Kansas Jayhawks 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 25
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 76

A new era for the Kansas Jayhawks begins in 2010. New head coach Turner Gill will take over, as will a new quarterback. Kansas started off strong in 2009, but wilted as the season went on and won only five games.

Kansas’ prolific passing attack is over, as legendary quarterback Todd Reesing is gone, as are the top receivers from last year. The new quarterback will come down to either redshirt sophomore Kale Pick or redshirt freshman Jordan Webb. Pick has better accuracy and mobility and is expected to be the starter in the fall.

Kansas Jayhawks Flag

Jonathan Wilson is the leading returning receiver after catching 35 passes for 449 yards. Gill is converting two cornerbacks to wide receiver to improve the speed and depth at the position. Tight end Tim Biere should also have a more active role in the passing game in this new offense.

The offense will switch from a shotgun, spread formation to more of a run oriented system. Last year’s leading rusher Toben Opurum returns after rushing for 554 yards and nine touchdowns. The bruising back should have more opportunities in Gill’s new system.

The offensive line returns all five starters from a season ago. The unit had some problems in pass protection, giving up 32 sacks, but may be better with the increased focus on the ground game. Two members of the line, Trevor Marrongelli and Brad Thorson, were academic All-Big 12 performers so intelligence should be an issue.

The defense is led by two time All-Big 12 honorable mention Jake Laptad. The senior defensive end led the team in sacks last season with 6.5 and is the leader of the line. On the opposite side, Quinton Woods had a quiet junior season after transferring from junior college. He needs to be better in his senior year.

Drew Dudley leads a pretty good group of linebackers. He had 88 tackles, and will be joined by Huldon Tharp and either Justin Springer or Steven Johnson. The secondary is extremely deep, one of the reasons why Gill moved two corners to receiver. Senior Chris Harris proved he is a solid tackler after recording 84 stops in 2009. Safety Lubbock Smith is a hard hitter, but the unit must get better at taking the ball away. The team had only seven interceptions all of last year.

Even with a relatively easy schedule, Kansas is going through too much of a transition to be good right away. This team has some good young talent, especially on offense, but it is not ready to win now.

Kansas’ odds to win the Big 12: + 4000

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A Look Back – Once again, the Baltimore Ravens proved that they are one of the elite franchises in the NFL last season by making yet another trip to the playoffs. However, the illustrious Super Bowl has still evaded this team for years, and that’s the only goal in mind for the purple and black in 2010 with plenty of new pieces to the puzzle that could make this the scariest team in the league.

Key Addition – WR Anquan Boldin – Finally, the Ravens have a #2 wide receiver to complement Derrick Mason! Baltimore made it a point to go find another huge name to stick opposite one of the best receivers this franchise has ever had by acquiring WR Anquan Boldin from the Arizona Cardinals in the offseason. There are two great things about Boldin that QB Joe Flacco will love. First of all, he is seemingly good for 65+ receptions and 1,000+ yards every single season. The second is that you know he doesn’t have a huge ego having played second fiddle to WR Larry Fitzgerald for years in the desert.

Baltimore Ravens Cheerleader

Key Loss – DB Dominique Foxworth – Foxworth is still a Raven, but his ACL tear suffered last week will cost him his 2010 season. The secondary is probably the only piece to this defense that is thin, and losing the team’s top INT man from a year ago isn’t going to help matters at all. Unless either S Dawan Landry or Tom Zbikowski is shifting to corner, there could be a huge gap in the Baltimore ‘D’.

2010 Will Be a Success if… – The front seven stays healthy and continues to harass opposing quarterbacks. That’s certainly one way to make your secondary look great. Though LB Ray Lewis is clearly up there in age at this point in his career, there is no doubting the fact that he is still one of the best in the biz. Add a new protégé in the mix in the form of LB Sergio Kindle and the recipe is ripe for Baltimore to be lethal for a number of years.

The Crucial Game – The trip to Pittsburgh in Week 4 could effectively put the division away for the Ravens early on. The Steelers appear to be the only team between Baltimore and an AFC North title this year, and a win in Steeltown without QB Ben Roethlisberger in the fold due to suspension would be massive.

Predictions – Baltimore’s only glaring problem on the entire roster is that secondary. The offense could put up 6,500 yards this year if it really needs to, and the defense will still be feared. Anything less than a dozen wins and an AFC North title would be devastating this season. The oddsmakers have them at -140 in AFC North odds and +900 to win the Super Bowl.

2010 Baltimore Ravens Regular Season Schedule

9/13 @ NYJ
9/19 @ CIN
9/26 vs. CLE
10/3 @ PIT
10/10 vs. DEN
10/17 @ NE
10/24 vs. BUF
Bye
11/7 vs. MIA
11/11 @ ATL
11/21 @ CAR
11/28 vs. TB
12/5 vs. PIT
12/13 @ HOU
12/19 vs. NO
12/26 @ CLE
1/2 vs. CIN

 

A Look Back – Losing SS Troy Polamalu for a good chunk of the 2009 season really destroyed the Pittsburgh Steelers defense. However, the offense had very little excuse not to perform at the highest level. A five game losing streak, including defeats to both Cleveland, Kansas City, and Oakland ended any chances of making the playoffs. The black and gold have plenty of work to do to improve this year.

Key Addition – OL Maurkice Pouncey – It was fairly clear that the Steelers badly needed some offensive line help, especially after OT Willie Colon was lost for the season before training camp. Pouncey was the most versatile option on the board when Pittsburgh’s name came on the board, and he was the clear selection to make. He should fit well right in the middle of the OL either at guard or center.

Pittsburgh Steelers Girl

Key Loss – WR Santonio Holmes – Holmes quickly became the top target for QB Ben Roethlisberger to throw to last year when he accounted for 79 catches, 1,248 yards, and five TDs. However, all of that went up in smoke for the former Ohio State Buckeye in the offseason when he ran into some off the field problems. The Steelers were determined to get rid of their team cancer and essentially sent him to the New York Jets for a song and a dance. Holmes probably wasn’t getting another contract after this season anyway, but at least for 2010, the QBs for the Steelers are going to have their work cut out for them.

2010 Will Be a Success if… – The Steelers hold it together while Roethlisberger serves his suspension. Big Ben would be lucky to only serve a four game suspension, but six is possible. There is a big question about who will replace him, but regardless of who does, they must hold this team together. Facing Atlanta and Baltimore before the bye week won’t be easy, and a 1-3 record is a real possibility right out of the chute.

The Crucial Game – The home date with the Ravens on October 3rd is a game that cannot be lost if the Steelers hope to win this division. By that point, whomever is playing quarterback will have had three games under his belt, and though Baltimore probably has a superior team, winning at Heinz Field is a task that not many teams are capable of pulling off.

Predictions – The Pittsburgh Steelers could sneak into the back end of the playoffs because its schedule is very manageable, especially after the bye week. Still, Roethlisberger needs to come back with guns blazing in the second half of the season, and the defense is going to have to perform a lot better than it did last season when it ranked 13th in the NFL in scoring allowing 20.2 PPG. The Steelers Super Bowl odds are +2200 which is indicative of a team with an outside shot of winning it all.

2010 Pittsburgh Steelers Regular Season Schedule

9/12 vs. ATL
9/19 @ TEN
9/26 @ TB
10/3 vs. BAL
Bye
10/17 vs. CLE
10/24 @ MIA
10/31 @ NO
11/8 @ CIN
11/14 vs. NE
11/21 vs. OAK
11/28 @ BUF
12/5 @ BAL
12/12 vs. CIN
12/19 vs. NYJ
12/23 vs. CAR
1/2 @ CLE

 

Baylor Bears 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 85
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 94

2009 was supposed to be the year that the Baylor Bears finally broke their 15 year bowl game drought. Hopes were high that outstanding quarterback Robert Griffin would build on his tremendous freshman year and lead the team to glory. Unfortunately though, an early season ACL tear destroyed the season for both Griffin and the Bears.

Griffin’s impact to his team can’t be overstated. In 2008, he combined to pass and rush for almost 3,000 yards and scored 28 times, while throwing only three interceptions. His blazing speed and accurate arm make him one of the most dangerous players in college football. The Bears are hoping he will return in time to start the season and will be able to pick up where he left off. Last year’s leading receiver Kendall Wright returns after hauling in 66 catches for 740 yards. There is a lack of depth at the position though, with only one other receiver returning that had a decent amount of production in 2009. Senior running back Jay Finley is back after rushing for only 370 yards in an injury plagued season. Finley rushed for over 1,000 yards when Griffin was healthy in 2008, so the two should feed off of each other once again. The offensive line lost two three year starters, and may be a cause for concern. Griffin’s speed and playmaking ability may mask some of those issues though.

Baylor Bears College Football Cheerleaders

Four of the top five tacklers are gone from last year’s team, with only senior outside linebacker Antonio Johnson returning. The linebacking corps should be the strength of the defense, with seniors Earl Patin and Chris Francis. The defensive line will get a boost from Penn State transfer Phil Taylor. He will try to clog the middle and help one of the worst run defenses in the conference. The defense recorded only 18 sacks last year, so they must do a better job of getting to the quarterback. On a related note, the team must force more turnovers after grabbing only 10 interceptions last season. The cornerbacks have experience, with Antareis Bryan and Clifton Odom both seniors. The safety spots are more uncertain and could prove a liability for this team.

Watching Griffin’s highlights may be one of the pleasures of this college football season. If the defense can find a way to significantly improve, the offense has enough talent to have the Bears thinking this could be the year.

Baylor’s odds to win the Big 12: + 6000

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Texas Longhorns 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 29
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 3

Just a few months after losing the National Championship game to Alabama, the Texas Longhorns are back with a ton of talent and are ready to make another run. Some key pieces from last year’s squad are gone, but based on head coach Mack Brown’s historical success and terrific recruiting, Texas is a national championship contender once again.

Colt McCoy, one of the winningest quarterbacks in college football history, has moved on to the NFL. Garrett Gilbert is now tasked with leading the team. He showed he has potential after playing most of the championship game after McCoy was injured. Having a whole offseason to prepare will definitely make him more at ease than being thrown in against Alabama’s top ranked defense. Leading receiver Jordan Shipley is gone, and someone else on the team will have to step up. The most likely candidate is Malcolm Williams, the second leading receiver who is big and strong and can make plays down the field. Tre’ Newton returns after leading the team with 577 yards rushing. He will get some competition from senior Vondrell McGee who averaged 5.4 yards per carry last year. The offensive line is the one major area of concern on the team. Both tackles are unproven and there is also a new center and left guard. This line must come together quickly to give Gilbert a chance.

Texas Longhorns College Football Cheerleader

Texas’ defense should again be one of the best in the nation. Losing superstars Earl Thomas and Sergio Kindle will hurt, but the team has so many five star recruits waiting in the wings that the team should continue on without missing a beat. Defensive end depth is incredible, with Sam Acho and Eddie Jones returning after combining for 15 sacks last year. Five star recruits Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat make this arguably the best defensive end rotation in the nation. The secondary is actually the strongest part of the team. Cornerback Aaron Williams is a sure fire first round pick next year and fellow corners Curtis Brown and Chykie Brown also have NFL potential. Junior Blake Gideon will start at one of the safety positions after snagging six interceptions last year.

As always, Texas is picked to be one of the best teams in the country. The defense is good enough to keep every game close, but Gilbert and the offense will have to score points for Texas to be champions.

Texas’ odds to win the Big 12: + 200

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Buffalo Bills 2010-2011 Season Preview

A Look Back – Things for the Buffalo Bills didn’t go according to plan in the 2009 NFL betting campaign. They finished just 6-10 on the year and dismissed HC Dick Jauron after another last place finish in the AFC East. Unfortunately, they were fighting an uphill battle all season long, especially with the resurgence of the New York Jets.

Key Addition – RB CJ Spiller – Buffalo badly needed to find an offensive player capable of making huge plays. Instead of drafting a quarterback, the Bills elected to go with that game breaker by taking Spiller out of Clemson. The Tigers will tell you that Spiller can do a little bit of everything, and even though both RBs Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson are capable runners, neither can really blow up for 70 yards every time they touch the football.

Buffalo Bills NFL Cheerleaders

Key Loss – WR Terrell Owens – TO never really brought his highest potential to Buffalo, but he was still the team’s leading receiver at 829 yards last season. Though WR Lee Evans should improve on his 2009 numbers, he doesn’t really have a great option to line up across from him. Owens will surely be missed.

2010 Will Be a Success if... – A quarterback finds a way to step up. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for just 1,422 yards in eight starts, while QB Trent Edwards threw for 1,169 in seven starts. Could QB Brian Brohm get some nods as well? If so, new HC Chan Gailey could be in for a short stop in Buffalo in his coaching career. Buffalo ranked 30th in the NFL both in total yards and passing yards, and if there isn’t a level of continuity at the quarterback position, things probably won’t improve.

The Crucial Game – Facing off with the Dolphins in Week 1 might be the best chance to take a game in division this year. The prospects are really there to go 0-6 in the AFC East, and if that’s the case, there really isn’t much hope for better than a four or five win campaign.

Predictions – Buffalo is in a boatload of trouble in 2010. Right off the bat, if it loses that first game of the year, it is going to almost certainly be 0-3. The only potentially winnable games are at home against Jacksonville, at Kansas City, home against Chicago, home against Detroit, and home against Cleveland. Every other game would be considered an upset, and that isn’t going to guarantee victories in all of those previously listed games. The over/under on NFL regular season wins is just 5.5 games. Gailey has been a failure in nearly every stop in his coaching career, and the puzzling decision by Buffalo to bring him in is probably going to be punished with one of the worst records in the NFL.

2010 Buffalo Bills Regular Season Schedule

9/12 vs. MIA
9/19 @ GB
9/26 @ NE
10/3 vs. NYJ
10/10 vs. JAC
Bye
10/24 @ BAL
10/31 @ KC
11/7 vs. CHI
11/14 vs. DET
11/21 @ CIN
11/28 vs. PIT
12/5 @ MIN
12/12 vs. CLE
12/19 @ MIA
12/26 vs. NE
1/2 @ NYJ

 

Oklahoma Sooners 2010-2011 Season Preview

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 23
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 8

The Oklahoma Sooners had a rough 2009 season. Losing quarterback Sam Bradford early in the year crippled the team, and forced them to suffer through an up and down season. The Sooners lost a lot of talent from last year’s squad, including Bradford, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and offensive tackle Trent Williams (3 of the top 4 picks in the draft).

Bradford’s injury may have been a blessing in disguise though. Landry Jones played in 11 games and gained invaluable experience. He was not always great, but saved his best play for the Sun Bowl in which he threw for 418 yards and three touchdowns. His top receiver, Ryan Broyles, returns after setting a school record with 89 catches in 2009. Dejuan Miller and Brandon Caleb give the Sooners good depth at receiver. The team’s second leading receiver from last year is this year’s starting running back, Demarco Murray. Murray ran for 705 yards and caught another 522 in his junior season. There is a long list of talented backs behind him, making Oklahoma one of the deepest teams in the country at the skill positions. The offensive line will start four players with starting experience. The only player without starting experience, left tackle Donald Stephenson, was suspended last season for off the field reasons. Stephenson plays the most important position on the line so it is vital that he produce right away.

Oklahoma Sooners College Football Cheerleader

Oklahoma’s defense was tremendous last season, keeping them in every game but one. A lot of their close losses can be pinned on the offense, not the defense. End Jeremy Beal led the team with 11 sacks and returns opposite Frank Alexander. Defensive tackle Adrian Taylor has started every game for the past two seasons and provides continuity in the middle. Linebacker Travis Lewis has the same starting streak, and provides leadership to young linebackers Tom Wort and Ronnell Lewis. The Sooners have two first year cornerbacks starting in Demontre Hurst and Jamell Fleming. They will be helped out by free safety Quinton Carter who was second on the team in tackles and tied for first in interceptions.

The Sooners have a tough schedule this season with out of conference games against Florida State, Air Force and Cincinnati. There is so much talent in Norman though, that Oklahoma will surely make a bowl game and challenge for the Big 12 title.

Oklahoma’s odds to win the Big 12: + 125

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New York Jets 2010-2011 Season Preview

A Look Back – The combination of a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback probably wasn’t meant to go this well. However, QB Mark Sanchez and HC Rex Ryan pulled it off. Not only did the New York Jets make it to the playoffs, but they ended up coming up a few drives shy of the Super Bowl as well.

Key Addition – DB Antonio Cromartie – In an offseason that was full of moves, Cromartie might be the most important asset the Jets picked up this year. Cromartie will immediately become the most feared second corner in the game, and lining up next to the great DB Darrelle Revis should provide plenty of INT opportunities. Cromartie will quite often be left on an island thanks to the blitz packages that Ryan draws up, but he is good enough to create another island that rivals “Revis Island.”

New York Jets NFL Cheerleader

Key Loss – RB Thomas Jones – The Jets had the top rushing offense in the NFL last year, and it was really thanks to Jones. He rushed for 1,402 yards and totaled 14 TDs on the season to pace an offense that averaged 172.2 YPG on the ground. Yes, Jones was replaced by RB LaDainian Tomlinson in the offseason, but there is a big question as to whether or not LT can really do the same type of damage at this point in his career that Jones did last year.

2010 Will Be a Success if… – QB Mark Sanchez steps it up just a tad. No one is asking Sanchez to throw the ball 40 times per game. The only thing Ryan wants from his franchise quarterback is to not screw up. Tossing 20 picks a year ago was unacceptable for a team that focuses on running the ball and playing sound defense. There are plenty of targets at Sanchez’s disposal this year, especially when WR Santonio Holmes comes back from his four game suspension to start the season. The USC product just has to figure out how to put the ball in good spots and make sound decisions, even if that means throwing the ball away or taking a sack.

The Crucial Game – Ryan would love nothing more than to open the Meadowlands in style with a ‘W’ against his former team. The Ravens might be the best team in the AFC this season, and they’re coming to town in Week 1. Expect to see the Jets try to prove that they are the most physical team in football that night, and if they succeed, their season will be off to the finest of starts.

Predictions – Though the Jets might have a better team this year than last, expecting them to make it to the playoffs again is going to be tough. Just look at this schedule outside of the AFC East. Baltimore, Minnesota, Green Bay, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh are all going to be hellacious matchups. New York will finish above .500 once again, but making the playoffs isn’t a given if the AFC East isn’t won. The New York Jets season wins over/under is 9.5 wins.

2010 New York Jets Regular Season Schedule

9/13 vs. BAL
9/19 vs. NE
9/26 @ MIA
10/3 @ BUF
10/11 vs. MIN
10/17 @ DEN
Bye
10/31 vs. GB
11/7 @ DET
11/14 @ CLE
11/21 vs. HOU
11/25 vs. CIN
12/6 @ NE
12/12 vs. MIA
12/19 @ PIT
12/26 @ CHI
1/2 vs. BUF

 

2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 41
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 75

The departure of four year starting quarterback Riley Skinner is a serious blow to Wake Forest. The team regressed in 2009, winning only five games, after an eight win season in 2008. With no quarterback on the roster that has thrown a pass in a collegiate game before, who will emerge to lead this team?

Junior quarterback Skylar Jones is expected to be the new man under center this season, trying to fill the large shoes of Riley Skinner. Skinner threw for over 3,100 yards and 26 touchdowns last season. Jones, along with fellow quarterbacks sophomore Ted Stachitas and redshirt freshman Brendan Cross, have never thrown a pass in college game before. To say that this group is inexperienced is an understatement. Luckily for them, they have a terrific wide receiving trio. Marshall Williams, Devon Brown and Chris Givens combined for 166 catches, 2,167 yards and 20 touchdowns. All three return and should be a safety net for a young quarterback.

<a href=Wake Forest Demon Deacons Cheerleader” width=”300″ height=”225″ />

To ease the transition at quarterback, Wake Forest will try to become more of a running team. Senior running back Josh Adams returns after leading the team with 541 yards rushing. The total is low, but his 4.8 yards per carry is proof that he can produce when given the opportunity. The offensive line returns only two starters from a year ago and has little depth. If they have a hard time up front, Adams and the new quarterback will have very little margin for error.

The defense will have a hard time replacing starting defensive tackles Boo Robinson and John Russell. Ramon Booi and Frank Souza will try to step in and control the line. Defensive end Kyle Wilber will be back to provide a speed rush after missing much of last season with injuries. Joey Ehrmann was second on the team in sacks from his linebacker position and should again help in the pass rush. Josh Bush and Kenny Okoro, the team leader in interceptions, will man the corner spots. Chyl Quarles, the team’s leading returning tackler, will start at strong safety.

The Demon Deacons will have a hard time succeeding while their quarterback experiences growing pains. The receivers are great, but with a shaky quarterback and a weak offensive line, the team will have a hard time putting points on the board and winning football games.

Wake Forest’s odds to win the ACC: + 3000

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2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 46
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 55

Graduation, injuries and legal troubles have left the North Carolina State Wolfpack reeling. Many starters are gone on both sides of the ball, and it will be up to the young talent to step in and produce. After recording only 5 wins last season, head coach Tom O’Brien has his work cut out for him.

The top three running backs from 2009 are all gone, 2 by graduation and 1 from injury. The most productive returning contributor from last season, James Washington, rushed for only 76 yards. He is likely to split time with Curtis Underwood who redshirted last year. The passing game was very good for the Wolfpack, led by quarterback Russell Wilson. He threw for over 3,000 yards and 31 touchdowns, fourth most in the nation. Leading receivers Owen Spencer and Jarvis Williams return after a strong campaign. Williams led the team in catches and touchdowns (11), but Spencer led in receiving yards (765 with a 25.5 average yards per catch). First team ACC tight end George Bryan’s future is in doubt after being arrested for marijuana possession. He was second on the team in catches and will be missed if he is not able to play this year. The offensive line returns only two starters, and one of them was arrested along with Bryan.

North Carolina State Wolfpack Cheerleader

The defense lost all four starting linemen after ranking 114th nationally in turnover margin. The two projected defensive tackle starters were also arrested with Bryan and may be suspended. The starting secondary is made up of four sophomores, who combined for a total of 0 interceptions last year. The best news for the Wolfpack defense is the return of middle linebacker Nate Irving after missing all of 2009 with injuries from a car accident. He averaged almost 9 tackles per game in 2008 and was sorely missed last year. Leading tackler Audie Cole also returns.

Outside of the quarterback and starting receivers, there is almost no proven talent on the roster. Legal proceedings could have a big impact on N.C. State’s season, but either way, they should be a below average team.

North Carolina State’s odds to win the ACC: + 2500

 

 

 

 
 
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