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2012 Pre-Preseason Rankings - C-USA West
SMU QB Kyle Padron
SMU QB Kyle Padron
Posted Jan 19, 2012

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

CFN 2012 First Look Rankings

C-USA West

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. SMU (8-5)

Head coach June Jones is still around instead of Arizona State, and the team that rocked Pitt in the bowl game should be ready to make a major move in the Conference USA race. QB J.J. McDernott is done, but Kyle Padron is a veteran and star running back Zach Line is returning – hopefully – from a toe injury. The problem? The line loses four starters and two of the top receivers Cole Beasley and Terrance Wilkerson. The defense that finished second in the league loses both starting ends and has to upgrade the depth, but the entire linebacking corps returns including Taylor Reed in the middle. Big tackling FS Chris Banjo is gone, but SS Ryan Smith should be one of the team’s statistical stars.

2. Tulsa (11.62)

It’s all up to the quarterback situation with Kalen Henderson needing to prove he’s the playmaker G.J. Kinne was. Willie Carter is one of Conference USA’s best receivers, leading a loaded corps that should make Henderson’s life easier. Ja’Terian Douglas and all the running backs are back to balance things out, but three starters are gone off the line. The defense has to replace tackling machine linebacker Curnelius Arnick, but Shawn Jackson should be a dominant statistical star. Three starters return up front and in the secondary. Kicker/punter Kevin Fitzpatrick has to be replaced, but Trey Watts should be a top kickoff returner.

3. Houston (13-1)

Life goes on after a terrific 13-1 season. New head coach Tony Levine has a ton of work to do, but the system is still in place to keep the offensive production rolling. Case Keenum is finally done, and so is backup Cotton Turner. David Piland has a little bit of experience and should be ready to roll right away, but he won’t have the same receiving corps Keenum enjoyed with all the top targets gone. On the plus side, four starters are back on the line. Heart-and-soul LB Sammy Brown is done, as is running mate Marcus McGraw. Three starters return to the secondary and seven starters are back overall on a defense that never got enough attention. Matt Hogan is an ultra-reliable kicker, and punter Richie Leone might actually be used this year.

4. Rice (4-8)

Rice has to get a better year out of the defense to have any hope of improving. The nation’s 111th- ranked defense loses three starters on the line and WLB Justin Allen. The secondary that was torched time and again has to replace two starters, but top corner Bryce Callahan will be the anchor. Leading tackler Cameron Nwosu is back on the strongside, but the D has to press on without top pass rusher Scott Solomon. The offense will work around QB Taylor McHargue and running backs Turner Peterson and Sam McGuffie, but four starters are gone off the line. Leading receiver Vance McDonald is back along with solid TE Luke Willson.

5. UTEP (5-7)

Another year, another collapse over the second half of the season. The Miners have just enough talent returning to hope to finally come up with a more even season, but it all has to start on stopping the run with even thought the entire starting linebacking corps is gone and five are gone from the front seven. Throw in the loss of two starters in the secondary and the D is going to have some issues. The offense needs more from a line that didn’t do anything in pass protection, but four starters are back. The quarterback situation has to be settled between Nick Lamaison and Carson Meger, and a new runner has to take over with the three top backs gone. Punter Ian Campbell should be among the nation’s best.

6. Tulane (2-11)

New head coach Curtis Johnson has a ton of work to do to improve one of the nation’s worst scoring offenses and scoring defenses. Three starters are gone from a defensive line that wasn’t bad at getting into the backfield, but seven starters are back including the entire linebacking corps and star tackler Trent Mackey. Corner Ryan Travis is a good ball-hawker to count on. Ryan Griffin is a good quarterback to work around and Orleans Darkwa is a terrific back, but the line loses three starters and the O needs to find a steady target for Griffin.