2011 College Football: 5 Teams Ready to Improve on 2010 Campaigns
The 2010 season, for many football programs, was one to remember. However, for many of the teams who are constantly in the news, it was for reasons other than success
2011 is a time to turn over a new leaf. Whether it is because of poor performances or off-the-field antics, a new season can be just what a team needs.
These five teams are looking for something just a little bit better as fall approaches. Their 2010 campaigns may not have been complete failures, but they were definitely ones to forget and move on from.
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After the unexpected retirement of head coach Bobby Johnson in the summer of 2010, this signaled a rough season ahead. Robbie Caldwell, who was appointed as interim head coach and eventually resigned at the end of the season, lead the team to an unfortunate 2-10 record and 1-7 SEC record.
Their seven game losing streak to end the season was a cap on a season in which they only had 11 total passing touchdowns and 13 total rushing touchdowns.
Their new head coach James Franklin begins the season with opportunity in three home games, but their schedule is still very difficult. Improving on a 2-10 season is not hard to do, and with the leadership of rising senior quarterback Larry Smith and good rated incoming recruits, there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel.
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Under third year head coach Rich Rodriguez and in the newly renovated Michigan Stadium, the Wolverines finished 7-6 overall and 3-5 in the Big Ten.
Despite getting blown out in the Gator Bowl by Mississippi State, several players had impressive individual performances, including quarterback Denard Robinson.
Off the field however was a different story.
Rodriguez and his entire coaching staff, with the exception of the running backs coach, were dismissed after the bowl loss. They will need the guidance of new coach Brady Hoke, along with the depth of talent to hopefully improve on last season, stay out of the news, and beat their rivals.
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New coach Brian Kelly led the Fighting Irish to a lackluster 8-5 record after the departure of Charlie Weis. They also had a bowl game victory over old rival Miami (FL).
However, South Bend was tarnished with stories and scandals, involving a sexual assault and eventual suicide, and the death of a student filming practice.
This football program is usually mentioned with the elite ones. In the past few years however, the team’s performances have not been ones to brag about.
Their 2011 recruiting class has been ranked ninth with 23 commits. They have a lot of questions to answer in terms of who will be starting quarterback, but they have reassurance in the talent of wide receiver Michael Floyd.
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The Volunteers had a rough season, finishing 6-7 overall and 3-5 in the SEC. Derek Dooley inherited a heart broken team with little to cheer about.
But the 2011 season is already looking brighter.
The SEC East lacks strong competition, and in addition, Tennessee will play eight home games. They have depth on both offense and defense, and have a good incoming recruiting class.
There was a time when the Vols were a force in the SEC and around the country, 2011 can become a stepping stone in getting back to that place.
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After being ranked 13th in the preseason polls, the Canes eventually fell to 7-6 and out of the rankings. In their last game of the season, at home, they lost to South Florida and then lost their bowl game.
Randy Shannon was fired at the end of the season. Al Gordon was hired as the coach, who was formerly head coach at Temple University. Jacory Harris returns as senior quarterback, who needs to rebound after a lackluster junior year.
Miami hasn’t been an elite program since the early 2000s, where their star quarterbacks and coaches led them to the top. Although 2011 won’t be their return to elite status, they will have the proper guidance and tools to move in the right direction.