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2007 Conference USA Preview - Unit Rankings

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 26, 2007


2007 CFN Preview - Conference USA Unit Rankings from top to bottom

2007 CFN Conference USA Preview

Unit Rankings

Team Previews, Offenses, Defenses & Depth Charts
East
East Carolina | Marshall | UAB | UCF | Memphis | Southern Miss
West Houston | Rice | SMU | Tulane | Tulsa | UTEP

- 2007 CFN Conference USA Preview
- CFN All-Conference USA Team & Top 30 Players

- C-USA Team-by-Team Capsules

- Conference USA Schedules & Predictions

Offenses
1. Southern Miss
While it’s become fashionable for programs across the country to switch to some fancy derivative of the spread offense, Southern Miss is content to pound the ball on the ground, control the clock and let its defense win games.  Sure, the Eagles prefer balance, but in Hattiesburg, the run continues to set up the pass.  Last year’s league-leading rusher, sophomore Damion Fletcher, is back for an encore, and this time, he brought friends.  Southern Miss is deep in the backfield, which will take pressure off versatile, yet erratic, senior quarterback Jeremy Young.  His favorite target will again be tight end Shawn Nelson, a future pro with All-America potential.  For a change, there are restless moments about an offensive line that’s replacing three starters, two of which were First Team All-Conference USA in 2006.

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

Quarterbacks  
1. SMU
Provided he gets some help from a rebuilt receiving corps, Justin Willis will build on a sensational debut and take another step toward becoming the biggest thing at the school since the Pony Express.        

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

Running Backs
1. Southern Miss
While the yards may be tougher to come by behind a rebuilt line, this trio has a chance to be the best collection of runners in school history. Damion Fletcher might struggle to reach 1,000 yards, but that may not be a bad thing for an offense that’ll spread out the touches more than last season.

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

Receivers
1. Houston
As long as Jeron Harvey, Donnie Avery and Mark Hafner remain healthy, the Cougar receiving corps will be a nice security blanket for the new triggerman.  If any of the three is lost to injury, however, there’s little margin for error on the depth chart.

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

Offensive Line
1. Marshall
Although it’s taken a while, Doug Legursky will finally get some of the national attention he deserves, as NFL scouts swirl around campus to watch him.  Otherwise, it’s an average Marshall that’ll struggle in September before stabilizing in the second half of the year.

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

Defenses
1. Southern Miss
The “Nasty Bunch” defense that’s become the trademark of Southern Miss football under Jeff Bower should be one of the nation’s top ranked units in 2007.  It’s fast and experienced, and if Bower gets his way, about to become as physical as his vintage teams of the late 1990s.  The Eagles return nine starters, including the entire front seven and five players that earned all-Conference USA recognition in 2006.  Good luck moving the ball on this veteran group.  If there’s a weak link on defense it’s in the secondary, where two new starting corners will be broken in.  One way to help rookies Eddie Willingham and Michael McGee will be to get more pressure on the quarterback than last year, when USM was No. 81 in the country in sacks. 

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

Defensive Lines
1. East Carolina
All the planets have aligned for this to be a nasty front that continues the run-stuffing momentum from the second half of last year.  The key, however, will be how well it pressures the quarterback, especially since the secondary is a major work-in-progress.

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

Linebackers
1. Southern Miss
Gerald McRath is the headliner of the unit, but he won’t be working solo.  Flanked by Tokumbo Abanikanda and James Denley, the Eagle linebackers are a diverse group that will fly to the ball and make big plays the entire season.

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

Defensive Backs
1. Southern Miss
Although the new cornerbacks will surely get burnt from time to time, they’re so well insulated from the surrounding talent, it’s not going to be the downfall of the 2007 defense.

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

Special Teams
1. SMU
Between Thomas Morstead’s dual-threat potential and the big-play ability of Jessie Henderson in the return game, SMU is on the verge of having the league’s top special teams unit.

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

 

 

Related Stories
2007 Conference USA Schedules & Picks
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 26, 2007
2007 CFN Preseason All-Conference USA Team
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 26, 2007
2007 CFN Conference USA Preview
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 26, 2007








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