This new site is transitioning from the covering FBS, FCS, and D2 football! Listen to the "Power Rated Podcast" every week.

   Get Insider Access   

Writer-icon Senior Writer, Capped Sports



Trophy-icon Heavyweight

Fund Manager

West Division

The bombshell retirement of Bob Stoops last week certainly has not helped public confidence in the upcoming season for the Sooners, but the immediate move to elevate OC Lincoln Riley to the position was a good, and much needed move for this football program. Riley is one of the smartest and best young minds in the college game, and at 33, will be the youngest coach in FBS football this coming season. The good news is that Riley still has a top five caliber team that can contend for a Big 12 title, and could contend for a national playoff birth at the end of the season. Let's see if he has the drive to get them there after this late upheaval.

What To Be Excited About: Offense
Despite his off-season shenanigans, the Sooners will have their Heisman candidate back at QB in Baker Mayfield. With Mayfield back, all other losses seem to be mitigated just a bit. He passed for 3965 yards last season, completed over 70% of his passes, and tossed 40 TDs to just eight picks, all while averaging 305 yards passing per game. Mayfield also added six more scores running the football, and will be a major contender for the award given to the best player in the nation this season if all things hold together.
Mayfield will be playing behind one of the best lines in the nation as well, and all five starters return there. Orlando Brown, Bobby...

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

The Chanticleers are busting into FBS football for the first time, and the program is primed to succeed on this level such as Appalachian State and Georgia Southern have before them in the Sun Belt. Despite some holes on the roster, the Chanticleers have a foundation that has built up fairly quickly under Joe Moglia. How quickly will the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers take to move up the ranks?

What To Be Excited About: Offense

There are eight open holes this fall, and that is a tough way to enter FBS football. The only returning starters are WR Chris Jones, LG Adam Lawhorn, and C Jamarion McBride. This is probably not the best look to succeed early on, but it's hard to bet against this coaching staff.

What To Be Concerned About: Offense

There are, as I said, eight starting spots up for grabs, and none bigger than at QB, where as many as many as five candidates have tossed their hats into the ring. Tyler Keane starterd seven games last season, but is getting moved aside by Syracuse grad transfer Austin Wilson. Wilson got a minimal break last season, playing in place of the injured Eric Dungy, but the sample size to get a read on him is very small. Sophomore Austin Bradley and senior Josh Tilley, who was injured during spring ball, are also in the...

Arizona State Sun Devils
Change is coming to Tempe in the form of a new OC and DC in Billy Napier and Phil Bennett. Something has got to give as the Sun Devils are coming off of back to back losing seasons. The message is clear this fall, win, or be gone for head coach Todd Graham, who has never gotten close to winning a PAC-12 South title during his tenure in the Phoenix burbs. Graham enters year six, and if something does not change, it will be his last.

What To Be Excited About: Offense
Manny Wilkins can certainly put the ball up for the Devils, but can he do so consistently and accurately? That will be his biggest challenge in 2017 after he tossed 12 TDs, but also added nine INTs to his totals last fall. He did average 232 yards per game passing, so he absolutely can move the ball at times, and that will be important.
Kalen Ballage runs like a human wrecking ball at times, and could be the key to getting the Sun Devils where they need to be this season. He is a power runner who ran for 14 scores last season, but he will run in a combo package with Demario Richard. Neither back, on his own, is a hige threat, but together, they can do some damage.
N'Keal Harry caught 58 passes last season in more of a slot role, and will return to tlead the receivers this fall.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
The offensive line returns only...

Capped Radio / Podcasts

Bryan Harsin Addresses Media on Death Of Boise StateCoaching Legend Lyle Smith

Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin addressed the Mountain West Media Summit this morning on the death of Bronco coaching legend Lyle Smith, who was considered the grandfather of Boise State football. Smith went 156-6-6 as head coach of the Broncos, and passed away today at the age of 101.

Capped Radio / Podcasts

Power Rated PodCast: Episode 1

Welcome to episode one of "The Power Rated Podcast"! This is part one of a two night event, as we report live from Day one of the Mountain West Conference Football Media Summit at the Cosmopolitan Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. I am joined by Keith Harding of the Bilo College Football Report, as we discuss Mountain West Media Days, the crumbling cable TV and newspaper industries, and more!

Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks

Matt Viator is in year two of a complete strip down and rebuild of this program, and in my opinion, finishing 4-8 in year one was a pretty good showing for this football team. At this point, it's all about building talent and moving in the right direction, and year two will be ab out staying competitive in close games, and trying to push for a bowl game. While the schedule early may seem a road block to that goal, what can we really expect of this team come conference time in 2017?

What To Be Excited About: Offense

Marcus Green caught 36 passes to lead the team last season, and three of the top four receivers all return, which should stabilize the passing game to a degree, depending on who wins the QB battle in camp. Xavier Brown got in some starts last season, and returns, and the third spot projects to D'Marius Gillespie. RJ turner also returns and could push Gillespie out of some playing time. Turner and Brown are major deep ball threats.

What To be Concerned About: Offense

There could be questions at the QB position as we head into fall camp. Garrett Smith, who started a chunk of games, but was never spectacular last season, missed spring football with an apparent knee injury suffered in season. Caleb Evans got the starting reps during spring, and showed more command of the offense, and could wind up the starter by opening day. This...

New Mexico State Aggies

Doug Martin marches into his fifth season as head coach at NMSU with just a 10-38 record, and the Aggies have not won as many as four games since 2011. It would serve to say that with a relatively new AD, everything rides on this season for Martin, as the Aggies have been removed from the Sun Belt conference after the 2017 season. The Aggies will play as an independent next season, even though there were options on the FCS level, much as Idaho found. This program cannot sustain long term as an independent, and if they are to find a home, finding a way to win now would prove prudent. The problem is, I am not sure that this team can win now at all.

What To Be Excited About: Offense

Tyler Rogers is not a perfect QB, but he is a good QB for this football team. He passed for 2603 yards and 16 scores, but the drawbacks are a 55.4% completion rate and 12 INTs. Still, he is the best hope the program has of getting it done in 2017.

Larry Rose III is a rock solid back, and may be one of the best in the nation that not many people know about. His major issue this season is that he must stay healthy, as he missed three games last season. He still managed to rush for 865 yards per game, average 96.11 yards per game, and 5.44 yards per carry last season. He rushed for 1651 yards in 2015, when he was last completely...

Capped Radio / Podcasts

Craig Bohl addressed the media for over 30 minutes at Mountain West Media Day. Listen in as he talks about Josh Allen, the Mountain West standing in the College Football Playoffs, and more!

Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns

The Ragin' Cajuns won three of their final four games last season to secure a bowl bid, where they lost to Southern Miss, 28-21. In case you have not noticed, as of late, the Mark Hudspeth era is not going very well. I would say that he is on the hot seat, but he seems to be the cat with nine lives, although he is running out of them. After a 6-7 finish in 2016, another such season in 2017 may see him really struggle to keep his job.

What To Be Excited About: Offense

There is not much to be excited about offensively for this football team in 2017. We will star at the Tackle spots, where they have two seniors pegged to start in D'Aquin Withrow and Grant Horst. Christian Cederquest may push for time as a junior at LG, while Adrian Goodacre may do the same at RG.

The PK game may be in good hands as well, as Stevie Artigue returns after connecting on 19/24 FG attempts in 2016.

What To Be Concerned About: Offense

The QB situation was not great last season with LSU transfer Anthony Jennings at the controls, and he is now gone. The projected starter is Jordan Davis, a RS junior who attempted all of three passes last season, and that was in a bad QB group. The only other legitimate answer is sophomore Dion Ray, who attempted one pass last season.

The run game took a big hit in losing Elijah...

The Pitt Panthers were one of the surprises in 2016 of the ACC Coastal Division, as they finished within one win of tying for the division title and having a shot to head to the conference title game for the first time, but they did fall just short, and now they have questions to answer, much like the rest of their division in 2017. Will Pat Narduzzi find enough answers to make a run at what would be an unlikely ACC Coastal title?

What To Be Excited About: Offense
Qadree Ellison started virtually the entire 2015 season when James Conner missed that season due to his illness, and he flourished in the role, rushing for 1121 yards. He rushed for 631 yards as the lead backup last season when Conner returned, but he is back in the lead role once again. He averaged over 10 yards per carry as the reserve last fall, and has big play ability, which should be prominently featured this fall in the rushing attack. Chawntez Moss averaged 5.4 yards per carry, and Darrin Hall has also lettered for the last two seasons. Both return to add competition and depth.
Jester Weah led the team last fall with 36 receptions for 870 yards and ten scores last fall, and will return to be the primary target for whomever wins the QB derby that will take place in fall camp. Henderson could also see a ton of time at WR, with the other two...

Capped Radio / Podcasts

Bryan Harsin was on the podium in the writers room, and was the most in demand in a room consisting of three coaches, and he did not disappoint. Listen in as he talks, at length, about the Bronco program.

Capped Radio / Podcasts

Scott Bilo and Keith Harding discuss Day 2 of the Mountain West Media Summit, with info about Josh Allen, Bryan Harsin, Wyoming football, and much more.

Arkansas State Red Wolves

The Wolves had one of the best runs going in FBS football to finish last season, as they closed out 2016 on an 8-1 run. The challenge now is to take that run and extend it into the 2017 season, but that is going to be a difficult thing to do, as they open at Nebraska and Miami, with another road trip to SMU in week four of the schedule. Can the Red Wolves overcome that meat grinder schedule early to go on another late run for a shot at a Sun Belt title later?

What To Be Excited About: Offense

Justice Hanson returns at QB after an impressive effort in 2016. He passed for 2719 yards and 19 TDs to eight INTs, and averaged 209.2 yards passing per game as a sophomore. With that full year under his belt, he should show some major development as we head into the 2017 season, as long as that early schedule does not wreck him.

Hanson should be able to spread the ball around again this fall, as leading receiver Blake Mack returns at TE, as do WRs Dijon Paschal, Chris Murray, and Christian Booker. Mack led the team with 34 receptions for 652 yards, and averaged over 19 yards per catch.

The Tackle spots look to be solid, as juniors Lanard Bonner and Jamal Fontenot take the field.

What To Be Concerned About: Offense

The run game gets Warren Wand back, as he was the leading rusher last season, but if ASU is going to have...

Capped TV / Video

From GM Six productions, a highlight reel on why we should believe the hype on Wyoming Cowboys and NFL top draft prospect Josh Allen.

Georgia Southern Eagles

A 5-7 record for the Eagles is never an acceptable thing, and such was the case last season. Tyson Summers comes into the season on a both of a hot seat, as the only thing that works in this program is winning. The Eagles always do well when they run the football and play effective defense. The problem they had last season is that they allowed just as many points per game as they scored, and that is a major problem that needs to be rectified. Do they have the tools to do so this fall?

What To Be Excited About: Offense

Myles Campbell led the team with 42 receptions last season, and will return to give the Eagles a dependable weapon in the passing game.

Four starters return on the line. Ryan Northrup (LG), Jeremiah Culbreth (C), Curtis Rainey (RG), and Drew Wilson (RT) all return, which will help the run game, which will need some help this fall.

What To Be Concerned About: Offense

The QB situation will need to sort out in fall camp, as the Eagles attempt to replace the departed Kevin Ellison. Seth Shuman played a bit last fall, but was not a successful passer, completing just 47.2% of his pass attempts, while tossing just one TD to three INTs. He carried eight times for 39 yards in limited action. Shai Werts is a solid runner, but his passing game is suspect as well.

The Eagles, who will be returning to a power option run game this fall,...

Some folks were really starting to have doubts about whether or not West Virginia could succeed in the Big 12, that maybe the program was in over their heads. Last season dispelled much of that doubt, and Dana Holgorsen saved his job by winning 10 games, and finished 7-2 in conference play. There is no reason to think that a replay of last season could not be in store, and it could even get a little bit better if the right chips fall.

What To Be Excited About: Offense
Will Grier transferred over from Florida to be able to start this season with the departure of Skyler Howard, and it could not have worked out more perfectly. Grier was a star in the WVU spring game, and his potential in this offense is through the roof. Any kind of negativity with Grier was left behind at Florida, and the clean break and reboot will work wonders for him, so expect big things from the passing game with Grier at the trigger.
Justin Crawford was a major find last fall as a junior, and returns for his senior season at RB after finishing with 1184 yards rushing and four scores. He could blow up even bigger this fall, as he has massive home run potential after averaging 7.26 yards per carry last season. Sophomore Kennedy McCoy also adds some big play ability after averaging 6.47 yards per carry in relief duty in 2016. Martell Pettaway...

South Alabama Jaguars

It was a strange ride for the Jags in 2016, as they opened the season with a win over Mississippi State, but followed it with losses to Georgia Southern at home, and to ULL on the road. They beat San Diego State, but lost to ULM. USA did just enough to skate into the Arizona Bowl, but were no match for Air Force, and after the long strange trip that the season was, the Jags finished just 6-7. Will they be able to show enough consistency to overcome the ups and downs and challenge for a spot in the top half of the Sun Belt?

What To Be Excited About: Offense

With several losses on offense, the best returning player will be RB Xavier Johnson. He is a very good back in a not so great overall rushing attack that was less than able last season. Johnson led the team with 831 yards rushing and 10 scores, while averaging 5.51 yards per carry. If South Alabama wants to get into a consistent groove in 2017, they hand him the rock as much as he can handle it. JC transfer Tywun Walters is expected to give the Jags an inside punch as well in combo with Johnson.

Three starters return on the line in LT Noah Fisher, C Harrison Louden, and RG Dominic Esposito. Head coach Joey Jones went on and on during the off season about how much more physical this team should be coming out of spring ball, and if that is the case, running the ball with Johnson would be that much more certain.

What To Be Concerned...

Georgia State Panthers

Georgia State is starting over this fall, as Trent Miles finally ran out of time with the Panthers as coach. Shawn Elliott, the offensive line coach from South Carolina, is the new man in charge, but has a limited sample size to see what he can do. He did not succeed during his time as interim head coach for the Gamecocks, but that was a tricky situation after a mid-season resignation. He will get every chance to move this team forward, but the roster he inherits is not exactly built to succeed right away. The Panthers will move into Turner Field, but can they make themselves interesting enough to fill the seats?

What To Be Excited About: Offense

The line should have experience in 2017, as four upperclassmen are slated to start. LG Davis Moore, RG Alex Stoehr, and RT Sebastian Willer are all seniors. C Gabe Mobley will start as a junior.

What To Be Concerned About: Offense

The QB position is up i the air as we head into fall camp. Last year's starter, Conner Manning, returns after passing for 2684 yards, but he ha slipped to second string on the most recent depth chart posted just days ago behind the backup last year, Aaron Winchester. Winchester passed for 271 yards in limited duty last fall. This battle is going to continue through fall camp.

The run game was one of the...

Appalachian State Mountaineers

The Mountaineers appear to once again be the favorite to win the Sun Belt, but there should be some push from a couple of other teams like Troy and Arkansas State along the way. There is some explosive talent coming back on offense, and the defense was one of the best in the nation last fall, allowing just 17.8 points per game. Could another major title run be at stake for the Mountaineers this fall? Absolutely, it should.

What To Be Excited About: Offense

The two biggest stars on the team are back on offense in QB Taylor Lamb and RB Jalin Moore. Lamb is a very efficient dual threat passer who passed for 2281 yards and 15 TDs last season to eight picks. He completed 60.6% of his pass attempts, and also managed to rush for 505 yards and nine more scores, while averaging 5.67 yards per carry.

Moore is a beast at RB for the Mountaineers, and rushed for 1402 yards and 10 TDs last season. He averaged 5.92 yards per carry, while averaging over 107 yards rushing per game. He is one of the best returning backs in the nation this fall.

There is decent leadership coming back on the line in RT Beau Nunn and RG Colby Gossett, who are both seniors. Tobias Edge-Campbell is at LG, and will be a junior this fall.
Michael Rubino put in a solid effort at PK as a freshman, as he connected on 15/21 FG...

Texas State Bobcats

Everett Withers came from a strong run at James Madison to take over a program that Dennis Franchione never got off the ground, and he had a tough go of it in year one, as the Bobcats finished with just two wins. Withers, the former Ohio State assistant, has the pedigree to win, but this roster is in just year two of a complete rebuild, and it's very tough to see how long it will take to get competitive. After getting blown out on a regular basis last fall, this team has to find some confidence, and just learn how to best compete with talent that just is not entirely up to par across the board. That process is in place, but nothing gets built in one year.

What To Be Excited About: Offense

The passing game should receive a boost this season, as all three starting receivers return in Tyler Watts, Elijah King, and TE Gabe Schrade. King is the best of the bunch, as he averaged 16.43 yards per catch last fall. Thurman Morbley returns as well to give the Bobcats a solid receiving corps. Now they just need someone to get them the football on a consistent basis.

Three starters return on the line, including both Tackles in Tristan Mizerak and Jacob Rowland, and Aaron Brewer at Center.

Marcus Ripley did not get a ton of work in, but he took advantage of what opportunity he had by hitting 5/6 FG attempts. He will return to handle the...

Idaho Vandals

The final season of FBS football is set to commence for the Vandals, and the shame of it is that this is happening right when the Vandals are becoming interesting in the Sun Belt. Idaho finished with nine wins last season, by far one of their most successful seasons as an FBS (1-A) program.Paul Petrino has the Vandals ready to charge once again, and this team will try to challenge for a conference title on their way out the door. Can they upstage everyone as they leave the group?

What To Be Excited About: Offense

Matt Linehan returns as a senior, and will close out his career at Idaho as a four year starter. He has evolved into a solid passer, as he passed for 3184 yards and 19 TDs last season. He averaged 244.9 yards passing per game, and added another four scores on the ground.

The receiving unit does suffer the loss of their two leading receivers, who were both TEs, but the group is decent enough to carry the day this fall. Reuben Mwelha caught 16 passes last season, and steps into a starting role, but Alfonso Ununwor and Jacob Shannon both return as well, and they combined for 67 receptions last season.

The Vandals have a solid combo pack coming back at RB this fall in Aaron Duckworth and Isaiah Saunders. The two combined to rush for 1403 yards last season, and scored 14 times.

What To Be Concerned About: Offense

Four starters...

Army Cadets (Black Knights)

Army turned a major corner under head coach Jeff Monken last season, and won eight games, including a Heart of Dallas Bowl victory over North Texas, which was revenge for a loss to UNT earlier in the year. Army also beat Navy last year, snapping a massive drought. Will Army have enough talent returning to make another solid run in 2017?

What To Be Excited About: Offense

Ahmad Bradshaw is back at QB for his senior season after passing for 703 yards and rushing for 826 yards and eight scores. He averaged 4.46 yards per carry in the triple option attack. He is hardly what I would call an accomplished passer, but in this offense, that is all back burner stuff.

FB Andy Davidson returns after leading the Black Knights with 961 yards and 12 scores. He is the power back that makes everything run in this offense. Jordan Asberry also returns after rushing for 421 yards, and averaged 7.31 yards per carry last season at Slotback. Darnell Woolfolk also returns after rushing for 600 yards, and Kell Walker returns after averaging 6.52 yards per carry. Army will have the deepest stable of backs of anyone in the nation, with many of the backs returning having massive game breaking ability.

Christian Poe returns at WR...

Buffalo Bulls
Lance Leipold has had a very difficult run as head coach as Buffalo head coach. He has already lost more games at Buffalo than he ever did in a long run at Wisconsin-Whitewater. He had a two win season last fall, and the heat is starting to turn on him now, and one has to wonder if he is in over his head at this job. Recruiting has not jumped through the roof, and the overall talent level seems stagnant. Something has to give this season.

What To Be Excited About: Offense
One major strength is on the line where four starters return in the form of LG Brandon Manosalvas, C James O'Kegan, RG Tomas Jack-Kurdyla, and RT David Goldsby. Jacquis Webb, a junior, has the first shot at taking over at LT after transferring from Rutgers.
That's where the excitement ends.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
Tyree Jackson is back at QB, but hardly blew the roof off of any buildings last fall. He tossed nine TDs and was picked nine times as well. He completed just 53.1% of his passes as well. There is no telling whether or not we can expect any development.
Jonathon Hawkins is slated to be the starting RB, but he rushed for just 74 times for 338 yards and one score. He is a decent receiver as well, but he is pretty much all the Bulls have.
Kamathi Holsey is the lone returning starting WR this fall. He caught just 19 catches last...

Justin Fuente made it to the ACC title game in his first season as coach of the Hokies, but there are some serious questions as we head into fall camp for 2017. With star QB Jerod Evans gone, who will the Hokies rely on to move both the passing game, and the run game? Will the defense be the same unit that only allowed 22.8 points per game, or will the massive losses up front cause the overall unit to falter? These are questions that need answering if the Hokies are to be in the race in the Coastal Division in 2017.

What To Be Excited About: Offense
Junior Travon McMillan is back at RB after finishing with 145 carries last fall. With serious issues at the QB position expected, McMillan may finally get to be a feature player that is given more than 10 carries per game in 2017. Look for him to be a potential breakout star for the Hokies this fall.
The new QB will at least get WR Cam Phillips back. Phillips finished second on the team with 76 receptions in 2016. He scored five times and averaged just over 70 yards per game last fall.
The line should be in decent shape, as three starters return. Yosua Nijman is back at LT, Wyatt Teller returns at LG, and Eric Gallo returns at C. Junior Braxton Pfaff looks like he could be taking over at RG, while Parker Osterloh is in line to start at RT as a RS senior. Every key reserve returns from C to the left side of the line as well.
Joey Slye is back at PK...

Minnesota Golden Gophers
It would seem to me that a potentially blind eye may have unraveled much of what has been built at Minnesota in the last few years under both Jerry Kill and Tracy Claeys. I was never the biggest Kill fan, but could never really put a finger on as to why, but now maybe I know. There was a culture of lacking accountability that grew under Kill, and an early season alleged sexual assault case led into a massive demonstration of ignorance and irresponsibility in December that caused a walk out by the team just before the bowl. While Claeys supported the suspensions that came out of the investigation of the assaults privately, he took the wrong turn and publicly backed his players, which was the wrong course to set, and it cost him his job. Enter PJ Fleck, a guy who certainly knows how to promote his interests and that of his football team. He took Western Michigan to an undefeated season before losing to Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl, and he took the opportunity to launch himself into a bigger job. Can he continue to build on what has been laid out as a foundation, or did the bad behaviors off of the field last season create such a mess, that the foundation must be rebuilt? Will this group of players buy into the Fleck policy of accountability, or will they continue to buck the trend of taking responsibility for their actions and become better players...

Additional material that is not displayed exist for Insider Access members Power Rated Sports