The Biggest Liability on Every College Football Team for 2012
While every team has a strength, no matter how good you are you also likely have a weakness or a liability that is lurking.
Some teams have an explosive offense but know that their defense is suspect, others have a good quarterback but an inexperienced group of receivers and other teams face their unique challenges.
Over the course of a 12 game regular season, each team around the FBS will see what their strengths and weaknesses but here is a quick look at what is likely the greatest liability of each FBS team.
Air Force: Youth
Last year Air Force had a roster full of leadership and experience and failed to cash in on it. This year, the team only returns six starters total and will need to go through their growing pains before finding success again.
Akron: Offensive Line
Last year the Zips only managed to earn one win all year long. This year, Terry Bowden is taking over and hoping to restore the program but the biggest concern has to be the return of only one starting offensive linemen. With only one starter returning and a new system being put in place, Akron could run the risk of not winning a game this year.
While most people just go under the assumption that Alabama can just plug in replacements and be fine, that may be a misconception this year. Last year, the Tide's defense was incredible but they lost 9 of those starters.
While the defense will be good this year, living up to the defense fans saw last year will be a tough task.
Arizona: Passing Game
While Matt Scott should end up making a smooth transition to being the starting quarterback, the passing game could be a liability for Arizona because they are not returning any of their starters from 2011. Without a lot of proven talent at the wide-out position, the Wildcats will have to lean heavily on the running game.
Arizona State: Todd Graham
With a track record of moving around, Arizona State took a big chance by hiring Todd Graham. Graham has now held three jobs in three seasons and if he ends up moving again, this year may end of being a waste for the Sun Devils program.
Arkansas: John L. Smith
John L. Smith has taken over at Arkansas and while it appears it will be a one year stay for him, the Razorbacks have a team that is ready to compete now. Smith has not had a lot of success as a head coach so the hope in this case will be that the talent on the team can overcome his shortcomings.
Arkansas State: Defense
While the offense returns most of its firepower, the defense is going to continue to lag behind. A lot of pressure will be on the Red Wolves to put up big point totals to help compensate for this weakness.
Army: Defensive Line
Army returns a lot of talent this year but one place that they are lacking is on the defensive line. Only one of the four players on the line are returning starters and if they are unable to help the young secondary with pressure, the Black Knights may not head back to a bowl game.
Auburn: Defensive Line
For Auburn the defensive line stands to be their biggest liability but also potentially one of their biggest strengths. If the Tigers can get solid play from new starters Dee Ford and Angelo Blackson, then they will be a force in the SEC.
Ball State: Out of Conference Schedule
In 2011, two teams finished with six wins and didn't go to a bowl game, Ball State was one of those teams. This year, the Cardinals look like a better team but a out of conference schedule that includes Clemson and South Florida will likely hold them back.
Baylor: Being Exposed
When Robert Griffin III took this team on a fantastic run last year, Baylor fans were able to sit back and enjoy the entire ride. This year, Griffin is gone and the Bears run the risk of being a one-trick pony and going back to being irrelevant without him.
Boise State: Loss of Kellen Moore
Kellen Moore was a player that helped transcend the Boise State program. Moore was a field generally and helped turn Boise State into a consistent national title threat. This year Moore is gone and the loss of having him on the field could lead to a huge step backwards for the Broncos.
Boston College: Frank Spaziani
During his three seasons with the Eagles, Frank Spaziani has a combined record of 20-19, one small step above average. While Spaziani may be a fine assistant, he appears to be holding this program back as their head coach and preventing them from being anything more than average.
Bowling Green: No Receiving Help
Bowling Green and quarterback Matt Schiliz appear to be ready to have a break out season but the lack of help at the receiver position will be an issue. The Falcons are not returning any starting receivers and it could end up being the difference between making a bowl game or coming up short.
Buffalo: Jeff Quinn
Even at Buffalo, 5-19 in two seasons is not going to get the job done. This year, Quinn is going to be under a lot of pressure and needs to show that this team is moving in the right direction but based on his track record, Quinn does not appear to be the man for the job and is holding back any potential growth for the Bulls.
BYU: Being Independent
Now that BYU is in their second year of being independent, they are starting to see some of the downside as their schedule really lacks a lot of firepower. Even with a successful season, the Cougars will struggle to gain credit because of a weak schedule.
Cal: Not Getting Keenan Allen Enough Touches
Cal looks to be a team without a lot of firepower as we head into the 2012 season. The one exception for the Bears is their All-American receiver Keenan Allen. Allen is a true talent and the biggest liability for Cal this year would be not getting this playmaker enough touches.
Central Michigan: Experience
Central Michigan had a rough year in 2011 going 3-9 and a lot of that was due to the inexperience of the team. Coming into 2012, the Chippewas need to build on what they learned last year if they hope to be successful as this is still a very young team.
Cincinnati: Offensive Backfield
After earning a share of the Big East title last year, Cincinnati has plenty of questions to answer this year and the biggest one is in their backfield. Coming into this season, the Bearcats are starting a new quarterback and running back and are hoping that the defense can keep them in it while they feel things out.
Clemson: Late Season Collapse
The 8-0 start that Clemson got off to last year was one of the best starts they have had in a while but it was ruined by losing three out of their last four games. This year, the roster is full of talent and if the Tigers fall apart again, Dabo Swinney could start to feel the heat.
Colorado: Too Young
The Buffaloes are a young team and still need time to get use to the Pac-12 conference. This is a roster that seems to be made up of mostly freshmen and sophomores and are not ready to compete on a high level with the rest of the conference.
Colorado State: Losing Culture
After three straight 3-9 seasons, Colorado State runs the risk of starting to develop a losing culture. With the lack of success that the program has been experiencing, they need to get things turned or the Rams may see this trend become more permanent.
Connecticut: Chandler Whitmer
The one thing standing in the way between Connecticut and a bowl birth is going to be quarterback play this year. As a sophomore, Chandler Whitmer is taking over for the Huskies and if he is unable to lead the offense, Connecticut may end up wasting a season with a strong defense.
Duke: Being Duke
Duke is a basketball school. Elite talent from around the nation comes to Duke to play hoops, not play football. With the lack of talent that the Blue Devils have, their biggest liability is being Duke. They will forever be known as a basketball school, which will continue to hold back the football team.
Eastern Michigan: Expectations
After a six win season last year, the Eagles are in an unusual position as the team has expectations going into the 2012 seasons. With the expectations will come pressure and the Eagles have yet to learn how to deal with that feeling.
ECU: Right Down the Middle
ECU can look forward to an improving defense this year but right down the middle, ECU is replacing both their center and quarterback for the 2012 season. If both players are not able to get up to speed, the Pirates will fall short of making a bowl game once again.
Florida: Quarterback Play
Most people know that Florida is going to have one of the best defenses in the conference but what could end up costing the Gators is their quarterback play. Jacoby Brissett will be starting for the first time this year as a sophomore and will need time to develop. Hopefully by next year Brissett will have eased into the offense and be ready to go.
Florida Atlantic: Everything
Not to pile on but Florida Atlantic had a dreadful season in 2011 and things will likely be the same in 2012. The Owls really need to develop the talent on their roster and when you only had one win last year, it is hard to really say that one thing is a liability for the upcoming season.
FIU: Jake Medlock
With Jake Medlock leading FIU into the 2012 season, the hopes of this team will rest squarely on the shoulders of this sophomore quarterback. Aside from Medlock, the Golden Panthers have a lot of leadership on both sides of the ball and are ready for a breakout season.
Florida State: Not Living Up to the Hype
For the past couple of seasons, Florida State has been touted as a team that could challenge for the national title but has fallen well short each time. This year, the Seminoles have the same lofty expectations and coming up short again could hurt this teams reputation in the future.
Fresno State: Tim DeRuyter
Any time a team goes through a transition with the head coaching position, there is time that is needed for things to fall back into place. This year, Fresno State has brought on Tim DeRuyter as the new head coach and if he is unable to get this team to buy in quickly, the Bulldogs may be looking at another four win season.
Georgia: Replacing Isaiah Crowell
After a strong first season with Georgia, Isaiah Crowell has been dismissed from Georgia for off the field issues. With the 2012 season looming, the Bulldogs need to relieve some of the pressure on quarterback Aaron Murray and keep the running game going.
Georgia Tech: Nobody Steps Up
Georgia Tech appears to have another strong roster and could easily be a eight win team during the 2012 season. The biggest liability that the Yellow Jackets could run into is the idea that they appear to be a playmaker away from elevating to a conference contender.
If nobody is able to step up and fill that role this year, the Yellow Jackets will remain behind with the ACC pack.
Hawaii: Norm Chow
There is no arguing that Norm Chow is an outstanding coordinator but this is the first year that he will be making the move to being a head coach. Chow has been around the game for quite a while but only time will tell how he handles being the head coach instead of an assistant.
What helped separate Houston from the rest of Conference USA was quarterback play from Case Keenum. This year, Keenum has graduated and David Piland is stepping in to fill his shoes. Without solid play in his first year, the Cougars and their fans will not be having the kind of fun they had last year.
Idaho: Offensive Line
For a team that was as bad on offense as the Vandals were, the last thing they need to deal with is a young offensive line but those are the cards they have been dealt. If Idaho is unable to get these linemen comfortable quickly, the Vandals will take a step back from their two wins last year.
Last year Illinois shot out of the gate winning six straight games only to follow it up with six straight losses. This year, the Illini must deal with their lack of consistency and hopefully new head coach Tim Beckman can help them get that turned around.
Indiana: Not Improving
Last year Indiana made a huge investment in the future by playing 32 freshman during the 2011 season. This year, they need to see improvement off of last years one win season or the lack of improvement could end up costing Kevin Wilson his job.
Iowa: Running Back
Marcus Coker seemed to be the strength of this team coming into 2012 but with his transfer, the running back position has now become a huge liability for the Hawkeyes. If Damon Bullock is unable to step up in 2012, then Iowa will be in for a rough year on offense.
Iowa State: Jared Barnett
Coming into the 2012 season, Jared Barnett will be taking over at quarterback in his sophomore season and could be the biggest liability on the field. Barnett will be leading a team with a lot of experience and if he is unable to keep up, the offense could turn into a mess.
Kansas: The Defense
The 2011 Kansas defense was one of the worst defenses the NCAA has seen in a couple of years. While the hire of Charlie Weis should end up helping out the offense, the defense only has four returning starters and could be even worse in 2012.
Kansas State: Losing Collin Klein
The heartbeat of the Kansas State offense is Collin Klein. Klein was a force last year in both the passing and running game and as a senior, more of the same is expected. If the Wildcats hope to have another strong season, they simply cannot afford to lose Klein for any period of time this year.
Kent State: The Offense
Towards the end of 2012, the Golden Flashes came on strong offensively but still finished with their third straight 5-7 finish. This year, the defense is ready to do their part but Kent State is still unsure if the offense can match the level they reached late in 2011 or if they will return to the way they started the year at.
Any time you have to play against eight teams that are coming off of a bowl appearance, you are in for a tough road. The Wildcats are working hard towards improving but with the limited talent that they have, this years schedule could end up weighing them down.
Louisiana Tech: Losing Confidence Early
The Bulldogs enter the season with a lot of talent and high hopes. What could stand in their way this year is a rough start that could derail those plans. To start the year, Louisiana Tech plays Texas A&M, Houston, Rice, Illinois and Virginia, not the most forgiving start.
Louisiana Lafayette: Front Seven
Last year the Ragin Cajuns had a strong season that was capped off by a bowl win. This year, the defense could be a major problem as they only return one starter from their front seven. With all the pressure falling squarely on the secondary, the defense could be a source of pain for ULL.
Louisiana Monroe: Defense
In 2012, the Warhawks should have no issues on the offensive side of the ball instead, the concern surrounds the defense. Based off of last years starters, ULM only returns four starters to the defense which could lead to some offensive shootouts in the Sun Belt.
Louisville: Teddy Bridgewater
In his first season, Teddy Bridgewater was sensational and he is back for his second season under center. While Bridgewater may be the biggest strength, a possible sophomore slump is something that the Cardinals cant afford to have if they hope to repeat as Big East champs.
LSU: Finding a New Leader
Last year it appeared that Tyrann Mathieu was the heart and soul of this team. With Mathieu gone and kicked off the team, LSU will have to turn to other players on their team and see if a new leader will emerge to fill the void that was left.
In the two years that Doc Holliday has been with Marshall they have improved and this year they look ready to take another step. The only standing in their way is a secondary that lacks experience. With only one starter returning, it will be interesting to see how they hold up early on.
Maryland: Replacing Danny O'Brien
After only spending one season with Maryland, Randy Edsall has already lost a huge part of his team when quarterback Danny O'Brien transferred. O'Brien was a huge part of the offense and if nobody is able to step up and take his spot, Edsall will be in for another long season.
Massachusetts: Offensive Firepower
Massachusetts is entering their first season in the FBS division and is going to have to take the bumps that come with it. While the defense is a seasoned unit that could keep them in it early, the offense is largely inexperienced and lacking players that can spread the field.
Memphis: Jacob Karam
Jacob Karam will be the starting quarterback for Memphis this season and with the transfer of Taylor Reed, he will have to live up to the billing. With the depth chart lacking all over the offensive side of the ball, Karam must rise to the challenge in front of him this year.
Miami: NFL Churn
One thing that Miami prides itself on is the ability to send players to the NFL but this year looks to be a rebuilding season as a good amount of players graduated and left early. While sending players to the pros is a good thing, maybe is no longer a team that reloads talent, they have to rebuild.
Miami Ohio: Running Game
Teams in the MAC are well aware of the abilities of Zac Dysert and the passing game for Miami of Ohio. What may hold back the Redhawks this season is the fact that they have to find a replacement at running back. If the running game is not effective, Dysert will have some issues finding open receivers.
Michigan: Denard Robinson
While Denard Robinson is one of the biggest threats in the nation, he is also a limiting force in the Michigan passing attack. If Robinson was unable to improve in the passing game during the offseason, Michigan will have to continue to rely on his legs for big plays.
Michigan State: Losing Leadership
While Kirk Cousins was a solid quarterback, his biggest attribute was being a great leader. Now that he has graduated, the Spartans still have a strong team for the 2012 season but will need someone to step up and be this teams voice.
Middle Tennessee: Run Defense
Last year the Blue Raiders were weak against the run and this year not much may change as they are replacing the majority of their front seven. If they don't improve, it will be another long season for Middle Tennessee.
Minnesota: Jerry Kill's Health
Minnesota and Jerry Kill are trying to get things turned around but they are also running a risk at the same time. Kill has had past medical issues and the risk the Gophers run is investing time and resources into Kill and potentially having him leave coaching early to address his medical concerns.
Mississippi State: Staying Where They Are at
Dan Mullen has been a good thing for Mississippi State and has helped the Bulldogs grab control the rivalry with Ole Miss. What Mullen needs to do this year is find a way to help the program take the next step or he may show that he is not the fan for the job.
Missouri:Being Too Slow
Many teams have found out in bowl games that they are not fast enough to keep up with the SEC teams. This year, Missouri moves to the SEC and will have an entire season to figure out how they are going to compete in their new conference.
Navy: Not Finishing
The biggest struggle that Navy faced last year was winning close game. In a season that saw them miss a bowl game, the Midshipmen lost five of their games by three points or less. If they hope to return to the postseason, that trend must change.
NC State: Losing Mike Glennon
After loosing Russell Wilson, NC State has made a smooth transition to Mike Glennon but cannot afford to lose him to injury this year. Glennon is a solid quarterback that elevates this teams play and without him, the Wolfpack would sink to the bottom of the ACC.
Nebraska: Offensive Line
While Nebraska does a good job of finding answers along the offensive line, the Huskers are still in need of replacing three of their starters for this year. With Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead ready to run, this issues must be resolved by the time the season kicks off.
Nevada: Defensive Line
While the offense should pick up steam this season, the front four for Nevada may be something that holds this team back. This year, the Wolf Pack only return one starter along the line and may struggle to put pressure on the quarterback.
New Mexico: The Defense
It's hard to pinpoint one liability on a team that only managed one win last year but last year the defense was dreadful. No matter what the Lobos do on offense, if the defense does not improve they will be looking at a similar season to 2011.
New Mexico State: Depth All over
New Mexico State has some talent on their roster like quarterback Andrew Manley but overall this team severely lacks depth. If the Aggies suffer injuries at key positions on either side of the ball, it is unlikely that they will be able to exceed last years win total of four.
North Carolina: Run Defense
Led by Bryn Renner, the North Carolina offense should get off to a good start in 2012. Where the Tar Heels will struggle is stopping the run. Only four starters return to the offense and it will take time for them to come together as a group.
North Texas: Dan McCarney
During the offseason, Dan McCarney suffered a stroke but despite that, he was well enough to come back and coach the spring game for North Texas. While his return was great, there should be concern that the stress and pressure of being a head coach could continue to impact his health.
Northern Illinois: The Offense
Last year everything seemed to come together for the Huskies as they won the MAC title over Ohio. This year Northern Illinois only has three starters on offense returning and will struggle in a conference full of offensive firepower.
Northwestern: Not Making a Bowl Game
One of the hardest things for Northwestern fans has been the drought since winning a bowl game. Every year they go back and lose is a reminder of this but what would be worse is not making a bowl game at all this year. Even without Dan Persa, the Wildcats need to find a way to become bowl eligible in 2012.
Notre Dame: Jet Lag
While starting the year out in Ireland will be a lot of fun for the players and fans, the Irish need to be ready to go once they step foot off the plan after playing Navy. Once they return to the States, the Irish have games against Purdue, Michigan State and Michigan, teams they cannot afford to sleep on.
With the return of Tyler Tettleton, the passing game will be a focus for Ohio as they hope to return to the conference title game. The downside for Tettleton is only one starting receivers returns so building chemistry early in the season will be key for this offense.
Ohio State: None
In a year that Ohio State is not eligible for postseason play, they receive a pass on huge pressures. This season will allow Urban Meyer to put his system in place and get his team ready for the 2013 season without having to deal with many pressures.
Oklahoma: The Defense
For the past two seasons, the Sooners defense has ranked outside of the top 50. With that recent trend, Oklahoma brought in Mike Stoops to coach the defense and if he is unable to get things turned around, the Sooners will not be able to live up to the expectations many have.
Oklahoma State: Offensive Line
While the obvious issues include replacing Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden, the Cowboys also have issues along the offensive line. For the start of the 2012 season, the Cowboys will be replacing three out of five starters and will need them all to come together quickly so that they can lean on the running game early.
Ole Miss: Hugh Freeze
While Hugh Freeze has a track record of success, he has never coached in a conference like the SEC. Freeze has experience in the NAIA and also the Sun Belt but only time will tell how he handles the huge step up to the SEC.
Oregon: Pending Investigation
While all has been quite on the NCAA investigation, it is something that is in the back of all Duck fans minds. It appears that the Ducks are not looking at anything serious but the longer this goes on, the more fans will have to wonder about what will end up happening.
Oregon State: Firing Mike Riley
For the past couple of years, Oregon State has fallen off the map and has become a doormat in the Pac-12. With the recent trend, many fans may begin to call for Mike Riley's job. The worst thing that the Beavers could do is get rid of Riley without giving him a few more seasons to turn around a program he helped build.
Penn State: Becoming Irrelevant
With the penalties that were placed on Penn State, the once proud program now faces a new challenge and that is trying to keep from becoming irrelevant. The Nittany Lions will be talked about but with the postseason ban that is in place, they run the risk of being left behind in the Big Ten
Pitt: Tino Sunseri
Pitt has invested in Tino Sunseri since he was a freshmen with the Panthers and he has yet to deliver on that investment. If the Panthers hope to take control of a weakened Big East, Sunseri is going to have to be the player to take them there.
Purdue: Akeem Shavers
As the 2012 season gets set to begin, Purdue will have a stable passing game but will need Akeem Shavers to be the difference maker at running back. If Shavers can be a consistent run threat in 2012, the Boilermakers could stun some teams in the Big Ten.
Rice: Offensive Line
While last years team was not that great, the Owls did lose four starters from the offensive line and it could be a major source of pain in 2012. If the line is unable to gel early, David Bailiff may be out of a job come seasons end.
Rutgers: First Month Knockout
With new head coach Kyle Flood at the helm of the program, Rutgers has a rough start to 2012. In the month of September, the Scarlet Knights play Tulane, Howard, South Florida and Arkansas. Depending on how this month goes, will determine how the season goes for Rutgers.
San Diego State: Defense
During their last season in the MWC, San Diego State needs to make sure they get things figured out on defense before heading to the Big East. The Aztecs are bringing back three returning starters and have a long way to go to be competitive this year, let alone next year.
San Jose State: Consistent Quarterback Play
Whether it is David Fales or Tate Forcier, San Jose State is going to need consistent quarterback play if they hope to compete in the WAC this year. The defense looks solid for the Spartans and if a quarterback emerges as the clear leader of the offense, San Jose State could surprise some people.
SMU: Out of Conference Schedule
SMU certainly did not shy away from scheduling a tough season from themselves. In the first month of the year, the Mustangs play Baylor, Texas A&M and TCU. If they can win a game or two in that stretch it could build a lot of positive momentum but losing all three could hurt just as much.
South Alabama: Running out of Gas
As South Alabama enters the Sun Belt and becomes part of the FBS division, they are coming off of a season in which they played 10 games. This year, the Jaguars will play 13 games and run the risk of not being physically prepared for the toll that three extra games at an elevated division will put on them.
South Carolina: Not Filling the Void Left by Alshon Jeffery
Alshon Jeffery was a huge playmaker that is now gone for the NFL. While Jeffery did not live up to the lofty expectations that many had for him last year, he was still a threat and defenses had to respect him., Now that he is gone, the Gamecocks need the void to be filled and have someone step up in the passing game.
South Florida: Repeating Performance
Last year South Florida got out to a hot start and then completely fell apart winning only one out of their last eight games. This year B.J. Daniels is under center for his senior season and he must help stabilize this team and not allow them to start rolling downhill again.
Southern Miss: Replacing Larry Fedora
The passion and love that Larry Fedora brought to the Southern Miss program will be hard for anyone to duplicate in 2012. Ellis Johnson has been given that task and while he cannot be Fedora, he has to find a way to replace him and keep the defending conference champions moving forward.
Stanford: Andrew Luck-Less
The past couple of years have been great for Stanford fans as Andrew Luck has led this team to back-to-back one-loss regular seasons. This year, the Cardinal get to find out how well they have built the program up as Luck is gone and the program is looking for a new star.
Syracuse: Out of Conference
Syracuse is another team that faces a largely challenging out of conference schedule. This year the Orange face Northwestern, Missouri and USC. Coming out of that stretch with one win would be okay but if things turn ugly and they go 0-3, the Orange may not recover.
TCU: Being Exposed
After years of being a threat to the BCS, TCU has taken the approach of if you can't beat them, join them. Now in the Big 12, TCU has the chance to earn an automatic bid into the BCS but also runs the risk of proving people right who said they don't deserve to be part of the BCS conversation.
Temple: Overall Depth
This is a year that Temple is going through some major transitions on their roster and the timing is poor as this will be their first season in the Big East. With only 10 returning starters, the Owls are going to have to find some way to make it through their first season and help their roster build experience.
Tennessee: Run Game
With Tyler Bray back in the fold for Tennessee, the Vols must look for ways to help their running game improve. Last year the running game was awful and this year there is no proven back on the roster to turn too. If the Vols have to go pass happy like last year, it could start the beginning of the end for Derek Dooley.
Texas: Quarterback Play
Case McCoy or David Ash. David Ash or Case McCoy. The back and forth nature of the quarterback last year led to some major inconsistencies for the Longhorns. This year they appear to have the same issue but have decided on David Ash for now. The Longhorns will be in trouble if they have to change their minds.
Texas A&M: Jameill Showers
Jameill Showers is the quarterback stepping in for Ryan Tannehill and all eyes will be on him this season. With an offense that returns eight starters, Showers will be the key to determining how effective the Aggies will be in their first season in the SEC.
Texas State: September Schedule
A quick way to demoralize a team that is playing their first season in the FBS division is by having a September schedule that includes Houston, Texas Tech and Nevada. The Bobcats are a team that is going to need time to develop at this level and this kind of start will not help.
Texas Tech: Staying Healthy
Last year many Texas Tech fans believed they had a shot in the Big 12 but the team could not stay healthy. This year, most of the major pieces are back for the Red Raiders and if they are able to remain healthy, they will get a shot at proving how good they can be.
Toledo: Young Offense
Toledo is a team that could have an explosive offense but it is a young offense. This year, the Rockets will only have three seniors on the offensive side of the ball. While the youth is a good thing, the inexperience could cost them in close games.
Despite a rough 2011 season, Troy looks like they will be back to being a conference contender in 2012. The one area that they should be concerned about is only returning one linebacker for this years defense. If the new players are unable to step up, all the pressure will fall squarely on the offense.
For a program that is trying to build up to becoming bowl eligible, something has to be done about the defense. Last year the Green Wave routinely gave up big totals and if that doesn't change this year they will be stuck towards the bottom of Conference USA.
Last couple of years Tulsa has gotten great production out of G.J. Kinne and has had a lot of success as a program. This year the team moves on to Cody Green and they are relying on him to help cushion the blow of the offensive drop-off.
This year UAB will be breaking in a completely new secondary that has not started before. While it appears that overall as a program things are progressing, UAB is still a few years away from being competitive but it could be ugly if this secondary gets aired out.
UCF: Passing Game
In 2012, UCF is replacing their starting quarterback and also only return one starting receiver from last year. With the run game prepared to be solid, the Knights are in need of a passing game if they hope to take a step forward this season.
UCLA appears to have some question marks surrounding what they are going to do at quarterback this year. Richard Brehaut, Kevin Prince and Brett Hundley are all in the hunt but picking the right one will be a tricky chore for new head coach Jim More.
UNLV: Bobby Hauck
In two seasons with UNLV, Bobby Hauck has gone 4-21 and appears to have hit a wall. While UNLV isn't a hotbed for talent, Hauck is showing that he simply isn't the man to turn things around for the Rebels.
USC: Falling Asleep
USC is being viewed as one of the only national championship contenders outside of the SEC. One of the pitfalls of USC teams past was that against some of the lesser opponents in the conference, they would let up and lose a game they had no business losing. If they do that again this year, it could cost them homefield advantage in the conference title game and a shot at the national title.
Utah: Slow Start
Last year Utah took some time to get things figured out in the Pac-12 and still had a shot at winning the division. This year, the Utes appear to be the only challenger to USC in the Pac-12 South but cannot afford a slow start like 2011.
Utah State: Close Games
Utah State lived on the edge last year as they won close game after close game. Not being able to separate cost them against Auburn and in their bowl game as both led to losses. This year the Aggies need to find a way to put teams away instead of sweating things out.
UTEP: Mike Price
Over the past six seasons, Mike Price and UTEP have had losing seasons and things may not be working out anymore. If Price is unable to get things turned around this year and show he can help the Miners improve, this will be his last season.
UTSA: Full FBS Schedule
Much like South Alabama, UTSA is making their debut in the FBS division and with this change has come two additional games. While two games may not sound like much, it will be something that mentally tests this team and wears them down as they come down the stretch.
While Vanderbilt has grown under James Franklin, the issue is still that they play in the SEC. With so much talent around the conference, Franklin may do a great job and still have this team only finish with 5 or 6 wins.
Virginia: Out of Conference Schedule
Despite how well things went last year, Mike London is facing a daunting challenge trying to repeat that success. Early on, the Cavaliers have to face Penn State, TCU and Louisiana Tech, three games that will test how far they have come as a program.
Virginia Tech: Clemson
Last year Clemson took care of Virginia Tech not once but twice. This year the Hokies head on the road to take on the Tigers and will be looking for redemption. This game could take Virginia Tech's season either way so it will be a pivotal moment for them.
Wake Forest: Offensive Experience
Wake Forest comes into the 2012 season with only three returning starters from their offense. The Demon Deacons are replacing four players along the line, all but one receiver and also are starting a new back. With all of the turnover, Wake Forest could struggle as these players are starting for the first time.
Washington: The Defense
Anyone who watched Washington's bowl game against Baylor got to see how truly bad the Huskies defense is. This year will be much of the same as the offense will continue to try and bail out the defense but that will be a tall order.
Washington State: Injury to Jeff Tuel
Last year the Cougars had to spend time without Jeff Tuel at quarterback and it was not an experience they would like to repeat. With Mike Leach as the new head coach, Tuel could be a huge weapon this year as long as he stays healthy.
West Virginia: Travel
West Virginia is in their first year in the Big 12 and while they have the talent to be a major competitor, it will be interesting to see how the travel wears on them with the Mountaineers being on the East Coast and most of their competition in the Southwest of the country.
Western Kentucky: Defense
Last year Western Kentucky 7-5 and were still shut out of a bowl game. During the 2011 season, the Hilltoppers offense was good but the defense failed them during multiple games. If the Hilltoppers hope to earn a bowl bid, the defense must step things up this year.
Western Michigan: Losing Alex Carder
Alex Carder is the heartbeat of this Western Michigan team and losing him would be disastrous for Western Michigan. With most of their offensive line back this year, they should have no problem keeping Carder upright and healthy but losing him is a huge liability.
Wisconsin: Health of Montee Ball
At the start of August, Montee Ball was the victim on an assault off the field and it has left him with some upper body injuries and concussion symptoms. While Ball may be able to play, it is hard not to think that these injuries could pop back up during the year.
Wyoming: Run Game
Last year the Cowboys run game was not that great and now that they are starting junior Brandon Miller, it is up in the air on how they will do in 2012. If the running game is consistent and can make other defenses respect it, the Cowboys could be looking at another winning season.