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August 30, 2010

Top 25 Countdown: #6 Texas Longhorns


2009 Record – 13-1, 8-0 Big 12
Bowl Game – BCS National Championship – Lost to Alabama 21-37
Letterman Returning: 46
Stadium – Texas Memorial Stadium (94,113)
College Location – Austin, TX
Coach – Mack Brown 128-27 (13th year)


Key Returnees – T Kyle Hix, RB Tre’ Newton, WR Malcolm Williams (below), WR James Kirkendoll, G Michael Huey,

Key Losses – QB Colt McCoy, WR Jordan Shipley, T Adam Ulatoski, C Chris Hall, G Charlie Tanner, WR Dan Buckner

- As far as the rest of the country is concerned, three things happen in Texas: Rodeos, Executions, and Football, sometimes all in the same day. Football, however, may be what Texans do best. UT has not had below 10 wins in a season since 2000, when they finished 9-3. A lot of their success can be credited to the powerful offenses the Longhorns have produced over the years. The 2010 season comes with a big change however, with the loss of the winningest quarterback in NCAA history in Colt McCoy. McCoy, who was about as Texas as Cowboy Boots and a beat up pick-up, was a four year starter for the Longhorns and has since moved onto UT’s farm-team, in the Cleveland Browns. Stepping in for McCoy will be the same player that filled in for the single caller after he went down with an injury in the National Championship game, Garrett Gilbert. This season, Gilbert isn’t a scared freshman entering a situation he never thought he’d be in. Now a true sophomore, Gilbert is poised to become the next great Texas QB. Unfortunately for Gilbert, All-American wideout Jordan Shipley, McCoy’s favorite target, has graduated as well. Returning, however, is a slew of talented pass catchers the young quarterback can build a relationship with just like McCoy did with Shipley. Senior starter James Kirkendoll returns to the slot with junior Malcolm Williams on the outside. Senior John Chiles will fill in for the departed Shipley. The three combined for 121 catches last season and 11 touchdowns, while Shipley himself caught 116 balls and 13 scores, so expect a much more balanced receiving core come fall. Since the loss of running back Jamaal Charles to the NFL in 2007, the rushing game for the Longhorns has taken a backseat to the rest of the offense. An offense once known for producing great running backs has failed to turn out talent in the last two years. Last season, redshirt freshman, Tre Newton, led all ball carriers with 552 yards and six scores. Newton returns as doe’s goal line back Cody Johnson who brought in 12 touchdowns last season, and senior Vondrell McGee. Helping Newton and McGee pile up yards this season will be the return of All-Conference tackle, Kyle Hix. Hix and senior guard, Michael Huey, return as the Longhorns only starters along the offense line however.


Key Returnees – CB Aaron Williams (below), OLB Keenan Robinson, CB Curtis Brown, DE Sam Acho, S Blake Gideon

Key Losses – DE/OLB Sergio Kindle, MLB Roddrick Muckelroy, S Earl Thomas, DE Lamarr Houston

- Texas’s defenses have been known for producing pro caliber players as of late. But it’s not just the players that make this Texas defense great year after year; it is the way the defenses have played as a total unit. Last season’s defense grabbed opponents by the horns, or longhorns, ripping the life out of nearly every offense they faced. UTEP was held to just 53 total yards. Baylor amassed just six yards rushing, still, better than Oklahoma’s -16. Kansas was sacked seven times. Nebraska gained just 67 yards rushing and 39 passing. The National Champion Crimson Tide were held to just 58 yards passing. If not for prolific passers Jerrrod Johnson of Texas A&M and Taylor Potts of Texas Tech and Heisman running back Mark Ingram, the defensive numbers for the Longhorns might have been about as staggering as Charles Barkley’s golf game. This season, the Longhorns return six starters to a unit that still boast perhaps the nation’s best secondary, even with the loss of safety Earl Thomas. The ‘Horns send out the best corner due in the country in junior Aaron Williams and senior Curtis Brown. Williams proved to be one of the best man cover corners in the country last season, often scaring quarterbacks away while also bringing in three interceptions. Brown finished second on the team in passes defended with 16, behind Thomas’s 24. Junior safety, Blake Gideon, has been a diamond in the rough for the Texas defense and came away with six interceptions last fall. Filling in for Thomas should be junior Christian Scott, who at 6’1’’ 215 pounds, adds size to the backfield. The defensive line for the Longhorns returns two starters, including All-Conference end, Sam Acho. Acho led the team in sacks last season with 10, with 14 tackles for a loss. Kheeston Randall, a junior nose guard, also returns along the defensive front. Ends, Eddie Jones and Alex Okafor, will compete for playing time at the other outside position. Jones, a former No.1 recruit, has failed to live up to expectations in Austin. Last season as a true freshman, Okafor received honorable mention All-Big 12. The linebacker unit takes a hit with the loss of Kindle and Muckelroy, both high level contributors, however, junior Keenan Robinson returns. Robinson returns as the team’s leading tackler with 74 stops. Senior Jared Norton, who redshirted last season with an injury, and junior Emmanuel Acho, are expected to fill into the remaining two linebacker positions.


- No matter who is put on the schedule each season, the men in burnt orange look at the game as a win before it even begins. And there is good reason that they should. Over the last five seasons Texas has put together two undefeated regular seasons, two National Championship game appearances and one win in those games. Head coach Mack Brown has put together a 128-27 record in his tenure. Offensive coordinator Greg Davis has been with Brown for all 13 seasons, while defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, who enters his third season in 2010, will find himself a head position in no time. Consistency and terrific play for the Longhorns have made them a favorite to win it all every season. This season, a grueling schedule threatens to stand in their way. Home visits from Rice and Wyoming begin season play for the Longhorns before a Sept 18 visit to Lubbock to take on Texas Tech. The Longhorns last visit to the Red Raiders stadium was not a kind ending. The following two weeks continue to be tough draws, in a home meeting from sleeper UCLA, Sept. 25, followed by the Red River Shootout against Oklahoma, Oct. 2. Although the Longhorns have won four out of the last five meetings, you can believe the Sooners will be heading into the game with just as much confidence and even more fury. After a midseason bye week, a trip to Nebraska, Oct. 16, ends a gauntlet three week period. The Big Red are still thinking what could have been if not for the last few seconds of last season’s matchup. A breather period of conference play lies in games against Iowa State, Baylor and at Kansas State. Don’t, however, sleep on the Bears, who return quarterback Robert Griffin. Three straight home visits against Oklahoma State, Florida Atlantic and Texas A&M round out the ‘Horns season.

Schedule rating: A-

Red = Toughest Game. Blue = Pivotal to conference.

Top Incoming Freshman:

1.) Jackson Jeffcoat, *#2 DE, 6-4 235, Plano, TX

Jeffcoat has a great motor and excellent technique off the snap. He also has room to grow on a large frame.

2.) Jordan Hicks (left), #2 OLB, 6-2 220, West Chester, OH

Hicks chose the Longhorns over the local Buckeyes and gives Texas a future All-Conference signee.

3.) Demarco Cobbs, #3 S, 6-2 205, Tulsa, OK

An excellent offensive player in high school as well as defensive, Cobbs with focus his athleticism to safety for the Lonhorns.

4.) Darius White, #6 WR, 6-4 195, Fort Worth, TX

At 6’4’’, White will follow behind past Longhorns Roy Williams, Limas Sweed and Dan Buckner, as a big talented target for Texas QB’s.

5.) Mike Davis, #3 WR, 6-1 180, Dallas, TX

One of the fastest members of the 2010 class, Davis brought in a 20 yard average as a junior in a talented Dallas league.

*Rankings according to


Hicks –

Williams, Aaron - UT Athletics

August 29, 2010

Top 25 Countdown: #3 Oregon Ducks


2009 Record – 10-3, 8-1 PAC 10
Bowl Game – Rose Bowl – Lost to Ohio State 17-26
Letterman Returning: 46
Stadium – Autzen Stadium (54,000)
College Location – Eugene, OR
Coach – Chip Kelly, 10-3 (2nd year)


Key Returnees – RB LaMichael James (below), WR Jeff Maehl, T Bo Thran, G Carson York
Key Losses – TE Ed Dickson, QB Jeremiah Masoli, RB LaGarrette Blount
- The Ducks offense has been on the wrong end of the news this offseason more often than members of the Cincinnati Bengals. It starts and ends at the quarterback position, where would-be senior Jeremiah Masoli decided  to steal laptops and a guitar rather than Heisman voters attention and National Championship rings. Masoli, a two year starter for the Ducks, was kicked off the team following theft charges and has since enrolled at Mississippi, hopefully the college, rather than correctional facility. The loss of Masoli hurts the team, but the dent left at quarterback isn’t as big as one would expect, most in part because of the return of freshman phenom, LaMichael James at running back. James, now a true sophomore, rushed for 1,546 yards and 14 scores last season on his way to being named the PAC-10 Offensive Player of the Year. James was the main reason the team was able to move on so quick from the LaGarrette Blount's post game boxing match and will be the reason this season the Ducks will not miss Masoli. Stepping in at quarterback will be sophomore Darron Thomas, who was named the starter Aug. 27, following the Ducks final camp scrimmage. Thomas, who was redshirted last season after playing his true freshman season in 2008, won the battle over senior Nate Costa. The sophomore has the ability to makes things happen with his feet, as he has tremendous speed and a quick release. Thomas may remind a lot of Ducks fans of a bigger, more accurate Dennis Dixon. Surrounding the quarterback position with talent won’t be hard for an offense which returns nine starters, including three at wideout. The teams leading receiver, senior, Jeff Maehl, returns outside after bringing in 53 catches for 696 yards and six scores. Maehl is a sure handed wideout who has the ability to make acrobatic catches in traffic. Senior DJ Davis and Junior Lavasier Tuinei are two other big targets for Thomas to look for. All five starters along the offensive line also return, including All-Conference performers Bo Thran and Carson York. The front five is led by three senior starters and will be counted upon to lead an offense which rushed for 200+ yards nine times last season.
Key Returnees – MLB Casey Matthews, DE Kenny Rowe, S John Boyett (below), OLB Spencer Paysinger, DT Brandon Blair
Key Losses – S TJ Ward, CB Walter Thurmond, DT Blake Ferras, DE Will Tukuafu
- Statistically, the Ducks defense failed to live up to what you would expect from a team competing for a PAC-10 title every season, as they gave up over 330 yards a game and 23.8 points an outting. That doesn’t mean, however, that this year's Oregon team can’t improve on last year’s unsteady performance. If there is one thing the 2010 Ducks defense has, it's athletes, as each position is led by an All-Conference performer. At linebacker, the return of senior middle man Casey Matthews sparks the defense. Matthews comes from a long line of football players including brother and ex-USC linebacker and current Green Bay Packer, Clay Matthews and Hall of Fame uncle, Bruce Matthews. Last season Matthews had a knack for making big plays, finishing third on the team in tackles with 81, while also brining in three sacks. Flanking him at linebacker is returning senior starter Spencer Paysinger, who also finished last season with 81 stops. Filling the other outside position will be the winner of the battle between senior, Bryson Littlejohn and junior Josh Kaddu. Along the defensive line the Ducks are led by senior end Kenny Rowe. At 6-foot-3, 235-pounds, Rowe is a bit undersized for the position, however, he uses his size as an advantage, bringing in 11.5 sacks last season, tops in the conference. Senior tackle Brandon Bair, a 6-foot-7, 270-pound mauler, stuffs holes in the middle, as he brought in eight tackles for a loss last season. Filling the vacated spots along the line should be senior Zac Clark at tackle and Dion Jordan at the other end. The secondary for the Ducks returns all four starters. The unit is led by sophomore John Boyett, who was named a first-team freshman All-American last season after leading the Ducks in tackles with 90. Junior rover Eddie Pleasant made plays all over the field for Oregon last season finishing with 54 tackles, four and a half sacks, eight tackles for a loss, and an interception. Pleasant should continue  to wreak havoc on opposing offenses from everywhere on the field. All three corners who started games last season for the Ducks return in sophomore Cliff Harris, junior Javes Lewis and senior Talmadge Jackson. Jackson led the team last season with four interceptions and 10 passes defended.
- A lot of college football fans really fail to notice or recognize how balanced and tough the PAC-10 really is. The Ducks for instance have done well enough in the conference the last five years that to consider them favorites as of late, is not farfetched, even with USC in the league. The Ducks have succumbed to 13 loses in the PAC-10 the last five years, while only losing five non-conference games. USC on the other hand, has lost nine conference games in that same five year span, while only giving away one out of conference loss. If there is one place the Ducks need to improve upon, however, it is winning away from Eugene. Oregon has had at least two road loses in each of the past four seasons. This year, after New Mexico at home to start the year, the Ducks will have their chance to turn their road sorrows around with a trip to Tennessee on Sept. 11. Conference play for the Ducks opens up two weeks later with a trip to Arizona State, Sept. 25. Next in store is Stanford at home, Oct. 2, followed by a Washington State visit, in a game in which they beat the Cougars 52-6 last season. A Thursday night showdown against UCLA kicks off on Oct. 21, with a home visit from the other L.A. team, USC, Oct. 30. Washington and Cal round out the next two weeks. The Ducks are 5-0 in the last five meetings against the Huskies. Arizona on Friday, Nov. 26, ends a short list of November teams. The annual Civil War against Oregon State is set as usual for the last game of the year, this year in Corvallis, on Dec. 4. This year’s game very well could decide the winner of the PAC-10, for a second year in a row.
Schedule rating: B
Red = Toughest Game. Blue = Pivotal to conference.
Top Incoming Freshman:
1.) Lache Seastrunk (left), *#4 RB, 5-10 183, Temple, TX
Seastrunk brings an exceptional amount of speed and acceleration to the Ducks already talented backfield.
2.) Curtis White, #5 DE, 6-5 240, Eugene, OR
A five star product from Eugene, White has a superb burst off the ball.
3.) Ricky Heimuli, #10 DT, 6-4 285, Salt Lake City, UT
Heimuli already posses great size and strength to excel on the Ducks front four.
4.) Nick Rowland, #4 G, 6-5 295, Peoria, AZ
Rowland chose the Ducks with almost every other PAC 10 team’s offer on the table.
5.) Dior Mathis, #17 CB, 5-9 175, Detroit, MI
An Army All-American, Mathis has the speed to stick with anyone in the country and the hops to out jump any ball.
*Rankings according to
Boyett: Steve Dykes/ Getty Images

August 27, 2010

Top 25 Countdown: #8 TCU Horned Frogs


2009 Record – 12-1, 8-0 Mountain West
Bowl Game – Fiesta Bowl – Lost to Boise State 10-17
Letterman Returning: 54
Stadium – Amon G. Carter Stadium (44,008)
College Location – Fort Worth, TX
Coach – Gary Patterson, 85-28 (10th year)


Key Returnees – QB Andy Dalton (below), WR Jimmy Young, WR Jermey Kerley, OT Marcus Cannon, RB Matthew Tucker

Key Losses – OT Marshall Newhouse, RB Joseph Turner

- It’s hard to pinpoint one particular area of the Horned Frogs offense that seems to make everything work. The days of LaDainian Tomlinson carrying the team on his shoulders are far and gone. Now, TCU carves through opposing defenses doing everything right, not just rushing the ball. Senior quarterback Andy Dalton has been as consistent a player to the TCU offense as any quarterback in the country. Dalton has started 36 games in his days as a Horned Frog and has lived up to any expectations set. He is the TCU leader in career passing yards at 7,457 which says quite a bit since the likes of Davey O’Brien and Sammy Baugh once donned the same jersey. As a junior last season, Dalton, the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year, passed for 2,756 yards and 23 touchdowns on a 61 percent completion percentage, while also rushing for 512 yards. Keeping defenses honest in the rushing game are a pair of sophomores in running backs Matthew Tucker and Ed Wesley. The two bring different running styles to the field – Tucker listed at 6’1’’ 210, Wesley at 5’9’’ 185 – however both are successful in the Horned Frogs charity back system. Tucker returns as the team’s leading rusher with 676 yards last season and eight touchdowns. Wesley finished third, not far behind with 638 yards. Both brought in better than six yards a rush. The receiving core welcomes back all four starters including senior tight end Evan Frosch. At wideout, senior Jeremy Kerley returns as the teams big play threat. Senior, Jimmy Young and junior, Antoine Hicks, also return. The two combined for 995 receiving yards last season and nine touchdowns. Kerley, who also excels in the return game being named the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Year, brought in 532 yards on 44 catches last season, while scoring seven total touchdowns in three areas of the game. Kerley was also 100 percent as a passer last season for 44 yards. The offensive line returns four starters with all-conference lineman Marcus Cannon leading the way for the veteran group that includes three senior starters. For an offense that averaged 38.3 points and 457 total yards last season, which also returns nine starters, there is no reason to expect a drop in production from the Horned Frogs in 2010.


Key Returnees – MLB Tank Carder (below), DE Wayne Daniels, DT Corey Grant, S Tejay Johnson

Key Losses – DE Jerry Hughes, OLB Daryl Washington, CB Rafael Priest

- In 2008 the Horned Frogs defense gave up just an average of 218 yards per game and a point average of just 11.3 points. It would have been downright Looney-bin silly to expect the 2009 defense to live up to or even match the numbers from a season previous. Perhaps for another team it may have been, however, not for the ’09 Horned Frogs. Last season, the defense gave up just an average of 12.8 points per game and 240 total yards a game, but one less loss in the right hand column of the score card and an undefeated regular season came along with the drop in numbers. You decide what season was technically better. This year, the defense losses two All-Americans and three total All-Conference defenders in defensive end Jerry Hughes, linebacker Daryl Washington and corner Rafael Priest. Returning, to what should be another stellar defensive class for the Horned Frogs, is another All-American, in middle linebacker Tank Carder. Carder finished second on the team in tackles last season with 89 while bringing in 10 for a loss. The junior is also a strong defender in the passing game, bringing in 11 passes defended last season. Teaming with Carder at linebacker in the Horned Frogs 4-2-5 system will be sophomore, Tanner Brock. Brock backed up what little time Washington spent on the sidelines last season, finishing with just 32 tackles. He showed promise and tremendous instincts, however, on his way to being named to second team freshman All-American. Along the defensive front, the Horned Frogs are led by a big group of senior leadership. The front returns three starters in senior end, Wayne Daniels, and senior tackles Kelly Griffin and Cory Grant. Grant earned second team All-Conference last season filling holes in the middle, while Daniels returns as the team’s leading sack man with 5.5. The defensive backfield for the Horned Frogs returns three starters, all at the three safety positions. The unit’s top defender, Tejay Johnson tied for the lead in interceptions last season with three. Alex Ibiloye and Tyler Luttrell are the opposite starters to Johnson. Senior, Jason Teague and either junior Greg McCoy or senior junior college transfer Malcolm Williams will fill the holes at corner.


- A lot of the skeptics who argue non-BCS schools, like TCU, don’t play tough enough completion to make it to the National Championship game have not done their homework on the Horned Frogs. For the last five years the Frogs have scheduled at least one BCS program to the schedule, walking away with a 7-2 record in that span. Wins include games over No.7 Oklahoma in 2005, No. 24 Texas Tech in 2006 and Stanford in 2008. Last season the Frogs walked away victorious against both Virginia and Clemson, before unleashing a beat down on their Mountain West schedule. This season, the Horned Frogs begin with yet another BCS test in a Sept. 4 meeting in Arlington against Oregon State. After a walk-through against Tennessee Tech, the Horned Frogs welcome local Baylor, to Fort Worth, Sept. 18. The team ends its non-conference schedule at WAC opponent SMU, Friday, Sept. 24. Opening conference play is Colorado State, who finished 0-8 in the conference last season. Home visits from Wyoming, BYU and Air Force dig out the center of October. October 30, the Horned Frogs travel to UNLV with a road trip a week later to Utah. You can bet the Utes would like nothing more than to beat power TCU one last time as a conference opponent. San Diego State and at New Mexico round out the Horned Frogs 2010 schedule.

Schedule rating: C-

Red = Toughest Game. Blue = Pivotal to conference.

Top Incoming Freshman:

1.) Ethan Grant, *#46 RB, 5-9 170, Coconut Creek, FL

A quick ‘back with 4.3 speed, Grant chose the Horned Frogs over a lot of SEC offers.

2.) Sam Carter, #30 QB, 6-1 210, Alief, TX

Carter, who has a rocket for an arm, chose the Frogs over powerful offensive locals SMU, Houston and Baylor.

3.) Blake Roberts, #55 OLB, 6-3 225, Tyler, TX

Roberts has a tremendous motor and ideal size and speed for the Frogs defense.

4.) Matt Brown (left) , #59 QB, 6-0 185, Allen, TX

Brown may be a bit smaller than the ideal college QB; however, he has excellent running abilities and makes things happen once he’s outside the pocket.

5.) Curtis Carter, #70 WR, 5-11 170, Stonewall, LA

Carter is another player in the 2010 recruiting class with 4.3 speed and can lineup at wideout or at running back.

*Rankings according to


Brown: Harvey Dunn/

August 26, 2010

Top 25 Countdown: #9 Wisconsin Badgers


2009 Record – 10-3, 5-3 Big Ten
Bowl Game – Champs Sports Bowl – Beat Miami (Fla.) 20-14
Letterman Returning: 46
Stadium – Camp Randall Stadium
College Location – Madison, WI
Coach – Bret Bielema, 38-14 (5th year)


Key Returnees – RB John Clay (below), QB Scott Tolzien, WR Nick Toon, T Gabe Carimi, TE Lance Kendricks, T Josh Oglesby

Key Losses – TE Garrett Graham, G/T Jake Bscherer

- The Wisconsin offense has never quite been one to marvel at. Sure the team has produced running backs like a factory and NFL ready offensive linemen seem to flow through the program as natural as Wisconsin rivers. Still, what you see is pretty much what you get, and what you see un-doubtingly, is a lot of large men. The Badger offense usually revolves around the running back position, which it has now for greater than the last decade. Staying true to its past, the Badgers may have one of its better rushers that has come through Madison in quite some time, in junior wreaking ball, John Clay. The Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year as a sophomore last season, the Racine Wisconsin native powered his way for 1,517 yards and 18 touchdowns. Clay helped the rush offense for the Badgers churn out more than 200 yards on the ground per game last season. Clay runs with a bulling style at 6’1’’ 248 pounds, and almost always requires more than one defender to bring him down. Not all of the credit can be given to the workhorse, however. The Badgers offensive line returns as one of the best in the conference, bringing back all five starters from last season. The stars along the line are future Sunday players in tackles Gabe Carimi and Josh Oglesby. Carimi may be the drafts top offensive tackle prospect heading into 2010 and helps anchors a line that averages 6’6’’ 320 pounds. At quarterback, the Badgers return senior Scott Tolzien. As a junior last season, Tolzien proved to be better than advertised completing 64 percent of his passes, with 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. A large amount of the Wisconsin offense, or whatever isn’t spent on running the ball, is concentrated towards the tight end position. The Badgers lose senior Garrett Graham, a reliable pass catcher, but bring back perhaps an even better receiver in senior Lance Kendricks. Kendricks caught 29 passes for 356 yards last season, breaking out in the teams bowl victory agianst Miami, catching seven passes for 128 yards. The team also returns top wideout Nick Toon, who led the team with 54 catches for 805 yards and four scores last season.


Key Returnees – OLB Chris Borland, DE JJ Watt (below), CB Devin Smith, S Jay Valai, MLB Culmer St. Jean

Key Losses – DE O’Brien Schofield, S Chris Maragos, OLB Jaevery McFadden

- What does it take to be a great defense without a lot of speed and first round talent? Answer - consistency. The poster child’s for consistency last season, the Badgers were focused on doing one thing, and that was stopping the run. Beyond week three of the 2009 season the Badgers defense never allowed a team to finish over 100 yards rushing, holding opponents to a conference low 88 yard average on the season. It may have been lower if the Badgers second string didn’t sacrifice 214 yards against Woffard. Four of the team’s top six tacklers, who were all over 50 tackles last season, return. The group starts along the defensive front where junior end JJ Watt anchors what will be a new unit. Watt brought in 15.5 tackles for loss last season and returns as the team’s leading sack man at 4.5. Junior end, Louis Nzegwu and junior tackle, Patrick Butrym, fill holes along the front. A pair of redshirt freshman in Jordan Kohout and Ethan Hemer will compete for the opposite tackle position. Hemer was the Badgers defensive scout team player of the year last season. Two starters at linebacker return in sophomore Chris Borland and senior Culmer St. Jean. Borland created an edge rush from his outside position last season, bringing in five sacks on the year. Sophomore Mike Taylor, who started seven games last season before an injury, returns to the other outside position. Taylor tallied 46 tackles to go with 6.5 for a loss in limited duty. The secondary returns three starters from an up and down unit from a year ago. The defensive backfield played stout last season in some games, holding Purdue to just 81 yards passing and Ohio State to 87, while in others played lost, allowing 396 yards against Michigan State and 323 yards to Indiana. The defenses top three corners return in starters Devin Smith and Niles Brinkley along with nickel man Antonio Fenelus. The junior Smith returns as the ‘backfields top man, bringing in 11 passes defended and two interceptions from last season. Senior safety, Jay Valai, brings a small presence to the defensive backfield at just 5’9’’ 200 pounds, but brings a big game and bone jarring hits to every game. Junior Aaron Henry is expected to grab hold of the other safety position.


- A heavy load of out of conference scheduling isn’t something that you may come by in the Wisconsin program, which may be why the Badgers have put together a 23-2 non-conference record the last five seasons – with the two losses coming in bowl games. The losses for the Badgers usually come from familiar faces, and usually away from the madness that is Camp Randall Stadium. A 25-15 record against the Big Ten the last five seasons, circles in a shady cloud over the head of Brett Bielema. This season a four week opening period rests on the shoulders of the Badgers in opening season matchups at UNLV, Sept. 4 and home visits from San Jose State, Arizona State and Austin Peay. The hardest of the four, ASU, should be nothing more than a push over for the Badgers. The Big Ten conference schedule nearly mimics last seasons with a road trip to Michigan State Oct. 2, to start things off. A homecoming meeting against Minnesota is followed by the toughest test of the season in a Camp Randall party against Ohio State and nightmare bus trip to Iowa, Oct. 23. Both games last season proved to be fatal for the Badgers. Following a bye week, a trip to Purdue lies in store Nov. 6. Indiana at home and an away trap late in the season to the Big House of Michigan looks like one that could be a trap game for the Badgers. Northwestern, Nov. 27, ends the season.

Schedule rating: C

Red = Toughest Game. Blue = Pivotal to conference.

Top Incoming Freshman:

1.) Beau Allen, *#26 DT, 6-3 290, Minnetonka, MN

Allen has tremendous strength for a tackle his age and uses his hands extremely well.

2.) Joe Brennan, #39 QB, 6-4 195, Cherry Hill, NJ

Brennan may take some time to develop his mechanics, but the young New Jersey native has a lot of upside at quarterback.

3.) James White (left), #70 RB, 5-10 200, Fort Lauderdale, FL

A member of one of Florida’s top prep programs in St. Thomas Aquinas, White is a powerful runner for a player his size.

4.) Cody Byers, #43 OLB, 6-3 215, Kettering, OH

A safety in high school, Byers could play at both linebacker or in the ‘backfield for the Badgers.

5.) Marquis Mason, #71 WR, 6-5 215, Madison, WI

Mason, a local product, has tremendous size and will most likely be moved to tight end to create mismatches.

*Rankings according to

White: Lou Novick
Clay: AP Photo/ Morry Gash

August 25, 2010

Top 25 Countdown: #10 Oklahoma Sooners


2009 Record – 8-5, 5-3 Big 12
Bowl Game – Sun Bowl – Beat Stanford 31-27
Letterman Returning: 47
Stadium – Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium (82,112)
College Location – Norman, OK
Coach – Bob Stoops, 117-29 (12th year)


Key Returnees – RB DeMarco Murray (below), WR Ryan Broyles, QB Landry Jones, G Stephen Good

Key Losses – QB Sam Bradford, T Trent Williams, RB Chris Brown, TE Jermaine Gresham, TE Brody Eldridge

- Head coach Bob Stoops offense has revolved around one key position – the quarterback. Having a successful and poised quarterback in Stoops system is about as important as an applause sign for the audience on George Lopez’s, Lopez Tonight. And successful quarterbacks the Sooners have had; Josh Heupel, Jason White, Paul Thompson, Sam Bradford and now Landry Jones. Jones’s success was more of a mistake more than anything. He wasn’t supposed to be the guy last season with former No.1 draft choice Sam Bradford still around. Bradford went down, however, and the red-shirt freshman, wide-eyed and all, stepped up. Jones, a highly touted recruit two years previous out of New Mexico, started 10 games last season throwing for 3,198 yards with a 58.1 completion percentage. His 26-14 touchdown-to-interception ratio was better than Heupel’s National Championship 2000 season, 20-14 ratio. Around Norman, however, wins are how a quarterback is ranked, and those are sure to come with age for Jones. The receiving core for the Sooners is experienced and talented, led by All-American candidate, Ryan Broyles. Broyles busted onto the Sooner scene last year as a sophomore catching 89 passes for 1,120 yards and 15 scores. His 5’11’’ 180 pound frame and tremendous separation speed reminds a lot of country folk around Norman of pass wideout Mark Clayton. Junior, DeJuan Miller and senior Brandon Caleb are experienced players, both of which brought in over 400 yards last season. The running game features a pair of exciting running backs that may not possess Adrian Peterson’s power or Quinton Griffin’s shiftiness, but manage to get the job done for Boomer Sooner. Senior, DeMarco Murray and sophomore, Jermie Calhoun, give the OK offense a balanced attack. Murray rushed for 705 yards last season with eight touchdowns. One thing Murray may have on both Griffin and Peterson at this stage in their careers is his ability to catch the football, finishing second on the team with 41 catches for 522 yards and four scores last season.


Key Returnees – OLB Travis Lewis (below), DE Jeremy Beal, S Quinton Carter, DT Adrian Taylor

Key Losses – DT Gerald McCoy, CB Dominique Franks, MLB Keenan Clayton, OLB Ryan Reynolds, CB Brian Jackson

- Judging the Sooner defense last season simply by looking at the wins in the win column and losses in the loss column is a lot like writing a movie review by watching only the trailer. When the defense was on last season it was good, real good. Think Russell Crowe, Gladiator good. When the defense seemed to struggle, it was like an immovable force from the screen. Think Paul Walker, Fast and the Furious 2 bad. Enough with the movies though. Statistically, the Boomer Sooner defense had its best season since 2003. The wagon bearers gave up an average of just 14.5 points a game and only 273 total yards. Its 93 yards and 2.8 average given up in the rush game was best since the ’05 campaign. In four games the defense held opponents to a 1.6 or lower yards per rush. Idaho State rushed 32 times for -22 yards, you do the math. Returning to the defense, however, are just five starters. Top NFL talent Gerald McCoy and Dominique Franks depart, but two remain with equally impressive resumes. Along the defensive line, senior end Jeremy Beal returns as the Sooners top pass rusher from last season. Beal brought in 11 sacks to go with 19 tackles for a loss and 70 total tackles. Beal was overshadowed last season by McCoy and is in store for a stellar senior campaign. Senior tackle, Adrian Taylor, also returns. Taylor had seven tackles for a loss, to go with 3.5 sacks. Filling the departed should be sophomore tackle, Jamarkus McFarland and junior end, Frank Alexander. At linebacker, junior All-American, Travis Lewis anchors a tough unit. Lewis, a previous freshman of the year in the Big 12, led the Sooners with 109 stops last season. Redshirt freshman, Tom Wort, fills the void in the middle. Wort, who tore his ACL and was forced to take the redshirt, was one of the top prep linebackers and was known throughout the web for his highlight tapes hits. Ronnell Lewis, a sophomore, takes the starting spot over at the other outside position and may be an even harder hitter than Wort. In the secondary, the Sooners return two starters in senior Quinton Carter and junior Sam Proctor. Carter finished second on the team with 88 tackles last season and found a nose for the ball with 9 passes defended and four interceptions. More is expected of Proctor in 2010 after a un- sensational sophomore season. Corners Jonathan Nelson and Demontre Lewis are expected to step into starting positions at corner. Nelson, as a reserve last season, still garnered honorable mention all-conference honors.


- In this decade, losses aren’t something the Sooner fans have come to deal with quite often. Last season’s 8-5 record was just the second time in 10 years Oklahoma finished below 11 wins. BCS bowls under Stoops have been as common as morning rain in Seattle. Wins in those bowl games are kind of like a morning shower in Tempe however. Last season, the Sooners took on a set of out of conference schools in BYU and Miami, with the outcome in favor of the opponent - one point losses in each game. This season the out of conference list gets maybe a big less challenging, however, just as taxing, to the season. Three straight home games kick off the Sooners schedule in visits from Utah State, Florida State and Air Force. The Florida State matchup may stick out the most, but the Sooners should be wearier of the Falcons, Sept. 18. A two week grind at the end of September and begining of October starts in games at Cincinnati, Sep. 25, and against Texas in Dallas, Oct. 2. The Sooners are 1-4 in the last five meetings against the Longhorns. A home and away, back and forth battle, begins Oct. 16 with a home visit from Iowa State, trip to Missouri, Oct. 23, home visit from Colorado, Oct. 30, trip to Texas A&M, Nov. 6, home visit from Texas Tech, Nov. 13, and trip to Baylor, Nov. 20. Looks like someone had an up and down day in the Sooner athletics department. A trip to Stillwater ends the season against Oklahoma State, Nov. 27. The Sooners have owned the Cowboys as of late, with an impressive 5-0 mark to their record, including last season’s 27-0 shutout.

Schedule rating: B

Red = Toughest Game. Blue = Pivotal to conference.

Top Incoming Freshman:

1.) Blake Bell (left), *#4 QB, 6-6 215, Wichita, KS

Bell is a tall and skilled pocket passer who fills the mold of a typical Sooner quarterback.

2.) Brennan Clay, #6 RB, 5-11 190, San Diego, CA

A sprinting champion in high school, Clay has tremendous open field running ability and shiftiness.

3.) Kenny Stills, #9 WR, 6-1 175, Encinitas, CA

Another California product heading to Norman, Stills was an early graduate and impressed coaches in spring football. He may see the field real soon.

4.) Corey Nelson, #4 OLB, 6-1 200, Dallas, TX

It may take some time before Nelson plays because of his size, but his instincts and speed are parts of his game that can’t be taught.

5.) Justin McCray, #10 WR, 6-4 200, Shawnee Mission, KS

Along with Stills, McCray brings a lot of optimism to the future of the wideout position for the Sooners.

*Rankings according to


Bell: William Purrell

Lewis: WD/Icon SMI

August 24, 2010

Top 25 Countdown: #11 Florida Gators


2009 Record – 13-1, 8-0 SEC
Bowl Game – Sugar Bowl – Beat Cincinnati 51-24
Letterman Returning: 42
Stadium – Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (88,548)
College Location – Gainesville, FL
Coach – Urban Meyer, 55-10 (6th year)


Key Returnees – C Mike Pouncey, RB Jeff Demps (below), RB Chris Rainey, WR Deonte Thompson, G Carl Johnson

Key Losses – QB Tim Tebow, WR Riley Cooper, TE Aaron Hernandez, G Maurkice Pouncey

- After the tears have cleared and the statues get re-polished it should be interesting to see how the University of Florida deals with the process of life branded F.A.T.T. circa 2010, – Football after Tim Tebow. The prodigy quarterback was more popular in college football than a guy with water in the desert. Over the last three years Tebow led a Florida offense that never averaged less than 35 points a game and 445 yards of total offense. No pressure on the 2010 offense though. Stepping in for the departed Tebow will be heralded junior quarterback John Brantley. Brantley has all the physical tools and arm to be the next best thing to the halo child Tebow. The Ocala Florida native is a traditional pocket passer with plenty of weapons to excel in Urban Meyer’s system. Brantley completed 75 percent of his passes last season for 410 yards and seven scores. The most impressive part, however, were his zero turnovers. The Gators offense has carved through SEC defenses as of late leaving opponents beaten down like the cast of Jersey Shore in a Spelling Bee. Much of the success can be credited to the overall speed of the offense, a lot of which returns in 2010. At wide receiver, junior Deonte Thompson may be one of the fastest players in the country, let alone the Gators offense. Thompson has been a disappointment so far at Florida, but is expected to have a breakout season in 2010. A trio of seniors make up the rest of an inexperienced group of pass catchers in David Nelson, Justin Williams and Carl Moore. Moore has perhaps the most upside, being ranked the number one junior college wideout a year ago. The Gators remain stacked in the offensive backfield where the team’s top four rushers from the running back position remain intact. Junior speed backs Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey offer a lot of excitement to the Gator spread system. Demps rushed for 745 yards last season, second only to Tebow, with seven touchdowns and a 7.5 average. Rainey, who also excels at slot for the Gators, brought in 575 yards and a 6.5 yard average on the ground. The offensive line comes back a bit lighter after shedding a Pouncey in the offseason. That is Maurkice Pouncey, brother of center and former guard Mike Pouncey. Mike, who remains on the line, may be just as good as his first round draft choice brother, and anchors a line which returns three other starters from the ‘09 season. Senior guard Carl Johnson and sophomore tackle Xavier Nixon are future high round draft choices as well.


Key Returnees – CB Janoris Jenkins, S Ahmad Black, S Will Hill (below), OLB AJ Jones

Key Losses – CB Joe Haden, MLB Brandon Spikes, DE Carlos Dunlap, OLB Ryan Stamper, S Major Wright, DE Jermaine Cunningham

- Producing so much NFL ready defenders year in and year out was bound to catch up to the Gators sooner or later. The Gators lose five 2009 starters to the draft and another two to graduation. Five of the team’s top seven tacklers from last season depart. The old saying they don’t lose, but reload, holds true in Gainesville, however. A bundle of former prep All-Americans remain, the only question is will the defenses inexperience and youth be too much to overcome? The secondary remains one of the best in the SEC and the country, even with the loss of No. 7 overall draft choice Joe Haden. Opposing passing games where left shut down like Carrot Top at an L.A. bar last season. The Gators sacrificed just three 200 yard games, giving up an average of just 153 passing yards a game. In four consecutive games UF held opponents to under 100 yards, including three against SEC teams. The backfield returns All-American candidate corner, Janoris Jenkins and safeties Ahmad Black and Will Hill. As a sophomore last season, Jenkins came away with eight pass deflections and two interceptions. Black finished second on the team in tackles with 70, while Hill, who started just five games last season, is a talented safety who plays with a mean streak. The loss of linebackers Brandon Spikes and Ryan Stamper hurt the Gators but heralded youngsters Jonathan Bostic and Jelani Jenkins appear ready to step up to fill the void. Bostic brought in 18 tackles as a true freshman last season, while Jenkins spent the season on a medical redshirt. The defensive line takes a hit from players lost to the NFL draft but the core of the defense has perhaps the most potential of any area of the team. Underachieving junior tackle, Jay Howard, returns, as doe’s sophomore tackle, Omar Hunter, a freshman All-American last season. Senior defensive end, Justin Trattou, finally looks poised to take his game to the level the Gators thought they were getting when they recruited the five star product. Expect Trattou to have a big season in 2010. Junior end William Green should get the start at the other end position, but heralded true freshman Ronald Powell and Dominique Easley are college ready. It will be hard for this Gator defense to expect themselves to live up to the years previous numbers with so much youth in key positions but if Florida wants to be a contender in the SEC, these youngsters will need to grow up in a hurry.


- The Florida Gators schedule each year is pretty much what you would expect from a team trying to compete for a National Championship and SEC title every year. A couple of early season dustings before the heap of the treacherous SEC schedule begins. The Gators have not lost to a team outside the SEC since the 2007 bowl loss to Michigan and before that, the last loss out of conference was all the way back in 2004. Last season, the Gators early season kindle were Charleston Southern and Troy. This season Miami (Oh) starts the year Sept. 4, with the Gators actually tossing a log on to start the fire a week later, inviting instate foe South Florida to the Swamp. A trip to Knoxville to take on Tennessee kicks of SEC play with the traditional week three, Volunteer matchup. After a visit from Kentucky Sept. 25, an Oct. 2 matchup against Alabama lies in store. The Gators are 2-2 in the last four meetings and will be looking for payback to last season’s 13-32 whacking in the conference title game. Following ‘Bama are home visits from LSU and Mississippi State. After a bye week the Gators head to Jacksonville to take on the Georgia Bulldogs for a heated rivalry that should be the most equally matched game in a few years. At Vanderbilt, South Carolina in the Swamp and Appalachian State all lead up to the season finale at Florida State Nov. 27, where new head coach Jimbo Fisher would love nothing more than to beat the Gators to close out his first season as a head coach.

Schedule rating: A

Red = Toughest Game. Blue = Pivotal to conference.

Top Incoming Freshman:

1.) Sharrif Floyd, *#1 DT, 6-2 311, Philadelphia, PA

Floyd was far and beyond the most talented defensive lineman to come out of the high school ranks this past season and maybe one of the top of the decade.

2.) Ronald Powell (left), *#1 DE, 6-4 250, Moreno Valley, CA

A pass rushing specialist, Powell will backup both defensive end positions this fall, getting an early look on the defense. Powell walked away with the US Army Bowl MVP award this season.

3.) Matt Elam, #2 S, 6-0 205, Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Also a standout running back for his state champion’s team, Elam has a nose for the football playing in the defensive backfield.

4.) Chris Martin, #1 OLB, 6-4 240, Aurora, CO

A late addition to the Gator class, Martin left Jeff Tedford and Cal in July to be a part of the success at Florida.

5.) Dominique Easley, #2 DT, 6-2 270, Staten Island, NY

A New York native, Easley showed week long at the Under Armor All-American game that he was one of the most talented lineman in the country, constantly wreaking havoc on the offense.

*Rankings according to


Powell: John Albright/Icon SMI

Demps: Stephen M. Dowell / The Orlando Sentinel - AP

August 22, 2010

Top 25 Countdown: #12 Virginia Tech Hokies


2009 Record – 10-3, 6-2 ACC
Bowl Game – Chick-fil-A Bowl – Beat Tennessee 37-14
Letterman Returning: 38
Stadium – Lane Stadium (65,115)
College Location – Blacksburg, VA
Coach – Frank Beamer, 187-92-2 (24th year)


Key Returnees – QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Ryan Williams (below), RB Darren Evans, WR Jarrett Boykin, WR Danny Coale

Key Losses – TE Greg Boone, G Sergio Render, T Ed Wang

- In 2008 redshirt freshman running back Darren Evans busted onto the scene going from a highly regarded high school running back that had sat a year, to one of college football’s elite rushers, setting an ACC freshman record with 1,265 yards. The following year, in August camp, Evans sophomore season came to a halt due to a torn ACL. In came yet another redshirt freshman and the running back position went from a strength, to perhaps the teams biggest question mark; or so the Hokies thought. Ryan Williams turned out to be better out of the backfield than his counterpart Evans, rushing for a new ACC freshman record 1,655 yards with 21 touchdowns. A better scenario couldn’t have been printed for the Hokies if the Writers Guild had done it themselves. This season, both are healthy and ready to tear through opposing rush defenses like Lindsay Lohan through a rehab center. The only problem the Hokie offense may face in 2010 is finding enough carries to go around. The offense also returns senior quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who will be entering his third season as the starter in Blacksburg. Taylor has looked brilliant at times but has also looked as ugly as a Mel Gibson breakup, but one you get to watch happen. Before last season the senior had just a 7-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio to his account. Last season, it looked as if Taylor had pieced things tougher throwing for 2,311 yards with 13 scores and just five interceptions, relying on his legs to do far less work. Helping Taylor move along in his process will be the return of the Hokies top two pass catchers in juniors, Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale. Boykin, who led the team with 835 yards last season, has perhaps the most upside; however, both came away with 20+ yard averages last season. The offensive line loses just two starters but they happen to be the team’s two best road pavers in guard Sergio Render and tackle Ed Wang. Filling in for the departed should be converted tight end, Greg Nosal at guard, and sophomore Nick Becton at tackle.


Key Returnees – MLB Barquell Rivers, CB Rashad Carmichael (below), DT John Graves

Key Losses – OLB Cody Grimm, S Kam Chancellor, DE Jason Worilds, DE Nekos Brown

- For the first time in quite a while in Blacksburg, it is the defense surrounded by questions heading into a season. The Hokies defensive depth chart reads about as easy as a Whistling Pines rules card, only this one’s not posted in the changing room. The entire defensive team heading into 2010 seems to be grounded in a questionable sand trap. Luckily for the Hokies they will still be rocking out to Metallica’s Enter the Sand Man, however, and new stars will emerge. The first step for the D-line will be finding a pass rush. Departed ends, Jason Worilds and Nekos Brown, brought a lot of pressure from the outside and with them departs 11 sacks from last season and 12.5 the year previous. Entering starting duty at end are senior Steven Friday and junior converted tight end Chris Drager. Both have little experience and will have to create pressure to keep their jobs. Senior tackle, John Graves, has 22 starts in his career and could have a breakout season in 2010 following a season last year in which he registered just 15 tackles. Junior Inside linebacker Barquell Rivers could be the defenses next bright star for a team that has not failed to deliver linebackers to the NFL as of late. Rivers returns as the team’s leading tackler with 96 stops last season, along with 6.5 for a loss. The other two linebacker positions are about as questionable as Lane Kiffin giving his word. Jeron Gouveia-Winslow will compete for one of the vacated positions along with undersized sophomore Lyndell Gibson at the other inside spot. The secondary returns its top cornerback from last season in senior, Rashad Carmichael. As a junior last season, Carmichael led all Hokie defensive backs with 12 passes defended and six interceptions last season – tied for second in the ACC. The supporting cast surrounding Carmichael is made up of senior rover Davon Morgan and junior free safety, Eddie Whitley. Sophomore, Jayron Hosley should earn the other corner position. A lot of the success of the 2010 Hokies comes down to how well the inexperienced defense does early. Pressure of six straight seasons of not allowing more than an average of 16 points a game and a seven year trend of at least 30+ sacks, comes down on the D.


- The Hokies rarely shy away from a challenge. The last three seasons Va. Tech has placed an intimidating non-conference opponent on the board in LSU in 2007, Nebraska in 2008 and Alabama last season. Unfortunately they are just 1-2 in those games. That didn’t keep the Hokies from adding America’s favorite underdog and non-BCS power, Boise State, to the schedule this season. When it comes down to wining as of late, however, the Hokies are plain and simple impressive. The boys of Blacksburg have not had below a 10 win season since 2003 (8-5). The last five years they have put together a 29-4 record at Lane Stadium as well, not losing more than one home game in a season since 2002. The season opener this year for the Hokies is the early test of Boise State set for a Monday night set at Fed Ex Field in Landover, MD. The Hokies are just 3-2 at neutral sites the last two seasons and 6-4 away. The Broncos don’t mind, however, better than getting the 11-1 home record in ’08-’09 for the Hokies. After a walk-through against James Madison the Hokies welcome thorn in the side, East Carolina, Sept. 18, who the Hokies lost to in 2008 to start the season. At Boston College and at NC State in consecutive weeks open ACC play. Four consecutive home meetings stretching from Oct. 9 to Nov. 4 give the Hokies a comfortable stretch of games which include Central Michigan, Wake Forest, Duke and Georgia Tech – a Thursday night matchup. The home stretch may prove costly with two away trips in a row at North Carolina, Nov. 13 and at Miami Nov. 20. Rival, Virginia, ends the season in a home meeting Nov. 27.

Schedule rating: B+

Red = Toughest Game. Blue = Pivotal to conference.

Top Incoming Freshman:

1.) Zach McCray (left), *#24 DE, 6-3 230, Lynchburg, VA

McCray, who had numerous BCS offers, will step into the defensive end position if the current replacements can’t get the job done.

2.) Laurence Gibson, *PG OG, 6-5 295, Chatham, VA

One of the top prep linemen, Gibson spent a year at Hargrave Military Academy

3.) Nick Dew, #39 S, 6-2 180, Virginia Beach, VA

Dew was an Under Armor All American who brings great size and speed to the safety position.

4.) Nick Acree, #40 OT, 6-6 300, Fork Union, VA

Acree has the ability to play both offensive and defensive line at the next level. The Hokies may start the Fork Union product out at defensive tackle.

5.) Ricardo Young, #48 QB, 6-0 160, Washington, DC

Looked over mostly because of his size, Young is a talented quarterback and will compete for a starting position once Taylor moves on.

*Rankings according to

*PG – Post Graduate

All writing and views subject to © Drew P. Kochanny, All Rights Reserved. Photo's credited to rights owner.