If your team is in this conference, I’m sorry. C-USA has nobody to fear except Marshall. Alright, and maybe Tulsa. Marshall is led by a QB with a laser for an arm and should without-a-doubt win the conference.
QB Shane Carden hopes to lead a dangerous offensive unit
The Pirates QB Shane Carden had a rough first five games of 2012 as he threw three TDs to four INTs. That trend didn’t last. The last eight games, Carden threw 20 TDs to only six INTs. He’ll have a reliable target in Biletnikoff Watch List WR Justin Hardy. In 2012, Hardy was responsible for 88 receptions and 1,104 yards. RB Vintarious Cooper showed spurts of tremendous athletic ability last season and could be on the verge of a breakout year. The O-Line has some age, but they’re three untested seniors. The D should be pretty consistent against the run, and will be more likely to get beaten by the pass which was evident in 2012 as well.
WR William Dukes has a very, very bright NFL future as long as he’s healthy
The Owls are an older team. The offensive weapon is WR William Dukes but the question surrounding his success is who will throw him the ball? Two QB’s are battling it out (Melvin German III and Jaquez Johnson). Senior RB Johnathan Wallace is the one in line to start in the backfield. Defensively, the front four are where the questions are at. The back seven is very strong, maybe even enough to make teams beat them on the ground. Hoping to show he has the versatility to stop the run and pass is LB Andrae Kirk. We will have to see if the team comes together and can make a push for a successful year.
QB Jake Medlock is likely to be the lone weapon on offense
Big news this past weekend, projected starting RB Kendrick Rhodes was dismissed from the team after a “violation of team rules.” Rhodes was arrested for firing a gun on campus prior to the announcement. Now the leading return RB is Shane Coleman, who rushed eight times for 34 yards. The Golden Panthers have A weapon on offense. Just one. QB Jake Medlock. Enough to start a multi-year rebuilding process, again. The offensive line is young and very thin in regards to depth. Another long season for a little brother of Florida’s “Big Three.”
QB Rakeem Cato has the ability to play at a top FBS school but can he carry Marshall?
Last season, Rakeem Cato threw for over 4,000 yards to go with his 37 TDs. The other impressive stat, he only threw 11 INTs. He will be better. His coaching staff decided to see what he sees, in hopes of talking him through mental progression. They achieved this by running spring drills with an infamous Go-Pro attached to the top of Cato‘s helmet. He will have a hell of a TE in Gator Hoskins and clutch WR in Tommy Shuler. The whole offensive line, minus one, returns meaning protection for Cato shouldn’t be an issue. The teams top two D-Lineman, Jeremiah Taylor and Brandon Sparrow, return and accounted for 10.5 of the defenses 19 sacks a year ago. The move of CB D.J. Hunter to S is in hopes to lock up a back half of the field with a solid athlete. The defense last year was just absolutely terrible against the run, and against the pass wasn’t much better. Big 10-win year for the Herd.
QB Logan Kilgore looks to be the team’s starter in 2013
Logan Kilgore improved from 2011 to 2012, and one would think he improved this offseason as well. One problem, C-USA has better defenses than the Sun Belt. Not by a whole lot, but a decent margin. With that being said, expect the offense to struggle a tad this season. The lead man in the backfield is returning RB Jordan Parker (851 yards in 2012). It was evident last season that the pass rush needed a jolt and LB Leighton Gasque looks to provide that jolt.
RB Kendrick Hardy will fight for carries in 2013
The Golden Eagles started five different QB’s last season. Five. That’s more than some schools have on a roster. Fighting for the position is 6’5 R-Fr Kyle Solter, sophomore Ricky Lloyd, and California transfer Allan Brigford. Solter has the size and physical tools to be a successful QB at the FBS level but Lloyd is the one the fan base has been waiting to see breakout. Brigford saw a little action at his last school, and has a history with USM’s OC, who was with him at Cal. The line is the strength of the defense, led by Khyri Thornton who had a monster spring.
RB Darrin Reaves is the player that keeps UAB’s offense moving the chains
UAB has it’s fair share of playmakers; RB Darrin Reaves, and three WR’s in Jackie Williams, speedy deep threat Jamarcus Nelson, and Arkansas transfer Maudrecus Humphrey. Getting the WR’s the ball is going to be a problem though as UAB doesn’t have a solid, proven QB. The defense will feature a mix of a 4-3 scheme and a 3-4 scheme. The front seven are strong, but they lack in size. The move of WLB Patrick Bastien to MLB should help stuff the run and puts a bright player at the helm of the D.
RB Kenneth Dixon hopes to top his 1,194 yard 2012 season this year
Louisiana Tech was not a bad team a year ago. After all, they did put up over 50 on Texas A&M only to lose by two. The offseason hits and what do they do? Hire Skip Holtz. Did they not see his “production” at USF? Were they impressed by it? USF sure as hell wasn’t as their fans were crying for Jim Leavitt to come back. Part of Louisiana Tech’s success last year rode on the shoulders of RB Kenneth Dixon who returns in 2013. In the spring questions surrounded the QB position. Post spring, Scotty Young, a transfer from Texas Tech, sits at the top of the depth chart. Three of the team’s top safeties have departed and make way for a very young, inexperienced secondary. In fact the whole defense is young as only four players from the 2012 unit return, three of which or lineman. Holtz has some talent on his squad, though. Then again, he did at USF too..
RB Brandin Byrd is poised for a huge 2013
The Mean Green seem to have a few answers as opposed to last season. They have a solid offensive line and a very talented RB in Brandin Byrd. QB Derek Thompson has the edge on his competition as he was the starter last season but he has been looking over his shoulder at Andrew McNulty who seems to be the Mean Green’s QB of the future. The defense will improve from last year as three of the leader’s return in DB Zac Whitfield, LB Zach Orr, and DL Brandon McCoy. All three were quality players last season, and assuming all have gotten better, will lead a defense that is “tough” by C-USA standards.
QB Taylor McHargue is praying to keep his job all season
QB Taylor McHargue played pretty well in his 2012 campaign. Then came the bowl game. McHargue started the game pretty rough and didn’t play like the QB we were used to seeing all year for Rice (for those that actually suffered through a Rice game). His replacement, whom many fans are itching to watch play, Driphus Jackson came in and played like a seasoned vet. He completed 15 of his 21 passes for 264 yards and two TD. Not bad. Not bad at all. Whoever is calling the signals will have a great WR in Jordan Taylor, last year’s leading wide out in terms of yards (826). One talent they will lack is Sam McGuffie. He was a playmaker for Rice that they will be looking desperately to replace. Defensively Rice welcomes back their leading tackler from 2012, LB Cameron Nwosu.
CB Jordan Batiste wants to show teams should be taking the Green Wave seriously
There’s a chance the QB calling the shots for Tulane wears Montana on his jersey. That would be Nick Montana. Is he related to Joe, you ask? Why, yes, yes he is. The son of the legend is competing with Devin Powell to be the next QB for the Green Wave. You may remember hearing about him when he signed his LOI to Washington, where he lost the QB battle to who is now one of the best in the Pac 12, Keith Price. He has since transferred to a JUCO school where he led his team to an 11-1 record. The kid is a winner but is he the QB to lead Tulane? We shall see. WR Ryan Grant returns to give whoever is tossing the rock a decent target. Defensively, the team is very light on LB. Opposing QB’s will be looking to throw the ball on the opposite side of the field that monster CB Jordan Baptiste holds down.
WR Keyarris Garrett hauled in an outstanding 845 yards in 2012
Marshall’s only competition in the C-USA, and it happens to be their last season in the conference. They have a freak athlete WR in Keyarris Garrett who wants a a conference title in the final year. Getting Garrett the ball will be Cody Green who threw for almost 2,600 yards a year ago. On the ground, they have a returning 1,100 yard rusher in Tre Watts. The Golden Hurricane saw an 11 win season last year and looking to repeat that is a defense with a few holes to fill. The team lost their top five defensive players, including DB Dexter McCoil who had a team high five interceptions.
QB Blair Sullivan hopes to have improved enough to start for the Miners
I would be willing to bet that at this time last year, the name Johnny Manziel didn’t have any meaning to you, nor did you know who he was. Without the unknown, we may have already learned who Jameill Showers is. Showers transferred to UTEP after the sudden rise of Johnny Football. He is very talented to say the least. IF Blair Sullivan starts, it won’t be for long. Showers has the ability to take over a game for sure, but whether he can take a whole season on his shoulders remains to be known. Regardless of who starts, the QB will need efficient WR’s, something the team has consistently lacked. They will be vulnerable to the run game on defense. That’s a given. How you ask? Only one defensive lineman tops the scale over 280lbs. One. If the defense steps up and Showers takes over, this team has the potential to be one that could pull an upset and ruin the season of a bigger FBS school.
QB Eric Soza is a decent 12-8 as the starter for the Roadrunners
Remember Larry Coker? His old ass is still coaching, believe it or not, and he’s doing a pretty damn good job. Over his two seasons, the Roadrunners have gone 12-10. Not bad for a school that didn’t even have a team until 2011 and has had only one coach. Starting 20 of those 22 games was QB Eric Soza who tallied up a 12-8 record over that span. He’s back for the final transition year for the program in which they are not eligible for the conference championship, but can be bowl eligible per NCAA reclassification rules. Battling for carries are RB’s David Glasco III and Evans Okatcha. The offense should find and maintain consistency and produce what could be an offense that ranks in the upper half of the NCAA. Defensively they possess a scheme that many schools fear of attempting to run; 4-2-5. In that scheme, Cody Berry will be the playmaker, assuming he stays healthy all season.
C-USA Football Final Standings:
|Middle Tennessee||La Tech|
C-USA Football Championship:
Marshall v Tulsa
C-USA Football Games to Watch:
Oct. 5: Rice @ Tulsa
Nov. 2: Southern Miss @ Marshall
Nov. 9: Tulsa @ East Carolina
Nov. 14: Marshall @ Tulsa
Nov. 23: Tulsa @ Louisiana Tech
Ninja Sports Preseason All C-USA Football Team 2013
|WR Justin Hardy, ECU||DE Jeremiah Taylor, Marshall||K Cairo Santos, Tulane|
|WR Keyarris Garrett, Tulsa||DE Horace Miller, UTEP||P Trent Tignor, ECU|
|TE Gator Hoskins, Marshall||DT Greg Hickman, FIU||KR Autrey Golden, UTEP|
|T Gage Neimeyer, Marshall||DT Justin Ellis, La Tech|
|T Adhem Elsawi, ECU||LB Steven Kurfehs, UTSA|
|G Jake Alexander, Tulsa||LB Jermaine Holmes, Marshall|
|G Will Simmons, ECU||LB Cameron Nwosu, Rice|
|C Nate Richards, Rice||CB Adonis Armstrong, ECU|
|QB Rakeem Cato, Marshall||CB Bryce Callahan, Rice|
|RB Kenneth Dixon, La Tech||S Darion Monroe, Tulane|
|RB Darrin Reaves, UAB||S Marco Nelson, Tulsa|
C-USA Football Offensive Player of the Year: Rakeem Cato, QB Marshall
C-USA Football Defensive Player of the Year: Cameron Nwosu, LB Rice