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Previewing 2008

I'm a little surprised that people are picking some of these BE teams in the top 25. UConn was a total fluke team. Their top WR transferred, their top OL graduated, their top CB graduated, and they lost several other key starters in their front 7. Pitt will probably win 9 games but they still have no OL. Cincy lost their QB and a lot of key starters.

Anyway:

QB: Mike Teel is back. It was hard to evaluate him last year given that he was battling a very bad thumb injury most of the year. I think he's not given a fair shake by some, our offense is based on throwing the ball deep, you're never going to have super-high completion numbers. If you actually look at his cumulative stats from last year, they're among the best despite having to miss several games when his thumb started being a problem. He's back to 100%. The less I have to talk about Jabu Lovelace, the better. He was badly outplayed in the spring game by a transfer QB coming off arm surgery, and I hope to hell that guy wins the backup job and is our starter in the next two years.

RB: Not much experience here, but three highly-touted recruits fighting for the job. Two scatbacks in Kordell Young and Mason Robinson, who'll provide more speed than Rice without the power; and one bruiser in Jourdan Brooks who has good top-end speed. It's honestly not too hard to replace rushing yards, it's the blocking and receiving that you lose when experience leaves.

FB: A training camp battle between Jack Corcoran (homeless man's Brian Leonard), and Andres Morales (blocking TE). Morales was a lot better last year, but Corcoran has had the better spring and was given the job back.

WR: Kenny Britt is without a doubt one of the best receivers in the country, and I honestly cannot fathom why he isn't being talked about as an All-American candidate. He's an elite deep threat, incredible NFL-style combo of size and speed. I think Tiquan Underwood is just a possession guy. He had a good first half and a bad second half last year. In Timmy Brown and Dennis Campbell we have two fast smurfs who'll beat the secondary and then drop a lot of passes. Also have some younger receivers who look promising but won't see the field much this year. A very deep unit.

TE: Kevin Brock started last year as the starter, but quickly fell into Schiano's doghouse. He earned the job back during the second half of the year and comes into 2007 entrenched. All catch, no blocking guy. The blocking TE, who plays at least 50% of the time in our offense, will be Craig McGovern, partly because there isn't anyone else to do it. He was a highly-touted transfer from Michigan State who was buried last year, but supposedly had a good spring. We have a couple of other receiving TEs who'll play more in 2009. Have had a lot of trouble recruiting a good two-way TE here.

OL: A lot of talent here, but really, really green. 2 returning starters, but it's more like 1 and two half-starters. Anthony Davis at LT, who started half of last year at RG and played well. Had an amazing spring, and was an elite recruit, but you won't know if this transition worked until it's finally in place. At LG will be Kevin Haslam. Unfortunately, he's lanky and not really physical enough for any position but LT. He did a bad job run blocking last year at RG before he lost the job. At C is Ryan Blaze, returning starter. RG and RT are up for grabs, the front runners are Caleb Ruch (RS Freshman), and Mike Gilmartin (fifth-year senior who was the top reserve last year). We did have a big recruiting class two years ago here, and there are four-five other names who could easily be involved. This unit will be very green, but we do have one of the top OL coaches in the country. If it clicks, we'll be golden and have one of the best offenses in the country.

DL: Deep unit was made thinner in the spring. Justin Francis played as a true freshman last year, but he got drunk and waved around an airsoft gun, and his case is currently pending. Just speculation so far as to what happens to him. Another DL was projected as a starter but buried in the spring and subsequently transferred. DTs include returning starter Pete Tverdov and Jamal Westermann, who's been starting at DE for two years. Of course, DT in our defense is more like DE in a normal defense, so that looks solid enough. DEs will be George Johnson and Gary Watts, who split time opposite Westermann last year. We recruited like 7 DL two years ago, some of whom redshirted, and some didn't. They'll be the sole reserves this year, which is good and bad because they have promise but very little experience.

LB: Kevin Malast is the only returning starter. Ryan D'Imperio was supposed to be our best LB coming into last year (as a true sophomore), but he was injured in the spring and didn't come back until late in the year. His replacement, Damaso Munoz, who wasn't very good, was injured in the spring and its unknown when he'll be back. The third starter will either be Blair Bines, who has good physical tools but looks lost on the field at times, or two very highly-touted RS freshmen, Manny Abreu or Antonio Lowery. This unit was just horrible last year, and part of the reason why is that Schiano loves fast LBs who can't tackle at all. One graduated now and the other one is out indefinitely!

CB: Both starters from last year return. Nickel back transferred, and depth here doesn't have a ton of experience.

S: Lost one (bad) starter to the NFL. The good safety, Courtney Greene returns. Joe Lefeged looked good when mostly being used as a nickel blitzer last year, but right now it looks like he'll probably have to wait a year to start behind a crappy veteran. The wildcard is Zaire Kitchen, who might be the 2nd best safety on the team, but has dealt with two knee surgeries in the past two years. Still giving it another go though.

K/P: K San San Te was redshirted last year. P Teddy Dellaganna was too, with disasterous results (multiple games lost directly due to terrible S/T play). Dellaganna is supposed to have a big leg but he had problems handling snaps in pre-season camp. <!-- google_ad_section_end --><!-- EndContentMarker -->