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  • Top 16 teams

    http://insider.espn.go.com/ncf/previ...ory?id=2550393



    I am a Hawkeye fan, and i'm a little suprised about the #11 spot. I know they are good but I didn't think 11th in the nation good. Good news for me I guess

  • #2
    They still have that quarterback right? #5....can't remember his name. He's pretty good.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by rich_thunder
      They still have that quarterback right? #5....can't remember his name. He's pretty good.
      If I remember correctly, he was really good his Soph. season, but was kinda a bust last year.
      Go Huskers.

      Comment


      • #4
        snap....

        can you copy/paste the article jvw?

        I don't have ESPN insider.
        Go Huskers.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Nick7
          snap....

          can you copy/paste the article jvw?

          I don't have ESPN insider.
          yes please
          the space that is mine



          We miss 'ya brother dime. We know your up there jamming with Cliff and Chuck. Stay metal :salute: :rockon:

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by rich_thunder
            They still have that quarterback right? #5....can't remember his name. He's pretty good.
            Drew Tate, expect big things from him this year. His senior season and getting bigger, just wish we had some steller recievers for him to throw to. For anyone who wants to see the article it is pasted in my first post

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by jvw
              For anyone who wants to see the article it is pasted in my first post
              Well aren't you nice.
              Go Huskers.

              Comment


              • #8
                It's anybody's BCS. A year after USC was everyone's preseason pick, five teams top at least one of our voters' lists. And there's reason not to love each of them. No. 1 Ohio State has nine new defensive starters, including the entire back seven. No. 2 Texas replaces a legend with two unproven youngsters. Notre Dame? Not enough D. Auburn? That schedule's a *****. West Virginia? The comp is too soft. So who will be kings of college football? That's what the BCS championship game is for. Unless, of course, everyone ends up with a loss.

                1. Ohio State Buckeyes
                Last season: 10-2, 7-1 in Big Ten

                He devours sports sections the way he gobbles up true-freshman guards. But DT Quinn Pitcock isn't looking for published pats on the back. "I look at my own quotes to see if I said something stupid," Pitcock says. "And I read them to find out if any of the new guys will take my position." Sorry, Quinn. You're already sounding a little silly. There aren't many linemen better than Pitcock, who was named second-team All-Big Ten last season despite a bum shoulder. Nine starters are gone from the Buckeyes' fifth-ranked defense (281.3 ypg), so OSU is counting on Pitcock and DT David Patterson (four sacks, 7.5 TFLs) to lead the nasty. "Combination-wise, they're as good as any two inside guys we've ever had," says defensive coordinator Jim Heacock. Ohio State loves how Pitcock, a 6-foot-3, 300-pounder with a 36-inch vert, plugs holes and runs down screens with his 4.95 speed. "Quinn's very explosive and holds our point of attack," Heacock says. "He's just not out there telling everyone about it." Hey, better to look smart than sound stupid. -- Liam McHugh

                Yes, the statement raises eyebrows, but RBs coach **** Tressel still likens monster recruit Chris Wells to a legend. "He really reminds me of Jim Brown," Tressel says. "Not just the size, but also the running style." Example: On his first carry this spring, the 6-1, 225-pound Wells bowled over a tackler on a seven-yard run. Better still, with Antonio Pittman (1,331 yards in 2005) back, Ohio State won't need Wells to be Jim Brown right away.

                Enemy Lines

                "The Troy Smith-Vince Young comparisons are legit. He's a nightmare to plan for … Pittman's overshadowed, but he's great … They always have a good D-line, and Pitcock might be the best lineman in the Big Ten … They'll just plug in stars on the rest of the defense … OLB James Laurinaitis was a true freshman in 2005, but he got our attention. He flew around the field like a blur last year and made plenty of big plays … MLB John Kerr could also be special."

                Let's Ask Bristol

                Will Ohio State make better use of Ted Ginn Jr. this year?
                Yes. He's improved quite a bit as a receiver. Ginn's much better at running routes and in coverage recognition. And Ohio State has a package called the Shot Ginn, where he lines up beside Smith and takes direct snaps or handoffs, or just acts as a decoy. Expect to see Shot Ginn again this year. He'll also return kicks again, and don't be surprised if Ohio State sneaks him in at DB. -- Chris Spielman

                2. Texas Longhorns
                Last season: 13-0, 8-0 in Big 12 South

                Eleven days after the Longhorns' first title in 35 years, All-America OT Justin Blalock addressed 51,244 UT fans at Memorial Stadium. "Want the good news or the bad news first?" he asked. Fans screamed for the bad. "The bad news is for defensive linemen in the Big 12," Blalock said. "I'll be returning for my senior year." That was great news in Austin, especially with Vince Young gone. Whichever freshman QB starts -- either Colt McCoy or Jevan Snead -- he'll feel secure that Blalock, LG Kasey Studdard and C Lyle Sendlein are all back for the No. 1 scoring offense (50.2 ppg). Blalock, a 6-4, 329-pound senior, has started 38 straight games at right tackle and is an Outland Trophy favorite. He could have joined his bookend, LT Jonathan Scott, in the NFL draft but opted to return to Austin because he believed he could win another ring. "With this offensive line blocking for whoever plays quarterback," Blalock said this spring, "there's too much talent for us not to contend for another national title." And that's the best news for Longhorns fans. -- Mike Ogle

                Deep Impact

                "We have the ability to have the best defense we've had since I've been at Texas," coach Mack Brown says. Doesn't hurt that Texas added the state's top defensive recruit in LB Sergio Kindle. Although he ran for 2,298 yards and 40 TDs last year at Woodrow Wilson High in Dallas, the 6-4, 225-pounder with 4.56 speed will be used right away as an explosive strongside LB. Turns out, Kindle also made 157 tackles and 36 TFLs as a senior.

                Enemy Lines

                "It's not a complicated scheme, but the QBs will still struggle … There's so much talent, I can't see them taking a big tumble … Running backs Jamaal Charles and Selvin Young can bust one anytime, and wideouts Limas Sweed and Billy Pittman aren't young anymore … They can press corners Aaron Ross and Tarell Brown or play man because their D-line is so good … Some folks had success running downhill at them, with play-action passing over the top."

                Let's Ask Bristol

                Who's the best QB for this Texas offense?
                Both McCoy and Snead are talented recruits who have the intangibles to be The Man for UT. Good news: The cast gives whoever starts a great chance to score a lot of points. With a veteran line, human-missile RB Charles and talented receivers, either McCoy or Snead will be okay. Look for both to play early, but the edge goes to McCoy, who has a full year of meetings and practice time under his belt. -- Jim Donnan

                3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
                Last season: 9-3

                Victor Abiamiri agonizes in Notre Dame's darkened film room, watching and listening as D-line coach Jappy Oliver critiques replays of every mistake the defensive end made last season. "It's tough," Abiamiri says. "You can't hide on film." Actually, after two mostly anonymous years, the 6-4, 270-pounder began to stand out for all the right reasons in 2005, making eight sacks and 15 TFLs. He was never more visible than in the game at Stanford. The Cardinal, trailing by a TD with less than a minute left, had moved the ball to Notre Dame's 38. That was where Abiamiri drew the line. On third down, he dropped Stanford QB T.C. Ostrander for a nine-yard loss. On the next play, he locked up the Irish's Fiesta Bowl trip with his fourth sack of the night. All those long hours in the dark have Abiamiri staring at only bright days ahead. "You've got to see where you went wrong to be a better player," he says. "I've done that. It's going to be a good year." -- Adam Rittenberg

                Deep Impact

                As Jeff Samardzija and Maurice Stovall emerged in 2005, it was easy to forget who'd previously been Notre Dame's best wideout. Rhema McKnight led the Irish in 2003 and 2004 (89 total catches) before tearing a ligament in his knee last Sept. 10 at Michigan. Now it will be the fifth-year senior's task to draw double-teams away from Samardzija. "I'm a firm believer that things happen for a reason," McKnight says. "Hopefully, it's a reason I'll like."

                Enemy Lines

                "Now that QB Brady Quinn has seasoned, veteran weapons, he's just frightening … Samardzija is the most athletic receiver I've seen in a long time. He's a deep threat every time he touches the ball … The strength of this defense is the secondary. DBs Tom Zbikowski and Chinedum Ndukwe are the leaders. With those two, they'll always be able to match up and play man coverage."

                Let's Ask Bristol

                Has the secondary improved enough for the D to slow down the opposition?
                Notre Dame gave up 14.6 yards per catch in 2005. That's terrible. Yes, Zbikowski, ND's field general, has a nose for the ball, and corners Ambrose Wooden and Mike Richardson are physical open-field tacklers. But the corners need to improve their cover skills, especially on deep balls. Bottom line: Unless the line brings more pressure, the D may be better -- but no less vulnerable to big plays. -- Jim Donnan

                "The Gagne T-shirt jersey comes with a complimentary can of gasoline and a set of matches."

                Comment


                • #9
                  Cont.

                  4. Auburn Tigers
                  Last season: 9-3, 7-1 in SEC West

                  By 2004, RB Kenny Irons didn't feel like a star football player anymore. And that almost turned him into an ex-football player. In the span of three years, Irons had gone to South Carolina, clashed with coach Lou Holtz and considered quitting the game. He eventually transferred to Auburn, sitting out the 2004 season. Then last spring, he found himself mired low on a depth chart that included Tre Smith, Carl Stewart and Brad Lester. "His focus wasn't there at first," says RBs coach Eddie Gran. "There's a maturity stage he had to go through. Then Kenny never looked back." A solid spring screwed Irons' head back on last year, and he spent the first half of the season on equal footing with Smith, Stewart and Lester. But on Oct. 15, he exploded for 182 yards on 33 carries vs. Arkansas. Irons finished with 1,293 yards and 13 TDs in only nine starts, the sixth-best season in school history. "I got my swagger back," Irons says. "I was the old KI." Now that Irons is finally a feature back, his career looks far from over. -- Mike Ogle

                  Deep Impact

                  Even with most of last year's No. 19 defense (315.3 ypg) available, new coordinator Will Muschamp shuffled around six players this spring. Biggest switch: All-SEC free safety Will Herring's move to linebacker. The 6-3, 221-pound Herring made a team-best 69 tackles last year and had started 36 straight games at safety. "Will's a playmaker, and we lacked those at LB," Muschamp says. Herring was a quick study: Muschamp says he was already Auburn's best LB this spring.

                  Enemy Lines

                  "Auburn lines up two backs and a tight end and tries to make you call mercy. Load the box to stop Irons and put QB Brandon Cox in passing situations. He's still inexperienced … This is the SEC's quickest defense. Defensive ends Marquies Gunn and Quentin Groves are nightmares to block and athletic enough to drop into coverage … Interior linemen Josh Thompson and Chris Browder are very good and will benefit from the ends getting double-teamed."

                  Let's Ask Bristol

                  Is Muschamp's adjustment-heavy playbook too complicated?
                  Muschamp's gift to the defense is a Nick Saban-type blitz package so sophisticated that the D can reaudible even after an offensive audible. The goal: Take away easy throws and force difficult fade routes. But with athletes like LBs Karibi Dede and Herring, he also won't over-game-plan. "It's a player's game," he told me. "And these guys are players." -- Bill Curry

                  5. West Virginia Mountaineers
                  Last season: 11-1, 7-0 In Big East

                  As a high school senior, Dan Mozes was a 6-3, 280-pound guard with offers from only Wake Forest, Hofstra and West Virginia. Luckily for Mozes, he chose Morgantown and unconventional offensive line coach Rick Trickett. The sixth-year coach isn't looking for the biggest guys to fit his zone-blocking scheme (WVU's starters average only 286 pounds, the smallest in the Big East); he's looking for the toughest. Trickett, a decorated Marine Corps veteran, uses full-contact sumo wrestling and 100-yard buddy carries to weed out the weak links and make the strong links stronger. To emphasize the mental part of the game, he makes linemen watch videos of former wrestling great Dan Gable describing how he intimidated opponents before matches even began, then dismantled them on the mat. Those methods have helped turn Mozes, now a senior center, into a likely Rimington Trophy winner. "The way we do things," Trickett says, "if guys come out of here, there's nothing they can't do." -- Mike Kuchar

                  Deep Impact

                  Vaughn Rivers spent his first spring practice two years ago at corner. Last year, he moved to wideout. This spring, he shifted back to defense to help out a Mountaineers secondary that had lost four starters. It all made Rivers' head -- and stomach -- spin. "I threw up after making the change this year," Rivers says. "I wasn't used to all the running." He better get used to it. The 5-9, 170-pound junior, who had 289 return yards last year, will again return kicks and punts.

                  Enemy Lines

                  "Pick blitzes carefully against this offense. Don't let QB Pat White get to the corner because he's just as good a runner as Steve Slaton … In their 3-3-5 stack defense, try to outphysical them. They find a way to always get their best 11 athletes on the field at the same time, and you rarely get extra yardage because they're such great tacklers … Come out in double-tight end sets and make safeties Eric Wicks and Abraham Jones play at linebacker depth."

                  Let's Ask Bristol

                  Can anybody stop sophomores White and Slaton?
                  Don't bet on it. In the spread offense, White consistently gets to the outside on the basic read-option play and still creates space inside for Slaton (1,128 rushing yards). If White throws (only 114 passes in '05), it's deep. The popular theory is to take away the run and the deep ball and make White complete intermediate routes. But he has more help this year. Athletic junior WR Brandon Barrett dominated this spring. -- Rod Gilmore

                  6. USC Trojans
                  Last season: 12-1, 8-0 in Pac-10

                  Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and LenDale White are gone. And with them went USC's BCS chances, right? Well, don't count out the 2006 Trojans for one 6-5, 215-pound reason: WR Dwayne Jarrett. Coach Pete Carroll was never too worried that the NCAA wouldn't reinstate the junior after April's Apartmentgate (long story short: Leinart's dad paid most of Jarrett's rent on the posh place Matt and his wideout shared last year). And with that squared away, it's time to build on last season's success. After 91 catches for 1,274 yards and 16 TDs last season, Jarrett has a shot at USC's third straight Heisman. Teams can't triple-cover him, either. Senior Steve Smith had 60 catches for 957 yards in 2005, and 6-5, 230-pound Patrick Turner is an imposing third WR. But whoever starts at QB -- junior John David Booty or redshirt freshman Mark Sanchez - will have an easier time shaking off jitters with Jarrett downfield. "If you put the ball up high enough, he'll go up and get it," Booty says. "I wouldn't trade him for any other receiver in the country." -- Bruce Feldman

                  Deep Impact

                  Hard to believe, but USC isn't worried about losing Bush and White. Carroll calls 6-1, 220-pound junior Chauncey Washington a combination of the two. That might not be hype, either. As a freshman, coaches considered Washington a better prospect than both RBs. Grades cost him the 2004 and 2005 seasons, but now coaches rave about his skill package. "We've always been at our best when we've had a physical running game," Carroll says. "He gives us that presence."

                  Enemy Lines

                  "Try to discourage throws to Jarrett. You have to double him. But Turner could be special … Both Booty and Sanchez move a lot better than Leinart. Look for plenty of rollout passes … The O-line is very good. That center, Ryan Kalil, is really tough … I love DE Lawrence Jackson. He's better than the other ends USC had before him … The young safeties, Kevin Ellison and Josh Pinkard, should be outstanding down the road."

                  Let's Ask Bristol

                  Is USC's secondary good enough for a BCS run?
                  Last year's secondary was the worst I've seen at USC in years. To be fair, injuries ravaged the DBs and exposed a real lack of depth. The DBs will be inexperienced in 2006, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Pete Carroll wants pressure D, and CBs Kevin Thomas and Cary Harris are better, faster and quicker than last year's starters, Pinkard and Justin Wyatt. They'll benefit from a fast, aggressive group of LBs. -- Rod Gilmore

                  "The Gagne T-shirt jersey comes with a complimentary can of gasoline and a set of matches."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Cont.

                    7. LSU Tigers
                    Last season: 11-2, 7-1 in SEC West

                    He had the size (6-2, 204 pounds). He had the speed (sub-4.5 40). He had the football cred (DB-best 69 tackles and three interceptions). But free safety LaRon Landry also had one other thing: unfinished business. That's why, only two hours before the early-declaration deadline last Jan. 15, Landry opted to come back to Baton Rouge. LSU coaches can thank last year's ugly 34-14 loss to Georgia in the SEC championship for his return. The rout cost Landry and LSU a trip to the Sugar Bowl. "I didn't finish up the way I planned," he says. Now the senior has big plans for 2006. Despite a sore ankle that limited Landry to noncontact drills this spring, coaches think he will be better than ever. He beefed up 11 pounds to 215 in the off-season and set position records with a 405-pound bench and a 520-pound squat. "He's got a rare combo of size and strength that's unheard of at this level," says defensive coordinator Bo Pelini. "If he's not a top-10 pick by season's end, I'd be shocked." -- Mike Kuchar

                    Deep Impact

                    Left tackle Ciron Black enrolled early in 2005 and paid his freshman dues that spring. He sang the school's fight song at dinner, spit-shined dry-erase boards after position meetings and stacked practice dummies. But veteran linemates ruled this spring that because the 6-4, 318-pounder redshirted last year, he had to endure it again. "I didn't think they liked me," Black says. They do now. Black is being counted on to immediately replace All-SEC tackle Andrew Whitworth.

                    Enemy Lines

                    "Don't expect to take big, physical quarterback JaMarcus Russell one-on-one in the open field. Force him to make decisions by stopping the run … Losing running back Joseph Addai hurts, but Alley Broussard and Justin Vincent run just as hard … Defensive end Chase Pittman is a stud athlete who can run. Brace yourself for heat from him on third down … Corners Chevis Jackson and Jonathan Zenon are athletic enough to play man-to-man."

                    Let's Ask Bristol

                    Which QB should LSU start?
                    All three guys -- Russell, Matt Flynn and Ryan Perrilloux -- could start for 90 percent of the country. Russell took LSU to the conference title game. And with Russell hurt, Flynn looked spectacular in the Peach Bowl. If either falters, Perrilloux, a redshirt in '05, is loaded with ability. I see Russell winning the job. He has the SEC's best arm, and if he cuts down on mistakes, he could have a big year. -- Jim Donnan

                    8. Florida State Seminoles
                    Last season: 8-5, 5-3 in ACC Atlantic

                    As a 5-10 linebacker, Buster Davis is used to hiding behind things. That includes the spotlight. While fellow 'backers A.J. Nicholson and Ernie Sims got all the pub last fall, Davis quietly emerged as the next great Seminole, with 91 tackles and 10.5 TFLs. With Nicholson and Sims off to the NFL, Davis runs the show. He makes all the defensive calls, alignments and adjustments as the Mike linebacker in FSU's 4-3 scheme. "This is my defense now, make no mistake," he says. But Davis made some mistakes along the way. In his first preseason camp, he butted heads with the coaching staff and asked for his release from FSU. Bobby Bowden said no. Davis insisted. Bowden said no again. So Davis dug in, ran his fair share of stadium steps, and now he's a captain. "He's got the speed and tenacity of Derrick Brooks," says defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews, "but the smarts and run-stuffing ability of Marvin Jones." And that's no small compliment. -- Mike Kuchar

                    Deep Impact

                    Two starters are gone from the offensive line, but FSU thinks it has found one instant replacement in massive transfer Shannon Boatman, a 6-7, 309-pound bulldozer from Tyler (Texas) JC. His tasks: Improve a Noles ground game that averaged an ACC-worst 94 ypg and keep QB Drew Weatherford upright (32 sacks allowed last year). "He knocks people out in the run game and is extremely athletic," says O-line coach Mark McHale. "He'll probably spend one year here and get drafted."

                    Enemy Lines

                    "They struggled running the ball last year, so now they try to spread the field and get the ball to playmakers like 6-6 receiver Greg Carr, who's tremendous in the open field … Weatherford is developing, but he's not there yet … Defensive ends Alex Boston and Darrell Burston have enough speed to get to the QB without using half the zone blitzes from the playbook … Their front seven lost a lot, so run the ball right at them early and see how they react."

                    Let's Ask Bristol

                    How good can Weatherford be?
                    Pretty good. He set an ACC freshman mark with 3,208 passing yards last year, and coaches think he'll make a huge leap after a terrific off-season. He's lowered his body fat from 22 percent to 13 percent and has taken control of the offense. He has veteran weapons in RB Lorenzo Booker and WRs Chris Davis and Carr, and the return of injured backup QB Xavier Lee, an all-around threat, offers countless possibilities. -- Bill Curry

                    9. Florida Gators
                    Last season: 9-3, 5-3 in SEC East

                    Three years before he ever put on a Florida uniform, Reggie Nelson was already a Gainesville legend. In 2002, highlight footage of the all-state DB from Palm Bay High in Melbourne had sparked so much web banter that Nelson earned the nickname The Thread. And when he picked UF, thrilled message-boarders added to Nelson's lore. But the gloat posts didn't last long. Nelson needed two years at Coffeyville (Kan.) CC to get his grades in order. After one redshirt year, he led the Red Ravens with 72 tackles and six interceptions in 2004. So the message boards flared up again when the 6-1, 195-pounder recommitted to UF before last season. And finally he lived up to the hype. The sophomore played both safety and cornerback, leading all UF DBs with four sacks. This year, even with CB depth woes, Florida wants Nelson mostly at safety. "He's the toughest guy we got," says defensive coordinator Charlie Strong. "If we get you in third down, Reggie's coming." Yet another Nelson arrival Gators fans can look forward to. -- Mike Kuchar

                    Deep Impact

                    Cornelius Ingram had three options this off-season: play third-string QB, find a new position or transfer. He chose B. The 6-4, 225-pound Ingram tried tight end this spring. But coaches loved the matchup problems he presented as a fourth receiver. And in the spring game, Ingram had seven catches for 58 yards. "He's making big plays and doesn't even know the position yet," says WRs coach Billy Gonzales. "Wait 'til he hits his groove."

                    Enemy Lines

                    "The Gators have the athletes, so Strong just turns them loose and lets them play. Because of that, you can hurt them with misdirections and screens … If you protect well, you can throw the ball vs. them … Urban Meyer needs to realize Chris Leak isn't an option QB. More important, the kid doesn't want to run it … Florida has such a hard time running the ball that it's not a double threat, so spend more time concentrating on stopping the pass."

                    Let's Ask Bristol

                    Does Florida have the best D-line in the country?
                    You could argue that USC, Oklahoma or Cal has a better line, but the Gators are loaded. NT Marcus Thomas dominates inside, and DE Jarvis Moss does likewise outside. And if Ray McDonald (two torn ACLs last year) is healthy, Florida has the total package. In a league where interior-line athletes are always abundant, this Florida group is a cut above. -- Jim Donnan

                    "The Gagne T-shirt jersey comes with a complimentary can of gasoline and a set of matches."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Cont.

                      10. California Golden Bears
                      Last season: 8-4, 4-4 in Pac-10

                      No QB has ever regretted a 44-yard completion more than Nate Longshore does. In last season's opener against Sacramento State, Longshore started off 7-for-10 for 87 yards. But on the game's 32nd offensive play, with a receiver streaking downfield, Longshore released a long pass as a defensive end rolled across his ankle. "I knew something was broken," the sophomore says. Two things, actually: his left fibula and Cal's BCS chances. Backup Joe Ayoob, a touted transfer from CC of San Francisco, went 0-for-10 in relief and struggled all year (15 TDs, 14 INTs). By November, converted FB Steve Levy was starting, and Cal had the Pac-10's worst passing offense (192.7 ypg). The QB derby didn't last long this spring. Longshore threw for 113 yards and 2 TDs in the final spring scrimmage and enters August as the starter. "He has great arm strength, manages the game and makes smart decisions," offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar says of Longshore. "That means good things are going to happen." Knock on wood. -- Anna K. Clemmons

                      Deep Impact

                      Bernard Hicks calls the past two seasons an "experience." Well, that's one word for it. After a torn ACL in 2004 and a three-game suspension to start the '05 season following a marijuana arrest, Hicks can finally focus on football. The 6-1, 198-pound redshirt sophomore DB with 4.48 speed is pushing for a starting gig after a good spring. "He's a big, strong kid who can run," says defensive coordinator Bob Gregory. And he has "experience," too.

                      Enemy Lines

                      "Cal dominates with isos and power sets, then shows spread formations to get better running angles … Running backs Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett have the ability to play on Sundays … Receivers Robert Jordan and DeSean Jackson aren't dominant, so man up and keep eight in the box … Keep linebacker Desmond Bishop occupied. He's a helluva player … In man coverage, fast receivers can beat corners Daymeion Hughes and Tim Mixon."

                      Let's Ask Bristol

                      Can Cal's QB succeed in Dunbar's spread offense?
                      Jeff Tedford hired Dunbar away from Northwestern, where he ran the spread. But I don't expect to see a lot of that. Tedford's pro offense wasn't the problem last year; the problem was QB play. Cal averaged 32.9 ppg despite subpar performances from Ayoob and Levy. Longshore can play. With his physical tools and pocket presence, he fits well in the pro offense. But I don't think he's mobile enough to effectively run the spread. -- Rod Gilmore

                      11. Iowa Hawkeyes
                      Last season: 7-5, 5-3 in Big Ten

                      Marshal Yanda admits he was a slacker in high school. He had the size (6-4, 305 pounds) and ability (two-time all-conference OL for Iowa's Anamosa High) for scholarship offers -- but not the transcripts. So in 2003, Yanda wound up at North Iowa Area CC, where he realized he wasn't a kid anymore. "I grew up and decided to become an adult," says the senior RT. "I didn't know if I'd make it, but I put it all on the line." During the 2004 juco season, Yanda hand-delivered three tapes of himself to Iowa. Coach Kirk Ferentz needed only one look before scooping him up. Ferentz planned to redshirt Yanda in 2005 but was blown away by the lineman's strong spring. Yanda started all 12 games for Iowa's No. 22 offense (432.4 ypg) and won the offense's Hawkeye Hustle Award. This year, he'll anchor a veteran line that has a combined 55 career starts. He was named to the team's leadership council and is the player OL coach Reese Morgan says his guys admire the most. "Now he's the toughest kid on the field," Morgan says. Or maybe not a kid at all. -- Liam McHugh

                      Deep Impact

                      With Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge in the NFL, Iowa needed sideline-to-sideline LBs. The Hawkeyes are hoping juco transfer Bryon Gattas, a 6-1, 233-pound former RB, will step in at full speed at MLB. Gattas set a Prospect (Ill.) High School rushing record with 1,375 yards. At Harper (Ill.) CC in 2004, he ran for 500 yards, but he switched to LB last year and logged 110 tackles and six sacks. "He can make plays," says defensive coordinator Norm Parker. "He can absolutely fly."

                      Enemy Lines

                      "QB Drew Tate is impossible to game-plan for. He fights, claws and scratches for every yard … The O-line is rough and tough and thinks it can take on anybody … We didn't give running back Albert Young enough credit. That's a big mistake … Defensive end Kenny Iwebema makes plays everywhere, and the other end, Bryan Mattison, is an absolutely great player … Kyle Schlicher is a great kicker, and Iowa's even better with its coverage."

                      Let's Ask Bristol

                      Can Iowa adequately replace two veteran CBs?
                      Yes, because Parker's scheme is perfect for breaking in new CBs; he always protects his back-end guys. He blitzes out of zone and rarely plays man-to-man. CB Adam Shada's a good player. He's smart, he's tough and he can run. Iowa's talented line will help the CBs in coverage. Iwebema's a tough DE who's always in the backfield, and DT Mitch King just never quits. I love that guy. -- Chris Spielman

                      12. Oklahoma Sooners
                      Last season: 8-4, 6-2 in Big 12 South

                      Paul Thompson had given up on ever playing quarterback again. He'd started the 2005 opener, but after going 11-for-26 for 109 yards with a pick in a 17-10 loss to TCU, he was shuffled to wideout, where he finished the season with 11 catches for 106 yards. But even though he had four receptions for 82 yards in the spring game, his dad kept after him. "Get out there and throw at a tree, a house, something," Marc Thompson said. He wanted his son ready should something happen to starter Rhett Bomar. Something happened. On Aug. 2, OU booted Bomar and guard J.D. Quinn for accepting improper payments from a car dealership. Suddenly, the Sooners' national-title hopes rested once more on the shoulder pads of Thompson, a senior who hadn't thrown to teammates since Holiday Bowl practice seven months before. But OU coaches weren't surprised when he looked sharp in his first snaps under center. "That's the kind of guy he is," says Bob Stoops. "He's as special a guy as we've ever coached here." -- Anna K. Clemmons

                      Deep Impact

                      Brandon Walker just lost his grace period. The transfer won first-team AJCA and NJCAA All-America honors in his one season at Coffeyville (Kan.) CC. And although he didn't arrive in Norman until summer workouts, OU coaches think the 6-3, 315-pound sophomore can start immediately, most likely at left guard. "He can help us right away," Stoops says. With Quinn booted off the team, the coach had better be right.

                      Enemy Lines

                      "Oklahoma has the offensive people to be very good … Peterson is an extremely talented back, and the receivers are young and have great size. But losing Bomar really hurts … With defensive ends Calvin Thibodeaux and C.J. Ah You up front, linebacker Rufus Alexander and cornerback Reggie Smith, they have the athletes to do what they've been doing for years: forcing teams to pass into their zone coverage … This defense will be one of the best in the Big 12."

                      Let's Ask Bristol

                      How good is the Sooners defensive line?
                      Very good. Yes, they lost a lot, but they've stockpiled talent. Both ends, Ah You and Thibodeaux, are speedy and strong -- a nightmare scenario. But it'll be interesting to see how they do without defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek. He kept linemen off the linebackers by gobbling up double-teams, and none of the tackles stood out this spring. Carl Pendleton and Cory Bennett have talent, but will they play like Dvoracek? -- Chris Spielman

                      "The Gagne T-shirt jersey comes with a complimentary can of gasoline and a set of matches."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Cont.

                        13. Louisville Cardinals
                        Last season: 9-3, 5-2 in Big East

                        When Louisville recruited Michael Bush, coach Bobby Petrino promised Kentucky's 2002 Mr. Football a shot at playing QB. Bush, a star at Male High in Louisville, chose the Cardinals over Ohio State and Tennessee based on that assurance. Good thing for him Petrino didn't take long to change his mind. Bush backed up starting QB Stefan LeFors in 2003 and bounced between running back and QB in 2004, rushing for 1,237 yards and 13 TDs. And when blue-chip QB Brian Brohm committed to the Cardinals last season, Bush realized his perfect fit was as a ballcarrier. After piling up 1,143 yards and 23 TDs, Bush -- a 6-3, 247-pounder with receiver speed -- looks like a serious contender for the Heisman and top RB honors. "Right now, it's just me and Adrian Peterson gunning for the 1 and 2 spots," Bush says. He isn't just a glorified third-down back, either. He averaged 5.6 ypc last year and had eight runs of 20-plus yards. Says Petrino, "He's as good a playmaker as I've ever been around." -- John Monagan

                        Deep Impact

                        Louisville fans went nuts when DE Deantwan "Peanut" Whitehead from Birmingham's West End High chose the Cardinals over Bama and Auburn. The heavily recruited, 6-6, 245-pounder squats 420, has 4.65 speed and recorded 125 tackles, 25 sacks and 17 TFLs in high school. He didn't arrive until August, but Louisville coaches don't expect him to ride pine for very long. "He's got the opportunity to come in here and contribute right away," Petrino says.

                        Enemy Lines

                        "They're hyping Bush for the Heisman, but what about Brohm? He's as good as it gets today in college football. He's intelligent and deadly accurate … You have to keep the chains moving and keep that offense off the field … They have a no-name defense but really know how to pressure the QB. They have excellent athletes everywhere, like linebackers Nate Harris and Abe Brown … Best bet: Spread them out and keep the ball on the ground."

                        Let's Ask Bristol

                        Does Louisville have the D to make a BCS run?
                        BCS teams don't give up 40-plus points to South Florida. The Cardinals again won't be able to handle West Virginia's offense unless their D-line becomes a dominant force. So watch DT Amobi Okoye. He signed with Louisville at age 15. Now he's 19, the baby fat's gone and he's a chiseled 6-1, 317. If he becomes a star, the Cards can beat the Mountaineers and go to the BCS. -- Rod Gilmore

                        14. Michigan Wolverines
                        Last season: 7-5, 5-3 in Big Ten

                        When DE Rondell Biggs twisted a knee at Michigan State in the fifth week, the injury didn't rock college football. Biggs had five career starts and 18 tackles in three seasons, so it wasn't as if the Wolverines had lost Dwight Freeney. But the collateral damage to the defense was done. Biggs' bookend, LaMarr Woodley, went on to total 48 tackles and 14 TFLs and earned an honorable mention all-conference selection, but he also logged almost 70 snaps a game and wore down late in the season. So did the rest of the Michigan defense. The Wolverines went from allowing 17.6 points and 306.2 yards per game with Biggs as a starter to giving up 22.6 and 373 in the four games he missed and the three in which he played a limited role. Now the fifth-year senior is back to give Michigan another athletic big body. "He's versatile enough to play outside or inside," says O-line coach Steve Stripling. "We expect Rondell to be a playmaker." The defense will be happy just to see him play. -- Liam McHugh

                        Deep Impact

                        Remember Mike Hart? He's the guy who ran for 1,455 yards and 9 TDs in 2004. But Hart was hobbled last year, finishing with 662 yards and four scores as sophomore Kevin Grady ran for 483 yards and 5 TDs in his stead. Grady and speedy early-enrollee Carlos Brown (9 ypc at Heard County High in Franklin, Ga.) will see carries. But the healthy Hart, a 5-9, 198-pound bowling ball, gets his job back. "In space," says RBs coach Fred Jackson, "he's as good as we've ever had."

                        Enemy Lines

                        "Everything sets up off the running game, so Hart's health is the key … QB Chad Henne does a great job, and he has the weapons and a big and strong offensive line … They have a huge D-line and speed everywhere. Woodley's an awesome end and never goes away. He seems to just get better and better … Wideout Steve Breaston, who also returns kicks, is phenomenal. The only way to contain him is to kick away from him."

                        Let's Ask Bristol

                        Does Michigan have the best WRs in the country?
                        Michigan has quite a duo. Breaston isn't quite Ted Ginn Jr., but he's a real threat and will have the same effect on defenses. You have to account for him on every play. What makes him an even bigger headache is having Mario Manningham (4.39 speed and 27 catches for 433 yards as a freshman) on the other side of the field. With Hart, an improved run game and those wideouts, I think Henne will have a breakout season. -- Chris Spielman

                        15. Miami Hurricanes
                        Last season: 9-3, 6-2 in ACC Coastal

                        When you think of schools struggling to find offensive playmakers, Miami doesn't usually come to mind. Yet last year's Hurricanes offense sputtered to 353.1 ypg, the eighth best in the ACC and the worst in Larry Coker's five-year tenure. It won't get any easier with RB Tyrone Moss and WR Ryan Moore suspended for the opener (team policy violations). But new coordinator Rich Olson, brought in to revamp the offense, has a simple plan: Go tight end crazy. The craziness begins with All-America candidate Greg Olsen. The 6-5, 252-pound junior with receiver speed carted last year's 31 catches for 451 yards. O-line coach Mario Cristobal, Miami's tight ends coach in 2004 and '05, says Olsen nails his routes like Jeremy Shockey, has the hands of Kellen Winslow II and run blocks like Bubba Franks. And Olsen is just the starter. Speedy sophomores Dajleon Farr (6-5, 248) and Chris Zellner (6-2, 238) have the staff drooling too. "This is the most athletic group of tight ends we've ever had," Cristobal says. "These guys are ridiculous." -- Bruce Feldman

                        Deep Impact

                        No one has ever doubted junior CB Glenn Sharpe's skills. He played in 12 games as a true freshman in 2002. But Sharpe hasn't played a down since Sept. 18, 2004. He applied for medical redshirts the past two seasons after tearing both ACLs. Can the six-foot, 187-pound junior stay healthy this fall? Coker seems confident. The coach says Sharpe ran a sub-4.3 40 this summer and thinks he can be as good as 2006 first-round pick Kelly Jennings.

                        Enemy Lines

                        "QB Kyle Wright will be a first-round pick. He has a terrific arm and can really run … Olsen's the best tight end in the country, but I don't think much of Miami's receivers. Moore, Lance Leggett and Darnell Jenkins are soft … On defense, they're scary good, with tons of speed … Watch linebacker Jon Beason. He plays fast … Brandon Meriweather was the best safety I saw last year. If Kenny Phillips and Anthony Red**** are as good as he is, that's sick."

                        Let's Ask Bristol

                        Can Miami's O-line protect Wright?
                        Olson spent 10 years coaching NFL offenses. He knows pro formations, motions and tendency breakers -- and he threw 'em all at the Miami D in spring practice. It didn't go so well (11 TFLs allowed; only 11 first downs). With talented but raw kids like tackles Reggie Youngblood and Tyrone Byrd, this line could rank as one of Miami's best ever. But they'll get their noses bloodied a little, and that means Wright will take some hits. -- Bill Curry

                        "The Gagne T-shirt jersey comes with a complimentary can of gasoline and a set of matches."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Cont.

                          16. Clemson Tigers
                          Last season: 8-4, 4-4 in ACC Atlantic

                          Five years ago, Gaines Adams was the scariest pass-catcher in eight-man high school football. So how is it that Adams is now the most feared pass-rusher in the ACC? Despite 158 catches and 4,394 yards at the tiny Cambridge Academy in Greenwood, S.C., Adams went largely unrecruited. He spent 2001 at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy and played exclusively on defense, posting 22 sacks. Clemson recruited Adams as a defensive end, and that's where he emerged last season (8.5 sacks, 11 TFLs). "He reminds me a lot of Derrick Thomas in college," says coach Tommy Bowden. "But we felt he needed to get stronger." So even with NFL-type measurables (6-5, 260 pounds and 4.6 speed), Adams listened to his coaches. He has upped his bench press from 305 to 405. And if that doesn't scare opposing offenses, Clemson switched him over to its hybrid LB/DE, the Bandit end. After five sacks in three spring scrimmages, Adams looks like a QB's worst nightmare in 2006: "I want to go out and shock the world." News flash, big fella: You already have. -- Liam McHugh

                          Deep Impact

                          RBs James Davis and Reggie Merriweather are back after combining for 1,594 yards. Yet Tigers fans and coaches are drooling over freshman C.J. Spiller, a 5-11, 190-pounder with 4.28 speed. Spiller ran for 5,511 yards last season at Union County High in Lake Butler, Fla., and spurned home-state schools Florida, Miami and Florida State. "We've had track guys who were straight-line runners," Bowden says. "C.J. keeps his speed if he's running straight or cutting back."

                          Enemy Lines

                          "They use two run plays: outside zone -- a stretch play -- and inside zone … Davis is an outstanding athlete who can catch out of the backfield … Disguise as many coverages as possible against rookie QB Will Proctor … Watch the tight ends. Thomas Hunter and Akeem Robinson will get touches … The D-line keeps guys off MLB Anthony Waters, who makes tons of plays … Forget blocking Adams one-on-one. Use a tight end or back, but get four hands on him."

                          Let's Ask Bristol

                          Does Clemson have the DBs to win the ACC?
                          This is Bowden's best Clemson team in his eight years. His D-line is young but experienced, and he's happy with LBs Waters, Nick Watkins and Tramaine Billie (189.5 combined tackles last year). But his secondary concerns him. The key: promising sophomore safeties Michael Hamlin and Chris Clemons. "For us to play great defense, they must come through," he told me in July. Will the Tigers win the conference? Not yet. -- Bill Curry

                          "The Gagne T-shirt jersey comes with a complimentary can of gasoline and a set of matches."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            wow, I stopped giving a **** after Texas was #2. I still don't get the logic in that.

                            CP for posting it, NJ.

                            *cue for Bronco72690 to come in and make another ridiculous claim with no facts to back it up*
                            Go Huskers.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Nick7
                              wow, I stopped giving a **** after Texas was #2. I still don't get the logic in that.

                              CP for posting it, NJ.

                              *cue for Bronco72690 to come in and make another ridiculous claim with no facts to back it up*
                              Just like you, right Nicky?


                              Comment

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