Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Welcome to Saturday number 1!!!

For those of you who are trickling in this week, welcome. For those of you who have been reading my stuff sporadically for the last few years, welcome to the new format. I had heard from several people that when I sent out the emails, that they sometimes didn't work for people for whatever reason. I also learned that when I opened this blog a month or so ago, that it's just easier for me to write in this format. I also hope that it more accessible than the old email that used to get sent out every week. There will be a schedule that will take place here. Let me break it down for you as best as I can.

Every Monday, there will be a score recap from the weekend. Monday will be number crunching day for me as well, as I will be breaking down my stats for the weekly poll. If you are trying to find the poll now...STOP!!! I do not release a pre season poll, as that seems rather pointless. This poll is points based. Everyone starts out with 0 points in week one. When you win, you gain points, when you lose, you lose them. Pretty simple. Teams with more high profile wins gain more points than those who beat up on crappy teams. Beat a 1-AA school, and you gain nothing but the differential in which you beat that team by. Beat a ranked opponent, and you score big, especially if you do it on the road. I will break down the point system when the first poll is released one week from today, and will be released every Tuesday until the season ends. Once Bowl season begins, there will be no poll until the Championship game ends. Tuesdays will also be the day in which you start getting my take on the upcoming games for the coming weekend. I will preview Thursday/Friday games on Tuesday, and Saturday games on Wednesday. If there are games on any other day, they too will be covered on Tuesday. Thursday and Friday will be the work up for Saturday. There will be lots of story lines and updates, and I will spend some time going over some of our conversations.

Terminology...I call it as I see it. If you have an aversion to swearing, than be prepared. I will do so when I feel it is appropriate. If you are stuck on BCS bullshit, than you have come to the wrong place. I HATE THE BCS!!! I still designate by 1-A and 1-AA. I still call Syracuse the Orangemen, and I still call Hawaii the Rainbow Warriors, or Rainbows for short, because there is nothing offensive about it. I am not PC, and never will be, so don't expect a bunch of warm and fuzzy crap here. If your team sucks, than they suck. If your team is playing well, than i give props, and I sure as hell won't sugar coat it for you. As you can see, this is not a mainstream media site, nor is it friendly towards mainstream media. I used to work in that market, and it sucks. I don't go after interviews, and I don't drink the Kool-Aide, so I can speak my mind freely, and so I will. When I refer to a coach as being a merc, I mean it. Coaches that get that reference are people that shift from one gig to another without good reason. They especially get it if they get a team up the creek without a paddle, and then bail to go wreck another program. Mercenaries are scum, and they get no love here.

Involvement By YOU!!!...I welcome all comments and conversation. Say whatever you want to say. This is a fan's site/blog, and you all have a say here. But be warned. If you come off badly, you'll probably get slammed for it. Don't take it personally, just come back with better material. It's all good. Oh, and by the way, have fun for God's sake. This shit isn't brain surgery or the cure for cancer. Enjoy yourselves, talk smack, pump up your team. This is college football...the greatest game going!!! Make this place your weekly tailgate party, and come every day.

References: I am not pretending to have the latest breaking story or that I get info from some deep throat at the highest level of government or anything like this. I am just a fan, and I get everything from various websites all over the place. I will try throughout the season to get great stories off of the web, and link you to them. I am striving to be a one stop shop that will collect all sorts of cool stuff, and give you an open channel to it, so that you don't have to do all of that crap yourselves. I also want to give props to the Helmet Project. That is the site that I get all of my helmet artwork off of, and that site kicks major ass. He has the most up to date helmet artwork on his site, plus a ton of historical stuff that is amazingly cool to check out. Even when I am not using his stuff, I still go back often just to see the changes. Check it out, you won't be mad that you did.

Now that you have been brought up to speed (somewhat), I hope that you enjoy the site, and that you all make it what you want it to be. Let's all have a really good time, don't get personal, and let's have one hell of a college football season. The site has my name on it, but it is a place for everyone.

Game Forecast 9/3

Arizona at Toledo
This is an interesting road trip for the Wildcats to take. There has been wholesale change with the coordinators this off season, but don't worry too much. Arizona is talented enough to take this game seriously,and Mike Stoops won't let it be otherwise in his return to his home state. Toledo is in year two of a rebuilding plan, and so a win against the Cats is not in the cards for the Rockets. Arizona will handle this one.

Vegas Line: Arizona -14
I Pick: This number is about right. I figure the Cats have a solid 14 point + win in them this week.

Game Forecasts 9/2

     Florida A&M at Miami

The Hurricanes start off with a bang against Tallahassee High School...er...Florida A&M. It would be a waste to break it down, as we all know what's going to happen here. Miami wins 63-10.

Vegas Odds: No Line
I pick: Miami

Prebyterian at Wake Forest

Another no brainer. PC has absolutely no chance at winning this game, and Wake should be embarrassed to be playing it. Get real.

Vegas Line: No Line
I pick: Wake Forest

Pittsburgh at Utah
Finally a meaty match up for Thursday night. Pitt will bring Heisman candidate Dion Lewis into Salt Lake City to try and take down a Utes team that is on a mission. The spread is very close, as it should be. The difference maker will be at QB, where Jordan Wynn is coming off of a superb performance in the bowl win over Cal. Pitt starts young Tino Sunseri. Look for Utah to attack aggressively. They will make Lewis beat them single handedly, while taking the passing game out at the knees.

Vegas Line: Utah -3
I pick: Utah...can't go against the Utes at home, and they are desperate to win this one.

Norfolk State at Rutgers
I really can't figure out what Rutgers gets out of playing this game, other than an easy win. There are no major stories coming out of this match, as Rutgers will cruise 55-3.

Vegas Line: No Line
I pick: Rutgers...why bother thinking about anything else.

Towson at Indiana
Another slouch of a game. Strangely enough, IU struggled against CAA opponent William & Mary a few season ago, but Towson is not in W&M's league, as they are a traditional bottom feeder in the best conference in 1-AA. IU cruises 45-6. IU will be without WR Tandon Doss this week.

Vegas Line: No Line
I Pick: IU easy...the Tigers are a bottom feeder. This one should be over early enough to still plow a field or something.

Minnesota @ Middle Tennessee
Dasher is out and Kilgore is in at QB for MTSU. That changes the dynamics a bit, as with Dasher, the Blue Raiders were a shoe in to run down the Gophers. Kilgore is a JC transfer. The Gophers have lost both of their starting safeties for this game, one due to injury, and another due to suspension.
MTSU will also lose RB DD Kyles, who is injured. Philip Tanner and Ben Cunningham will share carries.

Vegas Line: MTSU -4
I Pick: MTSU...The Blue Raiders are still fired up to host this game on TV. Dasher will be a huge loss, but that just means that the Raiders win by less Thursday. The Gophers are a mess.

Marshall at Ohio State
The Herd is being herded into a slaughter pen in Columbus Thursday night. The Buckeyes should have no problem controlling the tempo, and they should have an impressive opener on their way to competing for a berth in the national title game in January. The Herd will start a freshman (James Rouse) at DE and also lose MLB Kellen Harris to injury, although it is still possible that he could play. Tyson Gale starts in his place.

Vegas Line: OSU -28
I Pick: OSU straight up and with the points...Marshall will not be able to keep up. The only danger is keeping the Buckeyes from looking forward to their next game against Miami.

Northern Illinois at Iowa State
This should be a better game than it looks. Northern is up and coming in the MAC, and this should be the year that they take a spot on top of the conference standings. Iowa State was a shocking bowl team last season, but they are not exactly on stable ground in 2010 due to their rugged schedule, even though they are better as a team. This series is always close. NIU is expecting to be thin on the D line, so may have trouble against ISU and Alexander Robinson.

Vegas Line: ISU -3
I Pick: ISU... I'll take the Cyclones at home. Iowa State has been solid in season openers for the last few years, but this game won't be easy. Expect it go into the 4th undecided.

Southern Mississippi at South Carolina
This is a match between two teams desperately seeking an exit from mediocrity.The Golden Eagles have not yet improved under Larry Fedora from where they were under Jeff Bower, and Steve Spurrier has never gotten South Carolina moving with his offensive genius. Neither team is expected to light the world on fire this season, but losing early would probably put either team into a negative spin early. Stephen Garcia needs to have a big game, or else he is likely to end up back in Spurriers dog house.
South Carolina is very beat up coming into this game . Armando Allen, who plays the Spur, LB Shaq Wilson, and Byron Jerideau could all miss the game this week, which will open up the offensive abilities of QB Austin Davis for Southern Miss. South Carolina may also still be without several starters due to NCAA rules violations. TE Weslye Saunders was already booted from the team due to his possible involvement with agents.

Vegas Line: South Carolina -14
I Pick: I am going against the grain on this one. There are a bunch of uncertainties on both sides, but the Gamecocks have a ton of distractions. I take Southern Miss and the points on the road in what would be Spurrier's first loss to a non BCS school in 39 tries.

Southeast Missouri State at Ball State
Nothing gets the season rocking like a nice date with a 1-AA patsy. Ball State will handle this one, and we might as well give them next week too against Liberty. These games will equal wins for the Cardinals, but it won't do a damn thing for them in the first power polls of the season.

Vegas Line: No Line
I Pick: Ball State

Rhode Island at Buffalo
Since we are on the subject of MAC teams taking on potential patsies...Jeff Quinn has a guaranteed quick start at Buffalo.

Vegas Line: No Line
I Pick: Buffalo

Hampton at Central Michigan
We'll just keep rocking the current theme. Welcome to D1 football Dan Enos. Enjoy your first win at Central.

Vegas Line: No Line
I Pick: Central Michigan

Murray State at Kent State
And the hits just keep on coming. Kent should roll it up on the Racers this week, and then get ready for oblivion at the hands of Boston College next week.

USC at Hawaii
The Trojans are looking for a chance to show people that they are not down even while in the hold of NCAA sanctions. A big win here would solidify USC as still being a power. Any win under 21 points would be a joke for the Trojans. An upset loss would spell certain doom. The Trojans won't fall for the beach spell.

Vegas Line: USC -19
I Pick: 19 is a gift. USC should cover that number with ease. Fight on until next week.

North Dakota at Idaho
North Dakota lost to an NAIA team in 2009...at home. Idaho should put an ass whoopin on the Fighting Sioux in Moscow.

Vegas Line: No Line
I Pick: Idaho...BIG!!!!

Eastern Washington at Nevada
Eastern has no shot in Reno against what is one of the very best rushing attacks in America. The Wolfpack should have no issues here, and should clear next week's hurdle against Colorado State before the big test against Cal.

Vegas Line: No Line
I Pick: Nevada by a bunch

Florida Atlantic at UAB
This game is a real head scratcher, but I have to basically believe that FAU should get a jump on the Blazers due to QB play, as the Owls are the team returning experience at the position. UAB loses Joe Webb, who was their entire offense last season. Neither team looks to have a great season, but an early win would boost morale right away.

Vegas Line: UAB -13
I Pick: FAU...UAB isn't good enough to be favored by 13 over anyone this season.

Independents 2010-Army Cadets

2009 Record: 5-7
Head Coach: Rich Ellerson (2nd season, 5-7...83-17 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Ian Shields (2nd season)
Defensive Coordinator: Payam Sadaat (2nd season) and Chris Smeland (2nd season)
2009 Bowl Game: Missed the Eagle Bank Bowl by losing to Navy

Offense: QB Trent Steelman can call this his team now. He was the first freshman to ever start every game at QB for the cadets, and he led the team in rushing. Patrick Mealy and Jameson Carter return at the SB spots in the triple option offense. Mealy averaged over 6 yards per carry in 2009. Both WRs will be new, but it matters little since Army never passes the football. They ranked 120th in the nation in that category, and it won't change much this season. Jared Hassin (Air Force transfer) will start at FB. The line is solid with 4 starters returning.

Defense: 5 of the front 7 are returnees from last season, including DE Josh McNary, who was a beast in 2009. He missed spring ball with a shoulder injury, but should be back to speed for the fall. Mike Gann will be the returning NT in the 3-4 set. Stephen Anderson is the best of the LBs, but he too missed spring ball with a knee injury. He too is expected to be back in time for the first game. Andrew Rodriguez is also very solid at LB, with 85 tackles last season. Steve Erzinger is like a missile against the run. 3 members of the secondary return in CB Antuan Aaron, SS Donovan Travis, and Donnie Dixon. Army ranked 3rd against the pass.

Special Teams: Alex Carlton had a solid season, but he followed up with bad spring, and now has to fight to keep the job from Matt Campbell. Jonathon Bulls was all over the place in 2009, and needs to pull it together to give his defense a chance.

2010 Schedule

Wins: 9/4 Eastern Michigan, 9/18 North Texas, 9/25 @ Duke, 10/9 Tulane, 10/30 VMI, 11/113 @ Kent State

Toss Up Games: 9/11 Hawaii, 10/2 Temple

Losses: 10/16 @ Rutgers, 11/6 Air Force, 11/20 Notre Dame (@ New York), 12/11 Navy (@ Philadelphia)

It wasn't so long ago that you would have found nothing in the win box. Rich Ellerson is showing people that great things can happen at Michie Stadium, one of college football's coolest facilities. The Cadets have just got to win one of the toss games and they will earn a birth in the Eagle Bank Bowl, which they just missed by losing to Navy last season. Don't be surprised if Army pulls out a 7 win season.

Outlook: Things are getting better and better at West Point. Ellerson is proving to be a genius hire. He understands the West Point culture, and he knows how to win in obscure locales like West Point and San Luis Obispo. Army should see a bowl this season, and it seems evident that they are following the formula that Navy left for them to follow as to how to become a solid power as an independent and military academy. Good things are happening.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Independents 2010-Notre Dame Fighting Irish

2009 Record: 6-6
Head Coach: Brian Kelly (1st season, 0-0...171-57-2 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Charles Molnar (1st season)
Defensive Coordinator: Bob Diaco (1st season)
2009 Bowl Game: None

Offense: The changes are going to be huge under Kelly, as the passing game will become a major focus of everything that the Irish will do. Dayne Crist is recovering from a torn ACL, and he will be expected to grasp the offense quickly. He seems to be healthy and ready to run the show. Michael Floyd is the lone returnee at WR, so the others in this group will have to work harder than normal to get themselves acclamated to the pace the Kelly will expect in games and practice. TE Kyle Randolph will be a weapon, as Kelly loves to use the TE in the passing game. The line is questionable, as both guards return, but the center and both tackles must be replaced. Armando Allen is listed as the starting Rb, but Kelly will call on as many as 4 backs to carry the load.

Defense: There is a ton of experience up front for the Irish. Ethan Johnson and Brian Smith will return at the DE spots, with DTs Ian Williams and Kapron Lewis-Moore will all be back on the line. LB MantinTe'o will be the leader of the defense this season. He really came on fast as a freshman last season, and he has the skills to back up his mystique. Darius Fleming is the other returnee at LB. Junior Anthony McDonald is expected to be the new starter at LB in the 3-4 set.
Darrin Walls and Robert Blanton return to man the corners, while Harrison Smith is back at S. The defense was a mess last season, so it will be imperative to fix the issues that plagued the Irish last season.

Special Teams: Nick Tausch was solid as a freshman PK, nailing 14 of 17 FGs. Ben Turk was below average last season as punter, but will be back.

2010 Schedule

Wins: 9/4 Purdue, 9/11 Michigan, 9/18 @ Michigan State, 10/16 Western Michigan, 10/30 Tulsa, 11/20 Army (@ New York)

Toss Up Games: 9/25 Stanford, 10/2 @ Boston College, 10/9 Pittsburgh, 10/23 Navy (@ East Rutherford), 11/13 Utah

Losses: 11/27 @ USC

The schedule is rather weak in many ways. I don't ever remember a time when Notre Dame would "stoop down" to play the likes of Western Michigan and Tulsa. The rest of the schedule is rather traditional, with even Utah not being too far out of the box. I guarantee 6 wins, with several possibilities to pick up more from the toss box.

Outlook: The hiring of Kelly was a no brainer. He brings instant credibility to a program that has lost much of theirs over the last 20 years. If his offense takes hold with the existing roster, than the Irish are flying high right away. I think that it will take a little bit of time, with next season being more of a high level of expectation, rather than this season. The Irish get back to a bowl, and probably a pretty good one.

Independents 2010-Navy Midshipmen

2009 Record: 10-4
Head Coach: Ken Niumatalolo (3rd season, 18-10)
Offensive Coordinator: Ivin Jasper (3rd season)
Defensive Coordinator: Buddy Green (9th season)
2009 Bowl Game: Texas Bowl, defeated Missouri 35-13

Offense: Qb Ricky Dobbs is the option QB that strikes fear into hearts everywhere. Navy was the 4th best rushing team in the country in 2009, and Dobbs was at the heart of it all. He picked up a combined 2203 yards of offense and scored a NCAA QB record 27 TDs on the ground. Vince Murray is a stud at FB, a staple of any option based team, and rushed for 971 yards, the second best total for a FB in Navy history. The SB spots are up for grabs after Marcus Curry was kicked off of the team in May. Aaron Santiago and Gee Gee Greene are expected to step up. The line returns 3 starters, but both guards are gone. That needs to be fixed to keep the FB dive play in gear.

Defense: Here is a problem for the Middies. The front 7 is a wasteland. DE Jabaree Tuani and NG Chase Burge are the lone returnees in that group. All 4 LBs are new starters, but they are all either juniors or seniors, so that helps. The secondary returns largely intact with CB Kevin Edwards and safeties Wyatt Middleton and Emmett Merchant.

Special Teams: Joe Buckley was the man at PK last season, and his leg will be a major weapon this season. Kyle Delahooke is the second best punter in Navy history.

2010 Schedule

Wins: 9/6 Maryland, 9/11 Georgia Southern, 9/18 @ Louisiana Tech, 10/9 @ Wake Forest, 10/16 SMU, 10/30 Duke, 11/6 @ East Carolina, 11/13 Central Michigan, 11/20 Arkansas State

Toss Up Games: 10/2 @ Air Force, 10/23 Notre Dame, 12/11 Army

Losses: None

There are no guaranteed losses here. Navy had an amazing season last year winning 10, and they could very well take a shot at eclypsing that total in 2010 if the defense comes together.

Outlook: Navy is on the move again. If you want to talk about potential BCS busters, than here is one right here. Navy does have a shot to win every game on the schedule, but will they? There are questions on defense and at the slotback positions, but there is experience to help, so Navy should keep on sailing to better and better locales.

WAC 2010- New Mexico State Aggies

2009 Record: 3-10 (1-7)
Head Coach: DeWayne Walker
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Dunbar (1st season)
Defensive Coordinator: Walker
2009 Bowl Game: It's been 50 years

Offense: They have one? The aggies passed for a miserable 87.8 yards per game in 2009. And no, they weren't running the option. There is no QB named as of yet, with Jeff Fleming and Matt Christian fighting it out. Seth Smith rushed for 1000 yards last season, and Kenny Turner arrives as a JC AA, but the line only returns two starters from the end of last season. Good luck finding holes in that mess. Todd Lee and Marcus Allen (no, not OJ's old buddy) return at WR, and Kyle Nelson returns at TE, but where were they a year ago?

Defense: The secondary ranked 36th against the pass, which is admirable, but the unit as a whole finished 103rd. I guess it's hard to play up when you have the worst offense in America. 3 linemen return in DE Pierre Fils, DT John Finau, and DE Donte Savage. There are no returnees at LB, so the line had better be good. Jonte Green and Davon House return at CB, while Alphonso Powell returns at SS, so at least the one shining aspect of this team returns with experience.

Special Teams: Tyler Stampler, a JC transfer, will be the PK. Kyle Hughes lost that job, but will continue on as punter.

2010 Schedule

Wins: None

Toss Up Games: 10/30 San Jose State

Losses: 9/11 San Diego State, 9/18 @ UTEP, 9/25 @ Kansas, 10/2 Boise State, 10/9 New Mexico, 10/16 @ Fresno State, 10/23 @ Idaho, 11/6 @ Utah State, 11/13 Louisiana Tech, 11/20 @ Nevada, 11/27 Hawaii

Either beat San Jose State, or go winless. That's what you are looking at in Las Crucas. 50 years since a bowl or a conference title, and we'll just go ahead and add one more to each total.

Outlook: As bad as it gets. What's worse is that the conference may be gone soon, and where do the Aggies go from there? This team is basically in dire straights right now. Walker left his job as DC at UCLA for this? Bad move man.

WAC 2010-San Jose State Spartans

2009 Record: 2-10 (1-7)
Head Coach: Mike MacIntyre (1st season, 0-0)
Offensive Coordinator: Tim Landis (1st season)
Defensive Coordinator: Kent Baer (1st season)
2009 Bowl Game: Those dreams crashed like the real estate market

Offense: There is a 3 way QB battle going on, with returning starter Jordan La Secla, Dasmen Stewart, and Matt Faulkner battling it out. Lamon Muldrow will share the carries at RB with Brandon Rutley. Marquis Avery and Jalal Beauchman both return at WR, as does TE Ryan Otten, who had a very nice spring game (2 TDs). The right side of the line has to be rebuilt, but center left is all set.

Defense: There is a major issue on the line, where DT Pablo Garcia is the lone returnee. There is no depth, and experience is a wish only. Pompey Festejo and Tiuke Tuipulotu are the returning LBs , and Ryno Gonzalez is slated to be the new guy. He is a senior, so there is some experience there. 3 members of the secondary return in CB Peyton Thomspon, SS Duke Ihenacho and FS Tanner Burns. The secondary is the strength of the entire team, as the Spartans ranked 22nd against the pass.

Special Teams: Tyler Cope returns for his junior year at PK. He connected on 7 of 11 attempts last season. Freshman Harrison Waid is slated to be the new punter.

2010 Schedule

Wins: 9/18 Southern Utah, 10/2 UC Davis

Toss Up Games: 10/30 @ New Mexico State

Losses: 9/4 @ Alabama, 9/11 @ Wisconsin, 9/25 @ Utah, 10/9 @ Nevada, 10/16 Boise State, 10/23 Fresno State, 11/13 Utah State, 11/20 @ Hawaii, 11/27 Louisiana Tech, 12/4 @ Idaho

Thank God for 2 games against 1-AA squads. And come to think about it, the game against UC Davis is not a lock. The rest of the schedule outside of NMSU is just a boiler.

Outlook: The Spartans are going nowhere this season, and the future is in flux with the possibilities of the WAC folding after this season or next. There was basically nothing that this team did right last season, so there isn't much else to say.

WAC 2010-Utah State Aggies

2009 Record: 4-8 (3-5)
Head Coach: Gary Anderson (3rd season, 8-15)
Offensive Coordinator: Dave Baldwin (2nd season)
Defensive Coordinator: Bill Busch (2nd season)
2009 Bowl Game: It's been awhile...

Offense: Bet that you didn't know that USU had the 12th best offense in the nation in 2009. Diondre Borel can beat you with his feet and arm, and his arm improved in the offseason. RB Robert Turbin was expected to be back after a huge season, but he injured his knee, and now may miss the entire season. Michael Smith will now take his place. Stanley Morrison is the returning WR. He was the team leader in receptions last season. Eric Moats played a good deal last season as well. The good news is that Anderson hit the JC ranks and scored huge. Speed will be the word of the day with Matt Austin and Xavier Martin both running sub 4.3 40s. 3 starters return on the line.

Defense: In order for the Aggies to become the Idaho of 2010, the defense has to get fixed. USU had the 113th ranked D last season, and that is not acceptable, even in this league. The front 7 is deep with experience, with all 3 LBs (Bobby Wagner, Kyle Gallagher, Junior Keiaho) returning. DE Quinn Garner and DT Sean Enesi also return. Both CBs return in Chris Randle and Curtis Marsh  as does FS Rajric Coleman, so the secondary has some experience as well. This group has to tighten up without question.

Special Teams: Peter Caldwell was the best punter in the WAC in 2009, and now will add PK duties as well, which he did in 2007.

2010 Schedule

Wins: 9/11 Idaho State, 11/6 New Mexico State, 11/13 San Jose State

Toss Up games: 9/25 @ San Diego State, 10/23 Hawaii, 11/20 Idaho

Losses: 9/4 @ Oklahoma, 9/18 Fresno State, 10/1 BYU, 10/9 @ Louisiana Tech, 10/30 @ Nevada, 12/4 @ Boise State

USU has all of the offensive potential to break out in 2010, but the defense has to show some sign of life for that to happen. There are 6 winnable games, and I can't remember the last time that was a reality.

Outlook: If USU wants to break out in 2009, than the D needs to be the spark. The offense is already there. Gary Anderson is slowly changing the culture in Logan, and the wins are coming. 4 wins for the Aggies last season was a huge surprise, and I think that we are in store for more in the next couple of seasons, if, of course, the Aggies end up in a good place when the WAC falls apart after this season.

WAC 2010-Idaho Vandals

2009 Record: 8-5 (4-4)
Head Coach: Robb Akey (4th season, 11-26)
Offensive Coordinator: Steve Axman (4th season)
Defensive Coordinator: Mark Criner (4th season)
2009 Bowl Game: Humanitarian Bowl, defeated Bowling Green 43-42

Offense: The Vandals boast one of the best QBs that nobody has ever heard of in Nathan Enderle. America finally got a dose of him when Idaho went on a nice season opening run that led to the first bowl bid in years. The Idaho passing attack racked up 286.7 yards per game with Enderle pulling the trigger. The main issue with the Idaho offense will be on the line, where only 1 starter comes back to the fray. That will hurt, and if the new group does not come together quickly, it will be very hard for Enderle to repeat his feats of 2009. Maurice Shaw and Eric Greenwood return at WR to give Enderle some familiar targets, as does TE Daniel Hardy. Princeton McCarty and Deonte Jackson will share the load at TB, and both have experience.

Defense: The good news is that 10 starters come back. The bad news is that this unit sucked last season. The Vandals ranked 107th in total D last year, and it was what led the Vandals to drop 4 of their last 5 games before the bowl. In those losses, the Vandals gave up 70, 31,63, and 52 points respectively, and also gave up 34 in a win over Louisiana Tech and 42 in a shootout with Bowling Green in the bowl. This cannot repeat this season, as it will be much harder to sneak up on people. The secondary is the worst part having given up 278.1 yards per game through the air. CBs Isaac Burts and Kenneth Patten return as does SS Shiloh Keo.

Special Teams: Trey Farquhar is back at PK, but needs to develop a better consistency. He did hit a 54 yarder last season. Bobby Cowan returns at punter.

2010 Schedule

Wins: 9/2 North Dakota, 10/23 New Mexico State, 11/20 @ Utah State, 12/4 San Jose State

Toss Up Games: 9/18 UNLV, 9/25 @ Colorado State, 10/2 @ Western Michigan, 10/16 @ Louisiana Tech, 10/30 @ Hawaii

Losses: 9/11 @ Nebraska, 11/6 Nevada, 11/12 Boise State, 11/27 @ Fresno State

The wins are all easy. The toss box contains many mysteries. Idaho won't sneak up on anyone like they did last season. Nobody saw them coming and now they have targets on them. Every game is winnable in the toss box, it just depends on how much the Vandals want it. They can win 9...or they can lose 9.

Outlook: Vague...There are issues with line being so thin. The defense is a mess, but with a year of experience, can that change? Nobody will give Idaho a hall pass to victory, so they had better be ready. It was nice to see the Vandals back in a bowl, even if it was at the home of nasty drunken miscreants in Boise....

WAC 2010-Hawaii Rainbow Warriors

2009 Record: 6-7 (3-5)
Head Coach: Greg McMackin (3rd season, 13-14)
Offensive Coordinator: Nick Rolovich (1st season)
Defensive Coordinator: Dave Aranda (1st season)
2009 Bowl Game: No gold at the end of the rainbow

Offense: The new OC is former star QB Rolovich. Tradition in Honolulu is awesome, and they are still running the run and shoot that they have been running for years. You have to love it. It hasn't been as awesome as it was under June Jones, but it still has potential to wreck a day or two. There are issues this season as QB Brian Moniz missed most of the spring with personal issues that were not disclosed. Nobody stepped up to push him, so he is still the man for better or worse. Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares still return at WR, which will give Moniz some reliable targets. They combined for 172 catches last season. There is virtually no rushing game, and the line returns only one starter this season.

Defense: The front 7 is extremely thin. DE Elliott Purcell and DT Vaughn Meatoga are the only returnees. There is a major lack of depth and experience on the line outside of them. All 3 LBs are new starters, but all of them have experience. Aaron Brown and Corey Paredes are juniors while Jake Heun is a senior. The secondary returns intact, and this group was tough in 2009. Mana Silva and Spencer Smith are the safeties, while Lametrius and Jeremy Bryant return at the corners. Silva had 6 picks last season.

Special Teams: Scott Enos is not the best PK (12 of 19) but he is the guy again. Alex Dunnachie returns at punter, but he only averaged 39.2 yards per punt last season, so he'll have to strengthen that leg.

2010 Schedule

Wins: 9/25 Charleston Southern, 10/23 @ Utah State, 11/20 San Jose State, 11/27 @ New Mexico State

Toss Up Games: 9/11 @ Army, 9/18 @ Colorado, 10/2 Louisiana Tech, 10/30 Idaho, 12/4 UNLV

Losses: 9/2 USC, 10/9 @ Fresno State, 10/16 Nevada, 11/6 @ Boise State

The schedule only lends for 4 guaranteed losses, which still leaves opportunities for as many as 9 wins, and there are some games in the toss box against some very vulnerable opponents. Hawaii is a team that most years cannot be properly forecasted. They are always an enigma, and just when you think they are down, they bite you in the ass.

Outlook: The Rainbows (yes, I still call them that because that's who they are) will have the potential to pull a fast one and steal a bowl trip this season. The Schedule is not unreasonable, and if they solve some of their issues on offense, like the lack of a line and QB shakiness, than there will plenty of chances for Hawaii to win. However, they can completely fall off of a volcano cliff into the lava abyss too. Roll the dice on this team and ride the wave.

WAC 2010-Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

2009 Record: 4-8 (3-5)
Head Coach: Sonny Dykes (1st season, 0-0)
Offensive Coordinator: Tony Franklin (1st season)
Defensive Coordiantor: Tommy Spangler (3rd season)
2009 Bowl Game: None...and yet Dooley still got a better job???

Offense: The QB job seems to be a bit of a mess. Dykes runs the pass happy spread, and the passing game that he inherits only ranked 91st last season. Ross Jenkins is the returning starter, but Steve Ensminger, an Auburn transfer and former TE, is pushing him hard. Philip Livas is the lone returnee at WR, so there is very little depth to work with this season. Every member of the line returns, which will be a good building block.

Defense: The defense was passable most of the time last season. DE Matt Broha and DT Mason Hitt are the returnees on the line. MLB Adrien Cole returns and is the leader of the defense. Solomon Randle pushed hard for playing time at MLB as well, but will be on the field with Cole as an OLB. Both are solid run stuffers, and should create a solid depth at LB. Jay Dudley also returns to start at OLB. S Tank Calais is one of the best in the WAC, and CB Terry Carter returns to start at CB. The other 2 spots in the secondary are open.

Special Teams: Matt Nelson hit 12 of 16 of his FGs last season, and was just a freshman. Cade Glasgow struggled mightily last season, but nobody has stepped up to take the job.

2010 Schedule

Wins: 9/4 Grambling (@ Shreveport), 10/2 @ Hawaii, 10/9 Utah State, 11/13 @ New Mexico State, 11/27 @ San Jose State

Toss Up Games: 9/25 Southern Mississippi, 10/16 Idaho, 11/6 Fresno State

Losses: 9/11 @  Texas A&M, 9/18 Navy, 10/26 Boise State, 12/4 Nevada

Tech will struggle heavily in the loss games. The toss games are truly that, with no indicators as to how they can come out of them. Grambling is a good punching bag to test out the new offense against. The rest of the win games should be easy.

Outlook: A .500 record would be progress, but that's not a guarantee. Sonny Dykes is a first time HC, so it will be interesting to see how quickly he can mold this team around himself. He is not at an impossible job, as Tech has had some success over the years. It still shocks me that Derek Dooley was elevated out of Ruston to the Tennessee job on the heels of last season's 4-8 finish.

WAC 2010-Fresno State Bulldogs

2009 Record: 8-5 (6-2)
Head Coach: Pat Hill (13th season, 100-66)
Offensive Coordinator: Jeff Grady (2nd season) and Derek Frazier  (2nd season)
Defensive Coordinator: Randy Stewart (2nd season)
2009 Bowl Game: New Mexico Bowl, lost to Wyoming 35-28 (2OT)

Offense: The early departure of RB Ryan Matthews leaves a major void in 2010. His loss will mean that the ball will go to the air more often. QB Ryan Colburn returns after a nice 2009 season, but he was pushed hard in the spring by Derek Carr, and Hill opened up the job going into fall camp. Robbie Rouse is the leader to be the new RB, but he is very thin on experience. Jamel Hamler is the lone returning WR, and TE Vince Pascoe returns, so whomever wins the QB job will have decent targets. The line returns completely intact, which will be a benefit for the new backfield.

Defense: The front seven is loaded. Chris Carter and Chris Lewis are back at DE. Carter was 1st team WAC in 2009. Cornell Banks returns as the starting NT, and is built like one. LB Ben Jacobs returns at LB, and was also 1st team WAC last season. He racked up 106 tackles in 2009. Kyle Knox joins him as a returning starting LB. CB Desla Dunn and SS Lorne Bell return in the secondary, where Fresno ranked 32nd against the pass last year. Freshman LJ Jones is expecting to see huge playing time in the secondary as well after a solid spring. The Dogs have to be better against the rush this season, as they only ranked 111th a year ago. That should change with the depth and talent that will be infused.

Special Teams: PK Kevin Goessling had a big season last year, scoring 100 points and converting 15 consecutive FGs. Andrew Shapiro, a sophomore, is the leading candidate at punter.

2010 Schedule

Wins: 9/18 @ Utah State, 10/2 Cal Poly SLO, 10/9 Hawaii, 10/16 New Mexico State, 10/23 @ San Jose State, 12/3 Illinois

Toss Up Games: 9/25 @ Ole Miss, 11/6 @ Louisiana Tech, 11/27 Idaho

Losses: 9/4 Cincinnati, 11/13 Nevada, 11/19 @ Boise State

There are some tough matchups for the Bulldogs against some very good rushing football teams. Being that was the week spot last season, Fresno will have to prove that they can stop them. The Ole Miss game probably would have been a win until the Rebels added the Jeremiah Masoli dimension.

Outlook: Fresno will likely take a step back offensively with the loss of Matthews, who was a 1st round pick of San Diego. The Bulldogs will have to put the ball up, but uncertainty at QB, and a general lack of talent at WR will make that difficult. The Dogs have to find a way to stop the run,and they should be better this season, and will have lots of chances to prove it. I see a bowl, but they will not challenege Boise or Nevada at the top.

WAC 2010-Nevada Wolfpack

2009 Record: 8-5 (7-1)
Head Coach: Chris Ault (25th season, 206-96-1)
Offensive Coordinator: Ault and Cameron Norcross (8th season)
Defensive Coordinator: Andy Buh (1st season)
2009 Bowl Game: Hawaii Bowl, lost to SMU 45-10

Offense: The Pistol offense was firing away all last season, as the Pack finished 2nd nationally in total offense, but almost all of it came on the ground, as Nevada had 3 players all finish with 1000 yards rushing, an NCAA record. The Pack only finished 107th in passing last season, but that's not exactly a knock on Colin Kaeperick's ability as a QB. He is one of those 1000 yard rushers, as is returning RB Vai Taua, who is a semi truck running with the football. All 3 receivers return as does the TE, so the passing game should be more balanced in 2009 with the run game. Tray Session, Brandon Wimberly, and Chris Wellington all return at receiver, and Virgil Green was a 2nd team all WAC selection. 3 starters are back on the line.

Defense: Teams had a major problem running the ball against Nevada last season. That should not change as a bulk of the front 7 returns for another year. Ryan Coulson and Dontay Moch man the DE spots, while Zack Madonick returns at DT. Brett Roy is the leading candidate to start at the other DT spot, but he is undersized at 260. Moch was the WAC defensive MVP. Brandon Marshall and James-Michael Johnson return at LB, and the other spot should go to JC transfer DeAndre Boughton. The secondary was a very scary place for the Pack last season, and this unit got pillaged in the Hawaii Bowl by pass happy SMU. CB Isaiah Frey is the lone returnee in the group.

Special Teams: Ricky Draks returns at PK, but only attempted 9 FGs last season, making 6. He will have to be more accurate than 66.7% this season. Brad Langley had a solid year averaging 41.1 yards per punt.

2010 Schedule

Wins: 9/2 Eastern Washington, 9/11 Colorado State, 10/2 @ UNLV, 10/9 San Jose State, 10/16 @ Hawaii, 10/30 Utah State, 11/6 @ Idaho, 11/20 New Mexico State, 12/4 @ Louisiana Tech

Toss Up Games: 9/17 California, 9/25 @ BYU, 11/13 @ Fresno State

Losses: 11/26 Boise State

Nevada has some serious opportunities to break out in 2010. Wins against BYU and Cal would provide major exposure, and Boise comes to Reno in November. I don't see Nevada as being ready to challenge Boise outright, but if the Broncos have a bad night, one never knows. The game at Fresno should be difficult, but not unwinnable, but that too is a place where you don't want to be having a bad day.

Outlook: Nevada too will be leaving the WAC at the end of the season, even though the conference is trying to keep them for one more season. The Pack can definately move on and compete at a higher level. Nevada could potentially win 11 games this season, and still not get a sniff for anything better than a return trip to Hawaii for the bowl.

WAC 2010-Boise State Broncos

2009 Record: 14-0 (8-0)
Head Coach: Chris Peterson (5th season, 49-4)
Offensive Coordinator: Bryan Harsin (5th season)
Defensive Coordinator: Pete Kwiatkowski (1st season)
2009 Bowl Game: Fiesta Bowl, defeated TCU 17-10

Offense: What's not to love about this offense. Every single skill position player returns from last season. QB Kellen Moore is as good as it gets when it comes to playing the position. Moore has a 64-13 TD/INT ratio in two seasons and is 26-1 as a starter. He is obviously a pre season AA, and should be a top 3 candidate for the Heisman this season. He certainly has plenty of weapons in his arsenal, as WRs Austin Pettis and Titus Young are both incredible talents. They combined to haul in 29 scores in 2009, and look to lay out some more devestation to secondaries this season. TE Tommy Gallarda is a nice safety valve option again. There is very nice depth at RB behind Jeremy Avery, as DJ Harper, who is solid in his own right, was the team's leading rusher before tearing up a knee. Doug Martin joins the cast. The line is solid on the interior, but there will be two new starters at tackle. That should not matter, though, as 8 players return with starting experience all over the line.

Defense: 10 players return with starting experience across the board from last season's 14th ranked defense. Every starter returns on the line, DE Ryan Winterswyk has 19 career sacks. The Broncos usually only use two LBs (4-2-5 set) and Aaron Tevis is the only one who started last year. JC Percy will compete with Darrell Acey at the other spot, but both will play big minutes. The secondary is loaded. Winston Venable is the nickle back, and has major big play potential. Jeron Johnson is a 2 time leading tackler. CB Brandyn Thompson was the Fiesta Bowl MVP. The only worry is who will replace Kyle Wilson, who was drafted into the NFL. Don't worry...talent abounds on the smurf turf.

Special Teams: Kyle Brotzman has had issues as a PK and P, and so the staff is working with him to correct his problems. He has a big keg, but consistency is going to be a problem with him.

2010 Schedule

Wins: 9/18 @ Wyoming, 9/25 Oregon State, 10/2 @ New Mexico State, 10/9 Toledo, 10/16 @ San Jose State, 10/26 Louisiana Tech, 11/6 Hawaii, 11/12 @ Toledo, 11/19 Fresno State, 11/26 @ Nevada, 12/4 Utah State

Toss Up Games: 9/6 Virginia Tech

Losses: None

It's all about the Virginia Tech game, which is a virtual Tech home game. Bronco fan had better saddle up and head to the capital next weekend, as Boise has a not so great record playing outside of the Pacific/Mountain region. Every other game is a non issue for Boise's march back to the BCS.

Outlook: One game should tell the story this season, and that is a week from today. Boise should have no problem marching undefeated through the WAC in BSU's final season in the conference before joining the Mountain West in 2011. Chris Peterson also proved his commitment by agreeing to stay at Boise State, as he was offered just about every open job in America last season and felt that he was in his dream job enough to stay. This program will be loaded for years.

Sun Belt 2010-Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

2009 Record: 0-12 (0-8)
Head Coach: Willie Taggart (1st season, 0-0)
Offensive Coordinator: Taggart
Defensive Coordinator: Clint Bowen (1st season)
2009 Bowl: That's just a sick joke...just sick

Offense: WKU may be the only team in the conference that is not going to run some version of the spread this season, as Taggart is implementing the other cliche offense known as the west coast offense. These days, you either run one or the other it seems. The focal point of the offense will have to be TB Bobby Rainey, who averaged 6.5 yards every time he touched the football last season. Rainey should have a decent line to run behind, with 3 starters returning, but new center Sean Conway will be a freshman, if he wins the job in camp. Everyone else on the line is a junior or senior, so the experience factor should be there. The QB job is a battle between Kawaun Jakes, who played plenty last season, and JC transfer Matt Pelesasa. Pelesasa has the edge right now. Quinterrance Cooper is the lone returning starter at WR, and it looks like he will be paired up with freshman Willie McNeal at this time. Marcus Vasquez looks to get some time in as well. TE Jack Doyle has pass catching ability as well. A passing game must develop early to take pressure off of Rainey. Right now, there is no need for anyone to plan a defensive gameplan around anyone else but him.

Defense: There will be change here as well, as the Toppers switch from a 3-4 set to a 4-3 base. That's good news and bad, as there is little depth or experience at tackle to make such a switch. Both tackles are very young (James Hervey and Cole Tischer are both sophomores). There is experience at the DE spots as both starters return from last season in Jared Clendenin and Quanterus Smith, although Smith is also just a sophomore and is a former OLB. The other issue is that the tackles are both lightweights, weighing each under 270 lbs. OK if this were a high school team, not so much in D1 college football. All 3 starting LBs return from last season.Thomas Majors is the middle backer, and he had 101 tackles in 2009. Chris Bullard returns at OLB, and they will be joined by Orlando Misaalefua, who moves in from safety, and again is undersized at 218. CB Jamal Forrest returns in the secondary, as does SS Mark Santoro, but these guys got butchered last season. Taggart has brought in several signees who are looking to play. This was the 118th ranked defense in 2009, which is a key reason why WK went 0-12.

Special Teams: Casey Tinius returns at PK, but he only connected on 14 of 19 FGs last season. Freshman Hendrix Brakefield (cool name anyway) is slated to be the punter.

2010 Schedule

Wins: None

Toss Up Games: 10/30 North Texas

Losses: 9/4@ Nebraska, 9/11 @ Kentucky, 9/18 Indiana, 9/25 @ South Florida, 10/9 @ Florida International, 10/16 Louisiana-Monroe, 10/23 @ Louisiana-Lafayette, 11/6 Florida Atlantic, 11/13 @ Arkansas State, 11/20 Middle Tennessee, 11/27 @ Troy

There is very little opportunity for WKU to improve with this slate. It's much too difficult considering where they are coming from. I am not fond of 1-A teams playing 1-AA opponents, but the Toppers could have used one or two as confidence boosters.

Outlook: Even though Taggart is an alumnus of WKU, I am not sure that he knows exactly what he has gotten himself into. WKU was never exactly stable in 1-AA, as the program was almost disbanded once or twice in the last 20 years, only to be saved by Jack Harbaugh. It's going to take an amazing amount of beating almost impossible odds to build a winner here. However, the facilities are very good, and there seems to be a small fan base that is really supporting this thing. Good luck.

Sun Belt 2010-North Texas Mean Green

2009 Record: 2-10 (1-7)
Head Coach: Todd Dodge (4th season, 5-31)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Canales (1st season)
Defensive Coordinator: Gary DeLoach (3rd season)
2009 Bowl Game: Not unless you count the dust bowl

Offense: Riley Dodge's arm finally fell off, so the QB job will be a battle between Nathan Tune and Derek Thompson. Dodge moves to WR, where he is not listed as a starter. That's probably becasue all 4 receivers return to start in the spread set with Jamaal Jackson, Darius Carey, Michael Outlaw, and BJ Lewis rounding out the group. The true star of the offense should be RB Lance Dunbar, who rushed for 1378 yards in 2009. UNT has always been better when they ran the ball well, so I say pound it with Dunbar out of multiple sets every chance you can. He shouldn't have any trouble running behind a line that returns 4 starters.

Defense: Here is the bad news. North Texas couldn't keep teams from finding the end zone at will last year. 10 teams scored 30 or more points on UNT last season. Brandon Akpunko and Sam Owusu-Hemeng both return at DE, but Akpunko only weighes 226 lbs. Some high schools have bigger DEs. Shavod Atkinson returns at DT, and he fits the bill. The LB group is very thin, with Craig Robertson being the only returning starter. UNT actually had a very decent pass defense last season, and safeties DaWaylon Cook and Ira Smith both return, as does CB Royce Hill.

Special Teams: Freshman Zach Olen will battle Trent Deans for the PK job. Olen was a high school super recruit during the off season. Will Atterberry returns at punter, but nobody is fearing this fact.

2010 Schedule

Wins: 10/30 Western Kentucky

Toss Up games: 9/11 Rice, 10/2 Louisiana-Lafayette, 10/16 Florida International

Losses: 9/4 @ Clemson, 9/18 @ Army, 9/25 @ Florida Atlantic, 10/9 Arkansas State, 11/6 Troy, 11/13 @ Middle Tennessee, 11/20 @ Louisiana-Monroe, 11/27 Kansas State

3 out of the first 4 are on the road. That's not a good sign. The best you could possibly hope for is 4 wins this season. That's not going to be enough to save Todd Dodge.

Outlook: A change is gonna come. Dodge has acknowledged that he likely needs 6 wins to have a job after this season, and I don't see how that will be possible. The pass happy spread has never taken in Denton, and UNT had some very nice football teams when they featured the run under Darrell Dickey. In 6 months, we'll be talking about who will replace Dodge, and they had better not go the route of a high school coach again.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sun Belt 2010-Florida International Golden Panthers

2009 Record: 3-9 (3-5)
Head Coach: Mario Cristobal (4th season, 9-27)
Offensive Coordinator: Scott Satterfield (1st season)
Defensive Coordinator: Geoff Collins (1st season)
2009 Bowl Game: Never been

Offense: There are issues on the line and in the backfield. Wesley Carroll, a Mississippi State transfer, was supposed to be the starting QB, but allowed senior Wayne Younger into the battle during the spring. Syracuse transfer Jerimiah Hardin is getting his first look after sitting out last season, but will be battled by Darriet Perry for carries. YA Hilton, who is the best WR in the group, is back as the offensive leader. He is a big play threat for certain. Jason Frierson and Greg Ellingson are also back as starters at WR. TE Jonathon Faucher returns as well, so whomever wins the QB battle will at least have experienced people to throw to upfield. RG Dave Istanich is the lone returning starter on the line, so whomever wins the QB battle will probably also be running for their lives.

Defense: This unit is a wasteland. Only one starter returns in the front seven, and the starters that were lost did a horrible job last year anyway. It can't get worse, but it can stay the same. LB Toronto Smith is the only returnee (starting at LB). CB Anthony Gaitor and FS Jonathon Cyprien are the lone returnees in the secondary, but they were pretty awful last season too. The buffet is open, and people are going to feast.

Special Teams: Again, no starters coming back, so it's time to start over once again. PK should go to freshman Josh Brisk, while punter should go to Jack Griffin, a sophomore. Not so special.

2010 Schedule

Wins: 10/9 Western Kentucky, 10/16 @ North Texas

Toss Up Games: 9/25 @ Maryland, 10/30 @ Florida Atlantic, 11/20 @ Louisiana-Lafayette

Losses: 9/11 Rutgers, 9/18 @ Texas A&M, 10/2 @ Pittsburgh, 11/6 Louisiana-Monroe, 11/113 @ Troy, 11/27 Arkansas State, 12/4 Middle Tennessee

Well, it's pretty ugly. 3 of the first 4 games are against 2009 bowl teams. The last two games are at home, but they are against Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee, which are guaranteed losses. Virtually no chance at success with this slate.

Outlook: Bad. Mario Cristobal will feel some heat after this season, as FIU stands no chance at posting a winning season. The Panthers could lose as many as 9 games this season, which would be doomsday for the coaching staff. Cristobal worked very hard to improve the roster this off season, but it won't be enough for 2010.

Sun Belt 2010-Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns

2009 Record: 6-6 (4-4)
Head Coach: Ricky Bustle (9th season, 38-56)
Offensive Coordinator: Ron Hudson (3rd season)
Defensive Coordinator: Kevin Fouquier (4th season)
2009 Bowl Game: Going bowless since 1970...

Offense: QB Chris Masson will have to do better than a 10-8 TD to INT ratio in 2010 if the Cajuns can ever expect to compete. TE Ladarius Green will be his primary target, and he is a good one. Marlin Miller is the best of the WR corps. Pierre Hill is in the lead to grab the other WR job that is open. There is virtually no experience at the RB position. What makes that even scarier is the fact that ony 2 linemen return (C Ian Burks and RT Jonathon Decoster).

Defense: The defense did not really thrive in any statistical category, but they do grab a bunch of picks, as they ranked 13th in the nation in INTs in 2009. Both CBs return in Dwight Bentley and Orkeys Auriene. Lance Kelley also returns at SS. Grant Fleming and Daylon McCoy return at LB, but neither was the best of that group last year. The D will rotate in as many as 6 DTs during games this season, keeping the line fresh against the run. Terrell Richardson returns from last season at DE. Nate Douglas is expected to start at the other DE spot, but missed all of 2009 with an injury.

Special Teams: Nobody returns punts off of Spencer Ortego. Teams only averaged 0.5 yards per return against him. Taylor Albrecht made 8 of his 11 FG attempts.

2010 Schedule

Wins: 10/2 North Texas, 10/23 Western Kentucky

Toss Up Games: 11/13 @ Florida Atlantic, 11/20 Florida International, 11/27 @ Louisiana-Monroe

Losses: 9/4 @ Georgia, 9/11 Arkansas State, 9/25 Middle Tennessee, 10/8 Oklahoma State, 10/16 @ Troy, 10/30 @ Ohio, 11/6 @ Ole Miss

There is not much chance of matching 6 wins from last season. The non conference slate is a meat grinder, and the Cajuns only play 5 home games, and 3 of those games are guaranteed losses.

Outlook: Grim. I am not really very sure as to why Ricky Bustle has been coach at ULL as long as he has. ULL has virtually nothing to show for his tenure on the field. He has been on my ax list for 2 years and counting, and who knows, maybe another bad showing will finally cause the ax to fall.

Sun Belt 2010-Florida Atlantic Owls

2009 Record: 5-7 (5-3)
Head Coach: Howard Schnellenberger (11th season, 53-55...153132-3 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Darryl Jackson (2nd season)
Defensive Coordinator: Kurt Van Valkenburgh  (1st season)
2009 Bowl Game: None, the shine is wearing off in Boca

Offense: There are major questions here. The Owls are the only team in the group outlined so far that actually don't have QB drama in 2010. Jeff Van Camp had a big year for the Owls, but it all went to waste. Lester Jean will return to be his primary target, but the other job will go to experience thin Avery Holley. TE Rob Housler will be a part of the passing game, but redshirted last season. Alfred Morris is the kind of back that can take pressure off of the QB, as he rushed for 1392 yards last season. What will put pressure on a QB is the lack of a line. The entire line from last season is gone. Oh boy...

Defense: The D gave up 453 yards per game in 2009. It's time to get better, and 8 starters return. It can only get better. 4 of the front 7 come back. LE Kevin Cyrile and DT Dino Cox return on the line, while Malik Eugene and Michael Lockley return at LB. This group gave up 220.6 yards per game on the ground last season, so if anyone on the bench has any skill, now is the time to push. The secondary returns intact with CBs Tavious Polo and Tarvoris Hill, and Safeties Marcus Bartels and Ed Alexander. The secondary was the best part of the D, ranking 80th against the pass, and as you can see, they weren't great.

Special Teams: Ross Gornall returns at PK (8 of 12 FGs), while Mickey Groody returns to punt (40.6 average).

2010 Schedule

Wins: 9/25 North Texas, 10/30 Florida International, 11/6 @ Western Kentucky

Toss Up Games: 9/4 @ UAB, 10/9 @ Louisiana-Monroe, 11/13 Louisiana-Lafayette

Losses: 9/11 Michigan State, 10/2 @ South Florida, 10/23 @ Arkansas State, 11/20 @ Texas, 11/27 @ MIddle Tennessee, 12/4 Troy

It's hard to find reassurance that things will get better against this schedule. Lack of overall good teams gives FAU a shot to be better than they should be, but they are not in the same league with those at the top right now.

Outlook: Not very sunny. The defense was what kept FAU from success last season, and it's hard to see where improvement will come, especially against the November part of the schedule. There is some talent on offense, but the lack of a line is just discouraging at best. It's gonna be a tough one.

Sun Belt 2010-Louisiana Monroe WarHawks

2009 Record: 6-6 (5-3)
Head Coach: Todd Berry (1st season, 0-0...5-42 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Steve Farmer (1st season)
Defensive Coordinator: Troy  Reffett (2nd season)
2009 Bowl Game: One more win may have done it

Offense: 5th year senior Trey Revell may very well have lost his job to redshirt freshman Kolton Browning during spring ball. Luckily for ULM, QB is not going to be the focal point of the offense. That will be RB Frank Goodin, who rushed for 1126 yards last season with 13 scores. The main issue with having your RB as a focal pint is that he needs a solid line to run behind, and that may be problematic as the line is being rebuilt from center right. That means that LT Justin Roberts and LG Jonathon Gill will have to handle a ton of responsibility. There is very little starting experience in the receiving corps as only Luther Ambrose and WR Tim Taylor have at least 4 starts in their career.

Defense: The line is thin, with DE Troy Evans being the lone starter returning. The other bad news is that Theo Smith is the lone returnee at LB. ULM runs a 3-3-5 set on D, so experience is a must in the secondary, but, that too is an issue, as only CB Nate Brown and S Darius Prelow return, meaning 3 new starters in a complex, new set. Bad news, as it looks like ULM will have a very difficult time in matching their 31st ranking against the run last season.

Special Teams: Radi Jabour returns as the PK, but that's not exactly good news when he has only connected on 60% of his kicks. Thomas Giddens is the new punter.

2010 Schedule

Wins: 9/25 Southeast Louisiana, 10/16 Western Kentucky, 11/20 North Texas

Toss Up Games: 9/18 Arkansas State, 10/9 Florida Atlantic, 11/6 @ Florida International, 11/27 Louisiana-Lafayette

Losses: 9/11 Arkansas, 10/2 @ Auburn, 10/23 @ Middle Tennessee, 10/30 Troy, 11/13 @ LSU

It's a very good thing that the Sun Belt is rather week outside of Troy and MTSU. That gives ULM a chance to make something out of their season, but don't count on miracles here. They are still playing 3 SEC teams, and still have to play Troy and MTSU, guaranteeing 5 losses right off of the top. We'll probably be adding to that total throughout the season as the season progresses.

Outlook: The hiring of Berry as HC is very curious, as he hardly qualifies to be a head coach with a 5-42 record, and coming off of an unsuccesful tenure as DC at UNLV as well. Don't expect a ringing endorsement here. What confounds the situation even more is that ULM had finally busted a 5-3 record in conference play and had won 6 games. Progress derailed is what this is.

Sun Belt 2010-Arkansas State Red Wolves

2009 Record: 4-8 (3-5)
Head Coach: Steve Roberts (9th season, 41-55...90-88-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Hugh Freeze (1st season)
Defensive Coordinator: Kevin Corless (9th season)
2009 Bowl Game: Were expected to go bowling, yet didn't

Offense: Hugh Freeze is the new OC, and junked the old offense for a no huddle spread attack...of course he did. There is a two man QB battle brewing between Ryan Alpin and Phillip Butterfield. No matter which wins, they will be young as Alpin is a sophomore and Butterfield is a freshman. Alpin failed to lock down the job in the spring, as he injured his shoulder. Derek Lawson is expected to be the main back, while Taylor Stockmemer, Dwayne Frampton,and Allen Muse are expected to join TE Kedric Murry as starters. Here is the bad news. None of the skill players mentioned above were starters last season. Alpin did start 3 games at QB before getting hurt. Here is the good news. The line returns intact.

Defense: Lots of new starters in the front 7. Only 3 players from this group (DT Bryan Hall, LB Demario Davis, LB Javon McKinnon) return. Roberts hit the national JC scene heavy to get players in to fill the holes, but the JC game is so much different than the D1 game. The CB jobs are both open, but MD Jennings and Kelsie McCray return at the safeties. The returnees are solid players, so hopefully they can lead by example and get this group together quickly.

Special Teams: Another black hole. Nobody returns from this group. Brandon Parker looks like the new PK, while Neely Sullivent is in the lead to be the Punter.

2010 Schedule

Wins: 9/11 Louisiana-Lafayette, 10/9 North Texas, 10/23 Florida Atlantic, 11/13 Western Kentucky

Toss Up Games: 9/18 Louisiana-Monroe, 11/27 @ Florida International

Losses: 9/4 @ Auburn, 9/25 @ Troy, 10/2 Louisville, 10/16 @ Indiana, 11/2 Middle Tennessee, 11/20 @ Navy

The schedule is not a good looking thing for A State. The games against Auburn and Navy are just brutal, and there  is not a non-conference 1-AA cream puff to kick ass on. Credit is due to ASU for not taking the easy road. 6 wins would be a miracle due to the rebuilding offense and lack of depth on the front 7 defensively.

Outlook: Steve Roberts should be feeling some heat this season. He is entering his 9th season, and his record is well below .500. His overall record will go sub .500 as well this season. Add the fact that ASU was supposed to be very competitve in 2009 and only won 4 games, and you have a perfect storm. The offense could very well be a mess, and the defense may fall apart under the strain. It doesn't look good.

Sun Belt 2010-Troy Trojans

2009 Record: 9-4 (8-0)
Head Coach: Larry Blakeney (20th season, 153-77-1)
Offensive Coordinator: Kenny Edenfield (1st season)
Defensive Coordinator: Jeremy Powell (4th season)
2009 Bowl:  GMAC Bowl, lost to Central Michigan 44-41 (2 OT)

Offense: Two players will battle for the QB job after Troy lost one of the most prolific players in the nation last season in Levi Brown. Jamie Hampton returns from a redshirt season and will battle freshman Corey Robinson. Both are dual threat and both fit the mold of what Troy needs in its QB. Shawn Southward was the Sun Belt freshman of the year, and he will rotate with DuJuan Harris, who finished second on the team in all purpose yardage last season. Harris ran for 10 TDs in 2009. Jerrel Jernigan was the team leader in all purpose yardage with 2264 yards in 2009, and he will lead the WR corps to start the season. Tebiarus Gill, Jason Bruce, and Chip Reeves should be the other receivers in the spread offense that uses no TE. 3 starters return on the line, but both guards must be replaced in fall camp.

Defense: There are problems here, as Troy basically lost their main playmakers from a year ago. Only LB Daniel Sheffield returns in the front 7. DE Jonathon Massaquoi is expected to step forward at one DE spot. He is talented, but has not apparently put as much effort in as he is capable of if you read into what the coaches are saying. He was a force in the spring game, but has very little real experience. As many as 6 other players are vying for the final 3 spots on the line. The LB jobs are wide open, with 4 players battling for 2 spots. Both CBs return in Barry Valcin and Bryan Willis, but they must improve, as only 2 teams were worse against the pass than Troy was in 2009. Both safeties will be new this season.

Special Teams: Michael Taylor hit 11 of 14 FGs last season, and will be back. He may be needed much more this year than last. Will Goggans returns as the punter.

2010 Schedule

Wins: 9/4 Bowling Green, 9/18 @ UAB, 10/16 Louisiana-Lafayette, 10/30 Louisiana-Monroe, 11/6 @ North Texas, 11/27 Western Kentucky

Toss Up Games: 9/25 Arkansas State, 11/13 Florida International, 12/4 @ Florida Atlantic

Losses: 9/11 @ Oklahoma State, 10/5 @ Middle Tennessee, 11/20 @ South Carolina

The schedule has some ups and some downs. I think that when the games begin, you may get a very good look at how important Levi Brown was to this team in 2009. If they still had him, I would have at the very least shifted the loss games to the toss box. If Dwight Dasher is still out when Troy meets MTSU, that will happen anyway, as it evens the field just a bit. If I had to pick an upset game out of this bunch, it would be for Troy to knock off Oklahoma State in Stillwater.

Outlook: Let's face it. The D was hardly outstanding last season when all of those bodies were in place, so to lose as many starters as the Trojans have is not as big of a deal. But what you lose is experience. The D gave up as many as 27 points 7 times, and Troy still won 9 games, including all 8 in Sun Belt play. Troy, even without a D and a new QB, can still compete for the Sun Belt title, but I am not sold that they can win it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sun Belt 2010-Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

2009 Record: 10-3 (7-1)
Head Coach: Rick Stockstill (5th season, 27-23)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Schultz (1st season)
Defensive Coordinator: Randall McCray (1st season)
2009 Bowl Game: New Orleans Bowl, defeated Southern Mississippi 42-32

Offense:  The Apocalypse has taken place. QB Dwight Dasher was to be the focal point of the Middle Tennessee offense, but now has been suspended indefinitely after being investigated for taking a loan from an 80 year old hospital patient in Murfreesboro. Apparently he never payed back the money, which is also a violation of NCAA rules. Dasher could be gone for anywhere from 3 games to being done for the season. Stay tuned for more news. JC transfer Logan Kilgore looks to replace Dasher for the time being. Kilgore got most of the snaps in the spring in order to protect Dasher from unnecessary injury risks, so at least he has had some time to prepare for what's coming at him. WRs Shane Blissard and Garrett Andrews return as starters, but several players, including JC transfer Tyler Mason, and sophomore Tavares Jefferson are working their way in to the rotation. MTSU uses 4 receivers at all times. DD Kyles had a solid season in 2009, and Phillip Tanner returns from an injury that cost him almost all of last season, so RB won't be an issue. 4 starters return on the line, but the center position is open. Schultz will be the new OC, but is not expected to institute too many changes.

Defense: Manny Diaz was stolen away as DC by Mississippi State, so Randall McCray will take over. As with the offense, the philosophy won't change, with the Raiders sticking to a 4-3 set, with an attacking mindset. Kevin Brown and Jeremy Kellern both return at the safety spots, and Rod Isaac will be the lone returnee at CB. Marquisse Dixon is firmly in the lead to handle the other CB spot. LB Antwan Davis is the lone returnee in that group, and there is not a bunch of experience or depth to be found. Jamari Lattimore returns at DE, and DT Dwight Smith is back as well, but there will be new starters at the other DE and DT position. The good news is that there is some experience in the candidates, with DT Gary Tucker and DE Emannual Perez both being seniors.

Special Teams: Nobody worries when Alan Gandreau trots out to attempt a FG, as he was 18 of 22 last season on his attempts. Nathaniel Toulson will likely be the new punter, with 1 punt for 52 yards benig his only experience.

2010 Schedule

Wins: 9/11 Austin Peay, 9/18 @ Memphis, 9/25 @ Louisiana-Lafayette, 10/23 Louisiana-Monroe, 11/13 North Texas, 11/20 @ Western Kentucky, 11/27 Florida Atlantic, 12/4 @ Florida International

Toss Up Games: 9/2 Minnesota, 10/5 Troy, 10/16, 11/2 @ Arkansas State

Losses: 10/16 @ Georgia Tech

The Dasher situation changes a few things. All three of the toss games probably would have been in the win column before, but now I am not so sure. The earliest that one could expect Dasher to be brought back would be 9/25 aganist ULL. I would probably even have given the Blue Raiders a 50-50 chance of knocking off Georgia Tech before, but if Dasher returns, that's still possible. If Dasher comes back, look for a solid shot at repeating 10 wins. If he does not, there is enough left in the tank to realistically win 8, unless Kilgore is not ready and the wheels come off of the wagon.

Outlook: This Dasher thing really screws up the forecast. Virtually nothing is known about Kilgore and how he will respond in a game situation. He probably is not the athlete that Dasher is, as Dasher ran for 1154 yards last season. Don't expect that at all out of Kilgore. There was some good news as Stockstill stayed at MTSU, resisting several very nice opportunities to bail out, which most people would have done. He is committed to creating a monster here, and there is no reason to doubt that he will. Dasher is a setback, but I am sure there will be a way around it.

Friday, August 27, 2010

SEC 2010-Vanderbilt Commodores

2009 Record: 2-10 (0-8)
Head Coach: Robby Caldwell (1st season, 0-0)
Offensive Coordinator: Jimmy Kiser (1st season)
Defensive Coordinator: Jamie Bryant (3rd season)
2009 Bowl Game: A far away and distant dream

Offense: Vandy is going to have to do a hell of a lot better than their 110th ranked offense did a season ago in order to get back to some version of the bowl winner from a couple of seasons ago. Warren Norman and Zac Stacy will give the Commodores some running ability, but the real issue is whether or not the line can open holes for them to get through. The line is being rebuilt from center left, so it looks like the right side will be handling the brunt of the work. QB Larry SMith was not even remotely good last season, and he missed 3 games with a hamstring issue. Udom Udoh and John Cole both return at WR, but can they get open enough?

Defense: Vandy was incredible against the pass,ranking 9th in the nation in that category, but a common theme exists in the SEC with great pass D and poor run D, as the Commodores only finished 105th against the run. The entire D line is starting over from scratch, and Chris Marve is the lone returnee at LB. Marve is solid, but can he carry an entire rebuilt front 7? Casey Hayward returns at one CB amd Sean Richardson is the returnee at SS. The other secondary spots are up for grabs. I don't see much room for improvement against the run, and the pass D may take a drop as well.

Special Teams: Ryan Fowler made 16 FGs last season, a school record that really does not seem like a big deal. Freshman Richard Kent is being handed the punting job.

2010 Schedule

Wins: 10/9 Eastern Michigan

Toss Up Games: 11/27 Wake Forest

Losses: 9/4 Northwestern, 9/11 LSU, 9/18 @ Ole Miss, 10/2 @ UConn, 10/16 @ Georgia, 10/23 South Carolina, 10/30 @ Arkansas, 11/6 Florida, 11/13 @ Kentucky, 11/20 Tennessee

Best bet is on Vandy finishing with the same 2-10 record they had last season. I can't even guarantee that it will be that good for the Commodores, who have not won a league title since 1921 in the Southern Conference.

Outlook: Bleak. When Bobby Johnson up and quit just before fall camp, it sent out a terrible message as to how bad things were probably going to be. Now they will be worse. Robby Caldwell is the former line coach, and he is in over his head on this one. Maybe Vandy ought to ditch the SEC and head back for the Southern Conference, where they'd be a better fit and have half of a chance.

SEC 2010-Kentucky Wildcats

2009 Record: 7-6 (3-5)
Head Coach: Joker Phillips (1st season, 0-0)
Offensive Coordinator: Randy Sanders (1st season)
Defensive Coordinator: Steve Brown (4th season)
2009 Bowl Game: Music City Bowl, lost to Clemson 21-13

Offense: There is good news and bad for UK. The good news is that the top 4 skill players return. QB Mike Hartline has won a QB battle and will bring a strong knowledge of the offensive system to play. He is a winner, although he does not have the physical skills that other on the team do. RB Derrick Locke is a solid dual threat, and returns to start. Randall Cobb is expected to break out at WR this season, and will be playing WR primarily after rotating in at QB last season when Hartline injured his knee. The bad news is that only one starter returns on the line, which will make it very dificult to get the offense rolling.

Defense: Very few teams passed the ball well against the Cats, as UK finished 17th against the pass last season. The cats cannot, however, stop the run, as they finished 100th in that category. 3 starter return on the line in DEs DeQuin Evans and Taylor Wyndham, and DT Ricky Lumpkin. They are not the best group in the league, and they leaked like a sieve last season. Danny Trevathan is the lone returnee at LB, which will make it even more difficult to improve against the rush. Both CBs return in Paul Warford and Randall Burden, which is good news as UK will have to depend on their vaunted pass defense. Winston Guy returns at FS, but the SS spot is open.

Special Teams: Ryan Tydlacka was a solid punter for the Wildcats last season, and may very well take over at PK this season if freshman Joe Mansour fails in fall camp.

2010 Schedule

Wins: 9/4 @ Louisville, 9/11 Western Kentucky, 9/18 Akron, 11/6 Charleston Southern

Toss Up Games: 10/2 @ Ole Miss, 10/30 @ Mississippi State, 11/13 Vanderbilt, 11/27 @ Tennessee

Losses: 9/25 @ Florida, 10/9 Auburn, 10/16 South Carolina, 10/23 Georgia

There are even shots at having a winning, .500,or losing season. The win against Charleston Southern means nothing, and UK should not schedule squads like this. If you are going to play a 1-AA teams, there are better options. There are opportunities within the toss box, and there are 3 opportunities for upsets in the loss box if everything comes together. The Cats have to show some semblance of having the ability to stop the run if they are going to get Joker to a bowl in his first season. Kentucky has been to a bowl for 5 straight seasons.