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2011 Spring Preview - C-USA Attitudes
SMU QB Kyle Padron
SMU QB Kyle Padron
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Mar 11, 2011


The attitude for each Conference USA team going into spring practices.


2011 C-USA Spring Preview

The Spring Attitudes

Click for each team's spring preview

East  UAB | UCF | East Carolina | Marshall | Memphis | Southern Miss
West  Houston | Rice | SMU | Tulane | Tulsa | UTEP

2011 Conference USA Spring Preview
- 2011 C-USA Schedules & Game-By-Game Picks
- 2011 C-USA Spring Buzz   
- 2011 C-USA Spring Attitudes 
- 2011 C-USA Big Spring Questions  
- 2011 C-USA Positions To Watch  
- C-USA Spring Rankings 

East 

UAB

Sure, the Blazers are coming off another losing season, going 4-8 a year ago. The team, however, prefers to focus on its efforts against the SEC’s Tennessee and Mississippi State, two losses by only eight points combined. After nearly breaking through a year ago, UAB needs to learn how win close games in order to get head coach Neil Callaway off the hot seat. With seven starters back, including the entire offensive line, the offense will be an early catalyst if a few capable receivers emerge to catch Bryan Ellis darts.

UCF

No retreat. The depth chart will feature some new looks, but UCF is confident it can remain the class of Conference USA. After winning the league in 2010 and upsetting Georgia in the Liberty Bowl, the Knights’ confidence level has never been so high. The backfield will gloss over plenty of shortcomings in the early going, featuring all of those talented runners and QB Jeff Godfrey, who’s set to blossom into a star after a terrific debut in Orlando.

East Carolina

The Pirates will be looking for a little more stability after the volatility of 2010. Not only was the school breaking in a new coach after back-to-back conference crowns, but the season was a rollercoaster ride marked by atrocious play on defense. The D might not be ready for a quick turnaround, but the offense should be able to compensate in shootouts. QB Dominique Davis was a revelation in his debut in Lincoln Riley’s pass happy attack, and WR Lance Lewis gives him an all-star complement.

Marshall

It’s been seven years since Marshall won more than seven games in a season. The program is looking for tangible gains in Doc Holliday’s second year on the job. The Herd had some momentum at the end of 2010, winning four of the final five, but that only occurred when the schedule softened. It’s time for the offense to begin catching up with the defense in Huntington, which will require a revamped backfield to grow up in a hurry and exceed expectations

Memphis

You have to crawl before you walk. Memphis sure did a lot of crawling in Larry Porter’s first season on the job. After going 1-11 and arguably being one of the FBS’ worst programs, the Tigers believe the worst is behind them. The staff’s second offseason will be all about improving fundamentals, coaching up the young kids, and gradually changing the culture of mediocrity. While it would be great to steal an extra game or two along the way, progress in Memphis won’t only be gauged by the record and the standings.

Southern Miss

Three years into Larry Fedora’s tenure, Southern Miss is still looking to get over the hump and win a Conference USA title. Wasn’t long-time head coach Jeff Bower released for that exact limitation? The Golden Eagles should continue putting up points, getting balance from dual-threat QB Austin Davis and the running of Kendrick Hardy. The defense, however, needs to become the bell cow, raising up its performance and keeping its teammates from having to score 41 points to win. The Eagles are close, but need to turn the corner this fall.

West 

Houston

The return of Case Keenum in 2011 means Houston essentially gets a do-over. After sinking to 5-7, the Cougars have to be considered one of the favorites to win the Conference USA championship. They’ll be back to lighting up scoreboards and making national headlines, but being more than just a high-scoring novelty requires a lot more help from the defense. If the program can beat UCLA at home in the opener, the schedule is tailor-made for a run at a perfect season.

Rice

There’s legitimate excitement about the offense and trepidation with the D. In other words, a typical year at Rice. The athletic McHargue, versatile backs Sam McGuffie and Jeremy Eddington, and all of those big receivers are going to present major challenges for the rest of Conference USA. However, unless the defense can make some tangible strides toward plugging the holes, the Owls will struggle to reach .500 and earn a postseason game in December.

SMU

Even after going a disappointing 7-7 and finishing poorly, SMU has sky high expectations in 2010. It’s Jones’ fourth season in Dallas, and he welcomes back a ton of starters on both sides of the ball. If the Mustangs can remain feisty on defense, while tweaking the offense, this is the kind of program that can get on a run and become a darkhorse BCS buster contender. Early visits to Texas A&M and TCU will quickly put that possibility to the test.

Tulane

After four years of Bob Toledo—and just 13 wins—apathy has gained a foothold at Tulane. Expectations are low, along with attendance and fan interest. The coach survived another losing season at the conclusion of 2010, but isn’t likely to be as fortunate if the Green Wave doesn’t become a bigger threat in the West Division. With success on defense being a longshot, the program will hang its hopes on an offense that showed flashes last fall and welcomes back a young and evolving backfield.

Tulsa

Todd Graham may be gone, but the expectations are still soaring around Tulsa for 2011. The Hurricane will enter the season hot, talented, and eager to break through with a Conference USA title. Although there will be plenty of challenges within its own division, the program believes it has the right mix of talent and experience to vie for a shot at a Liberty Bowl berth. Anything less than might be viewed as missing the mark in a season that’ll begin with so much promise.

UTEP

Last season did not end well for UTEP. This season isn’t likely to start off positively for the Miners either. Nine starters return to a defense that has potential, but this program has always gone as far as the offense can carry it. With few sure-things on that side of the ball and a need to find a new quarterback, the attack is likely to sputter out of the gate. The changes are disruptive enough that the attack might not start meshing until the second half of the year.
 
Click for each team's spring preview
East  UAB | UCF | East Carolina | Marshall | Memphis | Southern Miss
West  Houston | Rice | SMU | Tulane | Tulsa | UTEP

2011 Conference USA Spring Preview
- 2011 C-USA Schedules & Game-By-Game Picks
- 2011 C-USA Spring Buzz   
- 2011 C-USA Spring Attitudes 
- 2011 C-USA Big Spring Questions  
- 2011 C-USA Positions To Watch  
- C-USA Spring Rankings