Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New On Power Rated Sports

Please follow the links below to read new material for the 2011 College Football Season on our news site, http://www.powerratedsports.com/

For our week one FBS and FCS Picks:

Big East 2011 Preview

Big Ten Preview

Big 12 Preview and Texas A&M Story

Conference USA Preview

FBS Independents coverage and preview

All FCS previews and coverage

All D2 previews and coverage

Coaches in the Dead Pool, Edition 1

Coaches on the Hot Seat, Edition 1

Ask the Professors, Editions 2.1-2.4

Check out our All Power Rated Teams

We grade out all of the FBS coaching hires for 2011

And much, much more to come!

Football Season is Upon Us!

Greetings to all of our readers! I hope that you are ready, because in just over 36 hours, we will have FBS and FCS college football hitting the field across America! We are excited as I am sure all of you are as well. If you have not visited our new site yet, please check us out at powerratedsports.com and also follow us on Twitter at @BiloFootball and on Facebook at Power Rated Sports and also at Bilo College Football Report.
Starting Thursday, the blog fires back up again with up to the minute posts throughout the evening, as we will be giving live updates throughout the night with finals and observations. Please also join us as we will be joining "Tha Sports Krib" radio show on blogtalk radio. Follow this link to hear the show!

We have lots of new material posted up at http://www.powerratedsports.com/ and are posting new material daily! Please visit to check out the latest editions of Ask the Professors, check out our picks for week one of the college football season, check out all of our FBS, FCS, and D2 conference previews, our first editions of Coaches on the Hot Seat and Coaches in the Dead Pool! We have updates from the opening five games of the D2 season from last weekend, and we also be launching our new PRS rankings on Monday and Tuesday of next week. All rankings for D2 and FCS football will release next Monday, while FBS rankings will release on Tuesday due to the Miami/Maryland game being played on Monday night.

So here are my picks for the best games for this weekend:
Oregon vs. LSU
Boise State vs. Georgia
Clemson vs. Troy
William & Mary at Virginia (for potential upset)
USF at Notre Dame
TCU at Baylor
Miami (Ohio) at Missouri
SMU at Texas A&M
East Carolina vs. South Carolina
Villanova at Temple
Eastern Washington at Washington

The slate is not full of great week one matchups, but there intriguing stories here to speak about. Tune into the show on Thursday night and I'll discuss the top games at length. Please feel free to email your questions to me at scott.bilo@powerratedsports.com and we can discuss your emails live!

Thanks for a teriffic first season! Let's get to playing some football!!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Big 10 2011 Preview

Our Big 10 2011 Preview is now available at http://powerratedsports.com/college_football_fbs_big10.html

The FBS College Football season is just 9 days away!

Power Rated Sports Today

powerratedsports.com has launched succesfully! You can now visit the new site to find all sorts of new material, including "Ask the Professors 2.3", Our Big 10 Preview, all FCS, and D2 Previews for 2011, our ACC and Big 12 Previews, and many original pieces.
Please join us as we continue to update daily!
There is still more to come to the Bilo College Football Report as well, as this will be the host site for live updates during the season, as well as new and original pieces by every member of the team. Thanks for making 2010 a great season, and we look forward to giving you the best that we have to offer for the 2011 season and beyond with our joint operations at Bilo Football with powerratedsports.com and The Bilo College Football Report!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

As Miami Administrators Bunker Up, the Heat Closes In

Donna Shalala sure looks relaxed in this undated photo. Times must have been good. Her job as University of Miami president was sure a breeze with money rolling in with the Atlantic tide day after day. Nevin Shapiro (see scum sucking vampiric shit bucket) was cutting checks, deals for prostitutes, and writing out liquor lists like there was a Britney Spears/Lindsey Lohan "Together at Last" tour was dropping into town. This sure doesn't look like a woman who was waiting for the other shoe to drop. It certainly doesn't look like a woman who is worried about her football players taking money, hookers, and whatever else from a 5-5 jock sniffer.

Fast forward a bit. Donna looks dismissive, as if saying "hey, it was bound to happen, but these are just kids. Kids are kids, right?". Donna still isn't worried. Hell, she even attended a university president conference just last week to discuss reworking a compliance system that just doesn't work anymore. Geez, Donna knows all about that, doesn't she?

Donna sure loves that "bowling for dollars" check that the lovely Mr. Shapiro (scum sucking shitbag that he is, shown center) cut for Miami. Hell, there is even a player lounge on campus named after him. By the way, Donna, where the fuck is the flood? Your pants are almost shorter than the sea gull's shorts behind you. Oh yeah, and one quick warning...the sea gull is not the one that's about to shit all over you...

Notice the black background behind Donna? It's the walls of the bunker that she seems to be holing up in now as she hides from any personal media contact as the nuclear bomb of all time was dropped on her university yesterday. I hate to break it to her, but the fallout from this bomb is going to permeate her bunker walls and cook her like a Thanksgiving turkey.

Here's the deal. Shalala is not safe from all of the mess written about by Charles Robinson and Dan Wetzel, the sports writing equivalent of Batman and Superman. Nevin Shapiro, closest identity comparison being the Joker, has made a major mess on her carpet, and she sat there like a buffoon and let him do it. She knew that Shapiro was up to dirty tricks, but she just decided if she asked no questions, nobody could tag anything to her. Wrong again.

Shalala, along with many, and I mean many, other administrators should cook for the Nevin Shapiro issues. I have to believe that if you had all of these athletes over eight years, partying like they were, walking around with all of the cash that they had, riding in cars that were not theirs, and hanging out at clubs with strippers, that none of these people knew that this was happening? Bullshit. Not one of these administrators from Shalala, to Kirby Hocutt, to any number of professors on campus, can look you in the eye and tell you that they were unaware that any of this was going on. That is why Shalala, for one, hides behind the veil of a written statement sent out to the media, rather than standing in front of the nation and taking her beating. She simply cannot look at us and lie. She is not capable of doing it with a straight face. For eight years, she, Paul Dee, Kirby Hocutt, and to a huge degree, Randy Shannon, got over on us.

The death penalty, according to Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA, is very much on the table, and may be more real than you may imagine. The NCAA, according to Emmert, is going to smoke those administrators out of their holes (thanks, George Bush!) and is not above making an example of the Hurricanes. There can only be one way that this happens, and by invoking the "willful violator" clause, the door has been opened to commuting an execution of not only the Miami football program, but the entire athletic department. As it turns out, by invoking the clause, the NCAA can go beyond the normal four-year statute of limitations and can go back to the very beginning. Since the Miami baseball program was placed on probation during the 2003-05 seasons, that makes the Hurricanes a repeat offender within the prescribed period of time that basically puts the 'Canes in even hotter water.

My assessment is this. The NCAA needs to drop the death penalty in a way that would make the SMU situation seem like a walk in the park. The magnitude of the wrongdoing here makes any situation that I have ever seen seem like a Saturday morning cartoon. If SMU was killed for two years, Miami needs to be killed for a decade, if it's ever allowed to come back. It also need to honor the deals that were given to head coach Al Golden and Sean Eichorst, its new AD, as it lied like the scum that it is by omission upon hiring the two in April. They were never told about the investigation. They were never told that their world was about to take a shit for something that had nothing to do with them. They should then be allowed to work elsewhere, as should basketball coach Jim Larranaga, who was similarly lied to upon taking the basketball job.

Shalala, and all other administrators who had connections to Shapiro, including former coaches, should be banned from ever working at a university again. They rode this crazy train straight off of the cliff, and even though it became known years earlier that Shapiro was filthy, they did nothing to stop it. They did nothing to stop him, and still took checks from this dirtbag. Turns out that those strippers weren't the only whores involved, were they Donna?

All photos courtesy of Google Images

I Love Uneducated Crocodile Tears

Poor Kellen Winslow Jr. He really looks like he's struggling to make ends meet in college. Photo Courtesy of Yahoo! Sports.

By Matt Chandik

You could see this one coming a mile away. It happens every time an NCAA athlete tries to make money off of his name by selling memorabilia, taking money from a booster or whatever it is that Nevin Shapiro is offering up. (Actually, seeing as how he's in jail, he's probably offering up things he doesn't want to be offering right now, but I digress.)

Every time this happens, some people inevitably come out and claim that these poor kids are being taken advantage of and that the NCAA is just so unfair. They'll claim that the NCAA is a corrupt and evil institution (well, never mind) that is out to get these kids.

The one and only Ari Gold has my response to this.

Seriously, this response is as pathetic and laughable as it is ridiculous and flawed. First of all, no one's forcing these kids to play college football. Nowhere in the NFL rulebook does it say that its players need to have played college football. Hell, Antonio Gates is an All-Pro tight end and he never played a down of college football, though he's obviously the exception. Still, though, no one is forcing them to go to school. When a player decides to sign a Letter of Intent to an NCAA institution, he agrees to the school's rules, the conference's rules and the NCAA's rules. It's just the way it is. In exchange, the school provides way more than the NCAA's staunchest opponents will ever acknowledge. Room and board is obviously the first thing that comes to mind, but aren't books covered? Isn't tuition covered? Was that huge weight room at Michigan, LSU, Florida or whomever paid for by the student or the school? Does the school charge the athletes to use it? Does the school charge the athletes for the help that the strength and conditioning staff provides? All that working out must make a player hungry. It's a sad thing that athletes don't have access to something like a training table after practice. Oh, wait.

Players have access to state-of-the-art workout facilities, practice field and stadiums, none of which they pay a cent for. I'm sure the bills in the Big House are pretty expensive, but I'm confident that Denard Robinson isn't going to pay a dime toward them. It can't be cheap to make sure that the University of Alabama pays all of the employees that make a Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stdium the experience that it is, but I'm damn sure that Trent Richardson isn't paying the beer guy in Section 128. Mack Brown makes a gazillion dollars a year, but I'd venture to say that Garrett Gilbert isn't footing the tab even if he's getting paid by the turnover. Those professors that are teaching the kids who actually go to class have paychecks with the school's name on it, not the All-American quarterback's name.

These kids aren't anywhere near the “slaves” that some try to categorize them as. For every example of A.J. Green not being allowed to sell his jersey or Shapiro dishing out $100 bills like he's Chris Paul, there are 50 guys who blew out a knee, stuck around for five fruitless on-field years before going on to not even sniffing an NFL contract. Where's the public outcry for how those kids got screwed? Nonexistent, because they didn't get screwed.

Like I alluded to earlier, there is no one holding a gun to these kids' heads forcing them to play college football. If the rules are so unfair, so ridiculous and so hard to follow, don't play college football. Don't get your education paid for. Don't get your cutting-edge workouts, books, some food, surgeries, physical therapy and everything else that is covered by a scholarship paid for. Stop crying your fucking crocodile tears about how unfair life is and skip college. It might be tougher to reach the ultimate goal of playing in the NFL, but that's irrelevant, isn't it? Who wants to be tied down with these barbaric rules?

According to this, the average out-of-state student at the University of Michigan pays just north of $50,000 per year (which, holy fuck, dude). That number includes the tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board and personal and miscellaneous fees. Tack on everything extra that a Michigan football might get and it's not out of the question to pay roughly $70,000 per year PER PLAYER. $70,000 at 85 scholarship players is nearly $6 million. Six. Million. Dollars, or in a measure that might make some Ohio State fans show all eight of their teeth with a broad smile, more than a million dollars for each of Rich Rodriguez's wins at Michigan. This is clearly an institution out to screw players out of a chance to making a lot of money down the road.

I'm not going to pretend like the NCAA is perfect. It's not, and I rip on it every chance I get. However, this whole crock of shit that its athletes need to be paid because they're all poor kids from the ghetto (which, HALOL) who are merely trying to provide for their families (I'm not sure how you provide for your family when you get a free dinner, a hooker to do a key of blow off of and a wad of $100 bills that mysteriously never finds its way back to the player's family, but anyway.) is just that- a crock of shit. It's really sad. No one's forcing college athletes to play. If they feel they can handle the rules, then by all means, go ahead and play. If not and they want to continue bitching, then perhaps we can compare and contrast our list of school loans that we still have to pay back.

Oh, wait.

Matt Chandik can be reached at matt.chandik@gmail.com and on Twitter at @MattChandik. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It Was Nice Knowing You, Miami

Photo courtesy of LSUFreek.

By Matt Chandik

In college football, the Grim Reaper doesn't show up decked out in a black hooded cloak and a scythe. He doesn't ghoulishly stare down his future victims from his bony skeletal body. He even has the courtesy of giving his victims advance notice of what he's capable of and what he's going to do to them.

No, in college football, the Grim Reaper shows up wielding a Yahoo! Sports press pass, a tape recorder, a smartphone, a pen and a pad. He doesn't stand out physically, other than his blondish red hair. He's one of the few intelligent and good people Michigan State can proudly claim as its own, especially with Chris Hansen leaving that exclusive list. In college football, the Grim Reaper goes by the name of Charles Robinson, and if he's on your campus, well, you might as well admit everything you ever did wrong in your lifetime and beg for forgiveness. By the looks of it, though, that's not stopping him any time soon.

Robinson and Yahoo! colleague Dan Wetzel raked Ohio State over the coals for the tattoo, cash and impermissible benefits scandal that eventually cost Jim Tressel his job, Terrelle Pryor his senior season and Solomon Thomas, DeVier Posey, Dan Herron and Mike Adams the first five games of the 2011 season (with Jordan Whiting getting one game and Dorian Bell also being suspended before deciding to transfer), he went on ESPN radio and called that piece an eight out of 10. Robinson said he was working on something that would be a 10 and that it would be released in August.

Fast forward to August, and, well, it's here. Robinson didn't disappoint, though he might have undersold his piece by a few zeroes. Here it it is in all of its glory. I'd call it scathing if I didn't feel that it undersold Robinson's efforts. Before I get into it, let me allow you to see what Robinson himself had to say about the piece on Twitter.

We audited over 20,000 of Shapiro's business docs, multiple years of credit card bills, 5,000 pages of cell bills and over 1,000 photos.”

Nine former UM players or recruits and one former UM coach corroborated portions of Nevin Shapiro's accounts of rule breaking."

We have corroborating sources, either human, document or photographic, on at least 72 Miami players or former recruits receiving benefits “

Seven former coaches and three support staff either witnessed, had knowledge or participated in Shapiro committing NCAA violations. “

You can even view what every player named in the investigation is accused of doing by browsing each player's page. It's that detailed.

This is, without a shadow of a doubt, the closest thing that the NCAA has seen to the death penalty since Southern Methodist University for the 1987 and 1988 seasons. Quite frankly, there's really no way out from this one. Charles Robinson is a reputable journalist who has broken stories on the likes of USC, Ohio State, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Auburn and a host of others. His credibility on the matter if second to none. That combined with the research that he allegedly put into the matter basically means that Miami is, well, fucked.

From what Robinson says, nearly anyone and everyone at Miami had his or her hand out for Nevin Shapiro's money. Shapiro grew up in South Florida and when he grew up, decided that he wanted to run the Miami athletic department. He was called a hanger-on, a wannabe, a jocksniffer and undoubtedly way more and way worse. He never even attended the U, instead studying at the University of South Florida, but always rooted for the 'Canes. He had money and plenty of it for the reason that he now rots in a New Jersey prison- a Ponzi scheme that totaled $930 million, according to Wetzel. Of that $930 million, nearly $83 million of it came from investors.

Robinson's article covers everything. The bounties on rival quarterbacks Chris Rix and Tim Tebow. The hookers (including one where Shapiro allegedly paid for an abortion to protect an unnamed player), lavish parties at some of Miami's hottest spots, use of his yacht, waterfront home, meals, televisions etc...Basically, it's anything you may have seen in Blue Chips or on Jesus Shuttlesworth's official visit in He Got Game. Robinson also alleges through Shapiro that several coaches knew of what was going on. Shapiro also allegedly tried to goad Miami's director of compliance into a fight at halftime of the Orange Bowl finale, a beatdown at the hands of Virginia. The director of compliance promptly looked into who Shapiro was, saw that he was part owner of a sports agency that several 'Canes players signed with and promptly....did nothing. Robinson also provided a picture of Shapiro holding court at a charity bowling event with Miami president Donna Shalala gleefully staring in disbelief at a $50,000 check from Shapiro, which, of course, came from the Ponzi scheme money. More than 70 players were implicated in Robinson's expose, including the likes of Andre Johnson, Devin Hester, Jon Beason, D.J. Williams, Vince Wilfork and a host of current players.

Quite frankly, I can't quite sum up everything that Robinson wrote. Go read it for yourself and ask yourself how many awards he will win for his investigative piece. What I can say, though, is what I think can and should happen to the Miami program. I know that the NCAA is undoubtedly scared of scarring another program with the death penalty. SMU still hasn't recovered from its beating at the hands of the NCAA, though it's on the right track now with former Hawai'i head coach June Jones at the helm. If the death penalty is ever going to be dusted off, though, this is the time. The Michigan fan in me is disappointed in the timing of this since it takes much of the heat off of Ohio State (even though ESPN would never have you believe it. More here. While I don't mind Ohio State getting backed over by a truck, let's not make your anti-Big 10 bias more transparent than it already is.), but this is huge. If USC got a reduction of 30 scholarships over three years as one of its biggest punishments, what will Miami get? 50? 80? 120 over 10 years? The NCAA has shown that it's not consistent with its punishments and doesn't even care enough to pretend to be, but at this point in time, it wouldn't be surprising to see Miami's program blasted back to the Stone Age.

Predictably, Miami fans are trying to defend this with an army of excuses. “This happens everywhere” is a common one. “Robinson is scum and a liar” seems to be another favorite. “People are just jealous of Miami” is one that former USC athletic director Mike Garrett would be proud of. Does this stuff happen in most top-flight Division I institutions? Actually, I'd venture to say it does. Maybe they don't have a luxury yacht on the Atlantic Ocean like Miami does, but would anyone be surprised to hear that Joe Schmo, All-American running back got paid money to go to (THIS IS A HYPOTHETICAL EXAMPLE. NOT A REAL ACCUSATION) Florida State over offers from Michigan, Ohio State, Alabama, Oklahoma, USC, Texas and Florida. No? Didn't think so. If a compliance department doesn't care, doesn't want to care or is just too oblivious to police things like these, it shouldn't be all that surprising. There will always be boosters whose No. 1 interest is to get their favorite schools the best players by any means necessary. There will always be boosters whose No. 1 or No. 2 interest is to get close to these players to use them for future financial gain or just to feed their ego, much like in Nevin Shapiro's case. Shapiro called himself Lil Luke after being a younger version of former 2 Live Crew frontman and former 'Canes booster Luther Campbell. Campbell allegedly offered bounties to Miami players for touchdowns, interceptions, big plays and his rumored favorite- knocking quarterbacks out of the game. However, Lil Luke took things to another level and here's what the original Luke had to say about it.
My personal favorite quote? “Shapiro is nothing more than a jilted groupie who fucked over a lot people. He is an opportunistic schemer who now wants to play the role of jailhouse snitch. His word isn't worth squat, especially if Yahoo! paid him for the exclusive. Nevin is angry because he couldn't get former players to invest in his Ponzi scheme or come to his rescue when his criminal enterprise was exposed. I always had a feeling Shapiro was a sketchy motherfucker. I could see right through him two minutes into our first conversation.
And there's this...
“ So did Randy Shannon, who warned all of his assistants that if he caught them with Shapiro, he would fire them. Randy hated that beady-eyed defamer. Surprisingly, Shannon's name was conspicuously absent in Yahoo!'s breathtaking 11-month investigation.
Campbell says these things, yet he's photographed on Yahoo!'s report with Shapiro sporting a broad smile in what looks to be a luxury suite.

However, one thing that sticks out here is that even if everyone else does do it, it doesn't make it right. Additionally, if there's one thing the SEC has taught us, it's that if you're going to cheat, be good at it so the NCAA can't prove anything. That's where Miami failed. With Nevin Shapiro having the athletic department and much of UM's administration in his back pocket, he was able to run the program and with one fell swoop, bring it to its knees. I'm not going to pretend like his word is law and that's he's a beacon of honesty, but Charles Robinson isn't the type of reporter to put his neck on the line without cross-checking his facts more times than Shapiro allegedly paid players and crossing every T and dotting every I. Robinson said that he corroborated his story with multiple witnesses and that this story took nearly a year to come together. I'm sorry, Miami fans, but this really doesn't look good. I feel bad for Al Golden, who has to be kicking himself for leaving North Philly for Coral Gables. (By the way, who ever thought they'd read those words?) Golden made it a point to make sure that everyone and their mom knew that this transpired before his arrival in Miami, but if he sticks around, he's going to be stuck cleaning up Nevin Shapiro's shit. How can he possibly recruit kids to Miami now with the looming sanctions and Charles Robinson's fingerprints all over the UM campus? Florida State and Florida were already pummeling the 'Canes in recruiting. Now, it won't be hard for other SEC, ACC, Big 10 and Big East programs to swoop into the “State of Miami” and the South Florida area to poach kids that may have once been 'Cane locks. It's going to take some serious dedication to want to play for Miami over the next few years. If USC got a two-year bowl ban, is a five-year bowl ban for Miami out of the question? 10? What about a television ban? On the bright side, I think the SEC just found its perfect 14th member. The 'Canes already showed their boosters can run with the big boys of the SEC.

The bottom line is that Miami will have a serious pile of shit to dig out of and the U may be clawing at that pile as it accumulates on top of what was once a proud program. Charles Robinson already did a successful job of burying the program and if even 25 percent of what he alleges is true, then the U may not be heard from again for a long, long time.

Photo courtesy of LSUFreek.

Matt Chandik can be reached at matt.chandik@gmail.com or on Twitter @MattChandik.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

FCS Independents 2011 Preview

Georgia State Panthers
2010 Record: 6-5
The Panthers are growing and making strides everyday as they approach full membership in the Colonial Athletic Association in 2012. Drew Little will be back again at QB after passing for 2102 yards and 18 TDs as a freshman. He is a QB to watch not only this season, but next as well. Kelton Hill and Travis Evans shared the load at RB, and both return again for GSU. Parris Lee and Rosevelt Watson both return as well to give the Panthers incredible depth. Danny William took over as the top receiver last fall, and returns after posting 54 receptions last fall. Senior Sydney Haynes will be back as the second option.
Senior Brandon Jones is the leading returning tackler, as the Safety collected 51.5 tackles on the season. LB Evan Bostic returns, as do brothers Jake and Louie Muasau to fill out the B spots. Jake Muasau led the team with 8.5 sacks, while DE Christo Bilukidi added 7 on the season. Jones defended 6 passes on the season, but nobody had more than 2 picks.
The Panthers are making major moves and are building quickly to be immediately succesful once joining the CAA in 2012. It looks like a major push to 8 wins could be in play this season.
Season Opener: 9/2 Clark (Atlanta)

South Alabama Jaguars
2010 Record: 10-0
USA was shockingly solid last season, but played a majority of their schedule against D2 competition. That will change in 2011, as the Jags add 2 FBS opponents, but this is a gradual buildup, as USA prepares to eventually move on to FBS football and a spot in the Sun Belt Conference. CJ Bennett will return at QB for USA, Bennett passed for 1189 yards with 8 TDs and just 2 picks on the season while starting the final 3 games of the year. Kendell Houston will be back, as he led the team with 891 yards rushing and 10 TDs. Courtney Smith was the only receiver to go for over 20 receptions on the season.
Defensively, the Jags only gave up 130 points all season. With the core unit coming back this fall, USA should make more strides, but will be ineligible still for any postseason activities, as they are in a transitional period.
Season Opener: 9/1 West Alabama

Texas State Bobcats
2010 Record: 4-7
The Bobcats were booted out of the Southland conference after accepting a move to the FBS and Mountain West in 2012. They compete as an independent, but still play a schedule loaded with SLC teams this fall.
Tyler Arndt was having a solid freshman season before going down with a terrible knee injury. If fully healthy, he will be handed the ball once more. Dexter Imade will be the primary back this fall after rushing for 414 yards and 5 scores last fall. I expect more from him this fall. Darius Bolden returns at WR, but the Bobcats lose their two best receivers from last fall.
Brian Lilly returns at LB after posting 63 tackles, and DB Darryl Morris provides solid support as he finished with 60 tackles on the season. Prestin Brown led the team with just 3 sacks last fall so a pass rush must be found in the mix this season. DE Jeff Clermond led the team with 9 TFLs on the season, but if another defender can't step up, Clermond will see more double teams this fall. Morris was a strong pass defender, as he knocked away 9 passes last fall.
With a transition going on, Texas State will have the pressure taken off from having to compete for a conference crown this fall, but major strides must be made to prove that they are ready for the jump. I just don't see it happening easily, as Texas State has been bobbing around mediocrity for years.
Season Opener: 9/3 @ Texas Tech

Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners
2010 Record: None
The date is coming near for the UTSA Roadrunners to play their first ever game. There are lots of questions, and a depth chart is still being worked out, but despite all of that, UTSA will have a very quick road to the big time, as they are slated to join the WAC in 2012, if the WAC survives that long. Larry Coker, former Miami coach, will run this football team, so UTSA is starting off big. The schedule will be easy this season, but will be upgraded big time next fall. Let's get it rolling!
Season Opener: 9/3 Northeastern State (OK)

Monday, August 15, 2011

SWAC 2011 Preview

Alabama A&M Bulldogs
2010 Record: 3-8
It was a long, frustrating season for the Bulldogs, and they are trying to find some kind of combo to take them back up the chain, but it's a long climb. Justin Jones started as a freshman at QB, but it was a terrible situation. Jones was awful, having posted 2 picks for every TD he tossed. Kaderius Lacey will take over full time at RB after rushing for 710 yards and 5 scores, and the loss of Tony Green helps his case as well. There is little depth. G'Alonzo Martin will be the top receiver, but it's not proven if Jones can get the ball out to him regularly.
Vernon Marshall led the team in tackles, but he's a DB, and nobody else finished in the SWAC top 25. Not solid at all. LBs Willie Fuller and Larry Lumpkin return, and are the best pass rushers on the team. Being that they combined for 8, I am not excited about this. Lumpkin and Dee Lett do a solid job of disrupting the run, but there are some serious issues up front. The Bulldogs will face some issues when it comes to defending the pass as well, as their top specialists all moved on after last season.
I see another rough outing for the Bulldogs, with no end in sight. Anthony Jones may just find himself swimming in the coaches dead pool before too long.
Season Opener: 9/3 @ Hampton

Alabama State Hornets
2010 Record: 7-5
2010 was such an up and down season, but it ended on the down note as ASU fell in the SWAC title game to Texas Southern, which was their second loss to TSU on the season. Reggie Barlow (former ASU receiver) had his contract extended after the SWAC title appearance, so there will be stability here. Devin Dominguez returns at QB, but he is a wild one. Dominguez passed for 1536 yards and 19 TDs, but also tossed 15 picks. That has got to improve this season for the Hornets to beat out Jackson State and return to the title game. Andrew Pitts started as a freshman, and was good for a marginal 557 yards and 4 scores. Sophomore Quendarius Jackson will return to provide some depth. Nicholas Andrews and TC McWilliams both return at WR to give Dominguez some solid targets. They will be instrumental in getting those picks erased.
ASU returns their top 3 tacklers, and there is one from every group in DB Brandon Roberts, LB Demarques Taylor, and DE Jimmy Daniels. Daniels led the team with 5 sacks last fall, while fellow DE Kynjee Cotton added another 5. Daniels was a force against the run, having totalled 18 TFLs to lead the SWAC. Cotton added 11 more, and the Hornets are a grinder to run against. Dononvan Masline led the secondary last fall with 11 defended passes, with Saeed Lee adding another 6 to the mix, while Kejuan Riley was the real star after picking off 7 passes on the season. Marcus Sullivan and Masline combined to add 7 more for ASU.
If the Hornets can solve their issues at LB, they could push for the East title once again, but Jackson State stands in their way.
Season Opener: 9/3 @ Mississippi Valley State

Alcorn State Braves
2010 Record: 5-6
One of the streakiest teams in the conference, the Braves need to find consistency this season. Brandon Bridge showed serious flashes of brilliance at times last fall, and the sophomore returns after passing for 19 TDs and 2086 yards. If he cuts down on his 13 picks, he could be truly dynamic. Bridge added another 601 yards and 8 TDs on the ground. His primary back will be Gabriel Nash, who rushed for 612 yards and 6 scores. Simon Collier will step into a starting role at WR, but nobody quite knows who will line up with him.
On defense, LB Herve Tonye Tonye will be back after collecting 82 tackles at LB last fall. Javoris Tribune will also bring some tackling ability oout of the secondary, but there is no much depth when it comes to tackling ability. Brandon Morris will be expected to step up on the line after the Braves lost their two top sack specialists. He is also the only true threat against the run. Tribune will be a top tackler, but is also a scary pass defender, as he knocked away 8 passes last fall. Jason Owens is a ball hawk as well, having defended 6 passes. Jamison Knox picked off 3 passes as a freshman last fall.
The Braves have some depth issues on offense, and the receivers are in a bit of flux. Bridge can win games by himself, and will be expected to break out huge this fall. Issues at LB and on the line give me cause for concern, so I am going to say that Alcorn State should expect to be back at the 5 or 6 win window once again.
Season Opener: 9/3 @ Grambling

Jackson State Tigers
2010 Record: 8-3
The Tigers are a team that has found a new way to play in the last year or so, and this season should cap it off with a SWAC title. Casey Therriault is one of the best FCS QBS around, as he passed for 3436 yards and 31 TDs last fall. He is a winner, and a game changer. BJ Lee returns at RB, but is strictly a complimentary part in this offense. Therriault will get back 4 of his top 5 receivers in Marcellos Wilder, Rico Richardson, TE Renty Rollins, and EJ Drewery. There will be some fireworks in Jackson this fall.
Milton Patterson will be back at LB for the Tigers to lead the defense, and Kerry Hoskins brings serious tackling ability at DB. Donovan Robinson led the team with 7 sacks last fall, but he loses some help around him this fall. Robinson's 18.5 TFLs make him one of the most dangerous linemen in the nation. LB Milton Patterson is a beats up front as well, after collecting 13.5 TFLs of his own. Qua cox was a dangerous play maker in the secondary as he knocked away 7 passes last fall. Andre Wright added 6 more, but the Tigers lost their top two defenders in the secondary. Tim Dandridge returns after picking off 3 passes.
The defense has a few concerns, but the offense is absolutely loaded. The Tigers are going to push the tempo in every game this season and dare people to keep up, and that is why I choose them to win the conference title.
Season Opener: 9/3 Concordia (Alabama)

Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils
2010 Record: 0-10
I cannot believe that this was the same school that Jerry Rice and Willie Totten made famous in the 80's. This team used to destroy other teams, scoring upwards of 80 points per game when those two were hooking up in the passing game all of those years ago. Those are just ghost stories now of a time long gone by and dead, and this program resembles a corpse.
Oliver Hughes returns at QB after putting on one of the worst performances I have ever seen by a college QB last season. It really seemed like he and his teammates just gave up at some point last fall. The run game will be starting over this season, and there was no returning depth to speak of from last season. Paul cox and Chris Williams both return at WR, but neither is a guy who can turn this thing around.
LB Terrell Johnson will take over the leadership role on defense, but can he handle it? He may get overrun. Leployer Franklin was the only minor hint of a pass rush guy last fall, and only had 2.5 sacks. Marcus Thompson started as a freshman last fall on the line, and finished with 10 TFLs, while Franklin added 7 more. Marquis Mcfadden and Allister Wade will be the primary pass defenders, as they combined for 9 defended passes. Carlos Hollins returns as well after picking off 2 passes last fall.
Another winless season? Probably.
Season Opener: 9/3 Alabama State

Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions
2010 Record: 5-6
The Lions lose their top pass-catch combo in Josh Boudreaux and Raymond Webber from last season, leaving the offense in limbo. Webber was our All FCS WR of the Year. Justin Billings and Adrian Moore  provided little at RB last fall, but both are incredibly important now. Other than Webber, the Lions had very little to show for receiver productivity, and it now looks as if the team is in big trouble in the passing game.
Jerryan Harris was amazing at LB in his freshman season, as he collected 129 tackles on the season, good for 9th in the country. Derrick Timber also returns at LB after collecting 83 tackles. The Lions provide no pass rush, and the up front run defense has some serious holes to fill. Gyoyanni Harvey and James Harrell will return to run the secondary after combining to defend 12 passes last fall. Harrell finished with 4 picks, while Harvey added 2 more.
The losses are huge for the Lions, and depth is not plentiful. Five wins may seem like a pipe dream right about now.
Season Opener: 9/3 Langston

Grambling State Tigers
2010 Record: 9-2
The Tigers return Doug Williams as head coach, and some folks are saying that this alone will win the SWAC title, as Williams won three titles during his first stint. I need to look deeper before I hand GSU anything of the sort. Anthony Carrothers started at QB as a freshman, and I was not impressed by what I saw. He only tossed 7 TDs and was picked 9 times, and was at or near the bottom of the league in most passing stats. All world RB Frank Warren has departed, as has primary backup Cornelius Walker. Mario Lewis bumps up to the top WR spot, but only collected 16 receptions last fall. None of this has me thinking title.
Cliff Exama returns at LB after finishing with 106 tackles last fall, but the Tigers bring back no other tackler that made the SWAC top 25 in tackles last fall. Antonio Leonard will anchor the top spot in the secondary, but only defended 5 passes last fall. Bruna Foster returns after picking off 3 passes.
Unless Doug Williams puts on the gear himself, I don't see how the Tigers compare to Jackson State. I don't think that they are as good as most people are making them out to be.
Season Opener: 9/3 Alcorn State

Prairie View Panthers
2010 Record: 7-4
The Panthers lose Head Coach Henry Frazier, the man that built this program up from the pits of hell. It's going to be interesting to see how this team responds to a new era. They also lose KJ Black at QB, which is a double hammer to the head. The Panthers lose their top two rushers from last fall as well, and the top three receivers went with them. Uh oh.
Why stop there, as the Panthers lose their top 3 tacklers, and will be led by sophomore LB Marcus White, who only had 49 tackles last fall. Adrian Hamilton returns on the line after recording 5 sacks last fall. He added 7.5 TFLs on the year. Losses are deep in the secondary as well, as Buster Lester returns by himself.
It is going to be a long and hard fall for the Panthers, and it going to be interesting to see how long it takes to rebuild, if they can at all.
Season Opener: 9/4 Bethune-Cookman

Southern Jaguars
2010 Record: 2-9
The Jags took a serious fall last season, and it's time to seek out a rebound, but Stump Mitchell has some serious work to do. Jeremiah McGinty and Dre Joseph both fought for the QB job, and someone has to step up to take it this season. Sylvester Nzekwe takes over at RB, but carried only 66 times last fall. LaQuinton Evans takes over the top receiver spot, but only caught 17 passes last season. Not looking good from a developmental/building standpoint.
On defense, Southern did not have one player finish in the top 25 in tackles. Kedy Enabulele
will return after posting 4.5 sacks, but is the only pass rush threat available. He added 9.5 TFLs last fall, while Anthony Balancier added 11.5. The Jaguars were clueless when defending the pass, and there is no indication as to who should fill that role this season.
Going to be another long season in New Orleans.
Season Opener: @ Tennessee State

Texas Southern Tigers
2010 Record: 9-3
The Tigers won 8 in a row, won the SWAC title, and then promptly fired Johnny Cole after an NCAA investigation began looking into academic improprieties in the program. The investigation is ongoing, so the Tigers are eligible to defend their title...for now.
The Tigers will likely not be on a position to do such a thing, as they start over at QB. Marcus Wright will be the key piece for the offense after having rushed for 1200 yards and 8 TDs. Martin Gilbert will provide solid backup help at the RB position. Joe Anderson was the leading receiver last fall, and he returns once again. There is little depth to go with him.
Shomari Clemons will lead the defense at LB after he totalled up 73 tackles last fall, but who will there be to help him? Clemons had 8.5 sacks last fall, and Marquis Jackson added 7 more from his DE spot. Clemons and Jackson also combined for 32.5 TFLs last fall. The Tigers were very solid against the pass last fall, and should be so again, as they return their top pass defenders in Zack Gallow (10 defended passes), Jerome Thomas (10), Derricus Puridy (6), and Jackson (6). Gallow finished with 5 picks, while Puridy had 3.
The defense is solid, but the offense is in a major state of flux, and that may be costly this season. With all of the issues overshadowing the season, TSU could be in for a nasty tumble.
Season Opener: 9/10 Prairie View

Southland Conference 2011 Preview

Central Arkansas Bears
2010 Record: 7-4
The Bears finished strong in 2010 by winning 4 of their final 5 tilts, but fell just short of a playoff birth. This season, the quest begins again to get UCA into their first FCS postseason, and the job on offense falls to Nathan Dick, their senior QB. Dick Passed for 2589 yards last fall, but was limited to just 12 TDs against 7 picks. If UCA is to push it to another level, Dick will have to be a more viable option through the air in the red zone. The Bears went with a young duo at RB last fall, and both backs return in Terrence Bobo and Jackie Hinton. They combined to rush for only 785 yards on the season, so clearly, this scenario is not working well. Dominique Croom returns to start at WR, and Isaiah Jackson should step into the spot vacated by Kenneth Robey.
Frank Newsome and Lamar Moore return at LB for 2011, and Newsome finished with 100 tackles on the season. Justin Heard will take up the third LB spot after having a solid season as a freshman last fall. The Bears return plenty of talent up front as Jermaine Lett and Markeith Gaines both return on the line. That being said, replacing Markell Carter will be a very tough proposition. Newsome and Heard are the best options at getting defenders into the backfield to stop running plays cold. Desmond Wilcox brings a solid play maker to the secondary, as he knocked away 7 passes on the season. Jestin Love led the Southland with 6 picks last fall, and Seth Allison combined for 10 picks last fall, and Radarius Winston and Dominique Brown added 3 more to the mix.
UCA will have an imposing defense this fall, but the offense must get more active behind Nathan Dick. If a run game can produce, the offense may come to where they need to be. The Bears are that close to getting to the postseason.
Season Opener: 9/1 Henderson State

Lamar Cardinals
2010 Record: 5-6
Andre Bevil returns at QB after passing for 2013 yards and 14 TDs, but he also tossed 14 picks on the season, and that will have to change for the Cardinals to move above .500 this season. The Cardinals have virtually no run game, so the play of Bevil will be extremely important. JJ Hayes (52-745-6) and Josh Powdrill return this fall to give Bevil two solid targets.
The Cardinals will return their top three tacklers from last fall, so they have some solid blocks to build upon. Asim Hicks returns after collecting 102 tackles last fall at LB, and is joined by LB Jonathon Ekpe and DB Tim Hayter as top tacklers returning. That being said, the Cardinals lose the next 4 tacklers on the list. Hicks and DE Darby Jackson led the team in sacks, while Hicks and Epke led the team in TFLs. The secondary is very thin, so the Cardinals will be vulnerable against the pass.
Lamar is only in their third year of reviving their program, so the fact that they won 5 games last year is pretty outstanding. They won't finish anywhere above last in the Southland, but they have still made very solid progress.
Season Opener: 9/3 Texas College

McNeese State Cowboys
2010 Record: 6-5
The Cowboys will be starting over at QB, making a move up the charts a bit difficult to conceive. Andre Anderson is back at RB after rushing for 855 yards and 5 scores, but with a new QB being broken in, he'll be a very important piece to the plan. Champlain Babin will return as well to serve some depth to the position. Damian Dixon and Wes Briscoe will be starting at WR, but Briscoe is still young. The offense could be in trouble.
DB Darell Jenkins led the Cowboys in tackles last fall with 68, and he returns to the secondary. The Cowboys need support in front of him, and Dustin Lighten (DE) and his 3 sacks will be what he has to rely on. Yikes! Lighten did collect 8.5 TFLs last fall, but there is very little in the way of high power pressure producers around him. Jenkins will be joined by Seth Thomas in the secondary, and the two combined for 10 defended passes last fall. Malcolm Bronson finished with 5 picks last fall, and Jarron Jackson, Kentrell Butler, and Brandon Robinson all picked off passes as well. Butler will be starting at LB.
McNeese will likely hit a slide this season unless someone steps up to explode at QB, and some answers are had at LB. These will be the Achilles heal of the Cowboys 2011 season.
Season Opener: @ Kansas

Nicholls State Colonels
2010 Record: 4-7
The Colonels are trying to make some strides this season, and practice is going well, but there are many issues that need fixing, and the question remains as to how much improvement we can expect to see in 2011. LaQuinton Caston will be back at QB this season, as he passed for just 1095 yards, while posting a not so wonderful 8/9 ratio. Jesse Turner returns at RB as well, and he rushed for 8 scores last season. Turner must increase productivity, as he only rushed for 638 yards. Caston was an aggressive runner, as he rushed for 577 yards and 10 scores. Marcus Washington will provide depth, but only carried 49 times last fall. Kenyad Blair returns as the leading receiver, but only caught 29 passes on the season.
The Colonels fail to return any tacklers who finished in the Southland top 25. Warren Lennix finished with 4 sacks at DE, and Rashar Knight return on the line. The Colonels also struggled to make plays behind the line last fall, and they lack any real play makers up front. Chika Madu returns after posting 12 defended passes last fall. Bobby Felder returns after defending 7 passes, while Brian Lewis added 4. Felder picked off 4 passes as well.
NSU is making some moves, but there are still far too many holes, and there are some serious issues to fix before the season starts. I see no movement.
Season Opener: 9/1 Evangel

Northwestern State Demons
2010 Record: 5-6
The Demons made a major move out of the cellar last fall, as they improved from zero to five wins in one season. Paul Harris returns at QB after passing for 1821 yards and 13 TDs, but he still tossed 10 picks. He will have to keep working on those numbers and improving his accuracy and decision making skills. NSU used three different backs last fall, and nobody stood out. Serling Endsley, Rumeall Morris, and Sidney Riley all return, but someone needs to step up and make some plays. Bradley Brown and TC Henry both return at WR, and TE Justin Aldridge returns as well to bring an added dimension.
LB Derek Rose had a huge sophomore season, as he led the SLC with 121 tackles on the season. Yaser Elqutub will be back to join him at LB, but he was not nearly as active as Rose was. Rose was the only real force the Demons had up front last fall, as he collected 8 TFLs, but he has no support, and there is no pass rush. Jeremy Lane was solid in the secondary last fall, as he defended 9 passes. Cortez Paige, Jamaal White, and Brashard Booker also stepped up big to combine for 16, with White being good for 3 picks on the season.
The Demons have the ability to step up and be a top tier club, but they have to execute, and that is going to tell where NSU can elevate to. The window is still wide open.
Season Opener: 9/1 Delta State

Sam Houston State Bearkats
2010 Record: 6-5
This is a very good program, but they stumbled last fall, and they are in a spot now where they must bounce back because the conference is totally winnable. The Bearkats went very young at QB last fall, as Brian Bell started as a freshman. Bell struggled at times, and passed for 1381 yards, and his ratio of 7/4 was not what you want out of your QB, but he is learning, and he's going to likely get better. Tim Flanders broke out last fall, and he can still get better. Flanders rushed for 948 yards and 13 TDs, but that was good enough to finish 1st in the conference. Converted DB Richard Sincere provides depth behind Flanders, but I am looking for Flanders to blow up in 2011. The Bearkats do return their top 3 receivers in Seth Patterson, Kevin Matthews, and Melvis Pride. The offense should get out to a fast jump with so much returning talent coming back.
Darnell Taylor and Kenneth Jenkins were the top two tacklers a season ago, and both return, which is great news. What's bad is that they are both DBs, meaning that the Kats got no support from the front seven. DE JT Cleveland finished wth 4 sacks, as did LB Will Henry, and  LB Eric Fiello picked up 3 sacks. Henry finished with 11.5 TFLs, but where was he on the average plays? Bookie Sneed was our Southland DB of the Year in the SLC, and also made our national team, and was only a freshman. Sneed defended 16 passes on the season and is a guy that you need to throw away from. Jenkins picked off 3 passes, so you don't want to throw in his general direction either.
The offense should break out, and the D line and the secondary are solid. I worry about the LBs and their ability to make the every play tackle. This could be a really nice season for the Kats if they can work out that one detail.
Season Opener: 9/1 Western Illinois

Southeast Louisiana Lions
2010 Record: 2-9
The Lions are a confusing program. They started to show some progress for a time, and now they are a sinking ship. I don't know how to take them anymore. They are virtually starting over again at QB, and there is no clue as to where to go with the opening, as they received very little in experience last fall. Sam Fairly and Zeke Jones shared the load at RB, and while they didn't do a bunch on a yardage basis, and one of them certainly knew how to score, as Jones rushed for 8 scores. Fairly only saw the end zone once. The Lions do, however, possess good depth at WR, as their top three return in Brandon Collins (56-875-4), Simmie Yarbrough (60-709-9), and Kory Theodore (34-622-4).
The Lions are starting over again on defense, as they lose their top 4 tacklers from 2010. Where the Lions will get some strength from is on the D Line, as they return Devan Walker, Devin Boutwell, and Lindsey Leavoy. That group combined for 10 sacks last fall. Leavoy finished with 9.5 TFLs on the season, while Boutwell added another 7.5. Walker added another 8 to the pot, so the line should be all set, barring injuries. The secondary loses their top 4 play makers, so depth is going to be a serious problem. 
With the depth issues at LB and DB, this defense could be a real disaster this season. The same could be said for whomever wins the QB job, but at least he will have something to work with, as that receiving corps is solid. The defense will give it away. Another losing season on the horizon.
Season Opener: 9/3 @ Tulane

Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks
2010 Record: 9-3
SFA hammered their way through the season ti win the race for a playoff birth, and then squandered it away at home in a humiliating loss to Villanova. Gone is Bilo QB of the Year Jeremy Moses, and the job now turns to either Brady Attaway or Dalton Williams, both of whom will likely get snaps in the opener. Don't count out sophomore Garrett Riley either. Romont Hampton returns to start at RB, and he should see increased activity with the QB situation brewing the way that it is. He is much more important this season. Jeremy Barnes returns as well, and could push for carries. Whomever wins that QB job will have a strong stable of receivers to pass to, including two of the best in the game in Cordell Robinson (61-1011-16) and Gralyn Crawford (74-981-5). Kris Lott and Anthony Foster will help spread the field for the Jacks.
LB Devin Ducote will step into the lead role at LB this season after collecting 114 tackles last fall. Derrick Choice, who finished with 86 tackles, will join him at LB. Josh Aubrey and Caleb Nelson are both solid tacklers out of the secondary as well. Malcolm Mattox will take over as the lead lineman after the Jacks lost their two best sack artists from last fall. Mattox is just a sophomore, but is talented. Ducote finished with 10 TFLs last fall, and will be needed to produce at least as much, as so much skill was lost up front. Aubrey was a solid tackler, but is also a dominant cover guy, as he knocked away 10 passes last fall. Josh Hughey, who started as a freshman last season, knocked away 6.
The defense could run into some slippage with the front line decimated as it is, but there is lots of talent at LB and in the secondary to help it along. The loss of Moses is absolutely gigantic, but the skill players are still there, so success is waiting. Until someone knocks them off, SFA is my SLC favorite.
Season Opener: 9/1 McMurry

Southern Conference 2011 Preview

Appalachian State Mountaineers
2010 Record: 10-3
The Mountaineers were dominant in 2010 once again, but not as dominant as before, and they slid just a bit last fall, finishing with 3 losses. The rest of the SoCon is starting to catch up a bit, so ASU needs a return to the old ways in 2011.
Senior DeAndre Pressley will do his best to keep the Mountaineers on top, as he passed for 2631 yards and 21 TDs last fall. Pressley also dominated on the ground by rushing for 1039 yards and another 13 TDs, so he is the man to beat, and is a viable Walter Payton award finalist. Travaris Cadet will give him plenty of support at RB, but he is a complimentary piece to what Pressley does.  Brian Quick is a big play threat at WR, but ASU loses depth at the receiver position. TE Ben Jorden will likely take on a bigger role in the passing attack in 2011.
The loss of Lb DJ Smith will be huge, and it will be up to junior Justin Wray, the second leading tackler last fall, to take up the slack. John Rizor will try to replace Jabari Fletcher up front as the primary pass rusher, but he has a ways to go before catching up to those numbers. Wray finished with 14.5 TFLs last fall, so he will have many roles this fall. Ed Gainey and Troy Saunders are a solid one-two punch in the secondary, as they combined for 16 defended passes in 2010. Dominique McDuffie joins them after picking off 4 passes last fall.
There are some questions up front, but the secondary is deep on defense. The offense is fine as long as Pressley stays healthy, as he can carry a huge load on his shoulders. Another SoCon title is likely, but Wofford will have something to say about it.
2011 Opener: 9/3 @ Virginia Tech

Chattanooga Mocs
2010 Record: 6-5
The Mocs were a turn around story in 2010, and they are looking for more this fall. BJ Coleman returns as one of the best QBs in FCS football, after passing for 2996 yards and 26 TDs last fall. He is a pure passer, and will be placed in a high octane offense this fall, giving the Mocs the ability to become a surprise threat. Sophomore Keon Williams will get a chance to shine after backing up last fall as a freshman. Joel Bradford, a converted DB, took the league receiving title last fall (81-1284-8) and returns along with Brian Sutherland to give the Mocs a stellar receiving duo. They do lose depth behind them, however.
Ryan Consigilo became the star of the defense at LB last fall after collecting 110 tackles on the year, and will once again anchor an improving defense. The Mocs also return 4 linemen who all recorded sacks last fall, led by Chris Donald, who collected 7.5 on the season. Donald also led the team with 13.5 TFLs last fall. Kadeem Wise was a major factor in the secondary as a freshman last fall, and he will join with Chris Lewis-Harris as the best play makers in the secondary. Wise picked off 6 passes last fall, and scored twice. Jordan Tippett also returns after picking off 3 passes, returning one for a TD.
Chattanooga will be a player in this league, but they have to win some close games. Losses were all to power players last fall, so if the Mocs can just take two more wins this fall, they can consider themselves playoff bound.
Season Opener: 9/3 @ Nebraska

Citadel Bulldogs
2010 Record: 3-8
Citadel is an annual doormat, and last fall was no different. The QB job is once again wide open, as they started 3 freshmen at various times last fall, and none of the action was wonderful. Sam Martin will likely get the nod. Terrell Dallas returns at RB, but only rushed for 665 yards and 6 scores in an option offense. Not good. The receivers are basically stage props for the option.
Tolu Akindele returns at LB to lead the defense, as he collected 80 tackles last fall, but he has little help up front. Derek Douglas and Chris Billingslea will try to become the major pass rush specialists up front, but they have a huge job to make up for the loss of Erik Clanton. Expect Quinton Turner to be very active as well.Joseph Boateng and Jamal Allen will anchor the secondary, but neither are what you would consider huge disruptor to your passing attack. Brandon McCladdie joins them after picking off 2 passes last fall.
The Bulldogs are what they are, and they'll be hard pressed to stay out of the SoCon basement in 2011.
Season Opener: 9/3 Jacksonville

Elon Phoenix
2010 Record: 6-5
Elon finished strong last fall with a 4 game winning streak, but the competition was less than stellar for most of it. That being said, Elon loses head coach Pete Lembo to Ball State, and they lose a dynamic talent in QB Scott Riddle.
Chris Shafto will likely get the nod at QB, but he has very little game experience. AJ Harris shared time at RB last fall, and will now be asked to be the front man in the run game. Depth is not there behind him. Aaron Mellette is a huge star at WR, and Jeremy Peterson is likely to be stepping into the number two role after the loss of Sean Jeffcoat, who had a huge season in Mellette's shadow.
Josh Jones will return at LB after collecting 74 tackles, most of which were assists. Jones loses a ton of help around him, so he has some stepping up to do. The Phoenix had absolutely no pass rush, and were just awful in getting into the backfield to stop the run last fall, so they have some issues. Sophomore Ronnie Hardison is the most experienced play maker returning on defense, but Blake Thompson stepped up to pick off 4 passes. They could form a decent pass defense duo. Chandler Wrightenberry is a developing talent as well.
Elon is resetting this fall as Jason Swepson takes over at Head Coach with lots of areas of need. I expect a slip.
Season Opener: 9/3 @ Vanderbilt

Furman Paladins
2010 Record: 5-6
Furman is starting over in many ways as well, as they are now trying to find a new QB. Bruce Fowler, the new head man, also lost three other players to drug offenses during the off season, so things are not getting off to a rousing start. Jerodis Williams will return at RB, but he was not a solid presence in the offense last fall. TE Colin Anderson is the leading returning receiver, and he will be joined in the passing game by WR Sederrick Cunningham. They combined for 34 receptions last fall, so I am not excited.
LB Kadarron Anderson returns this fall, and is a major piece to the defense. Anderson collected 121 tackles last fall, and will be joined at LB Chris Wiley as the primary play makers in the middle of the field. Ricky Lang is the leading pass rusher on the line, however he only collected 2.5 sacks last fall, so that's not good. Josh Lynn, a DE, is adept at making plays behind the line, as he collected 10 TFLs last fall. Ryan Steed returns in the secondary after defending 9 passes, Steed also picked off 4 passes. Nathan Wade was suspended indefinitely due to the drug sting. Most of the players lost to the suspensions were not major factors, so that, at least, is a relief. Maybe had they not been on pot, they could have been decent players...
The offense is a mess, although the defense is decent. Usually, that's a bad combo. Furman will wind up in the lower half again.
Season Opener: 9/3 @ Coastal Carolina

Georgia Southern Eagles
2010 Record: 10-5
GSU made a strong run at the end of the season after a terrible start, and made an improbable run deep into the playoffs before falling to Delaware to end the season.
GSU is vying to make another push this season, and it very well could play out. Jaybo Shaw returns at QB to run the option, and he is a good one. Shaw passed for 1233 yards last fall, while rushing for 514 yards and 16 TDs. The Eagles are loaded at RB, led by freshman of the year RB Raymond Brown, who ran for 999 yards and 7 TDs. JJ Wilcox and Darreion Robinson add solid depth and play making skills behind Brown.
LB Josh Rowe is the solid leader of the defense at LB after collecting 104 tackles as a sophomore last fall, and Derek Heyden is a solid tackler out of the secondary. Brent Russell provided major edge rush ability as he recorded 8 sacks last fall at DE. Russell and DE Roderick Tinsley combined for 34 TFLs last fall, so getting passed the line of scrimmage is a nightmare for most backs. Heyden and Laron Scott are major play makers in the secondary, as they combined for 15 defended passes in 2010. Scott picked off 6 passes on the season.
With a solid defense, and a grinding offense led by Shaw and Brown, the Eagles could make this their year to return to glory not seen since the days of Tracy Ham. GSU is very dangerous.
Season Opener: 9/3 @ Samford

Samford Bulldogs
2010 Record: 4-7
The Bulldogs have to be wondering why they ever left the Ohio Valley Conference at this point. This league has been a meat grinder for Samford, and the likelihood of pushing into the top tier in 2011 is doubtful at best. Dustin Taliafaro returns at QB, but he brought nothing to the table in 2010, and he recorded a 5/9 ratio as a junior. Chris Evans is gone at RB, and that is huge. Fabian Truss leads the way to replace him, but that's a huge job. Quin Roberson and Kelsey Pope, both sophomores, are slated to start at WR.
The Bulldogs lose their best two tacklers from a very unproductive defense, so huge problems exist that are being addressed in camp. DE Alex Davis does return up front, and he brings 7 sacks with him from his 2010 season. LB Darion Sutton collected 4.5 sacks on the season. Sutton was good for 11 TFLs on the season, while Davis added 10.5. Corey White was a solid pass defender, as he defended 7 passes on the season, however, very little talent around him comes back from last season, leaving him as the only real threat in the back four.
Samford has some nice pieces, but not nearly enough, and they will get overrun quickly by the big boys.
Season Opener: 9/3 Georgia Southern

Western Carolina Catamounts
2010 Record: 2-9
The Catamounts have hit a low point in the history of the program, and there is little hope in an instant revival. It's going to take some serious developmental time to get this program back on track and playing at a level that we know they can.
Zac Brindise is back at QB, but with a 7/9 ratio and only 1405 yards passing to his credit last season, that's hardly fantastic news. Michael Johnson and Nate Harris also return to the RB position, but again, neither stood out as potential game breakers for the Cats last fall. The good news is that solid depth returns at receiver in Deja Alexander, Jaciby Mitchell, and Josh Cockrell.
Rocky Williams and Ricky Schwarz return at LB for WCU, giving the Cats a solid building block in the middle. Trey Selby will be back up front on the line, as he finished last fall with 3.5 sacks. The cats are hoping for major development from him this fall, and are hoping that a major increase in his sack totals comes with the ride. Roland Johnson will lead the charge against the run, as he finished with 8 TFLs last fall.

Wofford Terriers
2010 Record: 10-3
The Terriers took their program to a new level in 2010, and they are looking to make even better strides this season behind bulldozing fullback Eric Breitenstein, who rushed for 1639 yards and 22 TDs on the season out of the option. Breitenstein averaged over 6 yards per carry, and rushed for 126.08 yards per game, good for 5th in the nation. Mitch Allen returns at QB, as he rushed for 681 yards and 4 scores, while passing for 8 TDs. Donovan Johnson will be back as the top halfback out of the triple option. Brenton Bursin gives the Terriers a deep threat when they break out and throw the football.
Amett Pall was a one man show on the line last season, and he brings a fire up front. Pall finished with 12.5 sacks last fall, and was a 1st Team FCS All-Bilo selection. Eric Eberhart will be back on the line as well after complimenting Pall with 5.5 of his own sacks last fall. Pall finished last fall with 22.5 TFLs on the season, making he and Mario Kurn the two most complete DEs in FCS football. Eberhart finished with 10 TFLs to make the Terriers a terror in the trenches. Bake Wylie and Jamar Reaves return in the secondary giving the Terriers two experienced play makers to run the show when anyone dares get by Eberhart and Pall up front. Coleman Hornaday also returns after picking off 3 passes last fall.
Wofford will be right in the mix with GSU, Chattanooga, and App. State this fall, and any of the four could make a play for the SoCon title. Expect a dog fight out of the Terriers this fall.
Season Opener: 9/3 @ Presbyterian