation are a pair of redshirt freshmen. 5-9, 215-pound Josh Robinson might be the team’s fastest rushing option, while 6-0, 205-pound Derrick Milton is a bit more of a power runner who can get in between the tackles. He can move, too, and like Robinson has no problems bouncing to the outside.

    The Bulldogs started a fullback in five games last season with senior Sylvester Hemphill getting the call each time. The 5-11, 235-pounder is a pure blocker and won’t ever get the ball – with no carries and just one catch for no yards – but he’s a punishing hitter who does all the little things to make the ground game go.

    The top receiving options are all back, but they need to be more dangerous. Senior Chris Smith, the 6-2, 205-pounder is strong with decent enough speed to be a matchup problem. Senior Chad Bumphis might not have the look of a No. 1 target, but the 5-11, 200-pound veteran is strong, tough and can fly. 5-10, 180-pound senior Arceto Clark led the team in yards with 442 coming on 30 catches with four scores. 6-4, 205-pound redshirt freshman Joe Morrow was, literally, a huge recruit for the program. A superstar prospect who was wanted by all the SEC big boys, he has the size and the physical ability to use it. Ricco Sanders will be the top backup behind Smith, but he’s experienced enough to see starting time if needed, the 5-11, 190-pound junior. Also adding experienced depth will once again by Brandon Heavens, a 5-10, 175-pound senior with excellent speed and athleticism.

    Sophomore Malcolm Johnson turned into a surprising deep threat at tight end last season, at 6-2 and 230 pounds he’s built a bit like a fullback, but he’s a big wide receiver playing tight end. He’ll be backed up by Brandon Hill a 6-2, 240-pound physical target.

    The O line did a strong job for the running game and wasn’t awful in pass protection. Sophomore Blaine Clausell will take over after spending last year as the understudy. At 6-7 and 305 pound he has beefed up a bit and now should be ready to handle the workload for the next three seasons. On the other side, Addison Lawrence is gone after starting all 13 games at right tackle. Stepping in is 6-7, 315-pound sophomore Damien Robinson, who might be a more effective guard but is built for tackle. Trying to come back from a torn up knee is right guard Tobias Smith, a 6-3, 305-pound senior who went from being a key backup to a starter for three games before getting knocked out. 6-4, 320-pound junior Gabe Jackson stepped up and started every game as a freshman, and then he did it again as a sophomore starting all 13 games last season. Big, strong and pounding, he’ll be the one the ground game works behind at left guard. Sophomore Dillon Day took over the starting center job halfway through last season and will make it his for another three seasons. The 6-4, 285-pounder was a high school offensive tackle and moves well. Considering Smith’s knee injury from last year and his history of being hurt, the battle for the backup right guard spot will be key. 6-3, 300-pound sophomore Ben Beckwith saw time in 11 games last season, while 6-7, 315-pound redshirt freshman Justin Malone has right tackle size but will see time early on in the interior. 6-4, 290-pound sophomore Archie Muniz saw time in 12 games as a freshman, and now he’ll see time here and there at left tackle. A smart, athletic blocker, he can mix it up a bit but will be at his best in pass protection. Former JUCO transfer Joey Trapp saw time in 11 games and will also get a little work at left tackle.

    DEFENSE

    Returning Leaders
    Tackles: Cameron Lawrence, 123
    Sacks: Josh Boyd, 4.5
    Interceptions: Johnthan Banks, 5

    The defense kept up its end of the bargain last season getting blasted by Auburn and Arkansas and holding up well against just about everyone else – including LSU and Alabama. Now the production should be even better led by a loaded secondary led by All-America candidate Johnthan Banks at one corner. The linebacking corps that was supposed to be a concern last year turned into a strength as the season went on, and now it should be dynamite on the outside with Cameron Lawrence about to get more recognition as one of the SEC’s best defenders. Despite losing tackle Fletcher Cox up front, the line shouldn’t have any problems getting into the backfield and might have found a pass rushing superstar on the outside in JUCO transfer Denico Autry.

    Now it will be up to senior Josh Boyd to become the main man in the interior, at 6-3 and 300 pounds he has the right size to go along with enough quickness to get behind the line on a regular basis. Trying to take over for Cox is sophomore Curtis Virges, a 6-3, 305-pound run stuffer. Looking ready to become the team’s new pass rushing star is Denico Autry, a top JUCO transfer with tremendous burst and potential to put up huge numbers on the outside. The 6-5, 255-pound junior was relentless throughout offseason practices and showed why he was considered such a huge coup for the program. 6-4, 280-pound sophomore Kaleb Eulls turned into a terrific part of the end rotation making 30 tackles with a sack and three tackles for loss. While he’s built to be a 3-4 end or a quick 4-3 tackle, he’ll get the call on the outside where he’s expected to do even more. Adding more speed and quickness to the outside behind Eulls is 6-6, 245-pound sophomore Preston Smith, a tall, rangy athlete who made seven tackles in his first season in the rotation. On the other side, 6-5, 260-pound senior Shane McCardell will work into the mix.

    Last year was all about rebuilding and reloading a good linebacking corps, and it came through with a decent season. Now the starting three should be far better led by senior Cameron Lawrence, who grew into the job on the outside last season, the 6-3, 230-pounder isn’t a big-time athlete, but he can get around and he’s as tough as nails with a full-tilt motor. He brings a great punch when he gets to the ball. There should be a good rotation in the middle with redshirt freshman Benardrick McKinney and sophomore Ferlando Bohanna combining forces to take over for Brandon Wilson. The 6-5, 235-pound McKinney is built more like a defensive end than a middle linebacker, but he’s actually a former dual-threat quarterback. A great athlete, he has great range and terrific upside. The 6-0, 225-pound Bohanna saw a little time making nine tackles with a tackle for loss. Unlike McKinney, Bohanna looks built for the job. 6-2, 245-pound junior Deontae Skinner is a big, strong defender who was one of the stars of spring ball last season and came up with a nice year, he’ll be backed up by Chris Hughes, a 6-1, 225-pound junior who made 11 tackles as a reserve. While 6-2, 215-pound sophomore Matthew Wells will be a backup behind Lawrence.

    6-2, 185-pound senior Johnthan Banks could’ve left early for the NFL, but he’s back as one of the best-tackling corners in college football. With teams almost certainly going to stay away from Banks, 5-10, 180-pounder senior Corey Broomfield might get tested even more. Battling for playing time at one of the corner jobs, or at least a nickel or dime spot, is senior Darius Slay, a big 6-1, 190-pound veteran who came up with a tremendous offseason after jumping in from the JUCO ranks. 6-1, 215-pound sophomore Dee Arrington will try to step in and replace the team’s second-leading tackler, strong safety Charles Mitchell. As a true freshman, Arrington made nine tackles after getting his feet wet, but he has the potential to be a star with a little more time. Junior free safety Nickoe Whitley has tremendous speed and range, and now he has enough experience to be one of the team’s top defenders. When 100%, he’s one of the SEC’s better hitting safeties. If he’s not back to form, 5-11, 190-pound sophomore Jay Hughes - a former running back who quickly moved over to the defensive side – will take over one of the safety spots.

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    Kicker Derek DePasquale is gone after hitting 12-of-18 field goals with four of the misses coming from beyond 40 yards. In steps junior Brian Egan, a top recruit and a Parade All-American with a good leg and nice potential. The punting tame was a strength with junior Baker Swedenberg averaging 41.8 yards per kick. While he put eight kicks into the end zone, he also forced 21 fair catches and put 19 inside the 20. Star corner Johnthan Banks is a strong punt returner averaging 10.4 yards per try with a score, but it could be up to LaDarius Perkins to make a bigger splash to help out a struggling kickoff return game. He averaged 22.7 yards per try but the team averaged just 18.5 yards per return.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2012
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  16. KnightNoles

    KnightNoles Learn to Compete

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Head coach: chance17
    First Year: 0-0
    Returning Starters:
    Offense: 7 Defense: 6

    The first thing the newly anointed coach must worry about is Lattimore coming back from injury. The junior running back Marcus Lattimore tore his ACL against Mississippi State in the midst of a Heisman candidate-type season. Before his season-ending injury, Marcus Lattimore rushed for 818 yards and eclipsed 10 touchdowns on 5.0 yards per carry. Although the USC Gamecocks managed to win five of their last six games without their star tailback, Marcus Lattimore could have been very useful in their lone loss (in that span) against the Arkansas Razorbacks. He will have a new quarterback taking snaps this fall in Connor Shaw after losing the ever enigma Stephen Garcia to "graduation."

    OFFENSE

    Returning Leaders
    Passing: Connor Shaw, 65.4%, 1,448 yards, 14 TD, 6 INT
    Rushing: Marcus Lattimore, 163 car., 818 yards, 10 TD
    Receiving: Ace Sanders, 29 rec., 486 yards, 3 TD

    All in all, there is plenty to be excited about in Gamecock Country. Connor Shaw finally relieved Gamecock fans of the headache that was Stephen Garcia. Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor will spearhead the defense, and a crop of talented freshman from a top-20 recruiting class are expected to contribute. All the Gamecocks need is a healthy Marcus Lattimore and everyone in the program, from fans to coaches, can sleep easy. It’s bittersweet to note that last season he was ready to surpass his rushing yards and touchdown stats that he displayed as a freshman phenom. At 6'1" and 232 lbs, Lattimore is an old-school back with a mixture of Adrian Peterson; a very lethal combination now that his knee is ready to go.

    Connor Shaw has had his share of struggles but also proved late last fall that he is clearly the future of the position. His athletic ability was never the problem, but as the season progressed he proved his arm was developing as well. Through his first five starts A.G. (aka After Garcia), Shaw tossed 44 incompletions while connecting on just over 60% of his passes. Over the final three contests, he threw only 14 incomplete passes for a completion rate over 75%. He will enter his junior season as the unquestioned starter and brings stability to a position that has lacked maturity for years. Look for Shaw to filter through a talented but undistinguished receiving corps this spring, and, most importantly, stay healthy. He and his receivers will have to prove this fall they can win games when teams stack the box to stop Lattimore.

    It may just feel weird to say this, but the running backs are the clear strength of Steve Spurrier's offense. Assuming Marcus Lattimore returns to form, Spurrier will boast the most talented running back in the nation as well as a rising sophomore who posted three 100-yard games in Lattimore's absence last fall. Toss in a quarterback who carried 135 times and, according to NCAA stats, technically led the team in yards per game (52.5), the 'Cocks have plenty of people to carry the football.

    Just how productive those backs will be depends on filling some holes along the offensive line. There is plenty of talent here to work with, but replacing 31 starts up front, including first-team All-SEC left tackle Rokevious Watkins, won't be easy.

    A.J. Cann and T.J. Johnson return to the offensive line and will control the interior of the trenches, be it at guard or center for Johnson. The other three spots on the offensive line must be solidified this spring. Cody Gibson and Will Sport will likely compete for the right tackle job while Kyle Harris, Kaleb Broome and freshman Clayton Stadnik should add plenty of depth to the interior. Stud recruit Brandon Shell is the guy the coaching staff is likely rooting for to win the left tackle gig. With Mike Matulis, Brock Stadnik and Travis Ford all missing time with injuries, finding depth and organizing the offensive line two-deep will be important. This is the portion of the team that seems to have held Carolina back over the last decade, so an SEC title could, literally, be on the line.

    QBs: Connor Shaw-Jr Dylan Thompson-So
    FB Dalton Wilson-Sr
    TB Marcus Lattimore-Jr (inj.) Brandon Wilds-So / Kenny Miles-Sr / D.L. Moore-Sr
    WR Ace Sanders-Jr Nick Jones-So
    WR Bruce Ellington-So Damiere Byrd-So / DeAngelo Smith-Jr
    TE Justice Cunningham-Sr Rory Anderson-So
    OL A.J. Cann-So, T.J. Johnson-Sr, Cody Gibson-So Mike Matulis-So

    DEFENSE

    Returning Leaders
    Tackles: D.J. Swearinger, 80
    Sacks: Jadeveon Clowney, 8
    Interceptions: D.J. Swearinger, 3

    Lorenzo Ward is now the sole owner of the defensive coordinator position in Columbia after two very successful campaigns with the Cocks. With Ellis Johnson moving on to take the Southern Miss head coaching position, the onus to continue South Carolina's stellar play falls to Ward. The bad news is the departure of leaders Melvin Ingram, Rodney Paulk and Antonio Allen. The good news is the defensive line is abosolutely stacked, the secondary is deep and the linebackers are talented. Finding a new 'Spur,' filling voids at corner and linebacker will be key. How will Ward put his stamp on a defense that finished third nationally in total defense (behind only Alabama and LSU) and 11th in scoring defense — or should he change much at all?

    Despite the loss of Allen, D.J. Swearinger, the team's leading returning tackler and intercepter, returns with DeVonte Holloman to form a solid safety tandem. Holloman should slide into the Spur position vacated by Allen because there is loads of depth behind them. Look for redshirt Sheldon Royster to get plenty of reps with Swearinger still recovering from foot surgery. Yet, the cornerback position lost Gilmore, Whitlock and Markett, so filling these voids is key this spring. Getting Akeem Auguste back healthy on the field will help, but much will be expected from names like Victor Hampton and Jimmy Legree — who shifts over from safety. Even linebacker Edward Muldrow could see time in the secondary. There is plenty of upside and potential in this group, but it also features a lot of moving parts at the moment. This spring should go a long way to fitting the pieces together.

    It only took South Carolina two decades, but this defensive line has a decisively SEC-feel to it. It has turned into a year-in, year-out strength for a program that has only been to one SEC title game. Despite losing Melvin Ingram and Travian Robertson, this defensive line is stacked. Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is as good as advertised and was named SEC Freshman of The Year by the league's coaches. His presence on the outside keeps South Carolina on the list of elite defenses. Combine that with only one departing linebacker, and Carolina boasts one of the best front sevens in the nation.

    The secondary will have to be almost completely reworked, however, that may not be as terrible as it sounds. Stephon Gilmore was a solid player but never built on his solid early production. C.C. Whitlock and Marty Markett also depart at corner.

    DE Devin Taylor-Sr Chaz Sutton-Jr
    DT Byron Jerideau-Sr, Kelcy Quarles-So Aldrick Fordham-Sr
    DE Jadeveon Clowney-So
    MLB Shaq Wilson-Sr
    WLB Reginald Bowens-Sr Quin Smith-Sr
    SPUR Damario Jeffery-Sr Sharrod Golightly-So
    CB Victor Hampton-So
    SS DeVonte Holloman-Sr Brison Williams-So
    FS D.J. Swearinger-Sr Jimmy Legree-Jr

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    The Gamecocks also need to locate a new kicker and punter.
     
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  17. trevorg234

    trevorg234 Walk On

    Joined:
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    1,497
    Outstanding work on these.
     
  18. krtgolfing

    krtgolfing Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2012
    Messages:
    3,608
    Great write ups noles....Really enjoyed reading these!!!
     
  19. broth262

    broth262 Dirty Terps

    Joined:
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    These were crap didn't enjoy them at all.



    Can't led Noles get to high and mighty ;)
     
  20. KnightNoles

    KnightNoles Learn to Compete

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Good thing I didn't do one of these previews then...

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
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  21. broth262

    broth262 Dirty Terps

    Joined:
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    Good thing indeed, that Terps logo is outdated. Not to mention how woefully incorrect Maryland's rosters are.
     

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