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: Get ready for the bounceback. The O line will be strong enough to pave the way for Justin Jackson – one of the Big Ten’s most underappreciated backs. The defensive front will be far better with four senior starters to go along with former star recruit Ifeadi Odenigbo.
Biggest Negative: Can the quarterback situation be settled? Clayton Thorson and Zack Oliver will fight it out, and someone has to turn into a consistent performer. The receiving corps should be fine, but it loses a few important performers. Leading tackler Chi Chi Ariguzo is gone on the weakside, and Jimmy Hall is done on the strong, but the big loss on D is Ibraheim Campbell.
Biggest Positive: Losing DE Eli Harold to the NFL early takes away a devastating pass rusher, but the other three starters are back up front and three starters are back in the secondary. The QB situation needs work, but there are promising veterans to battle it out.
Biggest Negative: Too many good offensive parts are missing to take a big step up. The top two RBs – Kevin Parks and Khalek Shepherd – are done, and leading receiver Canaan Severin is finished. Harold really will be a big loss up front.
Biggest Positive: The defensive front might be the best in the AAC with a great rotation. The offensive backfield should be excellent with QB Justin Holman coming into his own at the end of last year and with RB William Stanback a tough producer.
Biggest Negative: The secondary is a problem with all four starters gone, but the receiving corps is the bigger issue with the top four targets done including Breshad Perriman. The O line also needs work with the left side of OT Torrian Wilson and OG Tarik Milner done. Losing PK Shawn Moffitt is a big problem.
Biggest Positive: All five starters return in the defensive backfield – it should be the best secondary in the David Cutcliffe era. The kicking game should be fantastic with PK Ross Martin and P Will Monday returning – the Blue Devils will be rock solid. Shaun Wilson and Shaquille Powell are back at running back.
Biggest Negative: The defensive front six/seven is decimated by graduation. Offensively, QB Anthony Boone is done and receivers Jamison Crowder and Issac Blakeney are both finished. Losing OG Laken Thomlinson and OT Takoby Cofield is also a problem.
Biggest Positive: If all the parts are healthy, the Cougars have the makings of a dangerous offense with QB Taysom Hill (likely back okay from a broken leg) and RB Jamaal Williams (still getting past a knee injury) as dangerous a backfield twosome as any in the country. Four starters are back on the offensive front.
Biggest Negative: The defense will be fine in time, but the loss of FS Skye PoVey and LB Zac Stout hurts. The kicking game needs a lot of work - PK Trevor Samson and P Scott Arellano are gone.
54. San Diego State
Biggest Positive: Donnel Pumphrey and the running game should be unstoppable at times – there are other options to help make the ground attack go. The O line will help with four starters returning, and four of the top five receivers are back. The secondary will be one of the best in the Mountain West, but …
Biggest Negative: The defensive front seven loses most of the top tacklers in the linebacking corps and needs some reworking after a strong year. Quinn Kaehler is gone - the quarterback situation has to be better and more productive.
55. Oregon State
Biggest Positive: New head man Gary Andersen inherits a strong O line with all five starters back to pave the way for Storm Woods. WR Victor Bolden leads a great-looking receiving corps that should be able to make up for the loss of QB Sean Mannion.
Biggest Negative: The top six tacklers, seven of the top eight, and nine of the top 11 tacklers are gone on defense. Not only are most of the starters gone, but the depth has been gutted, too. Mannion might not have rocked last year, but he was still a special quarterback.
Biggest Positive: The Panthers have two of the best players in the ACC in RB James Conner and WR Tyler Boyd to work around. The defensive front should be sound with three starters back, and the secondary could be excellent with corners Lafayette Pitts and Avonte Maddox two keepers.
Biggest Negative: Boyd is great, but the rest of the receiving corps needs some work. The line loses future NFL OT T.J. Clemmings and solid OG Matt Rotheram – they had a lot to do with the rushing production. The quarterback play has to be stronger.
Biggest Positive: There’s hope for a fast offensive turnaround with nine starters returning, six of the top seven receivers back, and a nice 1-2 rushing tandem in Ralph Webb and Dallas Rivers to work around. 13 of the top 14 tacklers return on D including all the top pass rushers.
Biggest Negative: Is there a quarterback? The Commodores tried out several different young options without any real production. The front seven should be fine, but NT Vince Taylor and OLB Kyle Woestmann will be missed.
58. Boston College
Biggest Positive: All of the top running backs return including Jon Hilliman. The strong defense should be even better in the linebacking corps - there’s good depth and a great hitter in Steven Daniels to work around. FS Justin Simmons and CB John Johnson are nice defensive backs to start with.
Biggest Negative: All five starters, including C Andy Gallik, have to be replaced on the O line. Playmaking QB Tyler Murphy is done, too, along with top targets Shakim Phillips and Josh Bordner. The defense also needs help with most of the top pass rushers done.
2015 Pre-Preseason Rankings: No. 49-58
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