C-USA Football Predictions 2013
Conference USA East Predictions 2013
#1 East Carolina
Offense: The offense will likely surpass its 31.5 points per game it posted last season. ECU had Great depth at WR until two suspensions, but Justin Hardy returning is big. Hardy will go down as one of the best WR to play at ECU. Hardy joined the team as a walk-on. Last year's Newcomer of the Year award went to RB Vintavious Cooper. Cooper rushed for over 1,000 yards and ran for 172 yards vs UAB last season. ECU has the top offensive line in the league with four returning starters. Quarterback Shane Carden took care of the ball last season with only 10 interceptions. He also threw for over 300 yards four times in 12 games.
Defense: The ECU secondary returns three starters and need to create more turnovers. The pass defense ranked as one of the worst in the country giving up over 275 yards a game. Linebacker will be the strength of the team with Darrell Johnson and Jeremy Grove returning. Lee Pagues is the star on the D-line.
Special Teams: Warren Harvey returns at kicker. Trent Tignor handles the punting duties.
Final Thoughts: The offense will score close to 35 points a game. The defense should improve a bit. The Pirates have two tough in division road contest, MTSU Oct. 5th and at Marshall to end the season. Tulsa comes into Dowdy-Ficklen and that's never a good thing for the away team.
Offense: The nation's top passing offense in yards per game (365.1) returns starting QB Rakeem Cato and top receiver Tommy Shuler. Shuler caught 110 passes last season and had 1138 yards. The team's leader in touchdowns (10) returns, TE Gator Hoskins. Cato had a monster season with over 4,000 passing yards, 37 touchdowns, and only 11 interceptions. The offense will need to find a replacement for Arron Dobson and Antavious Wilson who combined for 12 touchdowns and over 1,400 yards. Watch out for freshman WR Deontay McManus to get a chance to make plays. Kevin Grooms had a great freshman campaign averaging 6 yards per run on 121 carries. He will have four returning linemen to run behind.
Defense: Not much went right last year for the Herd on the defensive side of the ball. Freshman All-American D.J. Hunter will move to strong safety. Two players that didn't play last season to watch in the secondary are Corey Tindal and A.J Leggett. Two players return on a line that produced 19 sacks a year ago. Jeremiah Taylor led the team in sacks with 5.5 and returns at DE. Another freshman the Thundering Herd are excited about is LB Stefan Houston, Houston was a four star prospect out of high school.
Special Teams: Tyler Williams is one of the better punters in C-USA. Justin Haig was 13 for 16 on field goals last season.
Final Thoughts: The offense will be just as explosive this season with Cato and Shuler returning. The defense needs to apply more pressure and force more turnovers to get to the top of the Conference USA. If a few key freshman can make an impact on both sides of the ball this team could win the C-USA title.
#3 Middle Tennessee State
Offense: The offense was up and down last season, but look for more consistency with nine returning starters. Big arm quarterback, Logan Kilgore is back under center. Last year Kilgore had 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. Running back Jordan Parker had a big freshman season and should break the 1,000 yard mark this season. Parker will have four returning linemen that paved the way for him last season back. WR Anthony Amos is gone after almost having 1,000 yards receiving. Look out for sophomore WR Christian Collis to breakthrough this season.
Defense: The defense needs to rebuild. The Blue Raiders lost three defensive linemen. Junior DE Jiajuan Fennell should have a bounce back season, after a disappointing sophomore season. Good news for the Blue Raiders is that LB Craig Allen is back from a neck injury that could have ended his career. Add in Roderic Blunt and T.T. Barber and the line-backing core is going to be tough. Sophomore Kevin Byard is the play-maker in the secondary. Byard had four interceptions last season.
Special Teams: Kicker will be decided in fall camp and punter Josh Davis is back.
Final Thoughts: The defense must improve or it will be a long season in the pass happy CUSA. The offense will put up points with Kilgore and Parker. East Carolina and Marshall will both visit Murfreesboro this season.
Final Thoughts: The passing game was on point last season. The scoring will have to be higher than 28 points per game to compete. The defense struggled all season and didn't force many turnovers. Home games vs. FAU, MTSU, and Southern Miss will be big.
#5 Florida Atlantic
Final Thoughts: A solid nucleus returns at WR for the second year in the spread. The Owls almost allowed more rushing yards (202.1) than passing yards (204) last season. The first half of the season is loaded with away games. The Owls need to come out at .500 to be in contention.
#6 Southern Miss
Final Thoughts: Last season the Golden Eagles went defeated. This year they won't go defeated, but it's not going to be usual winning season in Hattiesburg. One bright spot for Southern Mississippi are defensive players Khyri Thorton and Jerrion Johnson.
#7 Florida International
Final Thoughts: The Golden Panthers will be in rebuilding mode. The defense is young, but should come into their own by seasons end. Injuries have plagued the offense in seasons past.
Conference USA West Predictions 2013
Offense: The offensive attack starts with running back Trey Watts who rushed for over 1,100 yards last season. QB Cody Green had an OK season after transferring from Nebraska. Green threw for 17 touchdowns, but had 11 interceptions. One starter returns at WR, Keyarris Green. His 2012 season of 9 touchdowns and 845 receiving yards give him big expectations for 2013. The offensive line will have to fill several holes. They do return Jake Alexander and Stetson Burnett who are first team All-CUSA talents.
Defense: Tulsa's defense was all the talk last season, something that ventures from the norm in CUSA football. How will they bounce back after losing eight starters from that team? Linebacker Shawn Jackson was third on the team in tackles 87 and Safety Marco Nelson was fourth with 80. That's a start. The D-line will have to be completely replaced.
Special Teams: Special team's wasn't a team strength last season. Kicker Daniel Schwarz and Cole Way, must improve. The return game is a different story though with Trey Watts.
Final Thoughts: The offense will have to take a step forward to win the CUSA title this year. The defenese won't be able to reload, they have to rebuild. The defense will have to have things worked out by Oct. 5th when Rice comes into town.
Offense: Running back Nathan Jeffery burst on the scene in the first game of the season vs. Oklahoma. Jeffery had 177 yards on 21 carries. He should surpass the 1,000 rushing yard total this season. Wide receiver Jordan Leslie returns after a big sophomore campaign. That's good news for transfer QB Jameill Showers. Showers finally gets a chance to prove himself after sitting behind, Johnny Manziel and Ryan Tannehill at Texas A&M. Showers is a dual threat QB with a big arm. The offensive line will have to improve after giving up 31 sacks last season.
Defense: Last season the Miners only held opponents under 400 total yards twice. The defense against the run would be a good place to start improving, UTEP gave up over 300 yards on the ground to Ole Miss! Two seniors return in the middle of the defensive line, Germard Reed and Marcus Bagley. The secondary is inexperienced and mostly unproven. Senior linebacker Horace Miller and A.J. Ropati will need to have big season for a turnaround in El Paso.
Special Teams: A lot of questions here, stay posted till fall camp on punter and kicker.
Final Thoughts: This team has a lot of questions on defense. In C-USA play it's not about being great on defense, but being good enough. The offense will be dangerous with Jeffery, Leslie and Showers. The end of October will see Tulsa coming into town and a game at Rice.
Offense: The running game was impressive a year ago averaging 201.8 yards a game. Both of Rice's top two running backs return, Charles Ross and Turner Petersen. Quarterback Taylor McHargue also made an impact in the running game. McHargue ran for over 650 yards and had 11 touchdowns. McHargue managed the game with his arm and kept teams honest. With all five starters returning on the line, two of those linemen, Jon Hodde and Nate Richards, have first team CUSA potential. Freshman Cole hunt is expected to contribute in the passing game as well top pass catcher Jordan Taylor.
Defense: The defense made big plays when they need to and posted 11 interceptions two of which they returned for touchdowns. One of the league's best corners resides in Houston, Phillip Gaines. Gaines totaled 18 broken passes a year ago. Three of the four starters on the line return. Bauer, Shahin, and Covington, totaled 15.5 sacks for the 2012 season. Look for linebacker Cameron Nwosu to total over 100 tackles in his senior campaign.
Special Teams: One of the top kickers in the country plays at Rice Stadium, Chris Boswell. Boswell vs. SMU hit three 50 yard field goals and a 57 yard blast vs. Louisiana Tech! Cameron Decell is slated to be the punter.
Final Thoughts: The Owls are coming in hot wining their last five games. They will need to continue to force turnovers on defense to cover flaws. If a long field goal is needed to be made, Rice has the best kicker for it. The Owls will get a shot at Tulsa Oct. 5th.
#4 North Texas
Final Thoughts: Plenty of experience returns on both sides of the ball. Three quarterbacks could be in the picture throughout the season. Key home games vs. Rice, UTEP and Rice will play a big part in how far North Texas goes.
#5 Louisiana Tech
Final Thoughts: Tech had one of the top offenses in the country last season. Only two starters from that offense return. The defense got a pass last season with an explosive offense, this year they will have to be much better.
Final Thoughts: The offense should be much improved with a healthy Orleans Darkwa and NFL bound WR Ryan Grant. Nick Montana will likely be under center. The defense will have to improve on all levels.
#7 Texas-San Antonio
Final Thoughts: Don't buy into the Roadrunners 8-4 season. The schedule was full of cupcakes. This season they will be thrown into CUSA play with a much tougher schedule.