2015 Pre-Preseason Rankings: No. 79-88

2015 Pre-Preseason Rankings: No. 79-88. Some bottom Power 5s and top Group of 5ers

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. Top Eight
- Crank up the realistic playoff expectations if everything breaks right. No. 9-18
- They'll all be in the mix for a conference title, with a little luck. No. 19-28
- Probably a bit low - all could challenge for big things. No. 29-38
- Some new high-risers - there's promise and potential. No. 39-48
- Likely bowl teams - or at least that's the expectation. No. 49-58
- Low-end Power 5 teams, but there's surprise potential. No. 59-68
- Possible bowl teams and some star Group of 5ers. No. 69-78
- Some bottom Power 5s and top Group of 5ers as the rankings roll on. No. 79-88
- Teams that have several major question marks, or are missing top talent. No. 89-99
- They need to replace too many key parts, but there's hope. No. 99-108
- They're not quite at the bottom, but they need a whole bunch of work. No. 109-118
- As spring ball is rolling, which teams come into the year looking up? The Bottom Ten

79. Utah State
Biggest Positive: The offensive line could be potentially dominant with four starters returning, while the passing game should be excellent with four of the top five targets back. The linebacking corps loses Zach Vigil, but Nick Vigil and Torrey Green are back to a great group.
Biggest Negative: The secondary loses three starters while the line has to replace B.J. Larson on the outside and Elvis Kamana-Matagi inside. The quarterback situation will eventually be fine, but there’s still major questions marks about Chuckie Keeton’s health and other options.

80. WKU
Biggest Positive: The offense will keep on being really, really fun with QB Brandon Doughty getting a sixth year of eligibility. Leon Allen and the top five leading rushers return, and the receiving corps will be fine. Nine starters are back on defense, but …
Biggest Negative: That defense needs to turn experience into production after doing next to nothing last year. The receiving corps should be fine, but Willie McNeal is done and TE Mitchell Henry has to be replaced.

81. Fresno State
Biggest Positive: RB Marteze Waller is back working behind a line that should be fine with three starters returning. The secondary returns the most experience with three starters back – only losing star S Derron Smith – and there’s just enough athleticism up front to be aggressive, especially with LB Ejiro Ederaine returning.
Biggest Negative: Losing Smith from the secondary is a problem, and five of the top seven tacklers are done. The quarterback situation is a bit of a question mark with Brian Burrell needing to leave, and targets Josh Harper and Greg Watson are gone.

82. Air Force
Biggest Positive: Yes, there is a passing game. Jalen Robinette turned into a real, live receiving weapon, and now he and the top four targets are back. The running backs should be terrific, as always, with top rusher Jacobi Owens return and QB Kale Pearson a good one.
Biggest Negative: Four starters on the front seven and three starters in the secondary are gone. There are some nice parts back, but it’s going to take a little bit for it all to come together. Will Conant is done after handling the placekicking and punting duties.

83. Marshall
Biggest Positive: The offense has enough talent back to overcome some of the massive losses. Three starters return to a line that will pave the way for Devon Johnson and a great running game. Three starters are back in the secondary.
Biggest Negative: You don’t just replace QB Rakeem Cato and WR Tommy Shuler. The D needs more help with three starters gone on the line and LBs Jermaine Holmes gone from the middle and Neville Hewitt finished on the weakside.

84. Louisiana Tech
Biggest Positive: The potential is there to take another huge step forward with RB Kenneth Dixon back behind a loaded line with four starters back. Throw in Florida QB Jeff Driskel in as a transfer – yes, he’s good – all of a sudden the offense could be fantastic. The pass rush will be great with Vernon Butler and Vontarrius Dora leading a good group back up front.
Biggest Negative: Three of the top five tacklers are gone with Houston Bates one of the key losses. The secondary is going to need a little while to come together, and the linebacking corps needs some retooling.

85. Kansas
Biggest Positive: New head man David Beaty will try to make Kansas into the next Texas A&M offensively – the Jayhawks might finally have a decided schematic advantage at some point. There’s a good group of decent young backs to start with, led by Corey Avery and De’Andre Mann.
Biggest Negative: There’s a LOT of work to do on both sides of the ball. The receivers aren’t there quite yet, the defense has to replace heart-and-soul LB Ben Heeney and the departure of P Trevor Pardula and his 44.25 average is rough.

86. Ohio
Biggest Positive: All five starters return to the O line to pave the way for A.J. Ouellette and Daz Patterson – a nice 1-2 rushing punch. All three starters return to the linebacking corps including leading tackler Quentin Poling. Three starters return in the secondary, too.
Biggest Negative: The defensive front gets pass rusher Tarell Basham back, but the other three starters up front have to be replaced. There’s enough pass catching experience returning to expect a big year, but losing Chase Cochran and Landon Smith is a big deal.

87. Bowling Green
Biggest Positive: The running game should be fantastic with Travis Greene running behind one of the MAC’s best lines that gets back all five starters. There are quarterback options with Matt Johnson back and healthy to challenge James Knapke.
Biggest Negative: The D needs an overhaul with the top four tacklers done and with linebacker a huge issue with leading tackler Gabe Martin finished along with D.J. Lynch. Defensive end will be a priority with Bryan Thomas and Charlie Walker needing to be replaced.

88. Arkansas State
Biggest Positive: The offense is loaded, loaded, loaded. Everyone of note is back in the receiving corps, and RB Michael Gordon and Johnson White return to go along with QB Fredi Knighten. The D is strong, too, with a great defensive front returning.
Biggest Negative: The secondary is the problem with three starters gone including FS Sterling Young and CB Artez Brown. LB Qushaun Lee was a hitting machine, and while there are options to fill in, he was the star of the bunch.


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