College Football 2011: Burning Question For All 120 FBS Teams

Edwin WeathersbyAnalyst IMay 4, 2011

College Football 2011: Burning Question For All 120 FBS Teams

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    There are a ton of questions in the college football world going into the 2011 season.

    Whether it be the status of players, coaches or the overall make up of the team, we all have several questions in regards to various topics.

    For this, we're going to pick out the burning question for every FBS program going into 2011.

    There's no question you should read this.

120. New Mexico

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    This is the third installment of the Mike Locksley era and last year came with just a 1-11 season.

    Locksley has faced an uphill battle in New Mexico.

    But this is Year 3 and this has to be the year improvement is shown at New Mexico. Both the offense and defense were horrendous last year and Lucas Reed, a tight end, was the top player on the team.

    Can New Mexico win more than one game this year?

119. Idaho

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    The Vandals go into the fall in their fifth year under head man Rob Akey.

    Not prone to much tradition and allure in college football, they figure this is their year to make a jump.

    Obviously the top player for the Vandals in recent memory was all-world guard Mike Iupati, but he now moves defensive linemen around for the 49ers.

    Can Idaho get back to the Humanitarian Bowl?

118. Louisiana Lafayette

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    Mark Huspeth will be doing all he can to change the culture of the program.

    In his first year at LL, Huspeth makes the move from Ole Miss.

    Renowned as a passing guru and having a great offensive mind, Huspeth will led the Ragin Cajun offense to success soon enough.

    Can Hudspeth coach his way to four wins this year?

117. Tulane

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    Some say that Bob Toledo has lost the magic he had while in Westwood leading UCLA.

    Others say that Toledo needs better resources to help his program be more competitive.

    Anyway you slice it, this has to be the year he gets Tulane to make that big jump forward. Will he do it? We will know this fall. If not, Toledo may be looking for a job next winter.

    Can Toledo save his job by winning 5-6 games in 2011?

116. Arkanasas State

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    Hugh Freeze takes over the Arkansas State program and has made a couple coaching changes among the staff.

    Most notably for Freeze, an offensive-minded coach, is a change at the defensive coordinator position.

    This year, Freeze, as all other first-year coaches do, will have to go through changing the culture and philosophy of the program.

    Can Ryan Aplin throw for over 4000 yards this year?

115. Wyoming

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    Wyoming only topped out at three games in 2010, but Dave Christensen is working his will on the program this spring.

    He is expecting much improvement this season and It starts with stud running back Alvester Alexander.

    Is a 1,000-yard season the goal for Alexander?

114. Utah State

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    Utah State got blown out by Wyoming in the final contest of last season.

    The Aggies have been grouchy all winter and spring and are looking forward to the start of the 2011 season.

    Gary Andersen hauled in the second-ranked recruiting class in the WAC for the 2011 cycle. Diondre Borel needs to be replaced at QB.

    Will the loss of Borel derail the Aggies revenge hopes in 2011?

113. North Texas

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    Dan McCarney comes over from being the defensive line coach at Florida to now being the leader of the Mean Green.

    McCarney has his work cut out for him as the program needs new blood.

    Yet he seems up for the job and UNT has had a solid spring. He has Lance Dunbar to ride, and McCarney will look to ride Dunbar until his wheels fall off.

    How much of McCarney's energy will translate into wins?

112. Ball State

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    Pete Lembo has taken over the program and has clearly shown he wants toughness.

    He has stated that he will look to create recruiting pipelines in Chicago and Detroit going forward.

    Lembo is installing a no-huddle offense at BSU, and Keith Wenning and Kelly Page will be leaned on heavily. This could be growing pains type of year for BS.

    Will Lembo settle on a QB before opening day?

111. Eastern Michigan

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    Ron English has had some struggles at EMU, but the former Michigan defensive backs coach and staunch recruiter is hard at work.

    At 2-10 last season, English needs to roll up his sleeves and get his defense squared up. The unit is the Achilles heel of the team, as it gave up big play after big play last season.

    How much improvement has the defense made from last year?

110. Northern Illinois

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    Dave Doeren is the new chief, as he comes over form Wisconsin.

    NIU did have a nine-game winning streak during the 2010 season, which has the returning players confident.

    Doeren will bring the Wisconsin way to the program, so look for NIU to be more physical and strong in the trenches.

    Did Jerry Kill take the NIU offensive magic with him to Minnesota? 

109. Louisiana Monroe

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    Todd Berry will bring in a good recruiting class during the summer, as he got six of his 21 recruits from Arkansas.

    The headliner obviously is talented running back Devontae McNeal, who is expected to see time as a true freshman.

    Berry needs to get the running game on schedule, and that is the key to this season. If he combines a solid passing game with a better running game, Louisiana Monroe will see another jump.

    How much of an impact can McNeal have that leads to wins?

108. San Jose State

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    The Spartans was once a proud program that was on track to being the next Fresno State.

    They played the big boys tough and did not back down.Now they are just trying to merely win some games to be respected again.

    They have two receivers that have a wealth of potential in Chandler Jones and Noel Grigsby, and Keith Smith and Vince Buhagiar could be stout at linebacker.

    Can all four make the All-WAC team?

107. Bowling Green

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    Dave Dawson looked at his roster after a 2-10 season last season and realized that BG was getting beat due to a lack of team speed.

    So he hit the trail looking for fast football players and went to Florida to sign a third of his recruiting class.

    With the incoming speedsters from the Sunshine State, Dawson has encouraged faster play all winter and spring.

    Will the added speed lead to more wins in 2011?

106. Kent State

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    Darrell Hazel takes over a 5-7 team in Kent State and definitely will look to install the Ohio State way of things for the KSU program.

    Four of KSU's five wins were in conference play, which is encouraging.

    Hazel did a tremendous job of splitting time between coaching the receivers for Ohio State and recruiting for Kent State in the six weeks leading up to and after the Sugar Bowl.

    Can Hazel infuse "The Ohio State Way" into the program to get KSU into a bowl game in his first year? 

105. Toledo

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    Austin Dantin and Terrance Owens are battling for the starting QB job, and Tim Beckman needs to make a decision during summer camp.

    Both are talented, but a two-QB system is rare, so Beckman must choose.

    Dantin seems to be the slight favorite, but Owens will more than likely have something to say about that. This will be a tight race leading all the way up to Week 1.

    Could we see a two-QB system at Toledo in 2011?

104. Rice

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    Taylor McHargue is trying to come back from injury in 2009 to regain his position as the starting QB for the Owls.

    The only thing is he needs to learn a new offensive system that is varied from what he was accustomed to in 2009.

    Scott Solomon is back on the defensive line, where his help is in dire need. He is a playmaker who also missed last season due to injury.

    How big of an impact can McHargue and Solomon have while coming back from injury?

103. Florida Atlantic

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    Still a relatively young program, FAU is the fastest program ever to reach a FBS bowl game, and it is still looking to branch out and make its mark around Florida.

    With a ways to go to compete with the infamous big three programs in Florida, the Owls have put on their helmets and gone to work this spring.

    Led by former Miami coach Howard Schnellenberger, the Owls have embarked on a course that once again has goals set on reaching a bowl game this season.

    Can FAU challenge in the Sun Belt?

102. Louisiana Tech

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    Sonny Dykes is huge on leadership and stability within his program.

    He is now at L-Tech, replacing Derek Dooley, who took over at Tennessee.

    Matt Broha, Jay Dudley, Ray Holley, Taulib Ikharo, Matt Nelson, Stephen Warner and Ryan Williams all have been named leaders of the team.

    How much will their leadership equate to in games won?

101. Central Michigan

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    For Don Enos, the spring will be as much about getting the team ready as it is breaking in his new quarterbacks coach Morris Reynolds, receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield and defensive line coach Vinson Reynolds.

    The Chippewas have MAC West division title hopes, and will look to go back to the conference championship game.

    is a MAC title in store for the Chippewas in 2011?

100. Ohio

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    Ohio has fallen behind not only Ohio State but also Cincinnati as far as Ohio football programs go.

    But the Bobcats are still one of the better programs in the MAC, which is known for breeding coaching stars of the future.

    Fresh off a second-place finish in the East division in 2010, the Bobcats open the spring looking to top their 8-5 record last season.

    Can Ohio win the MAC-East Division this year?

99. Western Kentucky

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    Willie Taggart begins year No. 2 for the Hilltoppers, and this should be the year the squad makes a big jump. 

    Taggart is stressing toughness, physicality and speed this spring.

    Improvement is being made every day so far this spring, which is the goal.

    Can WKU upset Kentucky to open the 2011 season?

98. New Mexico State

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    DeWayne Walker has been rumored not to be pleased with the overall support of the football team and available resources to his program, but he will be on the sidelines once again in 2011.

    A top-level defensive mind, Walker is trying to build the program into a stalwart in the Southwest.

    He views this third season as the potential breakout season for his Aggies program.

    Is the final season for Walker as head coach before he gets frustrated with he lack of resources and bolts for a defensive coordinator job at higher profile school?

97. Akron

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    Rob Ianello had a rough first year for Akron, going 1-11 and just 1-7 in MAC play.

    However, he is a resilient coach who will look to show that mark is not who he is as a head man.

    The Zips won their final game last year. The offense needs to be improved.

    With just a 4.3 yards-per-play average and a bad running game, this spring Ianello and the Zips offensive staff have come out looking for answers and offensive playmakers to show themselves.

    How much improvement can Ianello show in Year 2?

96. Colorado State

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    Steve Fairchild needs to come back this year strong, as the Rams went 3-9 last year, including losing their final two games 93-10.

    He's been at CSU four years now, and Ram faithful views him as the right man for the job.

    Pete Thomas is back, along with four starters up front.

    If they can protect Thomas better, a 3,000-3,500 yard season will easily be marked for the talented QB.

    Was last year just an off year for Fairchild? Can the secondary mature quickly?

95. Western Michigan

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    At 6-6 last season, WMU will look to break from the .500 clip in 2011, yet five of their six wins were vs. MAC rivals, which is certainly encouraging.

    Jordan White and Juan Nunez must be replaced at receiver, which will be hard pressed for Bill Cubbit.

    Can he get the secondary improved enough to finish above .500 this year?

94. Middle Tennessee

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    Rick Stockstill has chosen to remain at MTSU and now must find improvement in his QB play.

    Twenty-four picks and a 58-percent completion won't cut it from MTSU QBs. Logan Kilgore and Jeff Murphy will once again be in competition for the job.

    The line returns four starters, but the running game has to replace Phil Tanner.

    The linebacker core is the strength of the defense, but the secondary needs help and five defensive linemen are gone.

    Will poor QB play cost MTSU a bowl game? Who replaces Tanner?

93. UNLV

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    Bobby Hauck comes from Montana, which is an FCS powerhouse. Last year was the usual tough first year, but this should be the year we see some improvement in Sin City.

    At 2-11 last season, Hauck needs to see the most improvement from the offensive and defensive lines. The Rebels were pushed around in the trenches too easily last season.

    Is this the year we see the Hauck magic in Las Vegas? Can the fronts play stouter?

92. Buffalo

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    Jeff Quinn went 2-10 in his first season for the Bulls.

    One of the top offensive coaches in the country, Quinn is a disciple of Brian Kelly and brought the spread offense to western New York.

    QBs Jerry Davis and Alex Zordich will have to fight it out this spring, but WR Marcus Rivers and Alex Nuetz return to the offense to round out a strong receiver unit.

    Will the offensive jump but nullified by poor play in the secondary?

91. SMU

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    Southern Methodist is still known more today as the school that got the death penalty.

    But with June Jones, I think, in the near future, that the Mustangs will start to be looked at more for their play on the field.

    Jones is one of the top offensive coaches in the game and has brought his wide-open passing attack to the SMU program. He will start to attract top offensive talent on the recruiting front soon enough.

    Can Jones get the Mustangs to a bowl game for the second consecutive year?

90. Temple

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    Steve Addazio will be good in Philly. Addazio is a good coach and Al Golden built the Temple program to good standing.

    Addazio will have a task of choosing should he infuse his spread option offense or leave the unit in pro-style attack mode. Decisions, decisions.

    How effective will Addazio be in infusing his spread option scheme with the establish pro-style attack on offense?

89. Miami of Ohio

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    Miami of Ohio has a richer tradition in football than many think, as the RedHawks begin the first year of Don Treadwell's tenure.

    Treadwell spent his last stop as the offensive chief for Mark Dantonio at Michigan State.

    The Redhawks must show whether they are the Bowl-bound team of last year or the one-win 2009 squad.

    Who will the QB be? Zac Dysert or Austin Boucher?

88. UAB

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    UAB last year was a team that almost was divided.

    The offense lit up the scoreboards, but kept seeing its leads fall due to a Swiss-cheese defense.

    Pat Shed, Bryan Ellis and four offensive line starters are back, so the offense should be again 2011.

    The defense needs to get better. Fast. UAB could make some serious noise this year, but it all depends on the defense.

    Will the defense allow itself to cost UAB a bowl game appearance in 2011?

87. Marshall

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    Doc Holliday is coming into the second year of his tenure and saw his first year as a year of expected success: He beat teams he was supposed to beat and lost to teams he should have lost to.

    Now in year two, Eddie Sullivan, AJ Graham and Cornelius Jones will all have their shots at taking over the QB spot this spring.

    Vic Dobson is a sack artist and had 12 last year. He is the hands-down leader of the defense at Marshall.

    Can Dobson take his game to another level to get the Thundering Herd over the hump in 2011?

86. East Carolina

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    Ruffin McNeil took his Texas Tech mentality to East Carolina, even the high-octane offense.

    He comes into his second spring practice and will look to roll up his sleeves and fix the defense, which is his specialty.

    In 10 of 13 games last year, the Pirates surrendered 42 or more points. That's crazy.

    How much of an improvement can McNeil get the defense to make in 2011?

85. Washington

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    Years later, for some reason, I've always kept a distant eye on the WSU program, and I'm actually rooting for Paul Wulff. But he's on the hot seat.

    WSU does a top job of evaluating players and finding diamonds in the rough.

    But bigger schools always wait to see who WSU offers, looks at those players, sees they're good and then steals them away. This year depends on how much improvement QB Jeff Tuel makes again. He sees to get better and better each year.

    Is this year we see a breakout Wulff and Wazzu?

84. Iowa State

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    Paul Rhoads is 12-13 in his two seasons at Iowa State but enters his third frame with a bit of a giant-killer's rep around the Big 12.

    The Cyclones took down Texas and Texas Tech last year and nearly topped Nebraska.

    Rhoads has the Cylones in a spread-type offense and base 4-3 look on defense. He needs to improve his offense and its effectiveness.

    What upsets and can Rhoads and Cyclones pull off in 2011?

83. Memphis

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    Memphis is in a similar situation as New Mexico is—the Tigers wouldn't be on this list if I didn't firmly believe their head coach could turn it around.

    Larry Porter went just 1-11 last year, and many of his losses were wax jobs.

    The offensive line stalled the run game to average 2.9 yards per rush. Protecting the passer was nearly as bad. Porter has even heard rumors of a hot seat for him in 2011, but I think he can show improvement this year.

    Can Ryan Williams put this team on his back and lead them to more wins in 2011?

82. Indiana

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    Kevin Wilson has filled out a great coaching staff, and the new blood may be just what the program needs.

    Wilson has to find a starting QB between Dusty Kiel and Edward Wright-Baker, but Demario Tandon Doss returning on the flanks help. Wilson also needs to kick-start the running game.

    The defense will be overhauled form top to bottom, as they move to a 4-3 scheme this year, so the spring will be used as one big installation period.

    Can Wilson install the complete "Oklahoma Way" into the program in enough time to win six games and go to a bowl this year?

81. Duke

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    Things are on the upswing at Duke, and while they have a long, long ways to catch up to the basketball squad's allure, Cutcliffe returns Charlie Hatcher and Kelby Brown—two cornerstone players on defense.

    Sean Renfree is back at the signal-caller spot, after tossing for 3,131 yards in 2010. But Cutcliffe needs to get him to tone down his turnovers this spring.

    How much improvement can Cutcliffe get Renfree to make in 2011 and is this the year we see a breakout season for the Dukies?

80. Colorado

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    This marks the start of the Jon Embree reign in Boulder, and Embree has brought Eric Bienemy back to their alma mater with him.

    Bienemy will call shots on offense and certainly have a key hand in the overall recruiting efforts year to year.

    Embree has stated that by watching the Buffs on tape last year, they were not a smart or mentally tough team.

    Will the Pac-12 move prove to over match Embree and the Buffs in 2011?

79. Houston

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    The Cougars have a couple questions surrounding the overall team, but are solid at QB as Case Keenum is back like Andrew Luck is at Stanford.

    The NCCA granted Keenum a sixth year of eligibility and is ready to man the wide passing offense yet again.

    Kevin Sumlin is 23-16 in three seasons at Houston, and having Keenum back should add some more wins to his record.

    The Cougars are a base 3-4 defensive team and will look to rev up their pass rush this year.

    Can Keenum approach 5500-6000 yards? How big of a jump will the pass rush see?

78. Vanderbilt

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    I think James Franklin is a heck of a coach and can get Vandy to a bowl game in the near future.

    He inherits a 2-10 squad that only won one game in conference play last year and ended the season losing its final seven contests.

    Franklin will use this spring to begin installing his offensive system and seeing what athletes he has on defense.

    Can the Commodores win two games this year?

77. Army

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    This offseason has been a time of bliss for the Black Knights, as they are fresh off their first bowl game since 1996, beating SMU in the Armed Forces Bowl.

    The spring is now here, and Army needs to replace four starting offensive linemen.

    On defense, the stats look good, but the run defense needs to be improved.

    How quickly can the offensiv eline gel to ensure a potent rushing attack?

76. FIU

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    Mario Cristobal is a bright coach who has a Red Bull factory worth of energy.

    He's a big-time recruiter and is determined to bring FIU to the forefront of Florida and college football.

    The Panthers won a bowl game for the first time last year after taking home a piece of the Sun Belt Conference title, thanks to perhaps the best returning offensive threat in the league—receiver Ty Hilton.

    Will the interior line cost them a second consecutive bowl game?

75. San Diego State

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    Rocky Long has retooled the Aztecs staff and shaped the program a bit to his liking, but he will look to keep much of what Hoke was doing.

    Ryan Lindley is back to toss the rock around again, and Ronnie Hillman will tote it well for SDSU is 2011.

    But the Aztecs need to replace their two receivers and refine their bend-but-don't-beak type of defense this spring.

    Will the defense break before Lindley and Hillman have a chance to win games and carry the team?

74. UTEP

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    After four years off, the Miners found themselves bowling last season, but Mike Price must replace QB Trevor Vittatoe, and JUCO transfer Nick Lamaison will be among the players vying for the gig.

    Joe Banyard comes back as the top running back on the roster, but receivers must be found this spring.

    The defense will be the leadership focus of the team, but the defensive line needs to have a big spring and prove last year was an off-year for the unit.

    Who replaces Trevor Vittatoe at QB?

73. Tulsa

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    Golden Hurricane are not down in the dumps, as they won 10 games last year.

    G.J. Kinne is back and so is his golden arm (pun intended). Blakenship will look to keep the 3-3-5 defense Tulsa has played in the past, and he will likely keep the spread offense.

    All five offensive line starters are back, so this looks like a potential record-setting year for the offense.

    Can Kinne throw his way into Heisman candidacy as the season moves forward?

72. Boston College

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    BC lost to Nevada last year in its bowl game after going 7-6 in Frank Spaziani's second season.

    The biggest strength of the team is the defense, as Spaziani has kept the tough mentality on that side of the ball.

    But BC needs better QB play in 2011 to make a move up the ACC, as Chase Rettig will likely be the starter in 2011.

    Can Rettig make a jump to take BC to the top of the ACC in 2011?

71. Troy

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    Troy had a stellar offensive attack last year, but it has two obstacles this spring.

    First, the Trojans need to replace Jason Bruce and Jerrel Jernigan, but they also need to get better on defense.

    But they return eight starters on defense, and Larry Blakeny has stated that his defensive coaches will use the spring to develop some of the young players on that side of the ball and increase depth.

    How will they replace Jernigan's play-making ability?

70. Oregon State

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    Mike Riley enters his 11th season in Corvallis and is coming off a 5-7 season.

    The highlight of the 2010 season was the defeat of USC.

    But Riley has the Beavers thinking Pac-12 title this year.

    They return QB Ryan Katz who, in his second year as a starter, must show he can improve his play. Katz has a strong arm, but he needs to be more accurate and make better decision.

    Cna Katz improve and take his game to the next level? Can the LB corps be reloaded?

69. Illinois

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    Hard to believe Ron Zook has been at Illinois for seven years now, but the Zookster has, and this looks like a crucial spring for the Illini.

    The defense was fabulous last year against the run and only gave up 3.9 yards per rush.

    On offense, Jason Ford looks to replace Mike Leshoure, and the offensive line brings back three starters. Nathan Scheelhaase looks like a future star QB and AJ Jenkins is back at receiver.

    Who replaces Leshoure and Wilson? What kind of season will Scheelhaase have?

68. Pittsburgh

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    Gone is the NFL mentality of the program, with a 4-3 defense and pro-style offense. Arriving is a wide-open spread passing attack and a 3-3-5/3-4 defense.

    Tino Sunseri is the key; he played well last year, and if he grows even more, then Pitt could score some points with ease in 2011. Left tackle Jeff Pinkston is gone and needs to be replaced.

    Chas Alecxih and Brandon Lindsey look to replace former Big East DPOY Jabaal Sheard. All three linebackers are back from the 4-3 scheme and will look to adjust their roles in the defense.

    How will the offensive and defensive scheme switches affect the Panthers in 2011? 

67. Texas Tech

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    Going 8-5 in his first season, Tommy Tuberville is in his second spring practice down in Lubbock, and he has the Red Raiders on track to compete in the Big 12.

    The team is led by QB Seth Doege, who has reportedly looked good in winter workouts.

    But Tuberville, who has said the key to college football is having a good defensive line, needs to get his squad's pass rush up and running this spring, as it disappeared at times last year.

    How good will Doege be at QB for Texas Tech?

66. Fresno State

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    Another 8-5 squad, Pat Hill's Bulldogs are back again for the 2011 season.

    Derek Carr has a buzz around his name and enters the spring as the likely starter at QB. Hill had a good offense last year, and Carr must be seamless in replacing Ryan Colburn.

    Travis returns to the defense at outside linebacker, but the defensive line needs to be developed, as they are young there.

    How well can Carr play in replacing Colburn? Can Hill get 10 wins out of this team?

65. Hawaii

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    Hawaii took home a piece of the WAC title with Nevada and Boise State in 2010, after winning 10 games.

    Greg McMackin is in his fourth year replacing June Jones and runs most of the same stuff as Jones did on each side of the ball.

    Bryant Moniz returns to lead the offense, but his skill-position weapons are all going to be new, and the biggest lost is Greg Salas. Hawaii also has to find four new offensive linemen this spring.

    Who steps up and fills the No.1 receiver role to replace Salas?

64. Purdue

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    Ralph Bolden, Keith Smith and Robert Marve both went down with huge injuries last year, but the Boilermakers kept trudging along.

    Rob Henry stepped in for Marve, and this spring will see a bit of a competition between the two for the job; Marve likely should win if healthy.

    Playmakers are needed at the skill positions. Defensively, the secondary is back, now with a year of experience under their belts. The Boilermakers are mostly young and now will look to make the backfield a strength.

    But the biggest hole is replacing defensive end Ryan Kerrigan, who will be a top-15 pick in a few weeks. Kawaan Short will get the first chance to replace Kerrigan.

    Can Marve actually show why he was such a prime recruit this year?

63. West Virginia

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    If there was one coach who could make this situation with Dana Holgorsen work smoothly, it's Bill Stewart. He's on his last leg as head coach in Morgantown before Holgersen takes over in 2012.

    But first, Holgorsen needs to install his system this spring. Wherever he goes, Holgorsen scores points. The offense needs to be tuned up, as the defense carried the team for much of the season and to nine wins

    How much power and influence will Holgorsen have this year? Can he get on the same page with Geno Smith?

62. California

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    Going 5-7 last season, Jeff Tedford needs to decide between Beau Sweeny and Brock Mansion at QB.

    Tedford also has to make sure Ise Sofele is ready to replace Shane Vereen at running back this spring. But on the flanks, Marvin Jones and Keenan Allen return and are among the top duos in the conference.

    Cam Jordan and Mike Mohammed are gone on defense, and I am waiting until Viliami Moala shows up so I can really assess the Bears defense for 2011.

    Who starts at QB? Who replaces Vereen and Jordan?

61. Northwestern

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    Dan Persa, Mike Trumpy and Jeremy Ebert all return as QB, RB and WR respectively.

    The offensive line was not a strong point last season, as their youth showed at times, but four starters return in 2011.

    But Pat Fitzgerald's biggest spring task is shoring up the run defense. It gave up 5.9 yards per play in 2010 and needs a new defensive tackle and Mike linebacker.

    Can the offensive trio of Persa, Trumpy and Ebert become the top scoring trio in the Big Ten in 2011?

60. Kentucky

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    The Wildcats look like a program that will be a force in the SEC in the coming future.

    At 6-7 last season, Joker Phillips has them on the right track.

    Phillips has Danny Trevathan at LB, and he's one of the top second-level defenders in America.

    Toss in four starters back along the offensive line with Ray Sanders toting the rock, and you see why its high hopes around UK.

    Can UK contend in the SEC in 2011? Will they be ready for WKU in Week 1?

59. Syracuse

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    At 12-13 and coming into his third season, Doug Marrone will lean heavily on running back Antwon Bailey this year.

    Bailey is one of top running backs in the country for 2011.

    Marrone has the Orange in a pro-style offense, and he has done a solid job of transitioning the program to his defensive and offensive sets.

    Can Antwon Bailey run the Orange into finishing in the top 25 this year? How will Marrone replace his top two linebackers?

58. Air Force

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    Asher Clark and Tim Jefferson both return in the backfield to fuel the Falcons rushing attack, with Jefferson as a great option QB.

    But Troy Calhoun needs to use the spring to find a fullback for his offense, as this is the crucial spot for the option.

    Stopping the run is important for the spring period, as the defense, which actually played well in 2010, was a bit leaky against the run in general.

    Who starts at Fullback? Will the run defense improve from 2010?

57. Louisville

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    Louisville is in good hands with Charlie Strong, and I think he will continue to pilfer talent from around Florida to lure to Louisville.

    Strong went 7-6 in his first year and Will Stein returns, but look for true freshman Teddy Bridgewater to try to nab the starting QB spot this spring as a mid-year player.

    Strong needs to reestablish the run game, as Jeremy Wright and Victor Anderson need to step up.

    Three starters return to the defensive line and two at linebacker, but cornerback Johnny Patrick is gone and needs to be replaced.

    Will strong seriously consider starting the true freshman Bridgewater? How can Johnny Patrick be replaced?

56. Tennessee

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    The franchise player for Tennessee is sophomore QB Tyler Bray, one of the top young QBs in the country, who has a solid stable of young receivers coming back.

    But now it's time for the offensive line to work out the kinks. They were young last year, but now have their feet wet.

    If Tennessee wants to make a jump in the SEC East, this unit needs to keep Bray upright and open up holes for 1,000-yard rusher Tauren Poole.

    How will Dooley replace and reload most of his front seven on defense? Will we see improvement from the offensive line?

55. Kansas

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    Turner Gill went just 3-9 in his first season at Kansas, but year two could see improvement.

    It starts with the QBs. The offense Gill has in Kansas is a spread theme, and the ball just didn't move last year.

    Jordan Webb should grab a hold of the job, but the tailback spot is where the focus is on offense, as James Sims is back after a 740-yard freshman season. Three are back along the offensive front.

    The defense lost the top two players, but even with Jake Laptad and Justin Springer, the unit was leaky at best.

    What kind of overall improvement will we see from Kansas as a program in 2011?

54. Southern Miss

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    Larry Fedora has led Southern Miss to three straight bowl games and comes into year four at 22-17.

    At 8-5 last year, the Golden Eagles won five out of eight Conference USA games.

    QB Austin Davis is back, as he fits the spread offense Fedora runs well. Ken Hardy ran for 900 yards as a freshman and Desmond Jackson got another 600 last year. Davis also gets his top three receivers back.

    The run defense was great for Fedora in 2010, and linebacker Corey Williams and DE Cordero Law are both back to lead the group again.

    Can Southern Miss win 10 games this year? How good will Davis be in 2011? Can Deron Wilson continue to develop into a top flight DB?

53. Wake Forest

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    At 3-9 last year, Jim Grobe is looking to get Wake Forest back on track in 2011.

    He's a solid coach and I expect him to show his prowess this season.

    Tanner Price must raise his 56 percent completion rate and make a jump this year. A strong spring would do wonders for his confidence heading into the fall.

    Defensively, Kyle Wilbur is back at linebacker, but he needs help around him.

    Can Grobe and the Demon Deacons prove last year was just an off-year, or is WF on a decline?

52. Maryland

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    Randy Edsall has called this dream job, and his interest immediately peaked when he learned the job was open.

    Danny O'Brien almost threw for 2,500 yards in 2010, and he is back along with Davin Meggitt and four offensive line starters.

    The secondary should be strong and three are back on the defensive line. Edsall has to find some linebackers to make sure his solid defense continues to grow.

    Cna Edsall win nine games with this team in his first year?

51. Washington

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    Nick Montana seems to be favorite to win the QB gig, but Steve Sarkisian loves competition, so look for the young Montana to see his seat get hot from other QB's on the roster.

    No matter who wins the job, most of their Saturdays will be spent handing the ball off to RB Chris Polk, as he is one of the top runners in the country for 2011.

    Jermaine Kearse is back on the flanks and needs help to take double coverage off him.

    Alameda Ta'amu, Everette Brown and Ha'oli Jamora will be asked to anchor the defense in the trenches, as two new 'backers are needed.

    Nate Williams is gone at safety, but three starters return for Sark and Nick Holt.

    Can Polk lead the Pac-12 in rushing? When will Sarkisian settle on a QB?

50. Minnesota

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    Jerry Kill has the Gophers at this ranking and takes over the once-proud Golden Gophers program coming from Northern Illinois.

    He will bring Marquise Gray back at QB this year, as Adam Weber is gone.

    A dual-threat type, Gray could spark some upsets for the Gophers in 2011 with Kill's offense.

    DeLoen Eskridge and Duane Bennett are back in the backfield, and the receiving unit is stocked with solid talent. But the line needs four new starters to emerge.

    As good as Kill is offensively, he needs to fix the problems in the front seven.

    How quickly will Gray adapt to Kill's offense? Will the front seven be leaky again in 2011?

49. Baylor

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    Baylor has almost everything. QB Robert Griffin III is coming back, and he could be a prime player for the Heisman this year.

    He can do just about any and everything on the field, and he is a playmaker with the ball.

    Five offensive linemen return with experience starting, and Griffin has much of his receiving core intact.

    The defense was not up to speed, however, as they rarely had any TFLs nor did they get a consistent pass rush, outside of Tevin Elliot.

    How good will Griffin be in 2011? Can the defense improve? Who emerges at cornerback?

48. UCLA

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    Rick Neuheisel is in the second year of having the Bruins in a pistol offense and even went and hired pistol expert Jim Mastro from Nevada.

    Richard Brehaut and Kevin Prince need to step up and take over the QB job. If not, the Bruins will start savior true freshman Brett Hundley in 2011 at some point.

    Brehaut has the talent to be a top-flight starter in the Pac-12, but he is playing baseball this spring.

    Rahim Moore was the best player on a bad defense, and he is gone to the NFL. The defense needs to be restocked and overhauled this spring.

    Will we see Brett Hundley starting at QB before the end of the season?

47. UCF

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    The Golden Knights went 11-3 last year and enter the seventh year of George O'Leary leading the program.

    At 45-44 overall, O'Leary has the UCF program on the rise.

    Jeff Godfrey is back at QB, but needs AJ Guyton and a few other receivers to emerge and be consistent. Ronnie Weaver and Latavius Murray get to tote the rock behind a line of three returning starters.

    Darius Nall and Troy Davis will look to replace Bruce Hall on the defensive line.

    Who starts at LB? How is Reggie Weams replaced? Can Godfrey show improvement in year two?

46. UConn

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    Paul Pasqualoni is regarded as a heck of a teacher who really does a great job of developing players.

    He has a big plan for attacking the Atlantic region in recruiting and works extremely hard. Expect him to get UConn to a couple more Big East titles.

    He'll use this spring to assess his roster and install his schemes, doing so with good teaching. He must replace Jordan Todman at running among a few other players at various position.

    How will the loss of Todman affect the Husky offense in 2011?

45. Ole Miss

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    Houston Nutt saw his offensive production dip big time last year, and the Rebels finished just 4-8, with 1-7 being their SEC record.

    That's not going to cut it for Ole Miss.

    Randall Mackey and Zach Stoudt will battle Nate Stanley to replace Jeremiah Masoli at QB, and Jeff Scott and Branden Bolden are back to run the ball behind all five starters on the front.

    Pretty much the entire front seven minus one returning starter needs to be replaced in 2011, and the secondary may get exposed this year as the pass rush won't be as good.

    Who starts at QB? How many yards can Bolden gain? How is the front seven reloaded?

44. Rutgers

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    The Scarlet Knights will need their trench play to be upgraded in a major way to have a better season than the 4-8 season they had last year.

    They got pushed around upfront on both sides of the ball, and this cramped their style all over the field all year long.

    Greg Schiano prides his squads on physical play, and last year's Rutgers squad wasn't his signature.

    Tom Savage is gone, and Chas Dodd takes over full time as the QB in Piscataway.

    He won't be there until the summer most likely, but expect Savon Huggins to be the starting running-back gig when he arrive.

    How does Dodd fare with the comfort of Savage being gone in 2011? Can Huggins run for 1000 yards as true freshman?

43. Virginia

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    After going 4-8 last year, this is the second year of Mike London's tenure at Virginia.

    The offense actually played well, better than the 2009 squad. But the ACC didn't buy the upstart Cavs' potential as the conference forced Virginia to a 1-7 record.

    There are four players to replace Mark Verica at QB, and Perry Jones returns as the team's top returning running back.

    Kris Burd is back at receiver and three starters return for London up front.

    Five yards a rush and nearly eight yards per pass won't work in the ACC defensively, so this spring will have London and his defensive staff looking for players who play smart, fast and process information quickly on the field.

    Who replaces Verica at QB? Can London win more conference games in 2011?

42. South Florida

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    Skip Holtz needs to get more consistent from the notoriously inconsistent BJ Daniels.

    Daniels has a wealth of talent, but this needs to be the spring where we see him mature on the field. Demetris Murray is back at running back but only two starters are back on the offensive line.

    The Bulls need to find three new defensive line starters and also replace linebacker Jacquain Williams and cornerback Mistral Raymond. But free safety Jerrell Young is back and is an all-conference-caliber defenders.

    Has Daniels improved his overall game? Can South Florida win the Big East and sneak into a BCS Bowl? 

41. Cincinnati

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    Zach Collaros looked like a player who could take Tony Pike's job in 2009, but he only had a so-so year in 2010.

    He returns to look for his old form this year and is joined in the backfield by 1,000-yard rusher Ike Pead. The line only has two starters back, and DJ Woods needs to replace Armin Binns as the top receiver.

    The Bearcats have a strong defensive line, and it will be the strength again, but Jones needs to find out if his secondary can improve from the 4-8 squad of last year.

    Can Collaros bounce back in 2011? Will the offensive line stall the offense?

40. Michigan

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    Denard Robinson is back in Ann Arbor, and he was a Heisman front runner for a portion of the 2010 frame.

    Brady Hoke will put Robinson in positions to make plays, while Greg Mattison is one of the top defensive minds in football—college or pro.

    He will fix that defense quick and Big Blue will be in some games late against teams they shouldn't be.

    Robinson is such an extraordinary athlete that the Wolverine coaches are tying to get him to slow down his footwork to stay in sync with the receiver.

    How well and quickly will Robinson adjust to the new offense? How do Mattison and Hoke fix the super leaky defense?

39. Arizona

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    The Wildcats started hot last year but faded down the stretch, finishing 7-6.

    Led by Mike Stoops, Arizona is 40-45 overall with him as the head coach.

    Last year was a prime chance at making the move up in the Pac-10. As long as Nick Foles is there, the Wildcats have a chance.

    At 6'5", 235 pounds, Foles is one of the smartest signal callers in the Pac-12.

    Stoops needs to replace both of his safeties and find a new defensive end to get a pass rush. But I think Foles leads the Pac-12 in passer efficiency this year.

    Cna Foles become a legitimate Heisman contender?

38. Iowa

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    James Vandeburg looks to be the prime guy to replace Ricky Stanzi, yet he will get some competition.

    Marcus Coker and Adam Robinson are back for the Hawkeyes and will give the new QB some relief as a rushing duo.

    Marvin McNutt needs to make the next step as lead receiver and four starters are back on the front.

    Adrian Clayborn is gone and so is Karl "The Plug" Klugg off the defensive line. But two good cornerbacks return in Shaun Prater and Micah Hyde.

    Who replaces Clayborn and Klugg? Who starts at QB?

37. NC State

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    The Wolfpack enter the fifth year of the Tom O'Brien regime, and so far they have broken even by going 25-25, They had a pretty good year in 2010.

    For 2011, the talk is Mike Glennon. It's time he shows why he was such a big-time recruit coming out of high school, as he is 6'6" and has a cannon for an arm.

    Does Russell Wilson come back? Will Glennon be rusty from sitting on the bench for the last few years?

36. Kansas State

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    Bill Snyder came out of retirement to take over the program once again, but he needs to replace RB Daniel Thomas, and QB Collin Klein must step up and take over the QB position.

    Like with most teams, their fortunes on defense rest on stopping the run, and Snyder's Wildcats were extra leaky last year. Spring ball will be used to improve the defensive toughness and run fits.

    Who replaces Thomas? Can Colin Klein shoulder the offensive load? Where will the run defense be at?

35. Utah

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    All Kyle Whittingham has done since Urban Meyer left Utah is go 58-20 in what is now his seventh year as head man in Utah.

    The Utes are moving to the Pac-12, and Whittingham will get to show how good he is week and week out in BCS conference from now on.

    I think the Utes can step right in and be one of the better teams in the conference. They have to battle Oregon, Stanford and USC now for titles.

    Can Utah win the Pac-12 in their first yea rin the conference?

34. Georgia Tech

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    Paul Johnson is 26-14 in three seasons, but last year was his first losing season with the Yellow Jackets. QB Josh Nesbitt and Anthony Allen are gone, but RBs Roddy Jones and Orwin Smth are back, with Stephen Hill back at receiver.

    Defensively, again, it's a theme: You must stop the run on defense. Johnson's squad gave up way too many yards on the ground last year, allowing 4.5 yards per carry last year.

    Who replaces Nesbitt at QB? Can Logan Walls improve at NT?

33. Penn State

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    Robert Bolden and Matt McGloin were both ineffective last year and must improve for the Nittany Lions to take a step forward in 2011.

    The offensive is a solid unit, but not too athletic, hence them not being able to hit too many targets on the second and third levels in the run game.

    Derek Moye is back at receiver, and Silas Redd will take over for Evan Royster.

    On defense, the spring needs to find play makers in the front seven.

    Who wins the QB derby?

32. Nevada

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    Tyler Lantrip looks like the leader to take the QB job at this point, but he can't possibly take the entire load of offense that Colin Kaepernick did.

    Three starters are back on the front, and Rishard Matthews is back at receiver.

    The defense was a bit risky in 2010, as they made some big plays and forced 21 turnovers but also gave up seven yards per pass attempt and four yards per rush.

    But five starters return in between the secondary and linebackers, which bodes well going into 2011.

    How can Nevada possibly and collectively make up for the loss of Colin Kaepernick?

31. North Carolina

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    Butch Davis' best job may have been last year as the Tar Heels went 8-5, despite missing a bunch of star defensive players, and still won a bowl game.

    But now Davis needs to replace QB TJ Yates and also has to get better play from his offensive line.

    Dante Paige-Moss and Quinton Coples are back in the trenches for the defense and look like future All-Americans. But the back seven needs players to emerge.

    Will Paige-Moss and Coples be enough to cover up the back seven's holes? Who replaces Yates? Will the offensive front show improvement?

30. Navy

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    Eight straight seasons with eight or more wins.

    The Midshipmen will put that streak on the line in 2011, and they look like a team that will be ready to go after a ninth straight.

    Ken Niumatalolo is an intense, fiery, passionate and most importantly great coach, and he has Navy in the 3-4 defense and triple option as always.

    After going 9-4 last year, Ricky Dobbs must be replaced by Ken Proctor, who has not thrown many passes in his career and needs to step up this spring.

    Can Navy win eight games for the ninth straight year? How well can Proctor replace Dobbs?

29. USC

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    Matt Barkley returns as the QB in Troy, and Marc Tyler, Dillon Baxter and DJ Morgan figure to round out the running-back stable.

    The wealth at receiver is crazy, even though Brice Butler bowed out.

    The offensive line is the question, as Tyron Smith will be a professional player in a few weeks, and Kris O'Dowd's experience is gone.

    Defensively, the theme of the spring has been to simplify the scheme and not make the players think so much.

    Does the defense show improvement? Does Barkley take another big step in his game? Who starts along the offensive line?

28. BYU

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    Bronco Mendenhall is another underrated coach, as he has gone 56-21 since taking over in Provo, and is now in his seventh year.

    Mendenhall, who has a retooled coaching staff, has noted that his team has great chemistry this year, and that this could be the best defense he's had since he came to Provo.

    The Cougars start and end with Jake Heaps in my mind. He's a former mega-hyped recruit and played pretty well at QB last season as a freshman.

    How big of a jump can Heaps make in his sophomore year?

27. Clemson

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    Dabo Swinney has heard some whispers that he is on the hot seat during this past winter and there are even rumors of Rich Rodriguez replacing Swinney in 2012.

    But this spring will be about Tajh Boyd's development for the Tigers.

    It's time for the QB I watched a few years back on grainy tape and felt was a top-flight prospect to show why I thought so highly of him.

    The Tigers did not have a great season last year, going 6-7, but you can't pin that on Parker.

    This year, I think Swinney and Boyd help get the Tigers back on track and be a major player in the ACC in 2011.

    How good really is Tahj Boyd? Where do the 4 5-star recruits fit in as true freshman?

26. Miami

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    Al Golden is another coach I have high acclaim for. I think, while he wasn't the sexy pick for The U, he was a rock solid selection to right the ship in Coral Gables.

    He's a great coach and has attacked recruiting around South Florida with passion, energy and aggression. Plus, this is The U.

    The big story will be the QB battle between Jacory Harris and Stephen Morris. Harris was a big-time recruit in 2008 but has not been developed.

    Neither seems to take care of the ball, each have had some pretty rough patches this spring.

    Who does Golden settle on?

25. Georgia

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    Aaron Murray has the tools to be an All-SEC player, and incoming running back Isaiah Crowell should be a surge in the running game along with Caleb King.

    Orson Charles and Tavares King will look to catch enough passes to replace A.J. Green and Kris Durham.

    The defense needs to get better on third down. They stayed on the field way too much, thus wearing down towards the end of the game.

    What jump does Murray make in year two? Who steps up to replace A.J. Green? Can the defense get off the field on third down? 

24. Mississippi State

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    Dan Mullen has gone 14-11 in two seasons for the Bulldogs. Year 3 should see him rise even more.

    An offensive-minded coach, Mullen has Chris Relf back at QB along with RB Vic Ballard and WR Chad Bumphis all back in 2011.

    Mullen has vowed to never lose to Ole Miss again and has the Bulldogs walking a bit fo a swagger in 2011?

    Can MSU challenge for the SEC title? Will Mullen still be the coach after this season? 

23. Florida

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    Will Muschamp needs to get John Brantley on the same page with new offensive sheriff Charlie Weis.

    If not, Jeff Driskel will be seen this year. But let's not forget Brantley is a big-time talent and was a major recruit coming out of high school for a reason.

    Muschamp will shift the schemes for Florida more to NFL styles, with Weis on offense and Dan Quinn on defense.

    Can Florida win the SEC East? How does Brantley adjust to Weis system?

22. Arizona State

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    Dennis Erickson is in his fifth year in Tempe and has gone 25-24 so far.

    He has the Sun Devils thinking Pac-12 title, as they went through some heartbreaking losses in 2010.

    Nine points kept them from being 10-2 and perhaps winning a Pac-10 title in 2010, but this is a new year in the desert.

    What kind of start to the season does Brock Osweiler have to begin the season? Can Vontaze Burfict raise his game to Butkus Award status?

21. Texas

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    Going 5-7 is not going to fly in Austin.

    Garrett GiIlbert needs to get better and Bryan Harsin and Major Applewhite are now responsible for him doing so.

    Cody Johnson and Fozzy Whittaker are awaiting Malcolm Brown to form a top-level trio in the running game.

    Who wins the QB job? Who steps up at receiver? How does the Manny Diaz scheme impact the defense? Does Malcolm Brown start as a true freshman?

20. Virginia Tech

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    It's tough to be consistent, but every year we see the Hokies among the contenders for the ACC and in the BCS title conversation at some point.

    This year is no different as Beamer's Boys will be a preseason top-25 squad and one of the top teams in the ACC.

    Is this the final year for Foster in Blacksburg before he finally gets a head coaching job? How will the loss of Tyrod Taylor and Ryan Williams affect the team?

19. Nebraska

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    Bo Pelini comes into year four with a 30-12 mark.

    The Huskers welcome spring and know that they have Taylor Martinez back. He had a rocky first year with Pelini, but the coach knows he is the top offensive player on the team.

    I think Aaron Green can come in and help the offense.

    But Cam Meredith and Alfonzo Dennard are among the top defenders in the country, which is trouble for the rest of the Big Ten.

    Can Big Red win the Big Ten in 2011? How will the relationship between Pelini and Martinez be during the season?

18. TCU

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    The Horned Frogs are preparing for their move to the Big East, as this is their final go around the Mountain West.

    Casey Pachall needs to replace Andy Dalton, who will be a middle-round pick in the draft. Pachall will have three new receivers in the lineup for 2011.

    Patterson will spend the spring evaluating his secondary, as he loses four starters from his back-end alignment of five defensive backs, in which two of the three safeties align their half of the field for coverage scheme.

    Will the loss of Dalton and four starters on the defensive back end prove too much for Patterson and TCU to over come in 2011?

17. Auburn

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    The champs may be outside looking in at the top 25, but they could sneak up on people.

    I think the Tigers will make a bowl game this year, and Gene Chizik and his staff are a great bunch.

    They will be young and likely will not be BCS-bound again, nor will they win the SEC. But Chizik has stocked the roster with two outstanding recruiting classes in his two full years for the Tigers.

    Obviously, the big story is who replaces Cam Newton, and Barrett Trotter and Clint Mosey will both fight with freshman Kiehl Frazier for the job.

    Who wins the QB job? How is Nick Fairley replaced? How big of a dip does Auburn take in 2011?

16. Missouri

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    James Franklin, Ashton Glaser and freshman Tyler Gabbert all will be vying for the gig Blaine Gabbert used to make himself a potential top-10 overall pick.

    Franklin is a dual-threat type and seems to be the favorite to be the guy.

    De’Vion Moore, Kendial Lawrence and Henry Josey all are back as running backs, and all three are starting-caliber runners.

    The front seven is the strength of the defense, but this spring, the secondary must emerge as a solid unit, as it lost three starters from last year.

    Does Pinkel settle on a QB and stay with him or will there be shuffling? How will Mike Egnew be affected?

15. Notre Dame

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    Dayne Crist is the best QB on the Irish roster, but he needs to heal up his knee and show more command of the offense in year two.

    I think he has more talent than Tommy Rees, but the poised Rees is liked by Brian Kelly. 

    The defense returns Ethan Johnson on the front and linebackers Manti Te'o and Darius Flemming. Aaron Lynch and Ishaq Williams will look to impact as true freshmen as it lost three starters from last year.

    Who wins the QB job? Can Michael Floyd have another big year? How good can the front seven be?

14. Texas A&M

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    Mike Sherman has broke even at 19-19 in three years for the Aggies, but year four sees him returning a host of players, minus Von Miller.

    Sherman has turned the program into an NFL-style operation with a West Coast-style offense and a 3-4 defense.

    The defense was excellent last year, allowing just 3.5 yards per rush and six yards per pass.

    The Aggies roll into the spring on a six-game winning streak, led by QB Ryan Tannehill. Sherman needs his running game to match his passing game, as he could have an explosive offense in 2011.

    How good will the offense be in 2011? Can a running game be found to keep defenses honest?

13. Michigan State

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    Going 33-19 through his fifth year, Mark Dantonio has an 11-win season and piece of the Big Ten championship to notch in his belt.

    Edwin Baker and Kirk Cousins are his top players on offense at RB and QB respectively, and Le'Veon Bell is a solid backup running back.

    DJ Young must be replaced at LT, along with a few other starters on the front.

    Defensively, Greg Jones and Eric Gordon must be replaced, and big plays must be emphasized in the spring on defense.

    Who replaces Young? Do Cousins and Baker get into the Heisman race? Who replaces Jones and Gordon?

12. South Carolina

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    Steve Spurrier finally got things going in 2010, with the Gamecocks making an appearance in the SEC championship game in Atlanta.

    The offense has two great players in RB Marcus Lattimore and WR Alshon Jeffrey.

    Connor Shaw likely will be the QB in 2012 for Spurrier.

    On defense, Cliff Matthews and Stephen Gilmore are two of the better defensive players in the SEC and will be joined by all-world No.1 overall recruit Jadeveon Clowney this year.

    What happens to Stephen Garcia? How big of year can Jeffrey and Lattimore have? What impact does Clowney have as a true freshman? Can Gilmore become a shut-down type of corner? 

11. Wisconsin

110 of 120

    The Badgers focus is their offensive line, as they recruit toughness and strength and just move targets out of the way in order to have such a high-powered run game.

    They lose three starters from last year, but I still think James White and Montee Ball will both likely rush for 1,000 yards this year.

    Jon Budmayr will replace Scott Tolzien at QB, as Curt Phillips tore his ACL again in off-season workouts. The defense needs to replace JJ Watt but returns its top linebacker and top-two pass defenders.

    Who replaces Watt, Kendricks and Carimi? Could we see two or three 1,000 yard rushers at Camp Randall in 2011?

10. Ohio State

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    Ohio State has BCS title aspirations, even though Jim TresselTerrelle Pryor, Mike Adams, Boom Herron and DeVier Posey all will be out the first five games.

    Braxton Miller and Todd Bauserman will hold down the fort for Pryor.

    The offensive line loses two starters, plus Adams, for the first five games, and the receivers need a playmaker to emerge in place of Posey.

    Defensively, seven starters are gone, including the entire back end. Being green in the secondary could derail those Big Ten and BCS title hopes.

    Do the off-field distractions prove too much to overcome? What impact does Miller have? Where will the defense be in the middle of the season? Will Tressel be the coach after this year?

9. Stanford

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    David Shaw takes over for Jim Harbaugh, as he left for the 49ers.

    Stanford likely will be highly ranked in the pre-season polls. Why? Andrew Luck.

    Luck is good enough to win a handful of games himself, but this year could be a challenge for him.

    First, he had a clean pocket last year, and this year the offensive line loses three starters. But Johnathan Martin and David DeCastro are back and they were both first team All-Pac-10 in 2010.

    Can Luck over come two starting receivers gone and three new OL starters to reach a 70 percent completion rate for the second straight year? Does he win the Heisman? 

8. Arkansas

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    Tyler Wilson has shown he is an elite QB himself, and now he has the lead for the Hogs.

    Three starters are gone from the line, and DJ Williams needs to be replaced at tight end.

    But Wilson, along with a healthy Greg Childs, Joe Adams, Jarius Wright and Colby Hamilton, will be pitching and catching all day on Saturdays this fall.

    The front seven is loaded with talent, and Tremaine Thomas returns in the secondary. The spring must see the island defenders improve on making interceptions in the passing game.

    How good will Wilson be? Cna Knile Davis lead the SEC in rushing? Will the secondary step up to the caliber fo the front seven?

7. Oklahoma State

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    If they can replace Kendall Hunter in the running game, look out Big 12.

    QB Brandon Weeden and WR Justin Blackmon may be the best QB-WR duo in the country, along with Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles, Weeden threw for over 4,000 yards last year while Blackmon caught 111 passes for over 1,780 yards last year.

    How many points will the offense score? Is it even possible to fathom Blackmon challenging last year's numbers again?

6. Florida State

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    The Noles are on their way back, and this spring starts the full-time EJ Manuel era.

    Manuel has his feet wet already, though, as he filled in well for Christian Ponder.

    The receivers will be experienced and rock-toters Chris Thompson, Ty Jones and Jermaine Thomas all return along with three starters on the front.

    Mark Stoops proved to be Mr. Fix-It with the FSU defense last year and Nigel Bradham and Brandon Jenkins are back again to make plays.

    How good will Mnauel in his first full year at the helm? Can the defense make another jump into elite status?

5. Boise State

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    61-5 as a head coach, Chris Petersen sees his name tossed around jobs at bigger programs every year.

    Yet he remains happy at Boise State.

    He will get to watch the Kellen Moore experience once again this season, as Moore is one of the top QBs in the nation.

    Smart and accurate, Moore needs some receivers to emerge this spring, but 1,000-yard runner Doug Martin is back.

    Do the oncoming sanctions affect the team on the field? Can Kellen Moore break the passer efficiency mark in the NCAA record books? How many players on defense can make the All-WAC team?

4. LSU

117 of 120

    The roster is loaded, and I think Zach Mettenberger beats out Jordan Jefferson as QB.

    The Tigers were 11-2 with Jefferson, who played well down the stretch, and Jarrett Lee. But I really think Mettenberger has more talent and poise.

    Spencer Ware will replace Steve Ridley as the main running back; the offensive line only loses one starter, left tackle Joe Barksdale.

    This spring and summer will be crucial as the offense is the main question mark for LSU.

    Does Mettenberger take the QB gig away from Jefferson? Who replaces Joe Barksdale and Patrick Peterson? Can Anthony Johnson crack the lineup as a true freshman?

3. Oregon

118 of 120

    Oregon returns the two players that were the key cogs in the offensive machine that was the Ducks in 2010—QB Darren Thomas and RB LaMichael James.

    They will add RB Lache Seastrunk to the backfield and should sizzle again on the scoreboards.

    Three starters must be replaced on the line, and Jeff Maehl's timing and accountability will be missed on the offensive flanks.

    The defense will use the spring to replace Casey Matthews, Kenny Rowe and Spencer Paysinger, but All-American defensive back Cliff Harris is back, and the secondary should be solid in 2011.

    Who steps up on defense? How does Kelly infuse Seastrunk into the offense with Thomas and James?

2. Alabama

119 of 120

    The Tide can make another BCS and SEC title run this year but they need to find a QB first.

    AJ McCarron and Phillip Simms each have their chance to show Saban they are up to the task in the spring. Trent Richardson returns in the backfield, and Marquis Maze is one of the better receivers in the SEC.

    But the defense will be the strength. Wow.

    Mark Barron and Dre Kirkpatrick are back in the secondary, Dont'a Hightower, Nico Johnson and Courtney Johnson are ridiculous as linebackers, and Jesse Williams should be a rock star by this time next year.

    Who wins the QB job? Can the defense put the team on their back and carry it to the BCS title game? How many defenders make the All-American team? Who steps up to replace Jones and Ingram?

1. Oklahoma

120 of 120

    This year, Oklahoma will feature another stellar passing attack with Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles leading the way. Broyles tied a school record in touchdowns last season, and Jones could win the Heisman this year.

    DeMarco Murray needs to be replaced, but I think Brandon Williams could come in and do well as a true freshman.

    On defense, there is a slew of talent, but the player I love is safety-linebacker Tony Jefferson, who won Big 12's Freshman DPOY in 2010.

    Can this team run the table and escape out of the Big 12 into the BCS title game? Who steps up at running back? Can Stoops get tot he big game and win it?