C-USA Offseason Lookback & Lookaheads

Tulsa QB G.J. Kinne

A look back at 2009 and a prespring lookahead for each Conference USA team


Spring 2010

Lookbacks & Lookaheads ... C-USA

 
- 2010 Conference USA Pre-Preseason Rankings 
- 2010 Conference USA Recruiting Rankings 

Click on each team for the 2009 Lookback & 2010 Lookahead
East UAB | UCF | East Carolina | Marshall | Memphis | Southern Miss
West  Houston | Rice | SMU | Tulane | Tulsa | UTEP

East

East Carolina  Click for the Lookback & Lookahead
The Pirates have a swagger and a degree of confidence that comes with winning back-to-back Conference USA titles. They also have star potential on both sides of the ball. WR Dwayne Harris can do a little bit of everything, catching passes and running out of the Wildcat package. On defense, CB Emanuel Davis is a returning first team all-leaguer, who is capable of anchoring the last line of defense and locking down receivers.

Marshall  Click for the Lookback & Lookahead
The running game has the ingredients to be among the best in Conference USA. Not only is improving sophomore back to take over the feature role, but he'll be operating behind anchor Chad Schofield at the pivot and a physical, veteran line bringing back a handful of letterwinners. The Herd might finally have a quarterback to build an offense around now that former can't-miss recruit Willy Korn is transferring from Clemson to Huntington.

Memphis Click for the Lookback & Lookahead
With a new staff comes a new energy, something that had clearly faded toward the end of Tommy West's tenure. Larry Porter is young and enthusiastic, and is a former Tiger running back. He also has a long track record as a successful recruiter, which will come in handy as Memphis strives to improve its overall depth and talent on both sides of the ball. Both lines are returning a bunch of starters to build around.

Southern Miss  Click for the Lookback & Lookahead
Now entering his third season in Hattiesburg, head coach Larry Fedora has the Eagle offense preparing for lift-off. Even after losing starting QB Austin Davis to injury in 2009, Southern Miss remained potent averaging almost 33 points a game. With Davis on his way back and WR DeAndre Brown more than a removed from his nasty broken leg, the program has the foundation to approach Houston as the league's most dangerous offense.

UAB  Click for the Lookback & Lookahead
The Blazers are coming off their best season in four years, winning five games and finishing a respectable 4-4 in league play. The recent cycle of losing hasn't been broken quite yet, but cracks are beginning to show. This could be Neil Calloway's best defense, a unit that started just one senior last year and brings back a couple of building block all-stars in DE Bryant Turner and S Hiram Atwater.

UCF  Click for the Lookback & Lookahead
The D has the parts to be among the league's stingiest for a second straight year. Maybe the Knights don't finish No. 4 nationally in run defense once again, but with DE Bruce Miller up front, Lawrence Young at linebacker, and Josh Robinson and Derrick Hallman batting down passes, there won't be much drop-off. UCF continues to attract speed and size for this side of the ball, an anomaly in Conference USA.

West 

Houston  Click for the Lookback & Lookahead
There'll be absolutely no drop-off from an offense that led the country in scoring and total yards last fall. In fact, with Case Keenum back for one more year and surrounded by all of his top weapons, the attack might be even more explosive than ever. He'll once again play pitch-and-catch with an eclectic ensemble of receivers that featured three 1,000-yarders, James Cleveland, Tyron Carrier, and Patrick Edwards.

Rice  Click for the Lookback & Lookahead
It took three-quarters of the year, but the Owl offense finally started showing signs of life as the regular season came to a close. And the catalysts of the spark will be back in Houston in the fall. Alabama transfer Nick Fanuzzi threw seven touchdown passes in back-to-back games with SMU and Tulane, displaying considerable upside. Ditto true freshman RB Charles Ross, who scored 11 times and ended the year with his first 100-yard day. Both players will benefit from an offensive line that loses no one.

SMU   Click for the Lookback & Lookahead
After just two seasons, the rebuilding plan under June Jones is in full swing. Not only did the Mustangs end their quarter-century bowl drought, but they upset Nevada in the Hawaii Bowl. And not only did they pound the pack, but they did it with a true freshman behind center. Kyle Padron appears ready to be Jones' next prolific gunslinger, and will have three 40-catch guys in his holster. Plus, four-fifths of his offensive line was only sophomores a year ago.

Tulane  Click for the Lookback & Lookahead
For the first time in years, the Green Wave has a young quarterback it believes it can build an offense around. Ryan Griffin showed promise as a redshirt freshman, winning the job midway through the year and throwing eight touchdown passes in the final four games. Known for his ability to develop young quarterbacks throughout his career, head coach Bob Toledo might finally have a pupil capable of lighting a fire beneath the Tulane attack.

Tulsa  Click for the Lookback & Lookahead
After taking a step backwards in 2009, the offense should be ready to hit the tarmac against next fall. Texas transfer G.J. Kinne showed plenty of potential and athleticism in his first year behind center. This year he'll welcome back a handful of his main skill position players. Four of his top five receivers still have at least another year of eligibility left, led by Damaris Johnson, one of the most dynamic all-around playmakers in Conference USA.

UTEP  Click for the Lookback & Lookahead
In Donald Buckram, the Miners return one of the most exciting and productive backs in the country from a year ago. Without much warning, he exploded for 1,594 rushing yards and 21 total touchdowns, striking fear into opposing Conference USA defenses. Assuming QB Trevor Vittatoe regroups from last season's sudden retreat, he and WR Kris Adams will once again form a dangerous pitch-and-catch combo. That degree of balance has not been commonplace in El Paso since Mike Price arrived.

  

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