Football Preview 2008
As spring practice wraps up around the nation, we take a look at
some of the issues and changes College Football teams have been
dealing with and will continue to deal with, as the 2008 College
Football season approaches. Below we'll take an early look and
preview the major conferences to wet your appetite for the coming
year. Summer goes by fast. We'll be in full football mode 24/7
before you know it. Just a couple of months away!
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Can Ohio State, the runner-up for the title the past two years, get
back and play for another one with 18 starters returning?
• Will Southern California, after two years away from the BCS title
• Or is this defending Sugar Bowl champion Georgia's time to climb
to the top of the polls?
• How will coaching changes at places such Michigan, Nebraska,
Arkansas and West Virginia impact the national picture, and the
• Can Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, who last year became the first
sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy, become the second player to win
two of them?
• Will there be a 2008 version of Hawaii-Boise State-Utah, a team
from outside one of the six major conferences gaining an automatic
berth in a BCS game?
• Can Notre Dame bounce back from a disastrous year and start to
become a consistent player on the national scene?
The season kicks off August 28TH. Buckle your chinstrap.
After so much waiting has Clemson's breakout season finally arrived?
Quarterback Cullen Harper, the running duo of James Davis and C.J.
Spiller, receiver Aaron Kelly and defensive lineman Dorrell Scott
have all returned. Still, the Tigers have four new starters on their
offensive line. … Clarity didn't come for Virginia Tech's
quarterback quandary, the battle between pocket passer Sean Glennon
and multi-threat Tyrod Taylor. "We've got two really good
quarterbacks. What we're going to do with them will continue into
the fall," coach Frank Beamer said. As for defense, questions abound
after the Hokies lost seven starters. … The two new coaches in the
league have formidable challenges ahead. Can GeorgiaTech's Paul
Johnson, who was successful at Navy and Georgia Southern, win at
this level with his triple-option offense? And can Duke coach David
Cutcliffe build a program the basketball team can be proud of?
…Boston College lost its standout QB Matt Ryan, but senior Chris
Crane, Ryan's backup the last two seasons, is the leading candidate.
"We're going to have to use him differently than we used Matt. I
don't want to throw the ball 50 times like we did last year," coach
Jeff Jagodzinski said. "Chris' mobility and ability to make plays on
the run will be a big factor for us." …Florida State receiver
Preston Parker's recent arrest, in which he was charged with
carrying a concealed .45-caliber pistol and a small amount of
marijuana, disrupted an otherwise quiet spring in Tallahassee. After
the academic scandal from last year, the arrest of the Seminoles
best offensive player is not the way coach Bobby Bowden wanted to
begin his 33rd season at FSU.
Given the tumultuous off-season at West Virginia, spring football
was a welcomed fresh start. Under new coach Bill Stewart and new
offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen, the former QB coach at Wake
Forest, quarterback Pat White will throw more. …Pittsburgh needs
reliable quarterback play to take pressure off running back LeSean
McCoy, the nation's top freshman rusher who averaged 110.7 yards per
game in 2007. There is a three-man race for the starting QB job with
junior Bill Stull the favorite. The defense will again be led by
linebacker Scott McKillop, the nation's leading tackler (12.6 per
game) on a unit which finished fifth nationally in total defense. …
After waiting three years behind QB Brian Brohm, Louisville's Hunter
Cantwell's time has come. But defense, which struggled mightily in
last year's 6-6 season, is where the Cardinals need to improve the
most. … Rutgers will replace running back Ray Rice, the all-time
leading rusher in school history, with a slew of RBs: Mason
Robinson, Kordell Young, Jourdan Brooks and Joe Martinek.
…Connecticut and Notre Dame are finalizing the details of a 10-game
series. Five of those games will be played in South Bend, Ind., and
the five UConn "home" games will be played at large stadiums in the
New York or Boston areas, but not at the Huskies' 40,000-seat
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RB Rashard Mendenhall departed for the NFL, but key blockers for
Illinois' running game return. Seniors Ryan McDonald and Xavier
Fulton have been named to the watch list for the Outland Trophy.
McDonald, a center, will be a four-year starter while Fulton, a
tackle, begins his second season with the first string. Both players
earned second-team All-Big Ten honors in 2007 after the Illini led
the Big Ten in rushing for the second consecutive year and ranked
fifth in the nation, compiling 3,338 yards. …With Michigan adjusting
to a new offense and a new coaching staff under Rich Rodriguez, QB
candidates Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan will continue their
battle to replace Chad Henne during summer camp. The Wolverines must
replace 11 starters. …Michigan State lost WR Devin Thomas to the
NFL, but four underclassmen showed in the spring game the passing
attack could still be potent. Mark Dell, B.J. Cunningham, Chris D.
Rucker and Blair White combined for 19 catches for 393 yards. … With
only four starters departing from the team that lost to LSU in New
Orleans, Ohio State figures to be near the top of the preseason
polls. So can the Buckeyes overcome a second consecutive
championship-game thrashing? "It's very hard to put it behind us,"
TB Chris Wells said. "It happened two years in a row. But that's
something that a lot of us are using for motivation to get back
there next year and just become a better and more united football
team." …Penn State might use the spread offense, at least sometimes,
but how much could be decided by who emerges at QB. "Whether we call
a spread depends," said coach Joe Paterno. "If Daryll Clark's the
quarterback then we can probably lean towards some things, but he
doesn't have the job yet. I think Pat Devlin and Paul Cianciolo are
good football players. We'll see who comes out of this, works the
hardest this summer and comes back. We'll take it from there."
New Baylor coach Art Briles is not interested in comparing the
talent level he left behind at Houston with that on hand for the
Bears. "I feel good about our guys," he said. "We're about a lineman
short, offensively. We have wide receivers coming in this summer we
think will help us. We have good players; we just don't have much
depth." … After an Orange Bowl championship, expectations will be
high at Kansas. "On the offensive side of the ball, we have to get
our line to where we want it," said coach Mark Mangino. "We have to
replace (running back) Brandon McAnderson. We have a chance at a
pretty good offense. The kids took a business approach. This year's
team wants to maintain the excellence that last year's team had. I
don't see major difference between this year and last year." …
Expectations will also be up at Nebraska, where Bo Pelini returns as
head coach after a previous stint on the Huskers staff. "Nothing
here surprises me," Pelini said. "It becomes obvious how passionate
people of Nebraska are about football. We've had a great reception.
It sends a bolt of energy through your team. The foundation has to
begin with effort and discipline. The scheme comes later when you
game-plan specific opponents." …Oklahoma, with standout QB Sam
Bradford returning, has installed the no-huddle offense. Coach Bob
Stoops believes the new 40-second play clock, which starts when the
previous play is blown dead, "will speed you up" when it comes to
getting the play off on time. The no-huddle will help the Sooners
adjust, Stoops said, and also allows more time to change the play at
the line of scrimmage. …Oklahoma State lost offensive coordinator
Larry Fedora when he became head coach at Southern Mississippi, but
Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said there won't be many substantial
changes in OSU's attack. The players remain "comfortable with our
system," he said.
Defense is an off-season priority at Arizona. The Wildcats starting
unit will include eight new faces along with returning LB Ronnie
Palmer and safeties Nate Ness and Cam Nelson. … Arizona State
quarterback Rudy Carpenter had minor surgery on his right (throwing)
thumb last week. He is expected to start throwing in 2-3 weeks.
Carpenter hurt his thumb during a handoff in the California game
last October and played with the injury the rest of the season. …
With his main competition sidelined, Justin Roper made his bid to
become Oregon's starting quarterback, passing for 82 yards, throwing
for one touchdown and running for another in the spring game. Roper
made his first start for Oregon in last year's Sun Bowl. He is
expected to compete with redshirt sophomore Nate Costa for the job
in the fall. Costa was limited to non-contact drills this spring as
he rehabs from knee surgery. … After sitting out a season following
his transfer from Arkansas, Southern California's highly touted
sophomore QB Mitch Mustain threw six TD passes in three spring
scrimmages while spitting time with starter Mark Sanchez and
redshirt freshman Aaron Corp. … WR Richard Sherman, who has led
Stanford in receiving yards for two consecutive seasons, picked up
in the spring game where he left off, catching nine passes for 96
yards. … New UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel already has QB issues.
Patrick Cowan will be unable to play in 2008 because of a knee
injury, and Ben Olson is expected to be out six to eight weeks with
a foot injury. …Washington center Juan Garcia's status for the
season is up in the air after he suffered the same kind of foot
injury (a Lisfranc sprain) that sidelined Huskies QB Isaiah Stanback
two seasons ago. He had been named to the Outland Trophy watch list
and was a second-team all-Pac-10 selection last year, starting every
game for the second consecutive year. He was granted a sixth year of
eligibility after missing 2004 and 2005 with injuries.
Can LSU, the defending national champ, rely on Ryan Perrilloux, a
quarterback who has been suspended more times (3) than games he has
started (2)? Coach Les Miles thinks so. "I think Ryan's handling his
business and doing right things," Miles said. "If that continues,
which we expect it would, when it comes to the fall, it'd be a
three-way competition for who the starter is." If Perrilloux stays
out of trouble, the job is his. …Florida Gators fans hoping for a
much improved running game left the spring game a bit more confident
after Chris Rainey ran for 75 yards and a touchdown and added a
65-yard scoring reception. Southern California transfer Emmanuel
Moody rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown. If Rainey and Moody can
lighten the rushing load on quarterback Tim Tebow, the junior should
be a favorite to win an another Heisman Trophy. … Coming off a Sugar
Bowl championship, Georgia has a pair of its defensive players
included on the Lott Trophy Watch List. Junior cornerback Asher
Allen and senior defensive tackle Jeff Owens have been nominated for
the award named for NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, which equally
recognizes athletic performance and the personal character
attributes of its recipient. … South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier
is handing over most play-calling duties to son Steve Jr., the
Gamecocks wide receivers coach. After the spring game, Spurrier Sr.
said he is not ready to name either Chris Smelley or Tommy Beecher
his starting QB, but he later told a booster club if the season
started now, Beecher would be No. 1. The spring game did feature
some fun, especially when Steve Spurrier's youngest son, Scott,
caught a 46-yard touchdown pass from Smelley by coming off the bench
on to the field during the play. The referees threw a flag for
illegal participation, but the head ball coach ordered his defense
to decline it. … There is plenty new at Tennessee: a quarterback, an
offensive coordinator and a system. New QB Jonathan Crompton, who
completed seven of 12 passes with two interceptions and one
touchdown last year, will take over for Eric Ainge; former Richmond
coach Dave Clawson replaced new Duke coach David Cutcliffe as
Coming off a 3-9 season, Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis was
encouraged by the performance of QB Jimmy Clausen in the spring
game. Clausen completed a 57-yard pass to Golden Tate to the 8-yard
line on fourth-and-10, then threw an 8-yard TD pass to Duval Kamara
with 24 seconds left to give the offense a 47-46 victory. "He could
never make the (long) throw last year," Weis said. "Even at the end
of the year, he couldn't make that throw." Clausen passed for 183
yards. "Jimmy got good zip on the ball," Weis said. "Obviously, he
can sling it." …Army, which ran a wishbone offense for years before
former coach Todd Berry scrapped it in 2000, is going back to an
option-based attack, although it will not be the wishbone. …Brigham
Young carries a 10-game winning streak into the season, and if the
Cougars keep winning, they might be in position to follow Utah,
Boise State and Hawaii and secure an automatic berth in a BCS game.
The Cougars have four players on the preseason watch list for the
Rotary Lombardi Award: DE Jan Jorgensen, TE Dennis Pitta and OLs Ray
Feinga and Dallas Reynolds. …Hawaii lost not only coach June Jones
and QB Colt Brennan, but the Warriors need to replace six defensive
starters and seven on offense, including almost all of their skill
players, from last year's Sugar Bowl team. New coach Greg McMackin's
team opens at Florida.
Be sure to join us starting in August and throughout the
2008-2009 football season. Football is our specialty here at
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