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C-USA Pre-Spring Preview - The Concerns
SMU RB Zach Line
SMU RB Zach Line
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Feb 10, 2012


2012 Conference USA Pre-Spring Preview - Why Every Conference USA Team Should Be Grouchy

2012 Pre-Spring Preview   

Why To Be Grouchy - 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

A program already facing a dearth of overall talent compared to the league’s elite will be searching for leaders on both sides of the line. QB Dominique Davis could certainly be erratic, but he was a far more prolific option than this season’s contenders to start, unproven Rio Johnson, Brad Wornick, Shane Carden and Cody Keith. Leading receiver Lance Lewis has also graduated, as has top CB Emanuel Davis, who hopes to play in the NFL.
 
Marshall

Both lines are going to need a little TLC during the offseason. On offense, three starters from 2011 were seniors, including both tackles, Ryan Tillman and C.J. Wood. The situation is even more pressing on D. While only a pair of regulars have departed, one of them, DE Vinny Curry, is irreplaceable. The best pass rusher to ever play for the Thundering Herd leaves behind 26.5 career sacks and a spate of disoriented opposing quarterbacks.

Memphis

Former head man Larry Porter gave the program QB Taylor Reed, but not a heck of a lot else to feel confident about. In fact, he left the Tigers in tatters, with Justin Fuente and his staff to pick up the pieces. In terms of returning talent, there are few sure-things on the roster. Of the five Memphis players to be recognized by the league on postseason honor rolls, only one, P Tom Hornsey, is still with the team. LT Ronald Leary and NT Dontari Poe leave enormous holes on their respective sides of the ball.

Southern Miss

After winning Conference USA and going 12-2, Southern Miss could be in for a rude awakening in 2012. Head coach Larry Fedora is now at the helm of North Carolina, all-time leading passer Austin Davis has played his final year and key playmakers on defense, special teams and at wide receiver need to be replaced. The Eagles will be perilously young behind center, handing the ball to one of a number of contenders with no starting experience.

UAB 

No unit is immune from the talent shortfall that currently grips UAB. The Blazers can’t point to a single returning player who earned an honor higher than honorable mention All-Conference USA, and four starting offensive linemen have run out of eligibility. Only a handful of starters from a team that started 2011 0-6 will be back in Birmingham for the start of the 2012 season.

UCF

UCF suffered few defections, but CB Josh Robinson is an important loss. The First Team All-Conference junior opted to forego his final year of eligibility, leaving the Knights with a critical hole to fill in the secondary. Making matters worse, one possible successor, Jarrett Swaby, decided to transfer from the program. Without Robinson around to cut off half the field on opposing passers, the Knights are going to be a little more vulnerable through the air.

West 

Houston

The causalities from graduations and promotions are extensive, raising concerns that this might be a rebuilding year for the Cougars. Head coach Kevin Sumlin, record-breaking QB Case Keenum, the top three receivers, all-league linebackers Sammy Brown and Marcus McGraw—all gone. At a minimum, it’s going to be a season of transition for Houston, which will spend the offseason plugging holes and auditioning replacements on both sides of the ball.

Rice

Rice will be fighting an uphill battle once again this year. A mediocre offensive line is being forced to inject four new starters into the lineup, the defense is in a perpetual state of disarray and all-conference P Kyle Martens has graduated. Not a single Owl on the current roster earned higher than honorable mention all-league in 2011, testament to the dearth of sure-fire playmakers on campus.

SMU

With QB Kyle Padron released from his scholarship, quarterback will be the big question mark heading into 2012 as former Texas starter Garrett Gilbert tries to resurrect his career, but the offensive line will be a far greater concern. All five starters from last fall have exhausted their eligibility, meaning an entirely new rotation must be fleshed out over the next few months. RB Zach Line’s production could suffer, and the new quarterback's back will be vulnerable if the new starting five is unable to keep the pocket free from interlopers.

Tulane

Line play is often a problem for the Green Wave. The situation could actually be a little worse this fall. The offensive front will be without three of last season’s starters, including its most versatile blocker, Harris Howard. The D is in no better shape, parting with three-fourths of the regular unit. Someone will need to fill the shoes of Dezman Moses on the outside, and Julius Warmsley on the inside, or else the secondary will spend much of 2012 naked.

Tulsa

Beyond the obvious need to mine a steady hurler out of backup Kalen Henderson and Nebraska transfer Cody Green, the Golden Hurricane must work out the kinks up front. All of that speed and ability at the skill positions might never get out of the gates if the offensive line fails to do its job. Three starters from a year ago are gone, namely LT Tyler Holmes and First Team All-Conference USA LG Clint Anderson.
 
UTEP

The defense will need as much help as possible from P Ian Campbell because it’ll be replacing as many as seven starters. Most of the Miners’ best defenders, such as DE Bernard Obi, LB Isaiah Carter, CB Antwon Blake and SS Travaun Nixon, are no longer in El Paso. While a few juniors, like DE Greg Watkins, FS DeShawn Grayson and CB Drew Thomas, are potential tone-setters, they’re the exceptions of a unit with far more question marks than answers. 

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