2009 CFB Preview: Florida Gators

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Preseason Ranking: No. 1 in AP Top 25; No. 1 in USA Today Poll.

Key Returning Players: Tim Tebow (QB); Chris Rainey (RB); Riley Cooper (WR); Deonte Thompson (WR); Aaron Hernandez (TE); Maurkice Pouncey (C); Brandon Spikes (LB); A.J. Jones (LB); Ryan Stamper (RB); Carlos Dunlap (DE); Jermaine Cunningham (DE); Justin Trattou (DE); Ahmad Black (S); Joe Haden (CB); Janoris Jenkins (CB); Lawrence Marsh (DT); Terron Sanders (DT); Major Wright (S).

Key Losses: Percy Harvin (WR); Phil Trautwein (OT); Jason Watkins (OT); Louis Murphy (WR).

Player to Watch: Tim Tebow, QB.
With all due respect to Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford and Texas’s Colt McCoy, Tebow is arguably the best player in college football. Not the best quarterback – the best player, period. Urban Meyer says that Florida will incorporate the no-huddle into their offense this season, which should only play into Tebow’s strengths, as he can beat opponents with either his arm or his legs. After throwing for 2,746 yards, rushing for 673 yards and totaling 42 touchdowns, Tebow returns for his senior season in hopes of leading Florida to its third national title in the last four seasons. And after compiling one of the most impressive second halves of any player in college football last year, there might not be anything that stands in Tebow’s (and Florida’s) way this season.

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2009 CFB Preview: Texas Longhorns

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Preseason Ranking: No. 2 in AP Top 25; No. 2 in USA Today Poll.

Key Returning Players: Colt McCoy (QB); Jordan Shipley (WR); Brandon Collins (WR); Vondrell McGee (RB); Adam Ulatoski (OT); Roddrick Muckelroy (LB); Sergio Kindle (LB); Jared Norton (LB); Earl Thomas (S); Deon Beasley (CB); Curtis Brown (CB); Cody Johnson.

Key Losses: Brian Orakpo (DE); Rashad Bobino (LB); Henry Melton (DE); Roy Miller (DT); Ryan Palmer (CB); Quan Cosby (WR); Cedric Dockery (G); Chris Ogbonnaya (RB).

Player to Watch: Colt McCoy, QB.
Who else? After completing 76.7 percent of his passes, throwing for 3,859 yards, rushing for 561 yards and totaling 45 touchdowns (34 passing, 11 rushing) in 2008, is there anything McCoy can’t do? He could usher people to his seats before the game and sell concessions at halftime and still compile 400 total yards and five touchdowns. McCoy is once again a legitimate Heisman candidate and only has one mission after deciding to return for his senior year: Win a national championship.

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2009 CFB Preview: Oklahoma Sooners

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Preseason Ranking: No. 3 in AP Top 25; No. 3 in USA Today Poll.

Key Returning Players: Sam Bradford (QB); Chris Brown (RB); DeMarco Murray (RB); Jermaine Gresham (TE); Ryan Broyes (WR); Trent Williams (OT); Travis Lewis (LB); Keenan Clayton (LB); Ryan Reynolds (LB); Jeremy Beal (DE); Auston English (DE); Gerald McCoy (DT); Adrian Taylor (DT); Dominique Franks (LB); Brian Jackson (CB).

Key Losses: Phil Loadholt (OT); Duke Robinson (G); Brandon Walker (G); Jon Cooper (C); Nic Harris (S); Lendy Holmes (S); Juaquin Iglesias (WR); Manuel Johnson (WR).

Player to Watch: Sam Bradford, QB.
While defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and tight end Jermaine Gresham certainly deserve mention, listing any other Sooner besides Bradford in this section would be a crime to the college football world. He’s the key to whether or not Oklahoma will make a repeat appearance in the title game and whether or not the Sooners will inevitably be crowned champions. Many, including his head coach Bob Stoops, believe that the 2008 Heisman winner will be even better this year than he was last season. Considering Bradford threw for 4,720 yards and 50 touchdowns last season, that’s a scary thought for the Big 12.

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2009 CFB Preview: USC Trojans

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Preseason Ranking: No. 4 in AP Top 25; No. 4 in USA Today Poll.

Key Returning Players: Aaron Corp (QB); Mitch Mustain (QB); Stafon Johnson (RB); Joe McKnight (RB); C.J. Gable (RB); Damian Williams (WR); Charles Brown; Anthony McCoy (TE); (OT); Butch Lewis (OT); Jeff Byers (G); Alex Parsons (G); Kristofer O’Dowd (C); Taylor Mays (S); Everson Griffen (DE); Drew McAllister (S); Kevin Thomas (CB).

Key Losses: Rey Maualuga (LB); Brian Cushing (LB); Fili Moala (DT); Mark Sanchez (QB); Kevin Ellison (S); Cary Harris (CB); Kaluka Maiava (LB); Clay Matthews (DE); Kyle Moore (DE); Patrick Turner (WR); David Buehler (K); Greg Woidneck (P).

Player to Watch: Matt Barkley, QB.
Barkley is the much-ballyhooed freshman who rather surprisingly beat out sophomore Aaron Corp and Mitch Mustain (a redshirt junior transfer from Arkansas) for the Trojans’ starting quarterback job this summer. Barkley will be the first freshman starting quarterback at USC during head coach Pete Carroll’s era, so the pressure is on. He’s a gunslinger in every sense of the word, which can be both good and bad. He has the arm strength to make every throw, but the knock on him is that he’ll try to force the ball into tight coverage and therefore has the penchant for throwing interceptions. The notion is that Corp (who is battling a leg injury) isn’t healthy enough to start the opener and therefore Carroll named Barkley the starter to instill confidence in the young signal caller. It’s unclear at this point if Carroll will stick with Barkley if he struggles early in the season, or if Corp will eventually take over.

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2009 CFB Preview: Alabama Crimson Tide

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Preseason Ranking: No. 5 in AP Top 25; No. 5 in USA Today Poll.

Key Returning Players: Greg McElroy (QB); Mark Ingram (RB); Julio Jones (WR); Rolando McClain (LB); Don’t’a Hightower (LB); Cory Reamer (LB); Brandon Deaderick (DE); Terrence Cody (DT); Brandon Fanney (DT); Justin Woodall (S); Javier Arenas (CB); Kareem Jackson (CB); Leigh Tiffin (K).

Key Losses: Glen Coffee (RB); John Parker Wilson (QB); Rashad Johnson (S); Andre Smith (OT); Antoine Caldwell (C); Marlon Davis (G); Bobby Greenwood (DE); Travis McCall (TE); Nick Walker (TE).

Player to Watch: Terrence Cody, DT.
At 365 pounds, Cody is without a doubt the key cog in Bama’s defensive line. “Mount Cody” tallied 24 tackles with 4.5 tackles for loss last season, which made him a consensus First-Team All-American. He was also named a First-Team All-SEC selection by the conference coaches, as well as the AP. As long as he can stay healthy (he missed some time last season with a sprained MCL), Cody will once again be a force in the interior of Bama’s defensive line.

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