NCF Nation: Non-AQ spring team wraps 2010

Boise State spring wrap

May, 6, 2010
5/06/10
11:30
AM ET
2009 overall record: 14-0

2009 conference record: 8-0

Returning starters
Offense: 10, defense 10, punter/kicker 2

Top returners
QB Kellen Moore, OL Nate Potter, DE Ryan Winterswyk, DT Billy Winn, S Jeron Johnson, WR Titus Young, RB Jeremy Avery, CB Brandyn Thompson, WR Austin Pettis, S Winston Venable

Key losses
CB Kyle Wilson, TE Richie Brockel, OL Kevin Sapien

2009 statistical leaders (* denotes returners)

Rushing: Jeremy Avery * (1,151 yards)
Passing: Kellen Moore * (3,536 yards)
Receiving: Titus Young * (1,041 yards)
Tackles: Jeron Johnson * (91 Total; 54 UA, 37 Asst)
Sacks: Ryan Winterswyk * (9.0 sacks/48 yards)
Interceptions: Brandyn Thompson * (6 INT, 67 Yards, 1 TD)

Spring Answers

1. Filling in for Wilson: The only void in the secondary is the one left at cornerback by first-round draft pick Kyle Wilson. There’s an abundance of young talent available, including Jerrell Gavins, Jamar Taylor and Ebo Makinde, who had a terrific spring.

2. Depth at receiver: Boise State returns four receivers who had 20 or more catches last year, but this spring was about the development of young players such as sophomores Chris Potter and Mitch Burroughs and freshmen Aaron Burks and Geraldo Hiwat. The Broncos have mainstays in Austin Pettis, Titus Young and Tyler Shoemaker, but these young players, including Kirby Moore, will give the Broncos even more depth.

3. D-line looks strong: The Boise State defensive line was one of the best in the country last season and should be just as good, if not better, in 2010. During scrimmages this spring, the defensive line got pressure on Moore and forced him into uncharacteristic mistakes. While there were some injuries on the line, it should be better and deeper than 2009.


Fall Questions

1. What to do with the running backs? The Broncos have nine running backs who could fight for time this year. Nine. But realistically, Jeremy Avery, Doug Martin and D.J. Harper will be the main backs while the others sit or fight for carries. This isn’t anything new. Boise State has had multiple backs before; it’s just a matter of determining how to divvy up the carries.

2. Offensive line shuffle: The good thing about playing so many offensive linemen the past couple of years is that there is no lack of depth. However, there could be a lack of consistency, which is why the Broncos are trying to settle on a permanent offensive line. It didn’t help that some of the main guys were out this spring, but the Broncos should have a nice group from which to choose.

3. Replicating special teams: The Broncos have had great special teams for quite some time, but with Kyle Wilson gone, the Broncos need a new threat to fill the void. Titus Young was great on kick returns and Chris Potter can help out with punts. Doug Martin and Jerrell Gavins also will be options on returns.

BYU spring wrap

May, 6, 2010
5/06/10
11:00
AM ET
2009 overall record: 11-2

2009 conference record: 7-1, 2nd MWC

Returning starters
Offense: 6, defense: 6, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners
OL Matt Reynolds, DB Andrew Rich, WR McKay Jacobson, LB Jordan Pendleton

Key losses
TE Dennis Pitta, QB Max Hall, DL Jan Jorgensen, RB Harvey Unga

2009 statistical leaders (* denotes returners)

Rushing: Harvey Unga (1,087 yards)
Passing: Max Hall (3,560 yards)
Receiving: Dennis Pitta (829 yards)
Tackles: Andrew Rich* (85 tackles)
Sacks: Jan Jorgensen (6 sacks)
Interceptions: Andrew Rich*, Scott Johnson (4 interceptions)

Spring answers

1. Quarterbacks showing promise: While the Cougars have not decided on a starting quarterback, coach Bronco Mendenhall said he feels confident that any of the three who participated in spring ball -- Riley Nelson, Jake Heaps and James Lark -- could start.

2. Freshman running back emerges: Freshman running back Joshua Quezada won’t replace Harvey Unga, who voluntarily left the program last month after violating the school’s honor code, but his play this spring gives the Cougars much-needed depth at a position that’s now in flux with Unga out of school.

3. Defensive line rebounding: Yeah, the defensive line took some hits with the loss of Jan Jorgensen, Russell Tialavea and Brett Denney, but the players stepping into those starting roles did well in the spring and there shouldn’t be much of a drop-off. Vic So'oto and Matt Putnam have experience and Romney Fuga is a returning part-time starter.

Fall questions

1. Who will replace Max Hall? While Mendenhall is happy with the play of his quarterbacks this spring, he still couldn’t decide which of the three was going to be his starter in the fall. He noted that Nelson and Heaps are probably ahead, but that could change as Lark progresses during the summer and Jason Munns joins the competition in the fall.

2. Tight at tight end: At the beginning of spring football, the Cougars had four tight ends competing for playing time, but that competition was dropped to just freshmen Mike Muehlmann and Devin Mahina, who are “dead even” according to Mendenhall. Austin Holt will join the race this fall when he returns from his mission.

3. Light at linebacker: BYU is still trying to replace departed seniors Matt Bauman, Terrance Hooks and Shawn Doman at inside linebacker. Junior college transfer Aveni Leung-Wai took the most reps this spring, and sophomore Brandon Ogletree emerged on the first team after sitting out the first couple of weeks with a groin injury. It will be interesting to see what kind of waves highly touted recruit Zac Stout makes when he arrives on campus in the fall. Stout and freshman Collin Keoshian will be in the linebacking mix.

East Carolina spring wrap

May, 6, 2010
5/06/10
10:30
AM ET
2009 overall record: 9-5

2009 conference record: 7-1 (C-USA champions)

Returning starters
Offense:
5, Defense: 2, Punter/Kicker: 0

Top returners
WR/KR Dwayne Harris, WR Darryl Freeney, OG Cory Dowless, CB Emanuel Davis, CB/PR Travis Simmons, DT Josh Smith

Key losses

C Sean Allen, RB Dominique Lindsay, QB Patrick Pinkney, DE C.J. Wilson (drafted), DT Linval Joseph (drafted), DT Jay Ross, LB Nick Johnson, FS Van Eskridge, P Matt Dodge (drafted), PK Ben Hartman

2009 statistical leaders (* denotes returners)

Rushing: Dominique Lindsay (239-1,180 yards, 6 TD)
Passing: Patrick Pinkney (440-259-12, 2,947 yards, 15 TD)
Receiving: Dwayne Harris* (83-978 yards, 7 TD)
Tackles: Van Eskridge (102)
Sacks: C.J. Wilson (5.5)
Interceptions: Van Eskridge (6)


Spring answers

1. Bringing in new schemes: Installing both the new offensive and defensive schemes this spring was the main priority for first-year head coach Ruffin McNeill. At the end of spring, he said he was pleased with the installation progress of new systems on both sides of the ball, moving from a pro-set scheme to a passing-oriented spread look on offense and implementing more of an attacking, blitzing and man-cover concept on defense.

2. Looking for more options: Dwayne Harris emerged as the Pirates' go-to receiver last season, but in the offense, the Pirates need multiple weapons and found them in redshirt freshmen receivers Mike Price, Reese Wiggins and Torrance Hunt. Offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley even converted 6-foot-8 tight end Justin Jones to the “Big Y” position, which will utilize Jones as a third-down option or possession receiver.

3. Front-seven fiasco: ECU lost its front seven from a year ago, but made big strides this spring in replacing those key players, especially on the line. Redshirt freshman end Matt Milner, tackles Josh Smith and Antonio Allison and hybrid rush end Marke Powell, who lined up as a true freshman linebacker in 2009, all made impacts this spring. Middle LB Steve Spence and WLB Dustin Lineback also have potential for 2010.


Fall questions

1. Can the walk-on hold on? Sophomore walk-on quarterback Brad Wornick unexpectedly climbed to the top of the depth chart to earn the starting nod out of camp, but he’ll have to earn the spot again in the fall against Rio Johnson, Josh Jordan, and transfer Dominique Davis, a former Boston College quarterback who attended spring workouts as an observer but did not play.

2. Running game woes: The running game was a source of consternation for Riley, who was expecting better from a team that was known for its running efforts under former coach Skip Holtz. Senior Jonathan Williams could be the starter if he can stay out of off-field trouble and redshirt freshman Michael Dobson turned heads during spring drills. Seniors Giavanni Ruffin and Norman Whitley missed most of the spring and Brandon Jackson was removed from the team for disciplinary reasons.

3. Reloading on defense: East Carolina’s back-to-back Conference USA titles have been largely a product of stellar defense, but with nine starters gone, McNeill is really starting from scratch despite an encouraging spring. Only cornerbacks Emanuel Davis and Travis Simmons return, but everyone will be learning a new scheme.

Fresno State spring wrap

May, 6, 2010
5/06/10
10:00
AM ET
2009 overall record: 8-5

2009 conference record:6-2

Returning starters
Offense: 8, defense: 8, punter/kicker: 1

Top returners
QB Ryan Colburn, DE Chris Carter, PK Kevin Goessling, LB Ben Jacobs, WR Jamel Hamler

Key losses
RB Ryan Mathews, WR Seyi Ajirotutu, SS Moses Harris, P Robert Malone

2009 statistical leaders (* denotes returners)

Rushing: Ryan Mathews (1,808 yards)
Passing: Ryan Colburn* (2,459 yards)
Receiving: Seyi Ajirotutu (677 yards)
Tackles: Ben Jacobs* 106
Sacks: Chris Carter* (5)
Interceptions: Phillip Thomas* 2

Spring Answers

1. Ryan Mathews' replacement: Initially, many weren’t sure whether Robbie Rouse could replace all-everything star Ryan Mathews, but he’s done a spectacular job this spring and has earned the starting role over competitors Michael Harris and A.J. Ellis.

2. Securing the secondary: The emergence of redshirt freshman defensive back L.J Jones and sophomore Phillip Thomas provide hope that the Bulldogs’ secondary will be even better than it was a year ago. The Bulldogs allowed less than 200 yards per game last year, but lost A.J. Jefferson.

3. No worries at QB: Coach Pat Hill challenged the quarterbacks this spring and last year’s starter Ryan Colburn and up-and-comer Derek Carr responded. Both had good spring seasons and should be more active this year as the Bulldogs try to spread the ball around a little more.

Fall questions


1. Looking for support: Colburn really came on in the second half of the season, but he also had a lot of veteran talent around him. This year, there’s still talent, but it’s young and inexperienced. While it might take time to develop a rhythm, Hill said he believes this will be one of his more athletic groups of skill players.

2. Who will replace All-WAC punter Robert Malone? Fresno State is still looking for someone to replace Malone, who helped the Bulldogs rank first in the conference in net punting. Andrew Shapiro and Matt Williams were listed on the depth chart, but the competition is still open and likely won’t be decided until the fall.

3. Improving the run defense: The Bulldogs' pass defense was good, but the run defense was pretty terrible. It allowed 214.08 yards per game and more than 300 rushing yards three times last season. The entire front four returns and their focus this spring was on the run. We’ll see if that paid off in the fall.

Houston spring wrap

May, 6, 2010
5/06/10
9:30
AM ET
2009 overall record: 10-4

2009 conference record: 6-2, t-1st C-USA West

Returning starters
Offense: 9, defense: 7, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners
QB Case Keenum, WR James Cleveland, WR/KR Tyron Carrier, WR Patrick Edwards, OL Chris Thompson, RB Charles Sims, RB Bryce Beall LB Marcus McGraw, S Nick Saenz, CB Jamal Robinson K Matt Hogan

Key losses
LB C.J. Cavness, DE Tyrell Graham, CB Brandon Brinkley

2009 statistical leaders (* denotes returners)

Rushing: Charles Sims* (698 yards, 9 TDs)
Passing: Case Keenum*(5,671 yards, 44 TDs)
Receiving: James Cleveland* (1,214 yards, 14 TDs)
Tackles: Marcus McGraw* (156 tackles)
Sacks: Tyrell Graham (7)
Interceptions: Jamal Robinson* (5)

Spring answers

1. Kicker woes solved: The Cougars had some kicking struggles late last season, but those were rectified this spring with walk-on Matt Hogan and deep snapper Brandon Hartson. They were so good that coach Kevin Sumlin decided to put both on scholarship.

2. Switching up defenses: The Cougars spent the spring transitioning from the 4-3 to new defensive coordinator Brian Smith’s 3-4 attacking defense. The goal was to get the right people in the right positions, especially on the front line. The Cougars think they achieved that with defensive ends Matangi Tonga and David Hunter, and Tyrone Campbell on the inside. The Cougars are also high on junior college transfer Sammy Brown and Kelvin King at linebacker.

3. Fighting fatigue: Sumlin thought one of the reasons his team lost its final two games of the season was because of fatigue and a lack of depth. This spring, the Cougars concentrated on finding a core group of second-string players to complement the first string so that wouldn’t be a problem as the schedule wore on.

Fall questions

1. Safety competition will continue: The Cougars had five safeties competing this spring and that competition will continue into the fall. Juniors Nick Saenz and Roisean Haynes were listed as the starters coming out of spring, but the competition is far from over for a team that allowed 224.71 passing yards per game.

2. Looking for a breakout player: Houston is looking for players both on offense and defense to have a breakout 2010 season to complement the play of Keenum. On the offensive line, guard Isaiah Thompson is poised to have a big year, while Brown and Tonga could turn the defensive line into something it hasn’t been in quite some time.

3. Handling the pressure: If there’s one thing that Sumlin hoped his team learned from last year, it’s the ability to handle the pressure and they hype surrounding being ranked. Houston has tough games at UCLA and at Texas Tech, and both will be a good opportunity to see whether the Cougars have matured from a year ago.

Nevada spring wrap

May, 6, 2010
5/06/10
9:00
AM ET
2009 overall record: 8-5

2009 conference record: 7-1

Returning starters
Offense:
9, defense: 6, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners
QB Colin Kaepernick, RB Vai Taua, WR Brandon Wimberly, TE Virgil Green, OL John Bender, DE Dontay Moch, LB James-Michael Johnson

Key losses
OL Alonzo Durham, LB Mike Bethea, S Jonathon Amaya

2009 statistical leaders (* denotes returners)

Rushing: Vai Taua*, 1,345 yards
Passing: Colin Kaepernick*, 2,052 yards
Receiving: Brandon Wimberly*, 733 yards
Tackles: Jonathon Amaya 89
Sacks: Kevin Basped 9.5
Interceptions: Khalid Wooten* 2

Spring answers

1. Defense, defense, defense: Most of the Wolf Pack’s struggles in recent years have come on the defensive side of the ball, but newly named defensive coordinator Andy Buh and safeties coach Mike Bradeson were hired to fix that. Their influence was shown during the spring game when the defense kept the first-team offense out of the end zone.


2. Diversifying the offense: Nevada led the nation in rushing last year and returns a pair of 1,000-yard rushers, but coach Chris Ault spent the spring trying to get more balance from his offense. The receiving corps has all three starters back and junior college transfer Rishard Matthews and grayshirt Aaron Bradley impressed this spring. But quarterback Colin Kaepernick has to finally show the control he’s worked on for the past three seasons.


3. James-Michael in the middle: With middle linebacker Mike Bethea lost to graduation, All-WAC linebacker James-Michael Johnson moved from the outside to the middle spot. To make up for the loss of Johnson on the outside, junior college transfer DeAndre Boughton has come in and prove he could be the go-to guy at that spot.


Fall questions

1. They want balance, but can they achieve it? For the past three seasons, Nevada has been trying to add a consistent passing game to its already stellar running game. We all know Kaepernick has a gun, but harnessing it hasn’t been easy. And with the strength of the running game, he hasn’t had to throw much. However, the lack of a passing game hurt the Wolf Pack against Boise State and SMU, so that will be a top priority in the fall.


2. Not-so-special teams: Nevada has not returned a punt for a touchdown since 2001 and has not returned a kick for a score since 1998. The Wolf Pack have not had a big-time return man, but might have found one in junior college transfer Rishard Matthews, who led all junior college players in punt returns last year.


3. Defense is still a question mark: Yes, the defense improved this spring, but Buh isn’t ready to declare it fixed. It’s easy to go against your own offense, but the Wolf Pack won’t know what it has until it plays in real games. The defensive line and linebackers looked good this spring, but the secondary, which has been one of the worst in the country the past couple of years, is still suspect.
2009 overall record: 7-6

2009 conference record: 5-3

Returning starters (started 7 or more games)

Offense: 6, defense: 10, punter/kicker: 1

Top returners

TB Chad Spann, WR Landon Cox, FB Kyle Skarb, OT Trevor Olson, CB Chris Smith, S Tracy Wilson, DT D.J. Pirkle, DE Sean Progar, OLB Alex Kube

Key losses

C Eddie Adamski, OG Jason Onyebuagu, DE Jake Coffman, DE Brandon Bice, LB Cory Hanson

2009 statistical leaders (* denotes returners)

Rushing: Chad Spann* (1,038 yards rushing)

Passing: Chandler Harnish* (1,670 yards passing)

Receiving: Landon Cox* (45 catches, 535 yards)

Tackles: Tracy Wilson* (93 tackles)

Sacks: Jake Coffman (8.5); Sean Progar* (6.0)

Interceptions: Cory Hanson (3); Patrick George* (2)

Spring answers

1. Running backs a-plenty: Chad Spann was already going to be the starting running back next season, but now he won’t have to do it alone. The Huskies found an abundance of running back depth with Cameron Bell, Jasmin Hopkins and Ricky Crider. The depth is so strong that many are likening it to the years when the Huskies had Michael Turner and Garrett Wolfe in the backfield.

2. Fill holes on the line: The Huskies had two major holes to fill on the offensive line, but none more important than the one left by center Eddie Adamski. Scott Wedige had been the center in waiting for a year and he stepped in with little incident this spring. His ability to seamlessly jell with the rest of the line will do wonders for whichever quarterback the Huskies decide to use.

3. Stingy defense: The Northern Illinois defense was the best in the Mid-American Conference last season and seemed to get even better this spring with increased athleticism. The Huskies did lose sack leader and defensive MVP Jake Coffman and interception leader Cory Hanson from last year’s squad, but there are several other players who are poised for big seasons.

Fall questions

1. Little resolved at quarterback: Last year’s starter, Chandler Harnish, was supposed to miss the spring with knee surgery, but that didn’t happen and he looked comfortable during the spring. But whether he keeps his starting quarterback job remains to be seen. DeMarcus Grady, Jordan Lynch, A.J. Hill and incoming junior college transfer Casey Weston will all take a run at it in the fall.

2. Waiting on the freshmen: The Huskies have a pretty stout group of linebackers coming in this fall who will immediately challenge for playing time, including Greg Barksdale, Jamaal Bass, Mike Hellams and Cameron Stingily. Those players will try to supplant the likes of Alex Kube, Pat Schiller and Jordan Delegal in the starting lineup. The competition for linebacker will be one of the more interesting ones in August.

3. Kickin’ it: The Huskies had two walk-on kickers this spring -- Alex Faust and Ryan Fillingim -- but neither took a stranglehold on the job heading into the summer. So it might be up to Mat Sims, a three-time all-state player from Kansas, to win the job in the fall.

Southern Miss spring wrap

May, 6, 2010
5/06/10
8:00
AM ET
2008 overall record: 7-6

2008 conference record: 5-3 (third C-USA East)

Returning starters
Offense
: 4, defense: 9, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners
QB Austin Davis, QB Martevious Young, WR DeAndre Brown, WR/RB/Returner Tracey Lampley, C Cameron Zipp, DL Anthony Gray, DL Cordarro Law, LB Martez Smith, LB, Korey Williams, DB C.J. Bailey, DB Justin Wilson, P Peter Boehme

Key losses
RB Damion Fletcher, OL Kyle Burkhart, OL Ryan Hebert, TE Leroy Banks, WR Gerald Baptiste, WR/Returner Freddie Parham, LS Cody Tawater, DS Andy Hill, DB Andre Watson, DB Eddie Hicks

2009 statistical leaders (* denotes returners)

Rushing: Damion Fletcher (1,015 yards)
Passing: Martevious Young* (1,861 yards)
Receiving: DeAndre Brown* (785 yards)
Tackles: Korey Williams* (121 tackles)
Sacks: Korey Williams*, Cordarro Law* (7.5 sacks)
Interceptions: Eddie Hicks (5 INTs)


Spring answers

1. Unexpected running back depth: Losing the top two rushers from a year ago didn’t seem to faze the Golden Eagles this spring as they found more running back depth than they’ve had in some time. V.J. Floyd, Kendrick Hardy, Tracey Lampley and Desmond Johnson all played well this spring and will all have the chance to compete in the fall.

2. Defensive line gets better: The Eagles returned all of their starting defensive linemen from a year ago and they continued to get better in the spring led by end Cordarro Law, who had 11 tackles, including five sacks.

3. Kicking woes fixed: Going into spring, coach Larry Fedora said the kicking game was going to be the focus. Southern Miss missed 10 extra points last season and six field goals. Justin Estes and Daniel Hrapmann struggled with consistency and Fedora challenged both players to get better this spring. It seemingly worked as the kicking game was much better during the spring. Hrapmann surged into the top kicking spot and Matthew Little looks like he’ll add quality depth.


Fall questions

1. Offensive line still incomplete: Southern Miss is still trying to fill four positions on the offensive line and had some success during spring ball. Center Cameron Zipp is the only returning starter and Fedora leaned on the experience of junior college players Lamar Holmes and Jason Weaver to jump-start the line this spring.

2. Lots of RBs, but who will start? While the Eagles did find running back depth, it didn’t find a definitive replacement for the school’s all-time leading rusher, Damion Fletcher. V.J. Floyd will probably open the year as the starter, but Kendrick Hardy might ultimately be the team’s future as a big, bruising back.

3. Quarterback conundrum: Last year’s starting quarterback, Austin Davis, suffered a foot injury, which kept him out the whole season. Martevious Young did an admirable job in Davis’ absence and took the lead this spring. It’s unclear what Davis’ role will be when he gets back, especially since he’s missed so much time and Young has played so well.

TCU spring wrap

May, 6, 2010
5/06/10
7:30
AM ET
2009 overall record: 12-1

2009 conference record: 8-0

Returning starters
Offense: 9, defense: 7, punter/kicker: 3

Top returners
OT Marcus Cannon, LB Tank Carder, QB Andy Dalton, DE Wayne Daniels, OG Kyle Dooley, TE Evan Frosch, DT Cory Grant, NT Kelly Griffin, WR Antoine Hicks, S Alex Ibiloye, WR Bart Johnson, S Tejay Johnson, WR/PR/KR Jeremy Kerley, C Jake Kirkpatrick, TB Matthew Tucker, OG Josh Vernon, TB Ed Wesley, WR Jimmy Young

Key losses
DE Jerry Hughes, OT Marshall Newhouse, CB Rafael Priest, CB Nick Sanders, TB Joseph Turner, LB Daryl Washington

2009 statistical leaders (* denotes returners)

Rushing: Joseph Turner (754 yards, 11 TDs)
Passing: Andy Dalton* (2,756 yards)
Receiving: Jeremy Kerley* (44 receptions for 532 yards, 2 TDs)
Tackles: Daryl Washington (109 tackles, 11.0 TFL, 2 Sacks, 3 Int.)
Sacks: Jerry Hughes (11.5)
Interceptions: Tejay Johnson* (3) and Daryl Washington (3)

Spring answers

1. Left tackle, tackled: There was some concern about filling the left tackle position vacated by Marshall Newhouse, but the Frogs slid Marcus Cannon from right tackle to left tackle to fill the void. He seemed to make the transition seamlessly during spring ball.

2. Filling in for Hughes: One of the biggest questions heading into spring ball was about who was going to fill Jerry Hughes’ spot at left end, and TCU found a surprise answer in Ross Forrest, who began the spring third team on the depth chart at right end. Braylon Broughton and Stansly Maponga also will challenge in the fall.

3. So long snapper: For the past three seasons Clint Gresham has been the team’s deep snapper and hasn’t had a bad snap. Replacing him was the biggest priority this spring and Daniel Shelley emerged as the team’s starting long-snapper for the 2010 season.


Fall questions

1. So if right tackle is good, what about left? With Marcus Cannon moving over from right tackle to left tackle, the right tackle position is now up for grabs. Junior Jeff Olson, who was not listed on the spring depth chart, will probably start fall camp as the top right tackle, but the position is far from filled.

2. Backed into a corner: Greg McCoy and Jason Teague are replacing four-year starters Rafael Priest and Nick Sanders at the cornerback position and it doesn’t look like there’s going to be much drop-off for a pass defense that ranked sixth in the country last year. All of the safeties are back, which will provide needed help as the new corners get acclimated.

3. Deep running back corps -- again: TCU is a running team and this year’s group of running backs figures to be as strong as ever. Ed Wesley and Matthew Tucker return after good seasons a year ago, along with players such as Dwight Smith, who had surgery but is expected to be back for fall camp, Waymon James and Aundre Dean.

Temple spring wrap

May, 6, 2010
5/06/10
7:00
AM ET
2009 overall record: 9-4

2009 conference record: 5-1 (T 1st/MAC East)

Returning starters
Offense:
9, defense: 7, punter/kicker: 1/1

Top returners
RB Bernard Pierce, DB Jaiquawn Jarrett, LB Elijah “Peanut” Joseph

Key losses
LB Alex Joseph, TE Steve Maneri, DB Dominique Harris, NT Andre Neblett, OL Devin Tyler (all in NFL now)

2009 statistical leaders (* denotes returners)

Rushing: *Bernard Pierce (1,361 yards / 16 TDs)
Passing: Vaughn Charlton (1,390 yards / 10 TDs)
Receiving: *Joe Jones (387 yards / 1 TD)
Tackles: Alex Joseph (49-31-80 tackles / 5.5 TFL)
Sacks: *Adrian Robinson (13 sacks)
Interceptions: *Marquise Liverpool (3 int.)

Spring answers

1. Quarterback competition settled: One of the biggest questions heading into spring was about the starting quarterback. Both Vaughn Charlton and Chester Stewart played a year ago and the competition was heated through the early portion spring. However, as Stewart started to take the edge, Charlton decided to switch to tight end. Charlton is now the team’s top tight end and coach Al Golden expects him to have a big year.

2. Building O-line depth: The starting offensive line was a little nicked up this spring, which allowed several younger linemen to get quality reps and experience. That will definitely pay off, especially if any of the injuries become nagging.

3. Leading the linebackers: Defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio took over as the linebackers coach this spring and the change in that position group was almost immediate. Elijah Joseph is the only returning linebacker with quality starting experience, but the Owls have quality players in Tahir Whitehead, Marcus Green, and Jordan Martin.

Fall questions

1. Can Pierce stay healthy? Running back Bernard Pierce had a breakout season a year ago and was largely the reason why the Owls went on a nine-game winning streak. However, he suffered a shoulder late in the season and wasn’t healthy for the rest of the year. Pierce could easily have another 1,000-yard season if he stays healthy.

2. Backup QBs making a push: Chester Stewart is the starting quarterback, but the Owls haven’t used just one quarterback the entire time Golden has been the coach. Chris Coyer and Mike Gerardi both had good springs and they’ll both be competing for reps in the fall.

3. Fixing special teams: The Owls were good on kick and punt returns, but the challenge for new special team coach Sean Desai is getting the punting up with the rest of the conference. The Owls averaged 32.55 yards per punt with Jeff Wathne, but sophomore Brandon McManus has a chance to earn the starting role and make that average better.

Troy spring wrap

May, 6, 2010
5/06/10
6:30
AM ET
2009 overall record: 9-4

2009 conference record: 8-0

Returning starters
Offense: 7, defense: 3, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners
RB DuJuan Harris, RB Shawn Southward, WR Jerrel Jernigan, WR Tebiarus Gill, OL Tyler Clark, OL James Brown, LB Daniel Sheffield, CB Bryan Willis, P Will Goggans, K Michael Taylor

Key losses
QB Levi Brown, DE Brandon Lang, DE Cameron Sheffield, LB Boris Lee, LB Bear Woods, DT Kevin Dixon, DT Eugene Kinlaw

2009 statistical leaders (* denotes returners)

Rushing: Shawn Southward* (110-602-12), DuJuan Harris* (151-583-10)
Passing: Levi Brown (321-504-9, 4,254, 23)
Receiving: Jerrel Jernigan* (71-1101-4), Tebiarus Gill* (47-581-6)
Tackles: Bear Woods (143), Boris Lee (127)
Sacks: Brandon Lang (8.5), Cameron Sheffield (7.0)
Interceptions: Bryan Willis* (4)

Spring Answers

1. Linebackers are again a strength: The Trojans lost stars Bear Woods and Boris Lee, but juniors Xavier Lamb and Donnell Golden have served as apprentices under Woods and Lee for two years and are experienced and talented. Daniel Sheffield missed the spring after shoulder surgery, but will be back for his senior season, and several of the younger players will fill out the depth, including redshirt freshman Johnny Thompson, sophomore Jacoby Thomas and sophomore Kanorris Davis.


2. The offensive line looks stout: Tyler Clark, who has been a three-year starter at guard, moves to center this season. Junior James Brown is back at left tackle and sophomore Kyle Wilborn is back at right tackle, although he may move to right guard if junior college signee Demarkus Underwood beats him out. Former Florida State player Tyler Graves could be the starter at left guard.

3. Improved receiving corps: Junior college transfer Brett Moncrief will be a nice addition to a receiving corps that already boasts Jerrel Jernigan, who has a chance to become the all-time Sun Belt Conference leader in receiving yards and receptions, TeBiarus Gill, Jason Bruce, Austin Silvoy, Chip Reeves and Josh Jarboe. This receiving corps will help in the transition to a new quarterback.


Fall Questions

1. Replacing record-setting QB Levi Brown: Four players went into spring with the chance to be the starting quarterback and two came out. Junior Jamie Hampton, who was the starter in 2008 before a knee injury turned over the offense to Brown, and redshirt freshman Corey Robinson will continue the battle into the fall.


2. Filling holes on the defensive line: The Trojans lost four starters on the defensive line and have yet to come up with a permanent solution. Senior Mario Addison and sophomore Jonathan Massaquoi played well on the outside, but the inside tackle spots are still up for grabs. Because there is so much uncertainty on the line, Troy might switch to a 3-4 defense.


3. Shoring up the secondary: Junior college transfers Willard Ross and Barry Valcin both spent time at corner in 2009, but will both be at safety in 2010. Bryan Willis, who was thrown in at corner as a redshirt freshman last season, is expected to start. The emergence of junior college transfer Jimmie Anderson and the return of KeJuan Phillips from academic ineligibility should help fill out the secondary.

Utah spring wrap

May, 6, 2010
5/06/10
6:00
AM ET
2009 overall record: 10-3

2009 conference record: 6-2

Returning starters
Offense:
8, Defense: 4, Punter/Kicker: 2

Top returners
RB Eddie Wide, RB Matt Asiata, WR Jereme Brooks, OL Zane Taylor, OL Caleb Schlauderaff, QB Jordan Wynn, DB Brandon Burton, DT Sealver Siliga, K Joe Phillips, P Sean Sellwood

Key losses
OL Zane Beadles, DB Robert Johnson, DL Koa Misi, LB Stevenson Sylvester, WR David Reed, DB R.J. Stanford, LB Mike Wright

2009 statistical leaders (* denotes returners)

Rushing: *Eddie Wide (1,069 yards)
Passing: *Jordan Wynn (1,329 yards), *Terrance Cain (1,624 yards)
Receiving: David Reed (1,188 yards)
Tackles: Stevenson Sylvester (81)
Sacks: *Christian Cox (5.5)
Interceptions: Robert Johnson (6)

Spring answers

1. Reloading at receiver: The Utes lost three of their starting four receivers from last year, but Brooks returns as the leader and the Utes got quality performances out of former quarterback DeVonte Christopher and newcomer Griffin McNabb. Coach Kyle Whittingham said he’s still looking for depth at the receiver position, but he likes the direction the receivers are headed.

2. Defensive line looks deep: There was some concern about the defensive line heading into this spring, but Sealver Siliga, Dave Kruger, Neil A’asa, James Aiono, Junior Tui’one and Latu Heimuli seemed to have solidified a line that will be the strongest area of the defense this fall. The Utes also got unexpected help from defensive end Trevor Reilly, who could be a factor in the fall.

3. Replacing Robert: Brandon Burton returns at the cornerback position and Lamar Chapman, who started at the nickelback position last year, will start on the other side, replacing Robert Johnson. Conroy Black will be another asset at cornerback, as well. All three players are among the fastest on the team.

Fall questions

1. Linebackers lacking experience: The Utes lost all of their stellar linebackers from a year ago and took a big hit when Nai Fotu suffered a season-ending knee injury. J.J. Williams had a good spring and former quarterback Chad Mannis likely will be in the starting rotation. Chaz Walker and Matt Martinez got some much-needed reps with Fotu out. There’s some good depth at linebacker, but the experience is lacking.

2. Safeties are still a concern: Senior Justin Taplin-Ross was the only safety on the roster with game experience. He had a good spring and was supposed to be joined by Chris Washington, who missed the 2009 season with an injury. But Washington was injured during the spring and missed the final weeks of spring practice, leaving the safety position up for grabs.

3. Still looking for a returner: Shaky Smithson should be the top returner once he’s fully recovered from offseason surgery, but during the spring, players such as Brandon Burton and Griffin McNabb took a shot at returns. The Utes were in the middle of the pack in the Mountain West in both kick and punt returns and are hoping to improve on that number in 2010.

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