High Fives, Low Fives

August 30, 2002|By Gary Lambrecht

Five specialists who could make an impact

Nathan Vasher, Texas KR: Vasher had quite a tuneup in the final spring scrimmage by returning a kickoff 103 yards and a punt 54 yards, both for scores.

Seth Marler, Tulane K / P: Last season, Marler missed only one field-goal attempt in 16 tries and was 7-for-7 beyond 40 yards.

Damon Duval, Auburn K / P: He needs to improve his field-goal accuracy, but he averaged 44 yards punting and dropped 15 of 51 punts inside the 20.

Brooks Barnard, Maryland P: Barnard was a key in the Terps' turnaround with his steady ability to turn field position in Maryland's favor. Barnard averaged 44.5 yards, and only six of his 54 punts went for touchbacks.

Luke Powell, Stanford PR: Powell averaged 16 yards and had a season-high 58-yard return among his 19 punt returns.

Five coaches on the hot seat

Tommy Bowden, Clemson: Clemson is on the verge of Atlantic Coast Conference title contention, and anything less than second place could mean the end for Bowden.

Dana Dimel, Houston: Hired from Wyoming three years ago, he could be a scapegoat if Houston doesn't end a 15-game losing streak and turn things around.

Bob Toledo, UCLA: Toledo had the Bruins in national title contention in 1998. Since then, UCLA is 17-17, including a 1-4 finish last year.

Bobby Wallace, Temple: Wallace has produced an average of only three victories in four seasons.

Ron Zook, Florida: Will any coach be more scrutinized than Steve Spurrier's successor? Early losses to Miami and Tennessee would cause quite a stir among spoiled boosters.

Five players who get overlooked

Avon Cobourne, West Virginia RB: Cobourne has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons.

Colin Cole, Iowa DT: Cole (6 feet 2, 300 pounds) was left off the all-Big Ten teams despite recording 64 tackles, 14 tackles for losses and six sacks.

Mewelde Moore, Tulane RB: In 2001, he became the first Division I-A player to rush for more than 1,250 yards and catch more than 60 passes in the same season.

Lance Rice, Utah QB: Rice blended in nicely with a great running game by throwing for 2,086 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Kevin Walter, Eastern Michigan WR: The 6-3 senior has caught 117 passes in the past two years, and produced 748 yards and six scores last season.

Five of the game's top defenders

Boss Bailey, Georgia OLB: Bailey, who overcame a serious knee injury in 2000 and emerged as a big-play threat a year ago, is key to Georgia's SEC hopes.

Darnell Dockett, Florida State DT: Dockett is the Seminoles' defensive anchor. Last year, he set a school record with 22 tackles for losses.

E.J. Henderson, Maryland MLB: Henderson led the Atlantic Coast Conference in tackles (150) and tackles for losses (28). Offseason back surgery could slow him a bit early.

Jimmy Wilkerson, Oklahoma DE: He has bulked up to 260 pounds without losing a step and could the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.

Eugene Wilson, Illinois CB: After he broke up a nation-leading 30 passes in 2001, don't expect too many opposing quarterbacks to take chances picking on the 5-foot-11 senior.

Five players with big shoes to fill

Eric Bassey, Oklahoma SS: Bassey, a redshirt freshman, must pick up where Roy Williams left off as the nation's premier safety.

Horace Dodd, Boston College RB: Dodd, a transfer from Penn State, hasn't played a down at running back in college. He follows William Green (1,559 rushing yards in 2001).

Jammal Lord, Nebraska QB: Lord must follow Eric Crouch, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner who is one of only three Division I quarterbacks to rush for 3,000 yards and pass for 4,000 yards.

Issac Mooring, North Carolina DE: The Tar Heels lost nine starters on defense, and Mooring must replace right end Julius Peppers, the best pass rusher in the NCAA last season.

Carlos Perez, Florida WR: With the departures of Jabar Gaffney and Reche Caldwell, Perez must team with Taylor Jacobs, the only Gators receiver with notable experience.

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