CoogFans' 2009 Conference USA Preview

C-USA promises to be a wild and wooly league once again, one in which any team can knock off another on any given Saturday--or Tuesday thanks to ESPN.

C-USA promises to be a wild and wooly league once again, one in which any team can knock off another on any given Saturday--or Tuesday thanks to ESPN. Conference champion East Carolina needed a touchdown with two minutes left to defeat last-place UAB last year, while West Division winner Tulsa trailed SMU, which finished sixth in the West, going into the fourth quarter last season; and the year before the Hurricanes had to score on nearly the last play of the game to tame the 1-10 Mustangs. In the West, Houston is favored by most media outlets, and East Carolina gets the nod in the East. Tulsa and possibly UTEP could challenge the Cougars; Southern Miss and a darkhorse such as UCF could spoil the Pirates' party. But the other conference teams, while they could pull an upset along the way, probably don't have the personnel to overtake the league favorites this year. C-USA is improving. The league should establish itself as clearly the second-best non-BCS league this season or the next, and the rosters at programs such as Houston, Southern Miss, SMU, and others are dotted with freshmen and sophomores; so the league could be on par with the MWC soon, possibly this year. TCU and Utah will be hard-pressed to repeat the success they had in ‘08. Conference USA teams will have chances to earn respect for their league. Houston plays Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, East Carolina gets West Virginia and Virginia Tech, both of whom the Pirates beat last season, USM has Kansas, Louisville, and Virginia, Tulsa plays Oklahoma and Boise, and UTEP hosts Kansas and travels to Austin to play the Longhorns. There's no reason league schools can't knock off programs like Kansas, Louisville, Virginia, and Texas Tech this year. If they do and fare reasonably well in bowl games, the conference may finally begin to get some recognition.

WEST DIVISION

1) HOUSTON
In a league dominated by offense, the Cougars should have the best. The Cougars finished second nationally last year in total offense, behind Tulsa by seven yards per game and ahead of third place Oklahoma by 15 ypg. Fortunately for UH, most of the players responsible for that prolific offense are back. Quarterback Case Keenum led the nation in total offense and would be right there with Bradford, McCoy, and Tebow in the Heisman race if he played for a higher profile school. Bryce Beall led all C-USA underclassmen running backs in all-purpose yards and was second among conference returnees in rushing with 96 ypg. Tyron Carrier was one of the league's best receivers, amassing over 1000 yards per game. The offensive line features Rimington Award candidate Carl Barnett along with two other returning starters and two of the top junior college trench warriors in the nation in behemoths Roy Watts (6-6, 320) and Jarve Dean (6-3, 325). Defense is a concern. The Cougars lose C-USA Defensive Player of the Year Phillip Hunt along with five other regulars, but given the dismal performance of the defense last year, returnees may not be as important as they typically are. The starting 11 should be a representative group. Tyrell Graham could pick up where Hunt left off as a pass rusher, and Isaiah Thompson is a load inside. Coach Kevin Sumlin thinks UH will have the league's best linebacker corps, and that's certainly possible with Marcus McGraw and Matt Nicholson on tap. Brandon Brinkley is one of the C-USA's best corners. The big problem for Houston defensively is depth. If the Cougars stay relatively healthy, they have enough talent (and probably more speed on defense than last year) to field a competent defense. But if they start losing players in early non-conference games, they may not be able to score enough points to win a little more than half their games. Special teams are in good shape. Chase Turner has a bionic leg, Jordan Mannisto and Ben Bell give the Coogs two capable kickers, and speedy smurf types abound in the return game.

2) UTEP
This should be Mike Price's best team since 2004 when the Miners finished 8-4. UTEP will do its part to keep the tradition of dynamic offense alive in the West. Quarterback Trevor Vittatoe is arguably the most physically talented quarterback in the league. He finished just behind the conference's big three signal callers last season--Keenum, Chase Clement of Rice, and David Johnson of Tulsa--in most every passing statistic. Vittatoe is a great athlete, the type of player who looks as if he'd excel at any skill position. But he's an excellent passer. He has two outstanding and very fast targets in Jeff Moturi and Kris Adams. The offensive line is a veteran one. Guard Cameron Raschke and tackle Mike Aguayo are legitimate all-conference candidates. But UTEP must develop a running game. Donald Buckram was the team's third-leading rusher last year, and will take over as the lone back in the spread formation. If the Miners cannot establish a ground attack, teams will tee off on Vittatoe, and UTEP will be hard-pressed to keep up offensively with Houston and Tulsa. The Miners will have problems on defense as well. The front six (UTEP runs a 3-3-5) only returns a couple of starters, and the Miners gave up 200 yards rushing per game last season and finished an unenviable #115 nationally in total defense, 11th in C-USA. Nose tackle Steve Riddick will be counted on to stabilize the middle, and UTEP has some talented defenders in the secondary, a critical area given the pass-happy offenses in C-USA; safety Braxton Amy is one. Cornelius Brown and Melvin Stephenson are competent corners. The Miners took a hit with the graduation of kicker Jose Martinez, who was sixth nationally in field-goal percentage and 16th in scoring. Working in UTEP's favor is a proven commodity at quarterback, getting both Tulsa and Houston at home, and playing UAB, Marshall, and Memphis from the East, while Tulsa gets East Carolina, Southern Miss, and the Tigers. So the Miners get the nod over the Hurricanes for second place in the West--by a smidgen.

3) TULSA
Tulsa has been the most consistently good program in C-USA since the new league was formed in 2005. TU captured the conference crown that season and has played in the championship game every year but once since then. The Golden Hurricanes will again field a good squad, but the team's route to the championship may face more obstacles in ‘09. Tulsa returns fewer lettermen than any school in C-USA. David Johnson, who was second nationally in passing efficiency and led the Golden Hurricane's attack to the best total offense average in Division I-A, is now looking for a home in the NFL. Tarrion Adams, the second-leading rusher in the conference, and Brennan Marion, a 1000-yard receiver, are also gone, along with three of the team‘s best offensive linemen. And the biggest loss may have been the resignation of offensive coordinator, Gus Mahlzan, who took over the same position at Auburn. Even so, it's hard to imagine Tulsa not putting up points. For the most part, as goes the new quarterback, so goes the Hurricanes. If Gary Kinne or Jacob Bower can pick up where Johnson left off, TU should again have one of the nation's most prolific offenses. But that's a big if, and some concerns in the offensive line could make matching UH and UTEP in the stats department a lofty goal despite the QB‘s performance. The Hurricanes do have weapons, however. Despite losing Marion, Tulsa still has a group of receivers to match most anyone with Damaris Johnson, Slick Shelley, and Trae Johnson. Charles Clay will try to pick up some of the slack left by the departure of Adams. Tyler Holmes is the top returnee on the offensive line. Tulsa had a middle-of-the-pack C-USA defense last year, and should be about the same in ‘09. Rover James Lockett can disrupt offenses, and Mike Bryant and George Clinkscale are solid linebackers. But the defensive line is shaky. Moton Hopkins, the top pass rusher, is gone as is monster nose tackle Terrell Nemons. Chances are Tulsa will be down some offensively and about the same defensively, which likely will translate to some seven or eight wins rather than the 10 they had in the regular season last year. The schedule is much tougher this year. Tulsa gets both East Carolina and Southern Miss (on the road) from the East, they have non-conference matchups against Oklahoma and Boise, and the Hurricanes have to travel to UTEP before playing Houston at home.

4) SMU
June Jones will resurrect the SMU program. Unfortunately for Mustang fans, 2009 is a little early for miracles. But look for SMU to win some of the close calls they lost last year and finish closer to .500 than winless. The Ponies' roster is loaded with sophomores, and Jones is elevating recruiting on the Hilltop. So by 2010, SMU should be even money to break .500 and maybe get to a bowl. This season, making progress toward the .500 mark would show that SMU is on the comeback trail. Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell is back to direct Jones's run-n-shoot offense. Mitchell has a big arm and is learning with every snap he takes. He's not there with Keenum and Vittatoe yet, but when those players leave in another year or two, he may be the top QB in C-USA. The Ponies are thin at running back, and that's a problem given that SMU finished dead last in the conference in rushing, averaging only 41 yards per game and 2.3 yards per carry. Obviously some of that can be chalked up to sacks, but it's called the run and shoot for a reason. The passing game should be better with veteran Emmanuel Sanders and talented Aldrick Robinson back at receiver. The offensive line needs work. Tackle Kelvin Beachum should be the bell cow, but no one else stands out. Jones will put together a decent group, but the personnel on hand may limit SMU‘s offensive production. If the Mustangs' offense was going up against their defense, they probably wouldn't have to worry about that. The Ponies are likely to be woeful on the other side of the ball again. SMU finished last in the conference in total and scoring defense, and they lost three key players up front. Youri Yenga will play end this year, and should be a good pass rusher. Pete Fleps is the top linebacker, and Chris Banjo leads what could be an improved secondary; nonetheless, SMU will have to outscore opponents to win. The Mustangs must replace Thomas Morstead, who handled the kicking and punting duties. SMU and Rice should be neck and neck. But Peruna gets Sammy as well as Tulane in Dallas this year, and SMU plays UAB from the East. So the Ponies get a slight nod over the Owls almost completely because of a more favorable schedule. But something is brewing on the Hilltop. SMU just may be mentioned in the same breath as Houston and Tulsa in another year or two.

5) RICE
Like Tulsa, the Owls will be hard-pressed to match 2008, which was the first time the school had won 10 games in some half a century. Rice's three musketeers--Chase Clement, Jarrett Dillard, and James Casey--have departed, and there's no way the Owls can replace that kind of talent. But all is not lost. The offense should be productive, and the defense has to be better. Alabama transfer Nick Fanuzzi leads the battle to replace Clement. The new field general has the tools; he just needs to make the right decisions, something at which Clement excelled. Justin Hill will bring size and Shane Turner speed to the tailback slot in an effort to prevent any falloff from the graduation of 800-yard rusher C.J. Ugokwe. Toren Dixon is a talented wideout, and Corbin Smiter is capable. The offensive line lost three veterans, but Scott Mitchell should be one of the league's best at tackle and there are other solid types such as Charlie Wiebusch; so Rice will be competent up front. But it's tough to see the Owls being on par offensively with UH, UTEP, and Tulsa. Defensively, Rice was abysmal last season, finishing 111th nationally after surrendering 452 yards per game as well as 33 ppg. But the Owls have some talent on that side of the ball this year. Scott Solomon started to make his presence felt at defensive end as the season wore on and earned all-conference honors, as did his teammate in the line, defensive tackle Chance Talbert. Terrance Garmon is a speedy LB who could earn post-season accolades. Andrew Sendejo and Travis Bradshaw give Rice arguably the best safety tandem in the conference, and Chris Jammer has potential at corner. The Owls have a tough schedule. They travel to Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Houston, and East Carolina. One need not have a crystal ball to see a loss in those games, and then with matchups against Vanderbilt, Tulsa, Navy, and at UTEP and SMU, it's difficult to see Rice bowling again in '09. But look for the Owls to be competitive in many of those games and start planting the seeds for another revival in 2010.

6) TULANE
Tulane may not have as tough a time crawling out of the West Division cellar as many think. Some 14 starters return, and the Green Wave will get back some key players who missed most of last season with injuries. The offense should be improved with the return of eight starters, including quarterback Kevin Moore. Moore doesn't have a lot of raw ability, but he has a firm grasp of Tulane's offense. Even so, if Coach Bob Toledo thinks the team is not progressing the way it should, Joe Kemp or Ryan Griffin may get a shot at the job. Regardless of who is taking snaps, he should be surrounded by a better supporting cast, including capable running back Andre Anderson, who was leading the conference in rushing last year before suffering a season-ending injury in Tulane's seventh game. Anderson is also a fine receiver out of the backfield. The top target at receiver is senior wideout Jeremy Williams, who, like Anderson, missed much of last season nursing an injury. Casey Robottom will line up on the other side. So the Green Wave appears to have the skill players available to have a potent offense, but the offensive line must improve its play, and based on the returnees, it likely will. Three starters return in the trenches, junior guard Andrew Nierman, senior tackle Nick Landry, who has been starting since he was a freshman, and tackle Pete Hendrickson. Tulane must also get better defensively, but the Wave was sixth in C-USA in total defense last year (1st in the West Division), and could move up this season. The defensive line should be stout. Reggie Scott, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility, Logan Kelley, and Adam Kwentua are potential all-conference defensive linemen. Travis Burks and David Kirksey are solid senior linebackers with good speed; Burks, in fact, returns kicks. The secondary welcomes back safeties Corey Sonnier and Chinoso Echeblem along with cornerback Josh Lumar. Tulane boasts one of the nation's top punters in Ross Thevenot, who averaged 45.8 yards per punt last season, good enough for second best in the nation. So the Green Wave has a chance to surprise and overtake a team or two ranked ahead of it this season, but a bowl game is likely a bridge too far.

EAST DIVISION

1) EAST CAROLINA
The crown doesn't weigh heavily on ECU's head. The Pirates return 16 starters, eight on each side of the ball. They have a sixth-year senior at quarterback in Patrick Pinckney, and he's backed up by a strong-armed fifth-year senior, Rob Kass, who would start at several C-USA programs. Kentucky transfer Brandon Jackson, a talented, all-purpose-type back, is slated to start at running back; however, last season‘s leading rusher, Norman Whitley, as well as Jonathan Williams and J.R. Rogers could compete for the spot. The problem is Whitley and Williams have disciplinary issues, and at this point, only Skip Holtz can say just what their roles, if any, will be. At wide receiver, Jamar Bryant, a Georgia transfer, has a shot at the NFL, and explosive Dwayne Harris also returns. The offensive line could be outstanding. Center Sean Allen is a good bet to be drafted, and both tackles, Terrence Campbell and D.J. Scott, are back, along with guard Cory Dowless. Actually, guard Doug Allen may be the best of the group, but he's also been suspended and may not return. ECU won the conference and knocked off Virginia Tech and West Virginia last year on the strength of their defense; in fact, the Pirates, who ranked first in the conference in both total and scoring defense, held the Mountaineers to three points. The line is loaded. Although all-conference end Zach Slate graduated, there's still talent aplenty up front. The brightest star is end C.J. Wilson, who finished just behind C-USA Defensive Player of the Year, Phillip Hunt, in sacks. The tackles are behemoths, but they can move. 6-6, 300 pound Linvall Joseph was honorable mention all-conference, and his partner in the trenches, Jay Ross, is another 300-pounder with good quicks and two years of starting experience. The Pirates aren't as well-stocked at linebacker, though Nick Johnson returns in the middle. The secondary looks strong. Safety Van Eskredge was the team's defensive MVP last year. The corners both have experience and cover well. Kicker Ben Hartman and punter Matt Dodge are among the league's best. If the offense can pick it up a notch, East Carolina will be tough to beat. The Pirates' booty may well be another C-USA championship trophy.

2) SOUTHERN MISS
Coach Larry Fedora has transformed USM's offense. Only Tulsa, Houston, and Rice finished higher in C-USA in total offense, and the Eagles averaged 31 points a game with a balanced attack engineered by quarterback Austin Davis, who was only a freshman. Although he doesn't have a great arm, Davis puts the ball where it's supposed to be and shows unusual leadership skills for such a young player. Having Damion Fletcher in the backfield helps. Fletcher has been starting since his freshman season, and he led the league in rushing last year. But as good as he is, the real gamebreaker is wide receiver DeAndre Brown. Brown injured his leg in the New Orleans Bowl, but looks to be ready to go by the first game. Gerald Baptiste and Freddie Parham are good enough to beat defenses if they concentrate too much on Brown. Jonathan Massey will try to replace Buffalo draftee Shawn Nelson at tight end. The offensive line loses all-conference tackle Ryan McKee, but there's plenty of talent on hand. Guard Ryan Hebert is a candidate for post-season honors, Cameron Zipp is solid at center, and right tackle Calvin Wilson, a Mississippi State transfer, is a man mountain with decent feet at 6-6, 350. The Golden Eagles could have one of the better defenses in C-USA this season if some things fall into place. The line is led by fireplug Anthony Gray, who at 6-0, 300 can stuff the run and get penetration on passing plays. Roshaad Byrd is the top end. USM did have trouble getting pressure on the corner last year, a situation that will have to be remedied if the Eagles want to hang with opponents such as Houston, Tulsa, and Kansas. Southern Miss lost a good one when linebacker Gerald McRath declared for the draft as a junior. Martez Smith is the lone returnee at the position, so the Eagles will need a couple of sophomores to grow up quickly. The secondary is set with all four starters back; safety Eddie Hicks is an all-conference performer. Special teams are up in the air after the graduation of barefooted kicker/punter Britt Barefoot, who seemingly played at USM for eight years. The Eagles get both UH and Tulsa from the West, play at Greenville, and have a fairly tough non-conference schedule, so it's hard to see USM slipping past ECU in the East; but they could, and they definitely shouldn't have any problem qualifying for a bowl.

3) UCF
Like Rice and SMU, Tulsa and UTEP, picking between UCF and Memphis is a crapshoot. And when that's the case, the best predictor is typically the schedule. The Knights get Tulane and Rice from the West; Memphis goes to Houston and Tulsa. And UCF hosts the Tigers in Orlando. The Knights have notoriously been tough to prognosticate, going from the championship game in ‘05 to a losing record in '06, back to the championship game in '07, and then a return to the doldrums in '08. Given that history, this should be a banner year, and the Knights have the one defense in the league that could challenge East Carolina's for top dog. But the offense has a long way to go if UCF hopes to contend for a bowl, much less a championship. The Knights were #115 nationally in passing offense, and returning quarterback Rob Calabrese had a pass efficiency rating of a paltry 81.1. And it's not as if the Knights ran the ball down people's throats. UCF finished 98th nationally in rushing. The good (or bad depending on one's perspective) news is that 10 starters return on offense. If quarterback Mike Calabrese can show consistency, running back Brynn Harvey can get in the vicinity of 1000 yards, and Kamar Aiken can give the Knights a legitimate threat at wide receiver, UCF could have at least a good enough offense to win six or seven. The offensive line should be better with four starters returning. But the strength of the team is the defense. The front four is extremely talented. Bruce Miller, Torrell Troup, and Jarvis Geathers are among the best defensive linemen in the conference. All three linebackers return, though none are standouts. The chink in the Knights' armor is the secondary, where three starters, including all-league performer Joe Burnett and leading tackler Jason Venson are gone. So if the line doesn't get pressure, UCF will be vulnerable to a good passing attack. Punter Blake Clinigan is back, but the Knights need a new placekicker. This is a critical season for Coach George O'Leary. The team was 4-8 last season, and a player died during a conditioning drill. Some think the fault for that incident lies with the coaching staff. The Orlando Sentinel called for O'Leary to be fired. Chances are he will be if Central Florida doesn't get to a bowl game this season.

4) MEMPHIS
While other schools, thinking of a trip to the Liberty Bowl, may dream of the road to Memphis, the road for Memphis is a veritable obstacle course. The Tigers play tough SEC foes Tennessee and Ole Miss, and finish the season with two roadies at Houston and Tulsa, not to mention mid-season games at Southern Miss and UCF. And, of course, East Carolina looms on the schedule. So Memphis may have trouble getting to .500 this year, which would mean Tommy West might be looking for a new job in ‘10. But all is not lost. The Tigers return a talented, dual-threat quarterback in Arkelon Hall and a 1200 yard rusher in slasher Curtis Steele. Memphis, in fact, finished 26th nationally in total offense. Carlos Singleton and Duke Calhoun give the Tigers a steady duo at wide receiver. The problem is the offensive line. Only one starter, guard Dominick Riley, returns. Memphis inked two junior college linemen, and hopes other newcomers can plug the gaps. If they can, the Tigers could be potent again. The defense faces a similar problem; the line was decimated by graduation. Clinton McDonald was just behind Hunt and Wilson in sacks, and he's gone along with run stuffer Freddie Barnett and end Corey Mills. Just as with the offensive line, Coach West signed a couple of juco defensive linemen he hopes will provide immediate help. If they are competent, the Tigers should be better defensively. Linebackers Winston Bowens and Jeremy Longstreet are one of the best tandems in the conference. The leading tackler returns in safety Alton Starr, and Deante Lamar has shown signs of being a shutdown corner. So the back seven are fine. The problem, of course, is no back seven can cover all day or shut down running games. So the Tigers' fortunes rest largely on the shoulders of their linemen. Matt Reagan is a consistent kicker, but the team will need to find a replacement at punter. So the season largely hinges on the play of newcomers in the lines, and the rugged schedule doesn't help. Memphis doesn't have to win every battle of the trenches, but the Tigers need a push as often as not if they have any hope of another bowl.

5) MARSHALL
The watchword for Marshall is uncertainty. If all was well in Hunington, the Thundering Herd would be a darkhorse pick in the East. Marshall has a bevy of returning starters, but there are several problems that could work against a first-division finish. For starters, the school's eponymous 1000 yard rusher, Darius Marshall, and the Herd's best defensive back, DeQuan Bembry, were arrested for drug possession in May and have been suspended. It's unclear if or when they will return to the team. And given the murky situation at quarterback, the Herd is unlikely to do much thundering without one of the league's best running backs. Marshall also lost its top receiver, Darius Passmore, an all-conference safety in C.J. Spillman, and maybe its best linebacker in Maurice Kitchens. And with non-conference matchups against VPI and West Virginia, a bowl game seems unlikely. But there's hope if the team can find a quarterback. Last year's starter, Mark Cann returns, but his performance was shaky in ‘08. He'll be challenged by last year's backup, Mark Anderson, and two juco transfers. The one sure thing Marshall has is tight end Cody Slate, arguably the league's best tight end. If Marshall can get its skill position people squared away, the Herd should be capable of producing good numbers offensively. The offensive line returns four starters and should be one of the league's best. Defensively, MU looks strong in the front seven, but the secondary could be trouble. The leader in the line is end Albert McClellan, who was the 2006 C-USA Defensive Player of the Year. McClellan and Mike Janak form the core of a talented defensive line. Last year's leading tackler, linebacker Mario Harvey, also returns and is joined at the position by Brandon Burns. But the secondary is a major question mark with the loss of Spillman and possibly Bembry. If the Herd were in the West, such a deeply deficient secondary would be fatal. But with an impressive front seven, the defense could still hold up if the coaches can put together a representative group of defensive backs. Special teams should be fine with both last season's punter and placekicker back in the fold. If Marshall gets all its players back and a quarterback comes through, the team could get to a bowl. But as of now, there are too many unknowns to pick the Herd any higher.

6) UAB
Picking UAB last is a little dicey. This is a team that could surprise. They were 4-8 last year, but they finished the season with a 15-0 win over UCF, lost a nail-biter the weekend before to ECU, 17-13, and beat Marshall and Tulane. Additionally, they have about as many starters returning, 17, as anyone in the conference, though most of them are on offense, and their quarterback, Joe Webb, is an outstanding playmaker. But the schedule isn't favorable. UAB has tough road contests at Ole Miss, East Carolina, Texas A&M, UTEP, and Troy. The first two games of the season may set the tone for the Blazers. Rice and SMU come to Birmingham for UAB's first two contests, and those are games the Blazers can win. If they could notch victories against the Owls and Mustangs, UAB would have a chance to improve marginally on last season's record, though a bowl game is a bit far-fetched. Webb is the unquestioned leader, a 6-4, 220 pound talent who can pass and run equally well. But the Blazers need a running back or two to step forward to take some of the pressure off Webb. Rashad Slaughter is a waterbug, who rushed for over 500 yards, averaging 4.5 per carry, and will be expected to shoulder more of the burden in the running game. Frantrell Forrest is a potential all-conference wide receiver. The offensive line should be a team strength with all five starters back. Center Jake Seitz is on the Rimington Award Watchlist and is the leader of one of the better offensive lines in the league. Things aren't as rosy on the other side of the ball. The defense looked great toward the end of the season, pitching a shutout against UCF and holding conference champion East Carolina to 17. But the stars of the unit were lost to graduation, and UAB will do well to better its 110th finish in pass efficiency defense and its 106th rating in total defense. That may not be so bad in the West, where offense reigns supreme, but UAB will have trouble hanging in games against tough defenses like ECU and UCF. Perhaps UAB's biggest defensive fault is its almost total lack of pressure on the quarterback. Bryant Turner will help to rectify that situation from his position at rush end. There is no heir apparent at linebacker to replace all-league Joe Henderson. And the Blazers lost two other good ones at the position as well. UAB may even be forced to start a true freshman in the middle, and the outside linebackers look more like defensive backs. Speaking of which, only one starter returns to the secondary, senior cornerback Brandon Carlisle. The Blazers lose Swayze Waters, who was all-conference as both a kicker and punter last season. In summation, the Blazers could have one of the finest offenses in the East Division, but UAB's defense will likely be abysmal and prevent the team from doing much, if any, better than last year‘s 4-8 mark.

2009 Coogfans' All Conference USA Team
Conference MVP: Case Keenum, Houston
Offensive MVP: DeAndre Brown, Southern Miss
Defensive MVP: C. J. Wilson, East Carolina

OFFENSE
Quarterback - Case Keenum, Houston
Running Back - Damion Fletcher, Southern Miss
Running Back - Bryce Beall, Houston
Wide Receiver - Emmanuel Sanders, SMU
Wide Receiver - DeAndre Brown, Southern Miss
Tight End - Cody Slate, Marshall
Offensive Lineman - Mike Aguayo, UTEP
Offensive Lineman - Scott Mitchell, Rice
Offensive Lineman - Cameron Raschke, UTEP
Offensive Lineman - Doug Hebert, Southern Miss
Offensive Lineman - Sean Allen, East Carolina

DEFENSE
Defensive Lineman - C. J. Wilson, East Carolina
Defensive Lineman - Albert McClellan, Marshall
Defensive Lineman - Linvall Joseph, East Carolina
Defensive Lineman - Bruce Miller, UCF
Linebacker - Winston Bowens, Memphis
Linebacker - Marcus McGraw, Houston
Linebacker - Mario Harvey, Marshall
Defensive Back - Brandon Brinkley, Houston
Defensive Back - James Lockett, Tulsa
Defensive Back - Andrew Sendejo, Rice
Defensive Back - Van Eskridge, East Carolina

SPECIAL TEAMS
Kicker - Ben Hartman, East Carolina
Punter - Ross Thevenot, Tulane
Kick Returner - Tyron Carrier, Houston
Punt Returner - Andre Watson, Southern Miss


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