2012 Pre-Preseason Rankings - C-USA East
Marshall QB Rakeem Cato
Marshall QB Rakeem Cato
Posted Jan 19, 2012

The too early look at how good the Conference USA East should be in 2012.

CFN 2012 First Look Rankings

C-USA East

2011 CFN Pre-Preseason First Look Rankings
The Top 10 | Rankings 11-25 | Rankings 26-50
- Rankings 51-75 | Rankings 76-100The Bottom 20  

2011 CFN Final Season Rankings
The Top 10 | Rankings 11-25 | Rankings 26-50
- Rankings 51-75 | Rankings 76-100The Bottom 20

- CFN 2011 FINAL Rankings

1. UCF (5-7)

The Knights couldn't seem to come up with a clutch win even with the nation's ninth-best defense and an offense that ranked among the best in the league. Eight starters are back on defense, but star corner Josh Robinson bolted early for the NFL. All the top pass rushers return and leading tackler FS Kemail Ishmael is back. QB Jeff Godfrey is back and should be steadier with two years under his belt, while RB Brynn Harvey should be among Conference USA's top players with four starters up front to run behind. The teams' top two receivers, Quincy McDuffie and J.J. Worton, return. Rannell Hall and Quincy McDuffie will be among the nation's top kick returners, and Worton is a terrific punt returner.

2. Southern Miss (12-2)

Ellis Johnson takes over the defending conference champion, but he has a ton of work to do. QB Austin Davis is gone, but big bomber Arsenio Favor appears to be ready to make the passing game shine. The running game that led the league should be terrific with Desmond Johnson leading a deep stable of backs. Both starting offensive tackles are done, but the interior of the line is sound. Defensively, there's no replacing end Cordarrow Law, but there are plenty of other issues with leading tackler Ronnie Thornton and FS Kendrick Pressley also done. In all, eight defensive starters need to be replaced as does terrific PK Danny Hrapmann.

3. . East Carolina (5-7)

The Pirates have to go on without QB Dominique Davis, but nine starters return to an offense that finished 20th in the nation in passing. The running game was non-existent at times, but Torrance Hunt leads a promising trio of backs ready to do more. All the top targets are back, but Rio Johnson has to prove he can be the passer Davis was. The defense must come up with more of a pass rush, and it could happen with everyone returning up front. Leading tackler Jeremy Grove returns along with most of the linebacking corps, but three starters are gone from a secondary that turned out to be one of the team's biggest strengths.

4. Marshall (7-6)

Can the Herd build off the momentum from a strong finishing kick winning four of the last five games? It might take a little while. QB Rakeem Cato has a year or experience under his belt, and he gets back key targets Aaron Dobson and Antavious Wilson to throw to, RB Tron Martinez and Travon Van form a nice rushing tandem ready to do more, but only two starters are back on the line. The defense has to try to replace pass rushing terror Vinny Curry, but some nice parts to the line return led by end Jeremiah Taylor. Both outside linebackers are gone with Jermaine Holmes needing to do even more in the middle. The secondary has to replace the team's leading tackler, FS Omar Brown, and the best cover-corner, Rashad Jackson.

5. UAB (3-9)

New head coach Garrick McGee has to completely retool the offensive line that was so strong in pass protection, losing four starters. QB Jonathan Perry is back along with all the top skill players other than WR Nick Adams. Greg Franklin and Darrin Reaves should form a solid 1-2 rushing punch if the line can come together in a hurry. The defense was dead last in the nation in sacks and 119th in tackles for loss. All the ends return, but both starting defensive tackles are done along with MLB Lamanski Ware. All four starters are gone from a secondary that was among the worst in college football. Excellent punter Trey Ragland needs to be replaced.

 6. Memphis (2-10)

It's a new era for Memphis football after a few years of being among the worst programs in college football. New head coach Justin Fuente's first task is to improve as pass defense that finished dead last, allowing close to 300 yards per game, Three starters are back in the secondary, but they need help from a pass rush that was merely a rumor last year. Both starting defensive ends are gone, but the real killer is the loss of tackle Dontari Poe a year early to the NFL. Leading tackler Terrence Thomas is done, but the rest of the linebacking corps returns intact. The offense needs playmakers and has to settle on a quarterback after Taylor Reed took over and with Andy Summerlin in the mix. Leading rusher Billy Foster is done, as is top receiver Tannar Rehrer. Four starters return on the O line.