UCLA Bruins 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 88
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 32

In the city of angels UCLA Bruins and head coach Rick Neuheisel seem to be stuck in purgatory. In 2009, they suffered through a five game losing streak, but still managed a winning record and a victory in the EagleBank Bowl. The team always seems to be on the verge of a breakout year, will that come in 2010?

The Bruins’ running game has finished 116th and 97th over the last two years. Last year’s leading rusher, Jonathan Franklin gained only 566 yards. The coaching staff is hoping that the installation of the Revolver system, a variation on Nevada’s Pistol offense, will infuse some life into the running game. In addition, the infusion of two new running backs should help. Highly recruited Jordan James and Gatorade National Player of the Year Malcolm Jones should immediately help the ground attack. Also, four offensive line starters return.

The passing attack was not bad in 2009, led by freshman quarterback Kevin Prince. Now that he has more experience, he should be able to use his talented stable of receivers even more. Nelson Rosario led the team in receiving yards with 723 and Taylor Embree was tops in catches with 45. An improved running game should open more space Prince.

UCLA Bruins Football Cheerleader

UCLA’s defense was gutted in the offseason, losing seven starters including five in the front seven. Datone Jones is the only returning lineman and will try to generate more than four sacks from his end position. Akeem Ayers is back at strongside linebacker after finishing third in tackles and second in sacks. Junior free safety Rahim Moore is the most important returning player after leading the nation with ten interceptions.

There will be a lot of changes this year for UCLA, both in players and scheme. It will be difficult for the team to put everything together quickly, but if they can make it work, they have a shot at surprising in the PAC 10.

UCLA’s odds to win the PAC 10 : + 500

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Indianapolis Colts 2010-2011 Season Preview

A Look Back – After 14 wins to start the 2009 season, the Indianapolis Colts took their foot off the gas pedal. They lost both of their final two regular season contests, as they gave up their chance at the perfect season by playing a ton of reserves. It didn’t appear to hurt them during the playoffs either, as they came out of the blocks and played well in the AFC side of the postseason. However, losing Super Bowl XLIV was a painful defeat, as QB Peyton Manning was stopped for his quest for a second Lombardi Trophy.

Key Addition – LB Pat Angerer – Even though Angerer was the second round draft choice of the Colts this year, they were really set at defensive end, where they also added Jerry Hughes in the first round. Angerer, a product of Iowa, is a prototypical speedy Cover 2 linebacker. Indianapolis could probably use an upgrade at that position, which is why Angerer might find himself starting from Day 1 as an outside linebacker.

Indianapolis Colts NFL Cheerleader

Key Loss – DE Raheem Brock – The addition of Hughes in the draft really made Brock totally dispensable. However, he is the only major loss that this team has incurred from last year. Brock provided great depth off the end, racking up 3.5 sacks last year in eight starts. However, there was really no place for him, as he would’ve been the fourth defensive end option.

2010 Will Be a Success if… – The Colts stay healthy and don’t beat themselves. There have been nothing but additions and very few subtractions for Indy, and as long as #18 stays upright and the rest of the team doesn’t incur a ton of losses, there is no reason for it not to return to the playoffs.

The Crucial Game – Any time the Colts and Patriots square off, it’s a big deal. On November 21st, the two juggernauts of the AFC will meet at Gillette Stadium. The good news for both teams is that this one tussle won’t be the difference between either one making the playoffs or not. However, the more crucial part of this game is that the winner of this game will hold the tiebreaker should the two end up with the same record. This could make the difference between the AFC Championship Game being played in New England and Indianapolis.

Predictions – Though the schedule is always brutal for the Indianapolis Colts, there is no reason not to win at least 10-11 games once again. Their NFL regular season wins total is 10.5. Peyton’s posse is just too strong to be dealt with on a regular basis, and though a few trips might come along the way, when the dust settles, this is going to be one of the toughest teams to beat in the NFL on a regular basis.

2010 Indianapolis Colts Regular Season Schedule

9/12 @ HOU
9/19 vs. NYG
9/26 @ DEN
10/3 @ JAC
10/10 vs. KC
10/17 @ WAS
Bye
11/1 vs. HOU
11/7 @ PHI
11/14 vs. CIN
11/21 @ NE
11/28 vs. SD
12/5 vs. DAL
12/9 @ TEN
12/19 vs. JAC
12/26 @ OAK
1/2 vs. TEN

 

Oregon State Beavers 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 34
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 46

The Oregon State Beavers are back in 2010 after an eight win season. For the last two years, the team has been sniffing around a Rose Bowl berth, but has come up just short. Last year’s loss in the Las Vegas Bowl ended the season on a sour note, but expectations are once again high for the Beavers.

What do they feed the boys in the Rodgers household? Brothers Jacquizz and James are the superstars of the Beavers’ offense, the top two rushers and receivers in 2009. Jacquizz rushed for 1,440 yards and a school record 21 touchdowns and “chipped in” with 78 receptions. James caught 91 passes for 1,034 yards and rushed for 303 more. Jacquizz is an early Heisman Trophy candidate, but these brothers are both stars in the making.

It’s not certain who will get the Rodgers brothers the ball. Sophomore Ryan Katz is the front runner to take over the starting quarterback spot because of his experience with the offense, but Virginia transfer Peter Lalich will be right behind him. The offensive line returns almost everyone from last season, losing only First-Team PAC 10 guard Gregg Peat.

Oregon State Beavers Cheerleader

Oregon State’s defense will be missing some starters unexpectedly. The starting middle linebacker and defensive end left the team due to family reasons. Another linebacker tore his Achilles tendon in the winter and his return is unknown. Other players will have to step up to improve a unit that managed only 17 sacks and eight interceptions last year.

Defensive tackle Stephen Paea was second team all conference in 2009 and is an impact player in the middle of the line. The strength of the unit lies in their safeties. Lance Mitchell and Cameron Collins were third and fourth on the team in tackles, and Mitchell led the team in interceptions from his free safety spot.

Because of the Rodgers brothers, the Beavers should have an explosive and exciting offense. The quarterback play will have a big impact on the season, as will the success of the defense. All things considered, Oregon State should once again be in the hunt for a conference title and a Rose Bowl berth.

Oregon State’s odds to win the PAC 10 : + 350

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Washington Huskies 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 62
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 79

A five win season may seem like a disappointment for most teams, but for the 2009 Washington Huskies, it was a giant step forward. The 2008 Huskies were 0-12, so last season’s 5-7 record is promising for a team returning all of its offensive production.

Washington’s chances revolve around senior quarterback Jake Locker. The preseason Heisman Trophy candidate and potential first overall draft pick made great strides in his passing ability in 2009. He increased his completion percentage by a full 10 percent over his previous two years, finishing with 2,800 yards, 21 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions. Even though he ran the ball less, he still proved he has skill with his legs by rushing for 388 yards and seven touchdowns.

The player that may have been most important in Locker’s improvement is running back Chris Polk. The freshman rushed for 1,113 yards and gave the Huskies a balanced attack. The top three receiving targets return, led by Jermaine Kearse who had 50 catches for 866 yards. He is a dangerous deep threat (17.3 yards per catch average) and will be in the discussion as one of the best receivers in the country. The offensive line returns four starters but will be rearranged to make up for the loss of the left tackle.

Washington Huskies College Football Cheerleader

The biggest room for improvement is found on the defensive side of the ball. They improved last year giving up just 27 points per game compared with 39 the year before. To compete for the Pac 10 title, they will need to be better still. Defensive tackles Alameda Ta’amu and Cameron Elisara are solid in the middle. Both planned starting defensive ends were injured in the spring and hope to be healthy by the season opener, leaving the line with little depth.

Mason Foster returns at weakside linebacker after finishing second with 85 tackles and leading the team with three interceptions. He will be joined by Cort Dennison and Alvin Logan. The secondary must force more interceptions this year. Desmond Trufant is a strong starter at corner, but the other spot is up for grabs.

Washington has high expectations this season, Locker’s last at the helm. With their offense in good hands, this season’s success will likely be determined by the defense.

Washington’s odds to win the PAC 10 : + 350

College Teams:
 

Jacksonville Jaguars 2010-2011 Season Preview

A Look Back – Once is a mistake. Twice is a trend. If there’s a third straight season below .500 for the Jacksonville Jaguars, there will be heads rolling on the ground. There are a ton of problems in the Jacksonville market as a whole, and if the team doesn’t start selling its games out on a regular basis, not only might this team be missing its head coach next year, but it might be in a whole new city.

Key Addition – LB Kirk Morrison – Morrison was exiled from Oakland after leading the Raiders in tackles last year, which suits the Jaguars just fine. Jacksonville has had a ton of problems trying to keep its front seven together in recent years, and the hope is that the addition of Morrison can bring a new leader to a defense that badly needs to find some solid options that aren’t in the secondary.

Jacksonville Jaguars NFL Cheerleader

Key Loss – WR Torry Holt – We knew that Holt was a temporary answer for the second receiver spot in Jacksonville when he came to town last year, but what we didn’t know is that there weren’t going to be any real options available to replace him once he left. Holt accounted for 51 catches and 722 yards last season. He has since moved on, but left to replace him is just second year make Mike Thomas and Troy Williamson.

2010 Will Be a Success if… – QB David Garrard proves that he is a starting quarterback in this league. We are beginning to doubt if Garrard, who has never thrown more than 18 TD passes in a season, is really capable of cutting it at this level. Yes, he has brought the Jags to the playoffs, but when you face the reality of the fact, Trent Dilfer did the same thing in Baltimore amongst many QBs with no talent to pull off similar stunts. Jacksonville needs to put together a strong passing game on a regular basis that produces points, not just yards, to be able to compete in arguably the toughest division in football.

The Crucial Game – The Jacksonville Jaguars have never had much luck playing at Reliant Stadium for whatever reason, but they are absolutely going to have to beat the Texans the last week of the regular season if they think they are making the playoffs. Odds have it, if Jacksonville is competing, these two teams are going to be separated by no more than a game in the standings at this point.

Predictions – Unfortunately for HC Jack Del Rio, we don’t think the games are going to mean much by then. We think Del Rio will be out the door by the time the Texans come up on the schedule the first time on November 14th. Even though this is a fourth place schedule, facing the AFC West, NFC East, and the others in the AFC South are just going to prove to be too much to take.

The NFL odds list the Jaguars season wins over/under as 7.5 games with most people taking the under which pays just -200.

2010 Jacksonville Jaguars Regular Season Schedule

9/12 vs. DEN
9/19 @ SD
9/26 vs. PHI
10/3 vs. IND
10/10 @ BUF
10/18 vs. TEN
10/24 @ KC
10/31 @ DAL
Bye
11/14 vs. HOU
11/21 vs. CLE
11/28 @ HYG
12/5 @ TEN
12/12 vs. OAK
12/19 @ IND
12/26 vs. WAS
1/2 @ HOU

 

Oregon Ducks 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 33
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 35

2010 was supposed to be the year of the duck. After a 10 win 2009, the Oregon Ducks were brimming with confidence that they could repeat as PAC 10 champions. While that dream remains intact, it took a serious setback due to some off the field issues of its star player.

Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was great last season, and a potential Heisman trophy candidate in 2010. That was before his involvement in a theft at an Oregon fraternity got him suspended for the entire season and he transferred to Ole Miss. Now, a position of strength has become one of uncertainty. Senior Nate Costa and sophomore Darren Thomas will be competing for the starting spot. Both have shown potential in limited experience in the past, but neither has the command of the offense and athletic ability of Masoli.

Oregon Ducks College Football Cheerleaders

Star running back LaMichael James also had legal trouble this offseason and will miss the season opener. He rushed for 1,546 yards and 14 touchdowns with a 6.7 yards per carry average. He is a tremendous back who will carry the offense without Masoli. Speedy Kenjon Barner provides great depth at the position.

The second leading receiver, tight end Ed Dickson, is gone but the majority of the receiving corps is back. Jeff Maehl returns after catching 696 yards along with D.J. Davis and Lavasier Tuinei. The offensive line returns all five starters and will provide stability for the offense.

Oregon’s defense was underrated last season and returns eight starters. Defensive end Kenny Rowe led the PAC 10 with 11.5 sacks and will likely play opposite converted tight end Dion Jordan. Casey Matthews leads the defense from his middle linebacker spot. Eddie Pleasant will move from outside linebacker to safety, giving the Ducks one of the best safety duos in the nation. John Boyett led the team in tackles from the other safety spot, and the two should make plays all over the field.

The Ducks’ title hopes took a blow with the loss of Masoli. The team still has a lot of talent though and will surely be in the fight for the PAC 10 title.

Oregon’s odds to win the PAC 10 : + 150

College Teams:
 

Houston Texans 2010-2011 Season Preview

A Look Back – The 2009 campaign might have statistically been the best ever for the Houston Texans at 9-7, but that doesn’t mean that the season was viewed at as a success. This is still a franchise that has never made the playoffs, and though it came close last year, repeating the “close” process this season will get Gary Kubiak canned. It’s playoffs or bust in the Lone Star State.

Key Addition – RB Ben Tate – Tate is going to hopefully help out the worst red zone offense in the league from last year. The running back position has never been one that Houston has really ever had settled from one year to the next in its team’s history, and though Tate will be amongst a plethora of backs hoping to become the starter for Kubiak’s offense, eventually the hope is there that he will be able to be the #1 back for a long time for this team.

Houston Texans Cheerleader

Key Loss – DB Dunta Robinson – The other position that has always plagued this team is cornerback, and losing former first round draft pick Dunta Robinson won’t help that any. Robinson, a South Carolina product, became very disgruntled two years ago when GM Rick Smith wouldn’t give him a new contract. Now, he’ll be defending passes in Atlanta, while the Texans have to pick up the pieces to an already torn secondary.

2010 Will Be a Success if… – The offense manages to get a bit of a balance. QB Matt Schaub became known as an elite passer after flirting with the 5,000 yard barrier last year and leading the game’s #1 rated passing attack. However, when push came to shove, a number of games were lost on the goal line. If just one of those three defeats (Tennessee, Jacksonville, and Arizona) goes the other direction, the Texans are in the playoffs last year. Consistency on the ground needs to be achieved, as ranking 30th in the NFL in rushing won’t cut it again.

The Crucial Game – Right off the bat, the Texans get to play host to the Indianapolis Colts, the big, bad wolves of the AFC South. Eventually, Houston has to figure out how to overcome QB Peyton Manning and the Colts if it ever hopes to win the division. Though winning at Lucas Oil Stadium isn’t a pre-requisite for making the playoffs, it’d be difficult to get swept by Indy and still have a winning record in the division.

Predictions – If Tate or another running back can step up and lead the charge for the Texans ground attack, they will be an incredibly dangerous team. This is a tough division and a tough conference overall to play in. Anything less than ten wins probably won’t get the job done for the playoffs, but there’s a realistic possibility that even 10-6 won’t get Houston in and the over/under on NFL regular season wins for the Texans is just 8.5. However, this is one of the better teams in the league as evidenced by their Super Bowl odds which sit at +1600. Like we said at the top, anything less than a postseason appearance will cost Kubiak his job.

2010 Houston Texans Regular Season Schedule

9/12 vs. IND
9/19 @ WAS
9/26 vs. DAL
10/3 @ OAK
10/10 vs. NYG
10/17 vs. KC
Bye
11/1 @ IND
11/7 vs. SD
11/14 @ JAC
11/21 @ NYJ
11/28 vs. TEN
12/2 @ PHI
12/13 vs. BAL
12/19 @ TEN
12/26 @ DEN
1/2 vs. JAC

 

Oklahoma State Cowboys 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 70
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 31

The Oklahoma State Cowboys had back to back nine win seasons the last two years, not an easy feat to accomplish in the Big 12. Even without star receiver Dez Bryant, the Cowboys played well, barely missing double digit wins after a loss to Ole Miss in the Cotton Bowl. A new scheme and new players will try to continue the Cowboys’ winning ways.

The team lost a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. The starting quarterback and running are both in the NFL, but it looks like they have capable players ready to step in. Running back is more secure with the return of Kendall Hunter from injury. In 2008, he rushed for 1,555 yards and 16 touchdowns and was an All-American. He may not get much help up front though, with the offensive line returning only one starter from a year ago.

The quarterback spot is a little more shaky. 26 year old Brandon Weeden, a former minor league pitcher, takes over for Zac Robinson. Weeden played well in spot duty in 2009, leading the team to a victory over Colorado. Leading receiver Hubert Anyiam returns after gaining 515 yards through the air.
Oklahoma State Cowboys Cheerleader

The Cowboys’ offensive success will be determined by how well they can pick up the new system instituted by coordinator Dana Holgorsen. Holgorsen is coming over from Houston where his offense was the best in the nation. He is instituting a fast paced, no huddle spread offense to keep the defense off guard. Weeden’s lack of experience with this system may cause some early issues.

The defense made some major strides in 2009, improving from 93rd to 31st. The problem is most of the starters from that team are gone. Nine seniors on last year’s defense leaves the Cowboys with a lot of unproven players trying to step in. Linebacker Orie Lemon, the leading tackler in 2008, is back after missing all of last season with a knee injury. Safeties Markelle Martin and Victor Johnson provide some continuity in the defensive backfield. Defensive ends Ugo Chinasa (6.5 sacks) and Jamie Blatnick are back, but outside linebacker, defensive tackle and cornerback are all areas of concern.

If Holgerson can accomplish the same offensive success he had at Houston and young players on defense can step up, the Cowboys will again be shooting for a bowl game. However, the window of opportunity may have closed for the team, and it may take a couple years of rebuilding before they are back to double digit wins.

Oklahoma State’s odds to win the Big 12: + 4000

College Teams:
 

Kansas State Wildcats 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 80
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 39

The Kansas State Wildcats ended up with 6 wins in 2009, and it’s hard to know if they will increase or decrease that number in 2010. There are a lot of new faces on the team, but some of the most important contributors return. Will K-State make it back to a bowl game for the first time since 2006?

The Wildcats’ offense runs through tailback Daniel Thomas. The junior college transfer was the Big 12 newcomer of the year after leading the conference with 1,265 rushing yards. His 5.1 yards per carry average shows he can break tackles but also has breakaway speed. Up front, four starters return on the offensive line, three of whom are seniors.

Carson Coffman will take over as the starting quarterback once again. He started in that spot in 2009, but was benched after six games for his inability to put points on the board. He has the inside track to start again after a strong spring game. He will have all new receivers to work with this season. Sophomore transfers Brodrick Smith (Minnesota) and Chris Harper (Oregon) will be fighting for the starting spots along with Aubrey Quarles who missed last season because of injury.

Kansas Sate Wildcats Cheerleader

Kansas State’s defense is led by its pair of safeties. Free safety Tysyn Hartman led the team in interceptions and strong safety Emmanuel Lamur led the team in tackles. Senior Stephen Harrison will start at one cornerback spot, with sophomore Darious Thomas likely to start opposite him.

The return of defensive end Brandon Harold has brought some excitement to the line. The 2008 freshman All-American missed last season with an injury but is ready to go once again. The linebacking corps is an area of concern due to their lack of experience and production. Hopes are that Kadero Terrell, a highly touted junior college transfer that missed last season with an injury, will provide a spark and playmaking ability to the unit.

Kansas State is placing a lot of its hopes on new players or those returning from injury. If those players can step in and produce immediately, the Wildcats could have a strong season. If not though, they will likely be on the losing end of most of their games.

Kansas State’s odds to win the Big 12: + 2000

College Teams:
 

Cleveland Browns 2010-2011 Season Preview

A Look Back – When GM Mike Holmgren took over the reins to the ship in Cleveland, things suddenly improved and improved drastically. From a team that was 1-11, the Browns rolled off four straight wins to end the season and enter this year with the longest winning streak in the game (tied with the Houston Texans). As a result, HC Eric Mangini kept his job, but there were other sweeping changes made in the offseason.

Key Addition – QB Jake Delhomme – Someone badly needed to take over as the starting quarterback for this team, and though Delhomme isn’t the long term answer, he has the potential to at least keep the ship afloat for awhile until a permanent replacement can be groomed. This also represents a second chance for the former Carolina Panther, as he was exiled from town for poor performances over the last few seasons.

<a href=Cleveland Browns” width=”225″ height=”300″ />

Key Loss – LB Kamerion Wimbley – Wimbley thought he earned a ‘Get Out of Jail Free Card’ by getting out of Cleveland, but ultimately, he was only sent to Oakland. However, the Browns are losing one of their top tacklers from last season, as Wimbley picked up 48 tackles and 6.5 sacks on a team that had very little talent at the position to start off with. He’ll be sorely missed, but Holmgren knew that he had to try to implode this defense and start over.

2010 Will Be a Success if... – Some excitement returns to the Dawg Pound. For years, Cleveland fans have been dying for a winner. They know that this won’t be the year that the Browns are going to return to the playoffs, but a seven win campaign isn’t out of the question. Delhomme isn’t a flashy quarterback, but options like RB Jerome Harrison and WR Joshua Cribbs are.

The Crucial Game – The October 3rd game at home against Cincinnati might be a big, big game for the psyche of this team. Starting at 2-0 seems like a relative realistic prospect with the first two games coming against Tampa Bay and Kansas City, and a win at home against the Bengals could set the stage for some excitement into the winter. The Browns had better enjoy that game, as the next five after that are all almost certainly losses against Atlanta, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, New England, and New York.

Predictions – Cleveland is well on its way, but it just isn’t quite there yet. They are +850 in AFC North odds and +8500 in Super Bowl odds. There will probably be a bit of a quarterback rotation this season, especially if Delhomme falters early on, but there are certainly enough chances here to win enough games for Mangini to keep his job yet again. The Cleveland Browns have plenty to look forward to with Holmgren as their GM.

2010 Cleveland Browns Regular Season Schedule

9/12 @ TB
9/19 vs. KC
9/26 @ BAL
10/3 vs. CIN
10/10 vs. ATL
10/17 @ PIT
10/24 @ NO
Bye
11/7 vs. NE
11/14 vs. NYJ
11/21 @ JAC
11/28 vs. CAR
12/5 @ MIA
12/12 @ BUF
12/19 @ CIN
12/26 vs. BAL
1/2 vs. PIT

 

 

 

 
 
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