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June 21, 2010

Monday with Mike: Good players, bad teams

Rivals.com has started its 1-120 countdown, and while putting together the text for the countdown, it has been hard not to notice that some bad teams have some good players.

In that vein, here's a preseason All-Losers team. That's not meant as a slight to the players, not at all. Rather, the name comes about because these good players toil for teams that -- in my opinion, at least -- definitely are going to finish with losing records this season.

It was easy to find good players at each position except quarterback. That shouldn't be a surprise. For the most part, bad teams have bad quarterbacks.

Here's a look at the All-Losers team.

OFFENSE

QB Austen Arnaud, Iowa State
BUZZ: Arnaud is a solid dual-threat quarterback, but he still has room for growth as a passer. He ran for 561 yards and eight touchdowns last season, and also threw for 2,015 yards and 14 scores. But he has thrown 23 picks in the past two seasons and must become a more productive passer if Iowa State is to finish higher than fifth in the Big 12 North.

RB Da'Rel Scott, Maryland
BUZZ: Scott has big-time speed, but missed five full games and parts of two others with injuries last season. He was a 1,000-yard rusher in 2008 but fell to 425 yards last season. A full season of health from Scott would provide a huge boost for a Terps offense that needs helps.

RB Daniel Thomas, Kansas State
BUZZ: Thomas, who doubled as a quarterback and linebacker in high school, burst on the scene last season as a junior college transfer, leading the Big 12 with 1,265 rushing yards. He had five 100-yard games and rushed for at least 90 yards in three other contests. He also proved capable as a receiver with 25 catches. Thomas is a physical runner (he's 6 feet 2 and 228 pounds) who can take a pounding.

WR Tandon Doss, Indiana
BUZZ: Doss emerged as a productive receiver as a sophomore last season, finishing with 77 receptions for 962 yards and five touchdowns. He has excellent size (6-3/195) and had three 100-yard games and at least five catches in 11 of IU's 12 games last season, when he was a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the league coaches.

WR T.Y. Hilton, Florida International
BUZZ: Hilton is electrifying with the ball in his hands; too bad for him FIU's quarterback play has been so inconsistent the past two seasons. He has three return TDs in his two seasons with FIU, including a kick return for a score against Alabama last season. In his two seasons, he has thrown a TD pass, run for two scores, caught 12 TD passes and scored two kickoff returns and one punt return.

TE Jeffrey Anderson, UAB
BUZZ: Anderson, who has good size (6-3/255) and can run, was the run-oriented Blazers' second-leading receiver last season, when he had five TDs among his 26 receptions. He could be underutilized again this season with the Blazers going to an untested quarterback.

T Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State
BUZZ: Osemele was a second-team All-Big 12 selection last season, when he did not allow a sack as the Cyclones' starting left tackle.

T Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State
BUZZ: Sherrod is entering his third season as a starter for the Bulldogs, who ranked ninth nationally in rushing offense last season. He has a chance to earn All-SEC honors this fall.

G Dominik Riley, Memphis
BUZZ: He will be a four-year starter for the Tigers, who have been at least a solid offensive team during his time at the school. He helped paved the way for 1,000-yard rusher Curtis Steele last season.

G Chad Schofield, Marshall
BUZZ: Schofield's performance was a big reason Herd TB Darius Marshall ran for 1,131 yards last season. He also can play center.

C Ryan Bartholomew, Syracuse
BUZZ: The Orange boasted a 1,000-yard rusher last season, when Bartholomew was the team's best offensive lineman.

DEFENSE

E Josh McNary, Army
BUZZ: McNary was fourth in the nation with 12.5 sacks last season. He also had 65 total tackles and 22.5 tackles for loss last season while relying on speed and technique, not size.

T Elliott Henigan, UAB
BUZZ: While the Blazers were inept defensively last season, don't blame Henigan. He had 47 tackles, four sacks, three forced fumbles and two quarterback hurries last season. Henigan has good first-step quickness and would be even more productive if UAB had some better players around him.

T Dontari Poe, Memphis
BUZZ: Poe made a big impact as a redshirt freshman last season. He is a huge man (6-5/350) who actually moves quite well; he had 27 tackles, two sacks and three forced fumbles last season. His new position coach this season is former Alabama head man Mike DuBose.

E Pernell McPhee, Mississippi State
BUZZ: McPhee was a touted junior college transfer who lived up to billing last season. He had 56 tackles, five sacks, 12 tackles for loss, eight quarterback hurries and three pass breakups for the Bulldogs.

LB Mario Harvey, Marshall
BUZZ: Harvey, nicknamed "Thumper," had 117 tackles, seven sacks and 10 quarterback hurries last season. He has 224 tackles in the past two seasons for the Thundering Herd, with eight games with double-figure tackles.

LB Derrell Smith, Syracuse
BUZZ: Syracuse ranked 13th nationally in run defense last season, and Smith's solid play was a major reason. He led the Orange with 82 tackles, with 11.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. He also had four forced fumbles and two pass breakups.

LB Alex Wujciak, Maryland
BUZZ: Wujciak quite simply is a tackle machine; he had 131 last season to go along with 8.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions (which he returned 152 yards) and two forced fumbles. He has 264 tackles in the past two seasons.

CB Ras-I Dowling, Virginia
BUZZ: Virginia again is going to have some offensive issues, but new coach Mike London won't have to worry about a secondary headed by Dowling. Dowling had three interceptions, eight pass breakups and two forced fumbles last season; he also finished with 58 tackles.

CB Davon House, New Mexico State
BUZZ: Aggies coach DeWayne Walker has had a distinguished career as a defensive coach and he knows he has a gem in House. He had three picks and 13 pass breakups last season to go with 68 tackles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. House has good size (6-0/190) and should be the best defensive back in the WAC this season.

FS Brian Lainhart, Kent State
BUZZ: Lainhart was second nationally with seven interceptions. He also made 87 tackles and had four pass breakups and four forced fumbles to help the Golden Flashes rank 30th nationally in pass efficiency defense.

SS Sean Richardson, Vanderbilt
BUZZ: Vandy's defense performed admirably last season, especially considering that the Commodores' offense was so punchless. Richardson had 84 tackles, including four games with at least 10 stops.

SPECIALISTS

K Ian McGarvey, Ball State
BUZZ: McGarvey, who was born in Ireland, looks to be the best kicker in the MAC. He hit 18 of his 21 field-goal attempts last season, including 5-of-5 from beyond 40 yards.

P Reid Forrest, Washington State
BUZZ: Forrest was the busiest punter in the nation last season, with 86 attempts for an atrocious Cougars team. He didn't seem overworked, though, averaging 43.2 yards despite punting 7.2 times per game.

KR Warren Norman, Vanderbilt
BUZZ: Vandy was horrendous last season, but Norman's exploits as a true freshman couldn't be ignored. He returned three kickoffs for touchdowns and averaged 26.3 yards per return. He also led the Commodores in rushing with 783 yards.

PR Phillip Livas, Louisiana Tech
BUZZ: Livas, whose nickname is "Saturday Night" (get it -- "Saturday Night Live-us"?), has six return TDs in his career, including three on punt returns. He should become a much bigger part of the passing offense now that new coach Sonny Dykes is on the scene and will scrap Tech's run-first offense in favor of a pass-happy approach.

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.



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