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C-USA Pre-Spring Preview - What Needs Work?
Tulane RB Orleans Darkwa
Tulane RB Orleans Darkwa
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Feb 10, 2012


2012 Conference USA Pre-Spring Preview - What Every Conference USA Team Needs To Work On.

2012 Pre-Spring Preview   

What To Work On - C-USA


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

2012 Conference USA Pre-Spring Preview
- C-USA East Pre-Spring Rankings
- C-USA West Pre-Spring Rankings
- Why Every C-USA Team Should Be Excited
- Why Every Team Should Be Grouchy
- What Every Team Needs To Work On 
2012 Recruiting Rankings C-USA East | C-USA West

East

East Carolina

Turnovers. If East Carolina can’t make better decisions, and get a better grip on the ball, it has little hope of improving on last season’s 5-7 mark. The Pirates gave the ball up 35 times in 2011, more than everyone except Iowa State, which matched their futility. There just isn’t enough talent for the program to remain careless, and live to tell about it. In fact, this is the type of school that’ll need to do an about-face by becoming a little more opportunistic.

Marshall

Fine-tuning the offense. While there are some exciting individual parts, the Herd needs to coalesce into a cohesive, consistent unit this offseason. The previous season was emblematic of Marshall’s woes, finishing 98th nationally in third down conversions and 81st in red zone touchdown percentage. The kids in the backfield and the new starting linemen need to perform at a much higher level if the attack is going to produce more points in 2012.
 
Memphis

The running game. To be fair, there isn’t just one thing that Memphis needs to concentrate on this offseason. The to-do list is arm’s length, but an improved running game often has a knack for disguising other pressing issues, especially on defense. The Tigers would like to unwrap all of the potential of young backs Jerrell Rhodes and Artaves Gibson, taking some pressure off Reed, while giving a few more breaks to the depth-deprived D.

Southern Miss

Ball security. Sure, the passing game needs to be completely revamped, but nothing will matter if the Golden Eagles are unable to get a firmer grip on the ball. They turned the ball over 30 times in 2011, which was offset by veteran talent a year ago, but won’t be this fall. Without the experience of Davis to spearheaded rallies or as many front seven stoppers, Southern Miss can ill-afford to be so careless.

UAB 

Igniting some kind of a pass rush. The Blazers were last in the country in sacks last season, getting to the quarterback just eight times over a dozen games. The impact on the rest of the defense was predictable, including ranking 114th overall, and finishing 117th in pass efficiency D. Since there are no obvious terrors up front, coordinator Reggie Johnson might need to install a few well-timed blitz packages.

UCF

Amping up the defensive pressure. The Knights had no answers for the departure of DE Bruce Miller last year, falling to 100th in the country in sacks. If the defense is going to overcome the loss of CB Josh Robinson in the secondary, it’ll help immensely to get more of a push up front. While the Davis’, DE Troy and LB Jonathan, are a decent place to start, they won’t be able to initiate a difference on their own.

West 

Houston

Getting QB David Piland ready to be the successor to Keenum. Although his experience from two years ago will certainly help, the third-year sophomore will still be facing a very different situation this fall. He’s not an emergency replacement any longer; he’s the man in charge of the offense. He’ll also have a different head coach, Tony Levine, and an entirely new collection of wide receivers with which to develop a working relationship between now and September.
 
Rice

Generating more pressure on the quarterback. The Owls don’t harbor the kinds of defensive backs who can survive without assistance from up front. Rice was 108th in the country in sacks last season, and the pass defense was predictably shredded for 300 yards a game through the air. Further complicating the situation is the graduation of DE Scott Solomon, the school’s all-time leader in career sacks.

SMU

Shifting the pendulum regarding turnovers. The Mustangs were dead last in the country in turnover margin in 2011, giving the ball away to the opposition 32 times. In June Jones’ first couple of seasons on the Hilltop, the Mustangs were an attacking, opportunistic group that created chances for the offense. Last year, however, they had just 16 takeaways, lacking the tenacity or the ability to change the tenor of a game.

Tulane

Stiffening in the red zone. Between the twenties, the Green Wave actually didn’t do too badly of a job last season. The objective of the new staff will be to get the D to perform better when its back is against the wall. Tulane gave up more than 37 points a game in 2011, while ranking a revealing 116th in the country in red zone touchdowns yielded.

Tulsa

Fixing the problems that hamstrung the pass defense last fall. Sure, it didn’t help having Oklahoma State, Boise State and Houston on the schedule, but the Hurricane experienced a few too many breakdowns in the defensive backfield in 2011. While three regulars do return, led by disruptive S Marco Nelson and bandit Dexter McCoil, the veteran group must parlay their experience into a few more batted balls, especially near the end zone.

UTEP

Pass protection. The staff likes the upside potential of QB Nick Lamaison, but only if he can remain healthy. And the former JUCO transfer will stay upright if his blockers can do a better job of keeping the pocket clean. Last season’s front wall returns virtually intact, save for RG Nathan McCage, but also finished last in the league in sacks allowed. It’s incumbent upon the linemen to give the quarterback the time he needs to locate top receivers Mike Edwards and Jordan Leslie.
    
East UAB | UCF | East Carolina | Marshall | Memphis | Southern Miss
West  Houston | Rice | SMU | Tulane | Tulsa | UTEP

2012 Conference USA Pre-Spring Preview
- C-USA East Pre-Spring Rankings
- C-USA West Pre-Spring Rankings
- Why Every C-USA Team Should Be Excited
- Why Every Team Should Be Grouchy
- What Every Team Needs To Work On 
2012 Recruiting Rankings C-USA East | C-USA West