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August 25, 2006There is a theme running through most of the Rivals.com list of the 10 teams with the toughest acts to follow.
Eight of them lost their starting quarterback from a season ago, and one that was supposed to have its starting signal-caller back recently saw him undergo knee surgery that could force him out of the opener.
Now while losing the QB doesn't necessarily signal disaster (D.J. Shockley springs to mind as an example of a first-year starter who did just fine under center last season), it's not exactly a recipe for success.
We're not talking about run-of-the-mill quarterbacks either. Most of these teams lost great players ? guys who won Heisman Trophies and national championships and conference MVP awards.
Texas has to replace Vince Young. In fan voting on Rivals.com, Young was named the greatest player in Longhorns history. No pressure for the freshman who will take snaps in Austin this season.
The cleats are just as huge to fill at USC and Alabama, and the list goes on.
Wisconsin is slated to start John Stocco at QB, and he performed admirably for the Badgers last season (2,920 passing yards, 21 TDs, nine interceptions). However, he recently underwent knee surgery that could sideline him for a game or two to start the season. When Stocco returns, he still will have to overcome this frightening fact: UW doesn't have a returning player who gained more than 100 yards rushing or caught more than one pass last season.
This doesn't mean we predict doom for any of these teams. It's just that they set the bar for themselves last season at a height they may not be able to clear in 2006.