With so much uncertainty and a young team last year, not too much was expected of the Yellow Jackets. They won eight games, but were 14 points away from a 10-win season. With an experienced group returning this year, it’s safe to say more is expected. Continue reading
The Panthers are coming off of an impressive 8-5 season, one in which they defeated Louisville on the road. Coach Mario Cristobal was a hot commodity in the offseason, but turned down numerous offers to stay in Miami. Continue reading
This is a transitional time for Florida Atlantic, as they are going into their first year under new coach Carl Pelini. Pelini, who becomes only the second coach in the schools 11-year program history, is replacing legendary coach Howard Schnellenberger. Pelini comes over from Nebraska, where he was defensive coordinator under his brother Bo. Continue reading
Last year’s six wins were the most by the program in a season since 1995. In three of their six losses, the margin of defeat was two, six and six points. Can it happen again? Sure. Continue reading
Is this the year Duke finally does? Qualifies for its first bowl since 1994? With 13 starters coming back, this may be David Cutcliffe’s best Duke team. Continue reading
There are going to be a lot of new faces this year at Colorado State, as a new coach, quarterback and wide receivers. The Rams are hoping that Jim McElwain can bring some of that Alabama mojo to Fort Collins. Continue reading
After some early success in the 2000′s, it’s been a bunch of so-so years for the Golden Bears. The team has been around the .500 mark for the past three seasons and is hoping to change that trend this year. Continue reading
Last year was one that Eagles fans are hoping was an abnormality. The team endured its first losing season since 1998 and sat out the postseason after going to 12 straight bowl games following a 4-8 season. Continue reading
Coming off of a season that saw the Baylor Bears pull off crazy upset wins over TCU and Oklahoma, while also providing some exciting games, the 2012 season may be one that brings the Big 12 squad back to reality. The squad loses Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, All-American wideout Kendall Wright and record-setting running back Terrance Ganaway. Continue reading
It’s an exciting time for Arkansas State and its football fans. The team went 10-3 last year, undefeated in Sun Belt play, is coming off of its best season in a quarter-century. Oh yeah, they also went out and hired offensive genius Gus Malzahn to replace Hugh Fezze, who bolted for Ole Miss.
Offense: The one player who has to be happiest with the Malzahn hire is senior quarterback Ryan Aplin. The senior put up video game numbers in his junior season, throwing for 3.588 yards, 19 touchdowns and completing 64 percent of his passes. Despite his accuracy, he will need to cut down on his interceptions, as he tossed 16 of them last year. He also rushed for a team-high 588 yards and 10 touchdowns. Aplin also ranks fourth among active FBS quarterbacks in total offense with 8.734 career yards.
Sophomore Frankie Jackson will be looked upon to take over the reigns of starting running back. Despite an injury-plagued 2011, he finished second in rushing touchdowns with six and ran for 355 yards. Jackson is also a passing threat out of the backfield, as he caught 13 passes for 178 yards last season. Jackson is just keeping the seat warm for stud transfer Michael Dyer, however. The running back followed Malzahn from Auburn.
The offense brings back a wealth of experience amongst the receivers, as all three starters are seniors and their backups are also upperclassmen. Taylor Stockemer led the wideouts with seven touchdown grabs and caught 48 balls for 756 yards. Josh Jarboe snared 54 balls for 730 yards.
Defense: Unlike the offense, the defense brings back little experience, as seven starters are gone from last year, as well as a number of top backups. Last year’s Sun Belt DPOY Brandon Joiner has departed, taking his 13 sacks with him. The Red Wolves are looking for someone to become the main pass rusher.
The linebackers are more experienced, with seniors Nathan Herrold and Nick Nelms back. Sophomore Qushaun Lee also returns. Herrold finished third on the team in tackles last season with 66. Lee had 49 stops and two interceptions.
Having to replace two All-Sun Belt corners will be rough, but ASU brings back experience at safety with Don Jones and Sterling Young. The two finished fourth and fifth in tackles last season, with 54 and 51, respectively.
Recruiting: The Red Wolves brought in a total of 30 recruits. The biggest is probably Dyer, but he won’t be eligible to play until 2013. Malzahn picked up much of his class within the trenches, as six recruits are offensive linemen, three defensive ends and four other defensive linemen. The star of the class, however, may be quarterback Fredi Knighten. Knighten comes in as a Parade All-American after throwing for a ridiculous 4,557 yards and 66 touchdowns. He did that all while completing 74 percent of his passes. Oh yeah, he also rushed for 840 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was Arkansas’ Gatorade Player of the Year.
Schedule: The nonconference schedule is going to provide the Red Wolves with some good experience, as they travel to both Oregon and Nebraska in the first three weeks of the season. Their other noncon games should be easy, as they face Memphis (who they defeated last year 47-3) and Alcorn State. Their two toughest conferfence games, against FIU and Louisiana-Lafayette, are both on the road, however.