College Football Preview – Conference USA Offenses
David Funk, a good friend and writer of the Fantasy Sports Network blog, put together a ranking of the Conferene USA Offenses. He was kind enough allow me to post his breakdown on my site to pass the great information on to you. This is very useful info as you gear up for the college football season, especially if you play the Sporting News College Football Salary Cap game.
“I’m going to continue on with my fantasy college football rankings by previewing the C-USA offenses. I’m not entirely sure if I’ll be able to finish all the conferences before the season starts, but I’ll get to as many as I can. As always, these rankings in no way reflect how I predict teams to finish within their conferences. This is for fantasy college football players for the coming season. Enjoy.
Conference USA Team Offensive Rankings:
1. Tulsa – Starters returning: 9
This was the No. 1 team in the nation in offense a year ago, and most of them are back. The key person missing is record-setting quarterback Paul Smith who will now be replaced by David Johnson. The offensive line returns four starters led by tackle Rodrick Thomas, but depth is concern with the unit. 1,200 yard rusher Tarrion Adams returns as well. Returning receivers Trae Johnson, Brennan Marion, Jesse Meyer, and Dion Toliver combined for 182 catches a year ago, and two of them had over 1,000 receiving yards(Johnson & Marion).
2. Rice – Starters returning: 9
The Owls averaged over 43 points per game in their last four contests in 2007, and quarterback Chase Clement returns to lead the offense. The offensive line returns four starters, but struggled in run-blocking a year ago. All-American Jarett Dillard returns at receiver as does Tommy Henderson and Toren Dixon. Versatile tight end James Casey will start over Taylor Wardlow, and provide a reliable target for Clement in the passing game. Justin Hill starts at running back. Overall, the unit ranked 15th in passing and 103rd in rushing in 2007.
3. UTEP – Starters returning: 5
Trevor Vittatoe returns as starting quarterback for the Miners after ranking second in passing yards as a freshman a year ago. The offensive line is experienced with three starters returning as well as two others who have had playing time. Receiver Jeff Moturi returns coming off a season in which he had 13 touchdowns. Jamar Hunt is a reliable tight end for UTEP. Marcus Thomas is gone at running back, but Terrell Jackson and Donald Buckram got valuable playing time a season ago. They play at Buffalo then home against Texas to start the year.
4. Memphis – Starters returning: 7
Memphis will be leaning on JC transfer Arkelon Hall as quarterback this year, and Matt Malouf will back him up. The Tigers return four starters on the offensive line led by tackle Brandon Pearce. Running back T.J. Pitts missed the majority of the spring after breaking his ankle during the New Orleans Bowl last year. Curtis Steele provides depth behind him. The receiving corps is loaded and deep with Duke Calhoun, Steven Black, and Earnest Williams seeing the field. Carlos Singleton, a 6’8″ receiver, is a mismatch problem especially in the red zone.
5. East Carolina – Starters returning: 7
The Pirates will have to move on without star running back Chris Johnson, who led the nation in all-purpose yards last season. Jonathan Williams will start in his place coming off a season in which he made the C-USA freshman team. Rob Kass and Patrick Pinkney will both see plenty of time at quarterback. Jamar Bryant returns at wide receiver and Dwayne Harris will start opposite of him. The offensive line returns four starters and will be counted upon to more heavily to help the running game. Their schedule starts out tough with Virginia Tech and West Virginia.
6. UCF – Starters returning: 5
With running back Kevin Smith and quarterback Kyle Israel gone, there’s cause for concern for the Knights. Phillip Smith, who backed up Smith last year, will now start at running back with Ronnie Weaver backing him up. Michael Greco is now the starting quarterback. The offensive line only returns two starters, so they’ll have to retool quickly for Greco and the running game. Receivers Rocky Ross and Kamar Allen return as starters as does tight end Corey Rabazinski, and will be looked upon to help Greco out in the passing game.
7. Houston – Starters returning: 4
The Cougars have a new coach in Kevin Sumlin and new offense being installed for 2008. C-USA Freshman of the Year quarterback Case Keenum will start in this new offensive system that should be pass-happy. The offensive line gets a big boost with SirVincent Rogers returning at tackle after missing the last two years with a knee injury. They return three starters from a year ago, too. Andre Kohn will likely start at running back, and former quarterback L.J. Castile is the best receiver from last year. Their toughest non-conference game is at Oklahoma State in Week 2.
8. SMU – Starters returning: 5
Both quarterbacks are out for the time being, but new head coach June Jones is expecting last year’s starter Justin Willis to be available at season’s start with Bo Levi Mitchell backing him up. DeMyron Martin returns at running back and seems to fit well in the run-and-shoot offense Jones is installing. Versatile receiver Emmanuel Sanders returns at receiver and Aldrick Robinson is a speedster that Jones covets in his scheme. The offensive line has been very problematic for the Mustangs in recent years, and they only return two starters from a year ago.
9. Marshall – Starters returning: 8
The quarterback position is unsettled for the Thundering Herd, but it will likely go to freshman Mark Cann with Jonathan Garner competing, too. Darius Marshall returns at running back after coming off a solid freshman year. The offensive line returns three starters, and will have to do a better job of protecting their quarterbacks after ranking 108th in most sacks given up a year ago. Tight end Cody Slate is one of the best receivers at the position in the nation. Darius Passmore is the top receiver returning, and Emmanuel Spann and E.J. Wynn are back, too. They play a brutal non-conference schedule that includes road games at West Virginia and Wisconsin.
10. Southern Miss – Starters returning: 6
Larry Fedora takes over as head coach and is bringing in a new spread offense that will take some getting used to. Damion Fletcher returns at running back, and he should benefit with the new offense because of teams not stacking the line to stop him. Martevious Young will start at quarterback. Receivers Torris Magee and Gerald Baptiste return, and one of the nation’s top recruits in DeAndre Brown will see action in the spread offense, too. The offensive line only returns tackles Calvin Wilson and Ryan McKee from a year ago. Their nonconference slate includes games at Auburn and at home against Boise State.
11. Tulane – Starters returning: 5
The offense for the Green Wave will likely change because of running back Matt Forte’s departure to the NFL. Kevin Moore and Joe Kemp will battle for the starting job at quarterback. Andre Anderson and J.T. McDonald should ease some of the concern at the running back position. Receivers Brian King, Jeremy Williams and Casey Robottom return to lead a solid unit. The offensive line returns three starters, and they do have depth. The best of the group is tackle Troy Kropog and guard Michael Parenton. Tulane plays Alabama and LSU in their non-conference schedule.
12. UAB – Starters returning: 4
UAB ranked 104th in offense a year ago, and experience is an issue. Joe Webb, the team’s best receiver a year ago, will now start at quarterback full-time this year. Frantrell Forrest, Mario Wright, Rashaud Slaughter, and Sylvester Mencer lead a talented and deep receiving corps. Running backs are concern with Aaron Johns coming from Alabama, but eligibility is an issue with him. Dexter Barnett will get some carries, too. The offensive line is also a concern with three starters returnin with Jake Seitz moving from center to left guard. The line is inexperienced, but talented. They play road games at Tennessee and South Carolina, too.
Stud offenses: Tulsa
Rising offense: Rice
Falling offense: UCF
Overall analysis: Tulsa led the nation in offense a year ago, but will likely be an expensive option because of that this year. Rice and UTEP will put up points, but both have concerns in the running game. Memphis and ECU are missing key players from last year, but they’ve found ways to put points up before. UCF will have to move on quickly with a new starting quarterback and running back. Houston, SMU, and Southern Miss all have new offenses, so some pains are expected even though the Cougars and Mustangs were productive on offense last year. All three of those teams could be great options depending on how fast they transition to new offensive systems. Marshall has too many issues on the offensive line and at quarterback though the rest of the unit is very talented. Tulane and UAB are missing too many ingredients to be counted upon to heavily in 2008. If you want sleeper picks, then watch for the teams that have new offenses and how they do early on if you’re looking at picking any of them up. But overall, your most reliable choice in this conference is Tulsa and despite a new quarterback, I’m not expecting much of a dropoff if any from them in 2008. All that said, you can expect points to be scored at will in this conference.”