CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 5 Michigan

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2011 record: 11-2 overall, 6-2 in Big Ten (2nd in Legends)

2011 postseason: Sugar Bowl (23-20 OT win over Virginia Tech)

2011 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 12/No. 9

Head coach: Brady Hoke (58-52 overall, 11-2 in one season at Michigan)

Offensive coordinator: Al Borges (second season at Michigan, second as OC)

2011 offensive rankings: 13th rushing offense (221.8 ypg); 93rd passing offense (182.8 ypg); 42nd total offense (404.7 ypg); 26th scoring offense (33.3 ppg)

Returning offensive starters: seven

Defensive coordinator: Greg Mattison (second season at Michigan, second as DC)

2011 defensive rankings: 39th rushing defense (131.7 ypg); 16th passing defense (190.5 ypg); 17th total defense (322.1 ypg); 6th scoring defense (17.4 ppg)

Returning defensive starters: seven

Location: Ann Arbor, Mich.

Stadium: Michigan Stadium (109,901; FieldTurf)

Last league title: 2004 (co-champs with Iowa)

Schedule: [view]

Roster: [view]

2011 statistics: [view]

The Good
A defense that was leaps and bounds above anything seen during the Rich Rodriguez era returns seven starters and a year’s worth of experience in coordinator Greg Mattison’s system, which certainly bodes well for UM’s chances both in the conference and nationally.  Speaking of another year in the same system, quarterback/running back Denard Robinson will look to benefit from the experience he received last year in Al Borges’ offense, brought over from San Diego State but which also utilized some of the elements of the run-based spread that made Robinson so successful his first two seasons in Ann Arbor.  Robinson reportedly had a very solid spring throwing the football earlier this year which, when combined with his still-lethal running ability, could have the senior poised to take his game up another notch or two.

The Bad
Robinson, at least early in the season, may have no other choice but to take his game to the next level thanks to the off-field antics of one of his backfield mates.  Fitz Toussant, who led all Wolverine backs in rushing last year with 1,041 yards, has been indefinitely suspended following a drunk-driving arrest last month.  It’s unclear how many, if any, games Toussant will miss, although it’s a near certainty he will be unavailable for the opener.  As critical as that game is for any BcS hopes the Wolverines entertain, losing Toussaint would serve as a significant blow.

The Unknown
While I lobbed plaudits on the defense, there is still uncertainty when it comes to that unit.  Specifically, the defensive line and the loss of three of the four starters on that unit.  How quickly the new starters as well as the rest of the line rotation adjust to the upgraded workload will go a long way in determining whether the defense as a whole continues its progress under Mattison.

Make-or-break game: vs. Alabama at Arlington, Texas, Sept. 1
The Game will always be The Game; this season though, with stratospheric expectations firmly in place, the game for the Wolverines will not be the regular-season finale at Ohio State, but the opener against the defending BcS champions.  What better way for a team to measure itself and gauge its ability to compete on the national stage than to go to a neutral field and face a team that’s won two of the past three BcS titles?  The Wolverines will do just that in front of a nationally-televised primetime audience, with the Tide providing as stiff an early-season litmus as one could hope to find.

Heisman hopeful: quarterback Denard Robinson
Last season for Robinson paled in comparison to his 2010 sophomore campaign, with the QB posting 923 yards less of total offense — 397 passing, 526 rushing — and a lower completion percentage — 55 percent to 62.5 — than he did during the final season under RichRod.  He did account for four more total touchdowns, but even that was mitigated somewhat by four more interceptions than the year before as well as a handful more fumbles.  That said, there were signs during spring practice that the light bulb may have indeed gone on for Robinson.  If that’s the case, Robinson and his electrifying skills will be a part of the Heisman discussion throughout the year.

Return to CFT’s preseason Top 25

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Kirk Ferentz adds Derrick Foster as 10th Iowa assistant

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As head coaches across the country continue to take advantage of the new 10th assistant rule, Kirk Ferentz is the latest to bolster the size of his staff.

Derrick Foster, the football program announced Tuesday, has been hired by Ferentz. While the school didn’t specify what position or positions for which Foster would be responsible, it did state that the hiring would allow tight ends coach/special teams coordinator LeVar Woods to concentrate on special teams.

That would seem to indicate Foster will be in charge of tight ends, which would mark his first on-field job at the FBS level.

“Derrick is an outstanding person and has built an impressive resume with experience at multiple levels of college football,” said Ferentz in a statement. “He has an impressive record of success on the recruiting trail that will strengthen and expand our existing efforts.”

Foster has spent the past two seasons as the running backs coach and running-game coordinator at FCS Stamford.  Prior to that, he was the running backs coach (2013) and wide receivers coach (2014-15) at Northwestern State.

“My wife, Bianca, and I are excited to be afforded this wonderful opportunity to become a part of the Iowa family as well as the Iowa City community,” said Foster. “Our journey is continuing, as this provides us with the opportunity to be part of a great staff and a University that is committed to excellence. I have a lot of respect for the stability and commitment of coach Ferentz and his longevity with the program. I feel fortunate and look forward to working with coach Ferentz and his dedicated staff.”

RB Abdul Adams leaves Oklahoma, lands at Syracuse

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‘Tis the season for transfers, with a Big 12 school the latest to feel its effect — and an ACC program the latest to benefit.

Syracuse confirmed in a press release Monday that Abdul Adams has joined Dino Babers‘ football program.  The running back had spent the past two seasons at Oklahoma, and offered a social media shoutout to Sooner Nation for the time he spent in Norman.

Adams will have to sit out the 2018 season to satisfy NCAA bylaws; beginning with the 2019 season, he’ll have two years of eligibility remaining.

This past season, Adams, a four-star 2016 signee, was third on the Sooners in rushing with 542, including a 99-yard touchdown run.  On his 59 rushes, Adams led the team at 9.2 yards per carry.  With OU’s top two rushers in Rodney Anderson (1,161 yards) and Trey Sermon (744) returning, though, Adams thought his best course was to take his leave of what’s seemingly an always-crowded Sooners backfield.

For his two-year career, Adams has run for 825 yards and a touchdown in 112 carries.

UCF’s undefeated team to be honored by NFL at Pro Bowl

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Now even the NFL is in on the gag.  Sort of.

As you no doubt know by now if you’re even a peripheral fan of college football, UCF kicked up quite the ruckus by very proudly and extremely loudly proclaiming themselves national champions after capping off a perfect 13-0 season by defeating Auburn, which beat both of the College Football Playoff game participants.  The football program went so far as to pay its assistants, now at Nebraska after following head coach Scott Frost out the door, the title bonuses they were entitled to contractually, with Disney World throwing the team a championship parade and even the state’s legislature egging the movement on.

Fast-forward to the here and now, and the NFL is getting set for this season’s Pro Bowl, which will be played in Orlando; the Knights, of course, play their home games in the same city. So, naturally, the NFL will honor the team during the game, although it’s expected the league will stop short of officially crowning their asses.

“When we thought about UCF and the amazing season they had going undefeated and their bowl game win, we thought there was really no better way, especially in the city of Orlando, to do something for that college celebration of football than to honor the UCF team in stadium on Sunday,” said Matt Shapiro, director of events strategy for the NFL, told the Orlando Sentinel. “I think we’re going to focus on their undefeated season. I don’t know that we’re going to get into the business of labeling them national champions. But we’re just excited to honor them and celebrate them.

According to the Sentinel, the players in attendance will be invited to walk on to the field at the end of the first quarter to be feted.  Just which players will be in attendance is unclear.

Ohio State promotes Ryan Day to offensive coordinator

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One Ohio State assistant remaining on Urban Meyer‘s coaching staff will apparently come at the expense of another, at least responsibility-wise.

After speculation surfaced over the weekend that Ryan Day was being wooed by an NFL team, it was reported Monday that the assistant would be staying with the Buckeyes.  Tuesday, OSU announced that Day, who just completed his first season as quarterbacks coach and c0-offensive coordinator, has been promoted to offensive coordinator.

That will no doubt raise some eyebrows as Kevin Wilson held the title of coordinator in 2017.  In explaining the move, the football program wrote that “Day will continue to coach the Ohio State quarterbacks and work with Kevin Wilson to lead the Ohio State offense with additional adjustments to [Wilson’s] responsibilities forthcoming.” It would seem those adjustments would at least partially revolve around play-calling, a responsibility that fell to Wilson on gamedays this past fall.

“Ryan is clearly a very talented coach who has been an outstanding addition to our program,” Meyer said in a statement. “He has been approached by other schools numerous times this off-season for coordinator and head coach opportunities, and by the National Football League for a coordinator opportunity. I am pleased that he has elected to continue to work on this staff and to lead, mentor and coach the terrific young men we have in this program.”

Day has been a solo coordinator twice in his coaching career — at Temple in 2012 and then again in 2013-14 at Boston College.

Prior to coming to OSU, Day was the quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers in 2016 and spent the 2015 season in the same job with the Philadelphia Eagles.  Those were his first two stints at the NFL level.