Fiu, Cirminiello, Mitchell on TV - Campus Insiders | Buy College Football Tickets

2011 Conference USA Preview - Unit Rankings
Houston RB Bryce Beall
Houston RB Bryce Beall
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 27, 2011


CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Conference USA Preview - Unit Rankings


Preview 2011

C-USA Unit Rankings



EAST
- 2011 East Carolina Preview | 2011 Marshall Preview 
- 2011 Memphis Preview | 2011 Southern Miss Preview 
- 2011 UAB Preview | 2011 UCF Preview

WEST
- 2011 Houston Preview | 2011 Rice Preview 
- 2011 SMU Preview | 2011 Tulane Preview
- 2011 Tulsa Preview | 2011 UTEP Preview 

- 2011 C-USA Preview | 2011 C-USA Unit Rankings
- 2011 CFN C-USA Schedules & Picks | 2011 C-USA Thoughts
- 2011 CFN All-C-USA Team & Top 30 Players
- 2011 C-USA East Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish
- 2011 C-USA West Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish 
- 2011 C-USA Big Questions | 2010 C-USA Preview 
- Suggestions or something we missed? Let us know

Conference USA East Overall

Based on how good each team is and NOT the predicted finish

1. Southern Miss
2. UCF
3. East Carolina
4. UAB
5. Marshall
6. Memphis

Conference USA West Overall

Based on how good each team is and NOT the predicted finish

1. Houston
2. SMU
3. Tulsa
4. Tulane
5. Rice
6. UTEP

Offenses

1. Houston
Record-setting QB Case Keenum is back, and so is Houston’s swagger. The Cougars weren’t the same without their Heisman-contending passer after he was injured in September, lacking their customary potency and efficiency. The sixth-year senior will reunite with a number of familiar weapons, like RB Bryce Beall and electrifying receivers Patrick Edwards and Tyron Carrier. Throw in multi-dimensional backs Michael Hayes and Charles Sims, who’s expected back from academic suspension, and the attack will be flush with its usual artillery. The biggest roadblock to another season of fireworks will be an offensive line in transition. Three starters have exhausted their eligibility, leaving behind a collection of underclassmen hoping to take their place. If C Chris Thompson and LT Jacolby Ashworth are left to fend for themselves, Houston’s rocket-boosted attack could fizzle versus attacking defenses.

2. Tulsa
3. SMU
4. East Carolina
5. UAB
6. Southern Miss
7. UCF
8. Tulane
9. Rice
10. Marshall
11. UTEP
12. Marshall

Quarterbacks

1. Houston
The starter, Case Keenum, is a sixth-year Cougar on the brink of rewriting the record books and the backups are a savvy senior with JUCO experience and a sophomore who threw 24 touchdown passes in 2010. All eyes will be on Keenum as he continues to cement his place in FBS history, but Cotton Turner and David Piland have the talent and ability to bomb away if and when needed.

2. Tulsa
3. East Carolina
4. Southern Miss
5. SMU
6. UCF
7. UAB
8. Tulane
9. Rice
10. Marshall
11. UTEP
12. Memphis

Running Backs

1. Houston
One of the better-kept secrets in Conference USA, the Cougars will once again be loaded in the backfield. Particularly if Charles Sims returns and picks up where he left off in 2009, Houston will feature a diverse ensemble of backs capable of beating teams on the ground or by sneaking out of the backfield for dump-offs. Bryce Beall is the star of the show after running for 870 yards and 12 scores, but he’s not alone. Michael Hayes is a shifty back and Sims has tremendous upside.

2. SMU
3. UCF
4. Southern Miss
5. Tulane
6. Tulsa
7. Rice
8. UTEP
9. UAB
10. Marshall
11. East Carolina
12. Memphis

Receivers

1. Houston
Case Keenum will make sure that Patrick Edwards and Tyron Carrier are well-fed, but will also need to develop some rhythm with other less experienced receivers. It’s going be an important offseason for the pass-catchers, who’ll have to deliver in order to keep the prolific passing game humming. While the Cougars don’t often attract heralded recruits at the position, they do have a knack for taking good athletes, teaching them the system, and transforming them into exciting playmakers, and they’ll work behind Edwards and Carrier, who’ll put up astronomical numbers.

2. East Carolina
3. SMU
4. Tulsa
5. Southern Miss
6. Marshall
7. UCF
8. UAB
9. Memphis
10. Tulane
11. Rice
12. UTEP

Offensive Lines

1. SMU
Building for years to get to this point, the coaching staff is hoping to unveil one of Conference USA’s premier front walls. The Mustangs have patiently leaned on youth since the new staff arrived in 2009, which ought to really begin paying dividends this fall. SMU started five juniors in 2010, all of whom are back on an offensive line that’s flush with returning lettermen and all-star candidates. With left tackle Kelvin Beachum leading the charge, the Mustangs could put three or four players on the all-league squad.

2. Tulsa
3. UAB
4. UCF
5. East Carolina
6. Southern Miss
7. Houston
8. Rice
9. Tulane
10. Marshall
11. Memphis
12. UTEP

Defenses

1. Southern Miss
After one too many defensive implosions, head coach Larry Fedora decided to make a dramatic change on defense, hiring coordinator Dan Disch. The coach arrives by way of Illinois, armed with a new 4-2-5 alignment designed to get more playmakers on the field and compete with some of Conference USA’s better offenses. The Golden Eagles harbor a nice assortment of talent on the front six, including DE Cordarro Law and LB Korey Williams, which will frustrate opposing lines. A turnaround, however, will depend on the play of the secondary, the weakest defensive link a year ago. Southern Miss allowed 28 touchdown passes, wilting in the red zone. The current edition is a youthful one that’s hoping up-and-coming CB Deron Wilson can shake off some offseason issues and return to the team in August.

2. Tulsa
3. UCF
4. Marshall
5. SMU
6. Houston
7. Tulane
8. UTEP
9. UAB
10. Memphis
11. East Carolina
12. Rice

Defensive Lines

1. Southern Miss
The Golden Eagles’ new 4-2-5 scheme requires their defensive line to be quick, feisty, and always attacking. There’ll also be new position in the mix, such as the “Bandit”, designed to put better athletes closer to the quarterback. From a personnel standpoint, Southern Miss needs to plug a couple of gaps on the inside after all-star Anthony Gray and veteran John Henderson used up their eligibility, but Cordarro Law and tackles Terrance Pope and Khyri Thornton ready to gom things up.

2. Marshall
3. SMU
4. UCF
5. Tulsa
6. Rice
7. Tulane
8. Memphis
9. Houston
10. UTEP
11. East Carolina
12. UAB

Linebackers

1. Southern Miss
With a pair of talented starters back – Korey Williams and Ronnie Thornton - and a shift to a 4-2-5 alignment, job openings will be scarce this fall at linebacker. And depth doesn’t figure to be a major headache unless injuries mount. While it’s always nice when this group can provide a little unexpected pressure, its primary objective is to fill lanes and stop the other guy’s ground game. Williams, in particular, is a candidate for league Defensive Player of the Year and will be getting paid this time next year.

2. Tulsa
3. Houston
4. Marshall
5. SMU
6. UTEP
7. UAB
8. UCF
9. Tulane
10. Memphis
11. Rice
12. East Carolina

Secondaries

1. UCF
After getting stretched to its limits in the middle of last season, the UCF secondary regrouped and finished 2010 on a positive note, keeping Georgia out of the end zone in the Liberty Bowl. Aided by the return of a pair of All-Conference USA first teamers – corner Josh Robinson and safety Kemal Ishmael - the Knights will attempt to keep that trend going this fall. Halfway to a dynamite defensive backfield, it’ll be up to the coaching staff to develop two new starters to replace Reggie Weams and Justin Boddie.

2. SMU
3. Tulsa
4. Marshall
5. UTEP
6. UAB
7. Tulane
8. Memphis
9. East Carolina
10. Southern Miss
11. Houston
12. Rice

Special Teams

1. Houston
The Cougars welcome back last year’s punter, placekicker, long snapper, holder, and primary return men, giving the program the ingredients of another fantastic group. The passing game gets most of the attention in Houston, but the staff has quietly manufactured a perennially solid special teams unit. Both kickers, PK Matt Hogan and P Richie Leone, are consistent, the return men are dynamic, and there are enough quality athletes to expect a turnaround from the coverage teams.

2. Southern Miss
3. Tulsa
4. UCF
5. East Carolina
6. UTEP
7. Rice
8. SMU
9. Marshall
10. Memphis
11. Tulane
12. UAB
 
EAST
- 2011 East Carolina Preview | 2011 Marshall Preview 
- 2011 Memphis Preview | 2011 Southern Miss Preview 
- 2011 UAB Preview | 2011 UCF Preview

WEST
- 2011 Houston Preview | 2011 Rice Preview 
- 2011 SMU Preview | 2011 Tulane Preview
- 2011 Tulsa Preview | 2011 UTEP Preview 

- 2011 C-USA Preview | 2011 C-USA Unit Rankings
- 2011 CFN C-USA Schedules & Picks | 2011 C-USA Thoughts
- 2011 CFN All-C-USA Team & Top 30 Players
- 2011 C-USA East Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish
- 2011 C-USA West Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish 
- 2011 C-USA Big Questions | 2010 C-USA Preview 
- Suggestions or something we missed? Let us know