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April 25, 2011

Monday with Mike: Projected milestones

We looked at schools and how often they have reached some offensive statistical plateaus last week, and today we're looking at players who should reach those plateaus this season.

The players are listed alphabetically within those categories by league.

There are six teams projected to have players reach all three plateaus: Arkansas, Boise State, Cincinnati, Oklahoma State, SMU and Texas A&M.

The league's best offense should be Florida State's, but the Seminoles are deep at tailback and wide receiver, which could make it tough for a back or a receiver to reach the 1,000-yard plateau. FSU hasn't had a 1,000-yard rusher since Warrick Dun in 1996. Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris arrives from Tulsa, where the Golden Hurricane put up big offensive numbers in Morris' lone season. That's good news for Tigers QB Tajh Boyd. Virginia Tech RB David Wilson goes from third-stringer to starter, and he should be one of the top rushers in the league. BC's Montel Harris is a good bet to lead the league in rushing.
Projected 1,000-yard rushers: Clemson RB Andre Ellington, Boston College RB Montel Harris, Georgia Tech RB Roddy Jones, Virginia Tech RB David Wilson
Projected 3,000-yard passers: Clemson's Tajh Boyd, Duke's Sean Renfree
Projected 1,000-yard receivers: Duke WR Conner Vernon
A new coach at Pittsburgh and a new coordinator at West Virginia should mean much more juice in those offenses. WVU QB Geno Smith ran a pass-happy attack at Miramar (Fla.) High and he should adapt nicely to the offense run by Dana Holgorsen. WVU's receivers, especially Tavon Austin, should be quite productive. Pitt coach Todd Graham arrives from Tulsa, and he has some nice pieces in place. TB Ray Graham should be a good fit, and QB Tino Sunseri has the tools to be a 3,000-yard passer, though we think he falls short.
Projected 1,000-yard rushers: Syracuse RB Antwon Bailey, Pitt RB Ray Graham, Cincinnati RB Isaiah Pead
Projected 3,000-yard passers: Cincinnati's Zach Collaros, West Virginia's Geno Smith
Projected 1,000-yard receivers: West Virginia WR Tavon Austin, Pitt WR Mike Shanahan, Cincinnati WR D.J. Woods
Nebraska's entry into the league should mean defensive front sevens across the Big Ten get a little less sleep. The Huskers' rushing attack has two potential 1,000-yard rushers in QB Taylor Martinez and RB Rex Burkhead. Wisconsin had two 1,000-yard rushers last season and should have two again, even with the loss of John Clay. Michigan State RB Edwin Baker has a legit chance to lead the league in rushing. The suspensions faced by Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor, RB Dan Herron and WR DeVier Posey mean those players aren't going to reach the statistical plateaus we have set. Northwestern QB Dan Persa, if 100 percent healthy, has a chance to run for 1,000 yards and pass for 3,000. Still, it wouldn't be a surprise if Michigan State's Kirk Cousins was the only 3,000-yard passer in the league.
Projected 1,000-yard rushers: Wisconsin RB Montee Ball, Michigan State RB Edwin Baker, Nebraska RB Rex Burkhead, Iowa RB Marcus Coker, Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez, Michigan QB Denard Robinson, Wisconsin RB James White
Projected 3,000-yard passers: Michigan State's Kirk Cousins
Projected 1,000-yard receivers: Indiana WR Damarlo Belcher, Northwestern WR Jeremy Ebert
BIG 12
This should be one of the few leagues where the 1,000-yard receivers outnumber the 1,000-yard rushers. We're taking a leap of faith on Texas freshman RB Malcolm Brown. Oklahoma State RB Joseph Randle obviously will benefit from the departure of Kendall Hunter. You have to think Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon has his eyes on a 2,000-yard season; he had 1,782 last season, when he missed a game. In Blackmon, Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles and Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller, the Big 12 owns the best trio of receivers of any league. The quarterbacks aren't too shabby, either.
Projected 1,000-yard rushers: Texas RB Malcolm Brown, Texas A&M's Cyrus Gray, Oklahoma State's Joseph Randle
Projected 3,000-yard passers: Texas Tech's Seth Doege, Baylor's Robert Griffin, Oklahoma's Landry Jones, Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill, Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden
Projected 1,000-yard receivers: Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma WR Ryan Broyles, Texas A&M WR Jeff Fuller, Baylor WR Kendall Wright
Here's another league where the 1,000-yard receivers easily could outnumber the 1,000-yard rushers. SMU's Zach Line is the only returning 1,000-yard rusher in the conference. It wouldn't be a surprise if half the league's starting quarterbacks throw for 3,000 yards. Houston, SMU and East Carolina each could have two 1,000-yard receivers.
Projected 1,000-yard rushers: Tulane RB Orleans Darkwa, Southern Miss RB Kendrick Hardy, SMU RB Zach Line
Projected 3,000-yard passers: Southern Miss' Austin Davis, East Carolina's Dominique Davis, UAB's Bryan Ellis, Houston's Case Keenum, Tulsa's G.J. Kinne, SMU's Kyle Padron
Projected 1,000-yard receivers: East Carolina WR Michael Bowman, SMU WR Cole Beasley, Houston WR Patrick Edwards, Tulsa WR Damaris Johnson, SMU WR Darius Johnson, East Carolina WR Lance Lewis
Notre Dame is going to have a highly productive passing attack, but what looks to be a four-man quarterback battle isn't going to be decided until fall drills. Even then, it wouldn't be a surprise if coach Brian Kelly plays some musical chairs with his quarterback; thus, it's hard to predict that on Irish quarterback will throw for 3,000 yards. Along the same lines, Irish WR Michael Floyd faces a possible suspension this fall for some off-field issues. He conceivably could miss three or four games, which makes it tough to predict he'll reach 1,000 receiving yards. BYU QB Jake Heaps came on strong at the end of last season; part of that was the maturation process (he was a true freshman) and part was because the schedule got easier. Heaps could struggle a bit early this fall against a tough schedule, but he should light it up over the second half of the season. Regardless, he's a 3,000-yard lock.
Projected 1,000-yard rushers: Army RB Jared Hassin, Navy RB Alexander Teich
Projected 3,000-yard passers: BYU's Jake Heaps
Projected 1,000-yard receivers: Notre Dame's Theo Riddick
Northern Illinois is going to miss coach Jerry Kill (now at Minnesota) and TB Chad Spann (he was a senior), but new coach Dave Doeren has a defensive background and arrives from Wisconsin, so you can be sure he understands the value of a good rushing attack. Jasmin Hopkins, who was a JC transfer last season, looks as if he is the new starting tailback for the Huskies, which means he'll have a legit shot at 1,000 yards. Two Michigan quarterbacks - Alex Carder at Western and Ryan Radcliff at Central - should duel for the league's passing title. There should be quite the spirited battle for leading receiver honors in the MAC, both in terms of receptions and yardage. If we had to bet this early, we'd split our bets between Bowling Green's Kamar Jorden and Central Michigan's Cody Wilson.
Projected 1,000-yard rushers: Northern Illinois RB Jasmin Hopkins, Toledo RB Adonis Thomas
Projected 3,000-yard passers: Western Michigan's Alex Carder, Central Michigan's Ryan Radcliff
Projected 1,000-yard receivers: Miami's Nick Harwell, Bowling Green WR Kamar Jorden, Toledo's Eric Page, Western Michigan WR Ansel Ponder, Central Michigan's Cody Wilson
The arrival of Boise State means some Broncos players will be near the top of some individual statistical lists. Broncos QB Kellen Moore lost two stud receivers, but he's still a 3,000-yard lock; expect WR Tyler Shoemaker to make the jump to 1,000-yard receiver. RB Doug Martin is a safe bet to rush for 1,000 again. San Diego State QB Ryan Lindley is a big-timer, but he lost his top three receivers from last season plus shares the backfield with RB Ronnie Hillman, meaning it could be tough for Lindley to reach 3,000 yards.
Projected 1,000-yard rushers: Wyoming RB Alvester Alexander, Air Force RB Asher Clark, San Diego State RB Ronnie Hillman, Boise State RB Doug Martin, TCU RB Ed Wesley
Projected 3,000-yard passers: San Diego State QB Ryan Lindley, Boise State QB Kellen Moore
Projected 1,000-yard receivers: Boise State WR Tyler Shoemaker
Look for the Pac-12 to be the home of at least six 1,000-yard rushers this fall. It's not a stretch to see Oregon's LaMichael James leading the nation in rushing, even if the Ducks have a deep backfield. For UCLA, Arizona State and Colorado to be as good as they can be, they need their lead backs to be productive. One team not on this list is California, which likely won't decide on a feature back until fall drills. Even then, the Golden Bears figure to share the wealth and spread the carries.
Projected 1,000-yard rushers: UCLA RB Johnathan Franklin, Oregon RB LaMichael James, Arizona State RB Cameron Marshall, Washington RB Chris Polk, Colorado RB Rodney Stewart, Stanford RB Stepfan Taylor
Projected 3,000-yard passers: USC's Matt Barkley, Arizona's Nick Foles, Stanford's Andrew Luck, Washington State's Jeff Tuel
Projected 1,000-yard receivers: Arizona WR Juron Criner, Washington State WR Marquess Wilson
Welcome to the SEC, the league where seemingly every fan is saying, "Man, are we going to get good quarterback play this fall?" Georgia's Aaron Murray and Arkansas' Tyler Wilson look like the safest choices to reach 3,000 passing yards. There is no shortage of big-time runners. Alabama junior Trent Richardson finally will be the Tide's feature back, and a 1,400-yard season looms. Auburn's Michael Dyer definitely bears watching. He rushed for 1,000 last season, thanks to a magnificent performance in the national title game. With Cameron Newton gone to the NFL, conventional wisdom would be that Dyer will get more chances this season. Still, there are a couple of things that make you a bit leery about Dyer's chances to reach 1,000. First, the Tigers lost four starting offensive linemen. Second, Newton's departure means more - a lot more - emphasis is going to be placed on stopping Dyer and fellow RB Onterio McCalebb by opposing defenses. Without Newton to worry about, those opposing defenses presumably can focus on making sure Dyer doesn't gash them.
Projected 1,000-yard rushers: Ole Miss RB Brandon Bolden, Arkansas RB Knile Davis, South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore, Tennessee RB Tauren Poole, Alabama RB Trent Richardson
Projected 3,000-yard passers: Georgia's Aaron Murray, Arkansas' Tyler Wilson
Projected 1,000-yard receivers: Arkansas WR Greg Childs, South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffery
Western Kentucky's Bobby Rainey (third) and North Texas' Lance Dunbar (sixth) were among the nation's top six rushers last season, and they again will be the focal point of their teams' offenses this season. FAU's Alfred Morris was a 1,000-yard guy in 2009 before falling short last season because he ran behind a rebuilt line. FAU's line should be a strength this fall. Arkansas State's Ryan Aplin and Troy's Corey Robinson had big-time performances as redshirt freshmen last season, and they are the two best quarterbacks in the league this season. FIU WR T.Y. Hilton might be the most talented player in the league, but it's going to be hard for him to reach 1,000 receiving yards because FIU doesn't get him the ball enough.
Projected 1,000-yard rushers: North Texas RB Lance Dunbar, FAU RB Alfred Morris, Western Kentucky RB Bobby Rainey
Projected 3,000-yard passers: Arkansas State's Ryan Aplin, Troy's Corey Robinson
Projected 1,000-yard receivers: Arkansas State WR Dwayne Frampton, Troy WR Chip Reeves
Boise State's departure means there has been a big-time offensive talent drain in this league. Hawaii's Bryant Moniz has a great shot at leading the nation in passing, and the Warriors' Royce Pollard should go from No. 3 receiving option to the No. 1 guy - which means 100 catches and 1,200 yards are modest goals. Nevada is losing two 1,000-yard rushers, and Mike Ball - last season's backup - missed most of spring practice after arthroscopic knee surgery. Despite the loss of Vai Taua, Nevada is deep at tailback, and that depth actually could mean there won't be a 1,000-yard rusher this fall.
Projected 1,000-yard rushers: Nevada RB Mike Ball, Louisiana Tech RB Lennon Creer, Fresno State RB Robbie Rouse
Projected 3,000-yard passers: Hawaii's Bryant Moniz
Projected 1,000-yard receivers: Hawaii WR Royce Pollard

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

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