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2008 Conference USA Preview - Unit Rankings
UCF CB Joe Burnett
UCF CB Joe Burnett
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 30, 2008


2008 CFN Preview - Conference USA Unit Rankings from top to bottom

2008 CFN C-USA Preview

Unit Rankings

Team Previews & Predictions
East East Carolina | Marshall | Memphis | So. Miss | UAB | UCF 
West Houston | Rice | SMU | Tulane | Tulsa | UTEP

- 2008 CFN Conference USA Preview
- CFN All-Conference USA Team & Top 30 Players
- Conference USA Team-by-Team Capsules

-
Conference USA Unit Rankings

- Conference USA Schedules & Predictions

Offenses
1. Tulsa
A star will be born as soon as the staff decides on its next starting quarterback. The hurry-up, no-huddle offense is that prolific under coordinator Gus Malzahn.  The early edge goes to David Johnson, who backed up Paul Smith for three seasons and spent a year in the system.  However, he’s no lock to win the job, and will get challenged by Clark Harrell and Jacob Bower, a coveted JUCO recruit.  The transition to a new starter will be made easier by the presence of a veteran line and 1,000-yard receivers Brennan Marion, Trae Johnson, and Charles Clay.  As if the Hurricane needs more weapons, the program’s leading rushers from the last two years are also back.  Tarrion Adams ran for 1,225 yards and caught 30 passes after starter Courtney Tennial was lost with a season-ending Achilles injury.

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

Quarterbacks  
1. Rice
Ever since Rice ditched the wishbone in favor of the spread, Chase Clement has flourished as the offensive triggerman. He’ll rack up the numbers for a third straight year, making good use of his quick feet and terrific corps of receivers. Junior John Thomas Shepherd will be Clement’s insurance policy for a second straight season.

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

Running Backs
1. Southern Miss
Now that Kevin Smith and Matt Forte are in the NFL, Damion Fletcher is set to become Conference USA’s leading man at running back.  He has to stay healthy, however, for all 12 games because the options behind him are limited.

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

Receivers
1. Tulsa
As dynamic as the Hurricane receivers were in 2007, they’ll be even better in 2008 if the new quarterback isn’t a washout.  Don’t forget that other than Jesse Meyer, every one of the team’s top wide receivers was a newcomer last fall.

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

Offensive Line
1. Houston
Even after losing Dustin Dickinson and Jeff Akeroyd to graduation, the Cougars will still have one of the top units in Conference USA. The key will be how quickly—and whether—SirVincent Rogers can recapture his pre-injury form. If he’s back to being an all-star, Houston will have four solid, veteran blockers to help make the offense go.

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

Defenses
1. UCF
In light of the problems on the other side of the ball, the defense may have to carry the offense in the early stages of the season. The unit welcomes back nine starters, 10 if you count LB Jordan Richards, who was slated to start before suffering a season-ending injury. The secondary, in particular, is flush with senior talent, led by all-leaguers Joe Burnett and Sha’Reff Rashad. It was those two ball hawks, along with Jason Venson and Johnell Neal that helped UCF lead the conference with two dozen picks a year ago. The defense’s biggest objective will be to find replacements for DE Leger Douzable and DT Keith Shologan, the line’s best pass rusher and run-stuffer, respectively. If they can stay healthy for a change, the Cory Hogue-led linebackers will be deep and disruptive.

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

Defensive Lines
1. East Carolina
No one in Conference USA boasts a better collection of talent on the defensive line. In fact, it’s not even close. The Pirates are deep and disruptive, which will boost the performance of the last lines of defense. To be the best unit among non-BCS programs, however, East Carolina has to become more productive, particularly with the pass rush.  

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

Linebackers
1. Southern Miss
This could be Gerald McRath’s final season as an amateur, so Golden Eagle fans might want to savor all of his games in black and gold. He’s a beast who makes everyone around him more effective. No group of linebackers in Conference USA gets from Point A to Point B faster than the one in Hattiesburg. Led by McRath, the Golden Eagles are a bunch of predators that’ll make a ton of plays for negative yards.            

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

Defensive Backs
1. UCF
While not quite the 2007 secondary, the similarities are there. The secondary is talented enough to make the other two units more effective, as long as there continues to be enough takeaways to compensate for the inevitable blown coverages.

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

Special Teams
1. UAB
As long as Swayze Waters is healthy, UAB will have one of the conference’s better special teams units.  His all-around kicking ability plus a sneaky good return game will give the Blazers one of their only edges in games this season. 

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

 

 




























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