Monday, July 28, 2008

Prelude to a Season... #24, #23

It's Monday, and making up for lost time is the name of the game. Double Shot Monday! Spots 23 and 24 in the OTP Preseason Poll.

#23.) Wake Forest University

What You Need to Know: The Demon Deacons have compiled twenty wins the last two years. Quietly and efficiently, Jim Grobe has built a consistent winner in Winston-Salem. They've finished the year in the Top 25 two consecutive seasons and are coming off a Bowl win against UConn in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. QB Riley Skinner is back and is one of the ACC's finest.

Wake Forest must replace All-ACC receiver Kenny Moore and fellow receiver Kevin Marion. Perhaps most troubling is the Deacs lose four starters on an offensive line that relies heavily on knowing where to be and when in an intricate offensive attack. Injuries and fatigue on the line will be devastating to an already thin unit. Defensively, the Deacs return nine starters among them LBs Aaron Curry and Stanley Armoux and standout CB Alphonso Smith.

Who You Need to Know and Their 07 Stats:
QB Riley Skinner: 2204 pass yds, 12 TD
RB Josh Adams: 953 yds, 11 TD
CB Alphonso Smith: 8 INT, 3 TD

Game To Watch: October 9th. Clemson. May very well decide the division.

They'll Do Well If...: Skinner stays healthy, they get a little luck, the defense performs to expectations.

Season Outlook: Wake Forest plays in the brutal Atlantic Division of the ACC where the tremendous imbalance of power in the conference resides. Because the division is so loaded, the Deacons could realistically finish anywhere from fourth to first depending on luck. The Deacs are skilled enough to contend for the ACC title and will most likely be playing rival Virginia Tech in the Championship Game.

#24.) Rutgers University

What You Need to Know: Quite simply, it's a good time to be a Rutgers fan. Before head coach Greg Schiano arrived in New Brunswick, the Scarlet Knights had been to exactly one bowl game in 131 years. The Knights have now been to three straight Bowls, winning the last two. Schiano continues to turn heads with impressive recruiting, big wins at crucial times (South Florida, Louisville, etc.), spearheading a stadium renovation and expansion, and continuing to turn down bigger, better jobs (Michigan, Miami).

Rutgers' 08 season will be the first in the post Ray Rice era. Rice, a bruising tailback took his skills to Sundays and will be replaced by a tailback-by-committee approach by Kordell Young and Mason Robinson. Also lost are kicker Jeremy Ito, three starters on the O-line, DT Eric Foster, LB Brandon Renkart, S Ronny Girault.

Despite the losses, Rutgers returns QB Mike Teel and talented WRs Tiquan Underwood and Kenny Britt on the offensive side as well as FS Courtney Greene.

Who You Need to Know and Their 07 Stats:
QB Mike Teel: 3147 passing yds, 20 TD
WR Tiquan Underwood: 65 rec., 1100 yds, 7 TD
WR Kenny Britt: 62 rec., 1232 yds, 8 TD

Game To Watch: Rutgers' schedule is simply brutal. Non-conference action includes a trip to Navy, as well as a Thursday night battle with North Carolina. Conference foes South Florida and West Virginia are road games, and Rutgers hosts Louisville in New Brunswick. If Rutgers hopes to win the Big East, their must-win game is October 25th at Pittsburgh.

They'll Do Well If...: They figure out a way to replace Ray Rice's productivity and red zone prowess. Mike Teel keeps his turnovers low.

Season Outlook: Last season's five-loss campaign was seen as a bit of a letdown for many Rutgers fans. That seems unbelievable considering the 131 years of futility the Knights had to endure. Realistically, the Knights should be looking for an 8-3 record and competing for the Big East crown in a depleted league that could be won by one of three or four teams.

No comments: