With spring football about to kick in, how do each of the teams look? What are the first impressions? These are the first thoughts that can and will change over the next several months before diving deep into the team-by-team previews. Please, give us your thoughts and questions – be pleasant – hitting us at @ColFootballNews.
- The best and the brightest teams going into spring football.
- Crank up the realistic playoff expectations if everything breaks right.
- They'll all be in the mix for a conference title, with a little luck.
- Probably a bit low - all could challenge for big things.
- Some new high-risers - there's promise and potential.
- Likely bowl teams - or at least that's the expectation.
- Low-end Power 5 teams, but there's surprise potential.
- Possible bowl teams and some star Group of 5ers.
- Some bottom Power 5s and top Group of 5ers as the rankings roll on.
- Teams that have several major question marks, or are missing top talent.
- They need to replace too many key parts, but there's hope.
- They're not quite at the bottom, but they need a whole bunch of work.
- As spring ball is rolling, which teams come into the year looking up?
The Bottom Ten
Biggest Positive: The defense might have had a few problems over the years – to say the least – but It comes back experienced with three of the top four tacklers back and most of the leading linebackers. The receiving corps should be the best in the Norm Chow era.
Biggest Negative: The Warriors still have to find a steady quarterback and could use a power runner to replace Joey Iosefa. The D might return plenty of veterans, but can any of them play?
120. Miami University
Biggest Positive: The secondary comes back intact with all four starters returning – they’re all seniors. Throw in the return of the entire linebacking corps, and the back seven looks like it could be something special.
Biggest Negative: Andrew Hendrix made the offense work. The former Notre Dame quarterback transfer is gone, and so are three starters on the O line and a backfield that has to make up for the loss of Dawan Scott as well as Hendrix.
Biggest Positive: QB Blake Decker should be a good option for new head coach Tony Sanchez to start with, and Devonte Boyd is a great-looking young receiver to help make the passing game go. Peni Vea is one of the Mountain West’s top safeties, but …
Biggest Negative: Everyone but Vea is gone in the secondary. There’s also major turnover up front for a defense that can’t afford to lose any experience or talent. The O doesn’t have the firepower to make up for the concerns on D.
Biggest Positive: The team might be in total rebuilding mode, but there are a few pieces to start with. QB Austin Robinson and RB Jarveon Williams are okay, and David Morgan should be one of Conference USA’s best tight ends.
Biggest Negative: All five starters are gone off a veteran O line that came up with 176 combined starts. Also gone are three of the top four and five of the top seven receivers. The D also loses a ton with four starters done up front.
123. Eastern Michigan
Biggest Positive: Can experience start to generate production? LB Great Ibe leads a veteran defense with four of the top five tacklers returning, and Pat O’Conner is one of the MAC’s best interior pass rushers, leading a line with three starters returning. There are quarterback options with Reginald Bell and Brogan Roback coming in.
Biggest Negative: Three starters are gone on the O line and not having the backfield tandem of Ryan Brumfield and Bronson Hill hurts. The secondary is a concern with safeties Kevin Johnson and Pudge Cotton gone.
124. New Mexico State
Biggest Positive: With QB Tyler Rogers and RB Larry Rose III, the Aggies have a good backfield to work around. Four starters return up front to help pave the way.
Biggest Negative: The baby-young defense took its lumps, and almost all of the key producers are back, but there wasn’t any pass rush whatsoever. It’s still going to be a while before there’s a D.
125. Georgia State
Biggest Positive: Bombing QB Nick Arbuckle returns along with more than enough weapons to get the O moving. The porous defense has a superstar to work around in LB Joseph Peterson and more than enough experience to expect more production.
Biggest Negative: There might be more than enough experience to go around, but will that mean the wins will come? This is still a growing program, and while it’s improving, it still has to learn how to come up with victories.
Biggest Positive: There’s plenty of experience back to hope for something more – finally. WRs Richard Montgomery, Deon Watson and Jacob Sannon should shine with veteran quarterbacks able to bomb away. For good and bad, the team’s top star might be Austin Rehkow, who only hit 11-of-19 field goals but averaged a whopping 47.75 yards per punt.
Biggest Negative: The massive number of interceptions have to come to a stop on offense. The defense can’t afford to lose stars, and DT Quayshawne Buckley and DE Maxx Forde are going to be impossible to replace.
Biggest Positive: The offense can’t help but be better with the return of QB Brandon Silvers and the running back duo of Brandon Burks and Jordan Chunn.
Biggest Negative:It was a disaster throughout last season, and now there’s just enough gone off the defense to need some total restructuring and work. There has to be some form of a pass rush – the veterans need to produce.
Biggest Positive: Kalif Phillips is a whale of a running back coming off a massive season. Ten starters are back on defense. Leading tackler Branden Dozier is back to lead a secondary that gets all four starters back including promising CB Greg Cunningham Jr., and good-hitting CB Tank Norman. NT Larry Ogunjobi has all-star potential as a dangerous interior pass rusher and star to work around.
Biggest Negative: It’s still going to take a while. Both sides of the ball are loaded with veterans, but there’s still a long way to go to be dangerous at the new level coming off a bad year. This is a work in progress, but there are plenty of positives.
2015 Pre-Preseason Rankings: The Bottom Ten
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