Sunday, June 28, 2015

College Football 2015 Preview: Conference USA

In 2014, Conference USA had an excellent opportunity to break down some barriers with the play of Marshall. The Thundering Herd, undefeated for most of the season, stayed on top of our weekly PRS rankings for weeks on end, and was largely considered to be a shoe in for a birth in a New Year's Six bowl, which would have electrified the conference standing on a national scale. Then came a game against Western Kentucky, another rising conference power, on November 28th, when the Herd decided that they couldn't stop a thundering herd of girl scouts on defense in a shattering 67-66 OT loss. Marshall was derided by the selection group and national pundits for having a week strength of schedule, and was left out in the cold to end up in bowl oblivion playing in the bottom of the barrel Boca Raton Bowl. How far a team can fall in a few short weeks is an amazing thing. With Marshall's "disappointing" finish also went the profile of the conference in all, and 2015 is going to be all about redemption on a large scale.
Let us not forget the debacle that was the situation at UAB, where the board decided to drop football. The good news is that after an independent investigation, and a huge commitment by the city of Birmingham and private donors, UAB football will return in 2016 with an on campus stadium scheduled to replace the dreadful Legion Field as the home of Blazers football.

Projected Order Of Finish

1. Marshall
2. Western Kentucky
3. Old Dominion
4. Middle Tennessee
5. Florida Atlantic
6. Florida International
7. Charlotte

1. Louisiana Tech
3. Rice
4. Southern Miss
5. North Texas

All Conference Team
QB-Brandon Doughty, Southern Mississippi
QB-Driphus Jackson, Rice
RB-Devon Johnson, Marshall
RB-Leon Allen, Western Kentucky
RB-Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech
WR-Carlos Harris, North Texas
WR-Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech
WR-Jared Dangerfield, Western Kentucky
WR-Zach Pascal, Old Dominion
TE-Jonnu Smith-Florida International
TE-Marcus Smith, North Texas

DL-Michael Wakefield, Florida International
DL-Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech
DL-Denzell Perine, Florida International
DL-Brian Shorter, Western Kentucky
LB-Nick Holt, Western Kentucky
LB-TJ Ricks, Old Dominion
LB-DJ Hunter, Marshall
LB-Dejon Brown, Western Kentucky
DB-Kevin Byrd, Middle Tennessee
DB-Xavier Woods, Louisiana Tech
DB-Adairius Barnes, Louisiana Tech
DB-Corey Tindal, Marshall

PK-Trevor Moore, North Texas
P-Dalton Schomp, Florida Atlantic

2015 Previews

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
2014 Record: 8-5
2015 Projected Record: 10-2
Head Coach: Jeff Brohm (8-5, 2nd season)

The Good News: WKU got amazing news when the NCAA granted QB Brian Doughty a 6th year of eligibility in 2015. Doughty was the national leader in passing in 2014, and should once again be absolutely spectacular this coming season, as his two premier weapons in the passing game return as well in WRs Jared Dangerfield and Taywan Taylor, with all three being pre-season all conference selections. To make the news even better, all league RB Leon Allen also returns to keep defenses honest with the run game. Allen is also a gem as a receiver out of the backfield as well. Three starters return on the line, so the offensive show should continue.
On defense, the Toppers were mostly horrible in 2014, but they do bring back some solid talent at the LB position this fall. Both Nick Holt and Dejon Brown are back, and they should elevate the defense in the middle of the field, as both are pre-season all CUSA selections. The line should be much improved with three returning starters coming back, and they also boast UAB transfer Jontavious Morris, who could be a real star this fall at DT. The Toppers are set at Safety as well, as they return Marcus Ward and Brandon Lester.
The Bad News: The defense hogs this section, as they finished just 120th nationally in total defense last fall. WKU finished 121st in defensive scoring, 111th against the run, and 121st against the pass. They also gave up 30 or more points nine times last season, and teams averaged 39.9 points per game against them. If the Toppers cannot shore up their defensive deficiencies this season, that ten win prediction could be a stretch.
The Overview: Jeff Brohm picked up where Bobby Petrino left off after a short stay. The Toppers are only getting better, and as many as 6 of their top ten recruits for this fall were all defensive players, meaning that rohm is taking a keen interest in fixing that issue. Look for WKU to continue to build on recent successes, and they should be playing for a conference title in December.
First Game: 9/5 at Vanderbilt

Marshall Thundering Herd
2014 Record: 13-1
2015 Projected Record: 11-1
Head Coach: Doc Holliday (40-25, 6th season)

The Good News: The Herd were one game away from playing in the Peach Bowl last season, and that total defensive breakdown landed them in Boca Raton instead. Boca is great for retirement, not for bowl game locales. The good news is that even with the departure of Rakeem Cato at QB, the Herd should be just about as good as they were a season ago. Michael Birdsong takes over at QB after transferring from James Madison, and people feel tat he could be every bit as good. Devon Johnson was a candidate for our All-Bilo RB of the Year last season, and should push the 2000 mark this season after finishing with over 1700 yards last fall. Davonte Allen is the lone returning starter at WR, however the Herd are deep there, with several returnees who saw significant action last fall. The line returns three starters, so look for the offense to rank amongst the national leaders once again.
On defense, the only great news early is the return of both safeties in Taj Letman and AJ Leggett, as well as all conference selection SLB DJ Hunter.
Punter Tyler Williams returns as well after averaging 43.7 yards per punt last fall. He is an early All-American candidate.
The Bad News: Cato is gone, and although Birdsong is expected to take flight immediately, it's hard to replace someone as good as Cato for as long as he was succeeding at Marshall.
The defense is full of holes, as three of four linemen must be replaced, with only NT Jacquez Samuel returning. With exception of Hunter coming back at LB, the other two spots need to be filled as well, and Marshall must also replace one starting CB. Corey Tindal, an all league selection, isn't even first on the depth chart heading into fall camp after an excellent year last season.
Justin Haig is gone at PK, leaving more big shoes needing to be filled.
The Overview: Despite all of the new faces that will be taking the field in starting roles this fall, the schedule more than sets up for big winning in 2015. The Herd should blow through September, including the opener with Purdue, and that will set them tempo, as the rest of the schedule is manageable until the season finale with Western Kentucky.
First Game: 9/6 Purdue

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
2014 Record: 6-6
2015 Projected Record: 7-5
Head Coach: Rick Stockstill (57-55, 10th season)

The Good News: The strength of the Raiders will be the middle of the line, which returns both guards (Darius Johnson, Daniel Stephens) and their Center (Josh Chester) from last fall. That group will be blocking for a strong ground game led by Shane Tucker and last year's official starter Jordan Parker, and a third back in Jeremiah Bryson. There's plenty of experience to go around in that unit, as all have been major contributors.
The middle of the line on defense happens to also be the strength on that side of the football, as both DTs return (Patrick McNeill, Shaquille Huff). The secondary may be the best part of this unit, however, and is loaded with talent. Kevin Byrd (SS) and Xavier Walker (FS) anchor the back of the unit, while Jared Singletary returns at CB. Jamarcus Howard and Chris Brown will battle it out for the open job at CB in the fall.
The Bad News: On defense, both ends need replacing in the starting lineup, and that could be a problem with speed teams on the outside. TT Barber is the lone returnee at LB, making the front seven a questionable area heading into camp.
Special teams is likely to need a reboot, as Cody Clark imploded at PK at the end of the season, and his struggles continued into spring ball. The Punting job may very well settle into the hands of a freshman (Matt Bonadies).
On offense, the first two orders of business will be finding a consistent threat at QB (battle is between Austin Grammer and Brent Stockstill), and then finding some receivers other than Ed Batties for them to get the ball to. The Raiders finished just 74th nationally in passing last season, and Grammer is more a runner than passer, while Stockstill is a better passer than runner. Both tackles also need to be replaced as well.
The Overview: MT has been bowl eligible for 5 of the last 6 seasons, but that isn't saying much these days. Rick Stockstill has always been on the verge of pushing the Blue Raiders to the next level, but always falls short, as evidenced by his barely .500 career record at the school. Eventually it has to be the right time for the Raiders to pull of a league title, but that won't be this season, as the Raiders will once again be just barely good enough to get by.
First Game: 9/5 Jackson State

Old Dominion Monarchs
2014 Record: 6-6
2015 Projected Record: 8-4
Head Coach: Bobby Wilder (52-20, 7th season)

The Good News: The RB corps is as deep as it has ever been in ODU's short football history. Ray Lawry and Vincent Lowe should be an outstanding battery in the backfield as the Monarchs adjust to a new QB for the first time in four seasons. Jeremy Cox, a freshman, is one of several young talented players that Wilder and staff recruited to bolster the ranks, and should find his way into the RB rotation. There were losses at WR, however Zack Pascal is a pre season all league pick, and should take a leadership role there in 2015. David Washington returns as well. The line returns three starters, but they run ten deep across the board, and have plenty of experience coming back into the fray. Expect no drop off there.
Senior DE Pancho Barnwell is back at DE after leading the team in sacks, and should be a solid foundation of a building front seven, along with all league LB TJ Ricks and Martez Simpson. Shadow Williams and Richard Thomas should both rotate at OLB as JC transfers to give some of the younger guys time to grow into the spot. Fellonte Misher is back at SS, and Devon Brown, a UAB transfer, will step right in and start at CB.
SPecial teams ought to be just fine with the return of PK Ricky Segers, who was rock solid until blowing his knee late in the season. Satchel Ziffer came in to replace him, and did a solid job. If Segers isn't fully healthy, it should be no issue.Ziffer is also involved with the battle at Punter.
The Bad News: Losing Taylor Heineke at QB is a huge blow. The four year starter was a beast in his time with the Monarchs, finishing with just under 15,000 career passing yards. South Carolina high school phenom Shuler Bentley will battle with Joey Verhaegue in the fall. Antonio Vaughn also departs at WR, taking a huge chunk of production away as well. It could take a few different WRs to overcome the loss.
Defensively, ODU gave up 30 or more points in eight games in 2014. For the Monarchs to achieve my prediction of eight wins in 2015, that will have to be shored up. Half of the top ten recruits in the most recent class were defensive players.
The punting game has not been settled on, and as many as three players will compete in the fall. Stay tuned there.
The Overview: Despite the loss of Heinicke and Vaughn on offense, nobody should head into a panic attack over it. Bobby Wilder is one of the best coaches in America today, and he will continue to strive towards better things for the Monarchs, and has recruited like a champion. Brian Scott will do a credible job with the offense, and the defense is bound to improve. If the right pieces come together this fall, ODU could be looking at their first bowl bid ever. Remember, this program is only in their seventh year. What they have done is nothing short of incredible in so short a time.
First Game: 9/5 at Eastern Michigan

Florida Atlantic Owls
2014 Record: 3-9
2015 Projected Record: 3-9
Head Coach: Charlie Partridge (3-9, 1st season)

The Good News: There isn't much to be had on an offense that finished 101st nationally last fall. The run game should be in decent shape, as Buddy Howell and Jay Warren return to a backfield that averaged 163.6 yards per game last season and was a bright spot in an otherwise fairly bleak landscape. Jensen Stoshak and Kalib Woods both return at WR, so some stability does exist, but they need a QB that can get them the ball.
On defense, the news isn't much brighter. The line is the bright spot, as three starters return in Robinson Eugene and Trey Hendrickson (DEs) and Trevon Coley (DT).
Dalton Schomp is probably the most promising player on the team coming back, and he's a Punter. He averaged a booming 45.4 yards per punt last fall.
The Bad News: It's hard to find a place to start on either side of the football, as the offense finished in the hundreds in total offense, while scoring a meager 24 points per game. The defense finished 110th in total defense, 112th against the run, and gave up 34.4 points per game.
The O line needs to have replacements found from Center right, and the QB situation is less than stable in the hands of returnee Jacquez Johnson.
In a five man secondary, only one player returns in CB Cre'Von LeBlanc, making for a difficult process to improve.
The Overview: The word is that FAU is not going to be any better than they were a year ago. Partridge needs to get the recruiting situation settled out, and start getting some players into a program that has largely sputtered for several years now. Is Partridge the right guy to get this going? I don't know, but it's too early to come to a final conclusion. Improvements will be small this season, so 2016, and maybe 2017 will be the point in which we know more about where this program is going.
First G
Game: 9/5 at Tulsa

Florida International Panthers
2014 Record: 4-8
2015 Projected Record: 2-10
Head Coach: Ron Turner (5-19, 3rd season)

The Good News: FIU also largely fell flat on offense in 2014, finishing 120th in total offense nationally. The good news is that Alex McGough will be back at QB, and showed some real improvement as the season progressed. Look for him to take the next step in his career evolution this fall. Alex Gardner was just starting to develop last season when he injured his shoulder and missed a huge chunk of time. Anthon Samuel, a Bowling Green transfer, stepped up and took off in the job,. Both will see significant time this fall. The best receiver, and possibly player on this football team is super TE Jonnu Smith, and NFL prospect. Smith will likely be the leading receiver on this team in 2015. The line will return three starters, giving the Panthers some foundation to build on.
The news is much better on defense, where three starters (Lars Koht, Imarjaye Albury, and all league pick Michael Wakefield) return. Treyvon Williams also returns at LB, making the front six (FIU runs a 4-2-5 set) one of the best in the conference. All three CBs return in the secondary (Davison Colimon, Richard Leonard, and Jeremiah McKinnon) to a unit that ranked 29th nationally against the pass.
Austin Taylor is back at PK, and is a long yardage specialist.
The Bad News: The WR corps is decimated by losses, and someone must step up to ensure that Smith is open when needed. Otherwise he can expect double teams on most downs, as no other receivers will be perceived as threats. The offense was beyond awful last fall, so all around improvements must come about, especially McHough at QB.
The defense was a huge bright spot in 2014, and will be again, but they do need to replace both safeties in fall camp to protect against the deep ball and in run support.
The Panthers use two punters, because they each specialize. Not a good thing.
The Overview: Turner is fully on the hot seat, but seems to be moving in the right direction even so. FIU played better fundamental football in 2014 than they did in 2013, and Turner entered last season with the faithful calling for his head after just one season. The pressure may not be as high this season, but if the Panthers slide back to two win territory, it could be the end for Turner.
First Game: 9/3 at UCF

Charlotte 49ers
2014 Record: 5-6* (Transition to FBS)
2015 Projected Record: 2-10
Head Coach: Brad Lambert (10-12, 3rd season)

The Good News: There's no pressure. That's the best news of all. The Niners are building a program and are only in year three of the process. This is the first year that they will be playing a serious FBS schedule, so the results will likely reflect that. In all, Presbyterian is the lone FCS or lower division school that Charlotte will play this year, and they beat the Blue Hose 45-21 a year ago. There will be 11 games against FBS competition this fall, as compared to none last season.
RB Kalif Phillips will be the key in 2015, coming off of a 1436 yard season. Remember, that came against all FCS and D2 defenses, so he could slide a bit in the totals against stiffer competition. He will be running behind a line that returns only three starters from the end of last season, but that unit is deep and experienced. The receiving corps is solid as well, with Austin Duke and Trent Bostick returning, and Georgia transfer Uriah Lemay will also step in and likely start. QB should be another strength with the continued development of Matt Johnson, who lost three games to an MCL tear, and Lee McNeill, who played like a starter in his place.
Defensively, the Niners have problems, with the only good news being that two starters are back in the secondary (CB Greg Cunningham, FS Brandon Dozier), and NT Larry Ogenjobi will be back in the middle of the line as well.
Both kickers are back in PK Blake Brewer and Punter Arthur Hart.
The Bad News: Things aren't that bad on offense at all, but one has to remember the increased competition situation. Will Charlotte be able to repeat scoring 38.8 points per game with a severely strengthened schedule? It's unlikely, but they could surprise us all.
The defense was a disaster last fall, having given up 35 or more points seven times in 11 games. Eight starters must be replaced at that, and so it's hardly acceptable to expect better this season. Any improvement, no matter how small, should be seen as a plus.
The Overview: Expect nothing. That is the bottom line on this infant program. Look for a big step back from last season as Charlotte gets used to playing FBS football, and quite frankly, expect them to be the worst team in FBS football. Anything better than that will be seen as a success.
First Game: 9/4 Georgia State

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
2014 Record: 9-5
2015 Projected Record: 9-3
Head Coach: Skip Holtz (13-13, 3rd season)

The Good News: Jeff Driskel was largely a failure at QB at Florida. The 5th year transfer steps in to replace Cody Sokol, another 5th year transfer, and call me crazy, but Driskel may very well flourish under a real offense that makes the most of his skills, unlike that garbage that the Gators were running under the clueless Will Muschamp. The real prize is RB Kenneth Dixon, who comes off a career year with 1684 yards rushing and 28 TDs. He should be the cente rpiece of this offense, but we all know that the offense at Tech will be completely balanced out while remaining high powered under Tony Peterson's scheme. Depth is strong at WR as well in 2015, with three starters returning in Paul Turner, Carlos Henderson, and Trent Taylor. The line is set from center right as well, leaving little to worry about.
Tech had a decent defense in 2014, and the line should be a strength with three starters returning in Vontarrius Dora (DE), Vernon Butler (DT), and Aaron Brown (DT). The secondary is loaded with three starters coming back there as well (CB Adarius Barnes, S Xavier Woods, S Kentreel Brice).
The Bad News: There isn't much on offense, but if I had to nitpick, it would be that there are holes in both spots on the left side of the line. Jens Danielson (LT) and David Mahaffey (LG) should step in, and both have experience.
Defensively, there are a ton of holes in the middle of the field at LB. Every starting LB and one DE must be replaced this fall, so DC Blake Baker has his work cut out to ensure that the defense continues to excel after finishing 34th nationally in total defense, and 17th against the run.
Both PK Jonathon Barnes (listed starter) and Punter Logan McPherson had issues last fall, and need to find improvement in their games. Kyle Fischer will likely see time again at PK as he did last year, but he wasn't much better.
The Overview: The offense should carry the day, but the defense shouldn't be bad if the LB situation can be resolved. No matter what, Tech has more than enough power to win the West once again, and should slide into the league title game. Do they have enough to unseat Marshall or Western Kentucky? That's a good question.

UTEP Miners
2014 Record: 7-6
2015 Projected Record: 8-4
Head Coach: Sean Kugler (9-16, 3rd season)

The Good News: The line will be the strength of the offense, which is important, as the Miners are a run first football team. Four starters return in LT Jermoe Daniels, LG Will Hernandez, C Eric Lee, and RG Derek Elmendorff. Junior Chris Thomas or junior John De La Rosa will take over at RT. The run game returns strength as well with Aaron Jones returning after rushing for 1321 yards, and all league FB Darrin Laufusa coming back as well.
The defense is a bit bare in 2015, with only five starters returning in 2015. three of those starters return up front on the line in DE Nick Usher, DT Gino Bresolin, and DE Roy Robertson-Harris. Alvin Jones returns at WLB, while Devin Cockrell returns at Weak Safety.
Jay Mattox will be back and will once again handle both PK and P duties as he did from the middle of last season on. The kicking game should be a strength, as should the return game, which is in the capable hands of Autrey Golden.
The Bad News: On offense, it's the passing game. As many as three candidates will be in the mix to start at QB, and that position was already a weakness last season, as the Miners only passed for 142.9 yards per game. Autrey Golden is a great return guy, but he's new as a starter at WR, and the Miners are devoid of any returning receivers, period.
Defensively, the Miners must find four new starters in a five man set, so the pass defense could be a bit rough in the early part of the year while this unit gels. Pass D was a strength last fall, as UTEP finished 15th nationally in that category. I don't see that happening again.
The Overview: There are few coaches in America who have done the amazing job that Sean Kugler has done in his short time in El Paso. He inherited a mess, and has somehow gotten this program into believing that they can be winners. That in and of itself is incredible, but keeping this train going will be the key, and UTEP could very well do that once again. The early schedule is bumpy, but sailing could be smoother after the first two games against Arkansas and Texas Tech are behind them. Louisiana Tech is at home, and there is no Western Kentucky, and no Marshall on the slate.
First Game: 9/5 at Arkansas

Rice Owls
2014 Record: 8-5
2015 Projected Record: 6-6
Head Coach: David Bailiff (48-53, 9th season)

The Good News: Drifus Jackson is one hell of a QB for the Owls, and returns to lead the way in 2015. He can run and throw equally well, and is adept at keeping defenses honest with his skill set. He missed spring ball after shoulder surgery, but will be ready to go in fall camp. Jowan Davis and Darik Dillard both return at RB, giving Rice a top tier run game out of their backfield. Dennis Parker and Zach Wright both return at WR, giving Jackson reliable targets when he pulls up and throws.
Defensively, Rice could use some improvements, but only LB Alex Lyons and CB Ryan Pullard are set to return as starters.
James Farrimond is a first rate punter, having averaged 42 yards per punt last fall.
The Bad News: Holes are everywhere on both sides of the football. WR could be a concern behind Parks and Wright, as there is very little experience. The line replaces three starters as well, which could negatively impact the run game.
On defense, nine starters must be replaced from a unit that ranked 54th nationally in total defense, and just 80th in scoring, giving up 28.5 points per game.
The kicking game was a mess at PK last fall, and the Owls are depending on a freshman, Jack Fox, to fix the issue.
The Overview: The Owls and coach David Bailiff have been one of the most inconsistent teams in college football for the last several seasons. They have been an on one year, off the next kind of team, and this could be one of those off years. Bailiff could be the guy that gets the Owls to a decent level, but they may eventually need someone who can put them over the top and keep them there. With all of their holes, this could be a step back kind of season.

North Texas Mean Green
2014 Record: 4-8
2015 Record: 2-10
Head Coach: Dan McCarney (22-27, 5th season)

The Good News: There isn't much to be found on offense at all. Carlos Harris should be a strength at WR, and is one of the best in the conference, but someone has to be able to get the football into his hands at the QB position. TE Marcus Smith is also a viable target in the passing game. Center Kaydon Kirby is back as a sophomore, and should continue to develop.
Three starters return in a relatively deep defensive line in DT Austin Orr, DT Sir Calvin Wallace, and DE Chad Polk. Other than those mentioned, it should be a decently experienced unit heading into fall camp. Fred Scott is a talent at LB, and moves outside this season. Kenny Buyers is also a strength at CB.
Trevor Moore is one of the best PKs in the nation, and hit 15 of 17 a year ago. He returns. Eric Kenna returns at Punter as well after averaging 44.8 yards per punt last fall, so the kicking game should be set.
The Bad News: The QB situation is basically dreadful Andrew McNulty returns as the starterm but tossed more picks than TDs a season ago. That trend obviously must change. Other than Harris at WR, there is little to no depth at all. The line, a strength last fall, must replace four starters, which is not good news for a RB group that largely struggled to assert themselves last fall.
Defensively, two new starters must be replaced at LB, and four new starters must be found to play around Buyers in the secondary. That's bad news for a defense that already finished just 84th in total scoring at 29.8 points per game allowed in 2014.
The Overview: North Texas has slid back after winning the Heart of Dallas Bowl two seasons ago, and the slide looks to continue, placing McCarney in a bit of job jeopardy. North Texas will need too many things to go right in 2015 to have any real expectation of winning, so those expectations should be basement level low. It's going to be a tough year of trying to find working pieces in all.
First Game: 9/12 at SMU

Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles
2014 record: 3-9
2015 Projected Record: 5-7
Head Coach: Todd Monken (4-20, 3rd season)

The Good News: The line on offense should be the heart of strength for this unit, as four starters return. That's excellent news if the Eagles want to improve on their run game, which averaged a paltry 95.8 yards per game last season, which ranked 121st nationally. The passing attack is strong, led by the return of QB Nick Mullens, but he could hand the job to TCU transfer Tyler Matthews in fall camp. Either way, this could be a position of some strength in 2015. Three players could see carries at RB in Ito Smith, George Payne, and Tez Parks, and look for Patrick Brooks, an incoming freshman, to get some looks in camp as well. Michael Thomas, Marquise Ricard, and Casey Martin all return to give the team some stability at WR.
Defensively, the Eagles need some help, and in a hurry. Only three starters return in LB Brian Anderson, CB Kalen Reed, and S Picasso Nelson. D'Nerisu Antoine should add some experience at LB/S, and Elijah Parker should slide in at another LB position that's open for competition. Nelson moves to Safety from CB, and should do so seamlessly.
The Bad News: The Eagles must learn how to better run the football. That's the simple part, or else every team they face will drop into nickel and dime packages and make them run. Scoring was also a huge problem, as USM only averaged 19 points per game last fall. They scored less than 21 points a whopping seven times last season.
On defense, the Eagles must find new starters on every spot on the line, which is imperative early. The new full time starters at LB must step up quickly.
The kicking game is up in the air with a new starter needed at PK, and Punter Tyler Sarrazin struggling with an average of 39.5 yards per punt.
The Overview: The Eagles have shown some upward motion in the win column under Monken, but USM hasn't finished with three straight losing seasons since the great depression era. Monken inherited a mess, I Know, but eventually, he has to fix this mess and start seeing some returns to bowl games. If that doesn't happen, and soon, how long will the faithful put up with losing? It's unlikely that anything will happen this season, but if the Eagkles aren't bowling by the end of the 2016 season, times could be changing once again.
First Game: 9/5 Mississippi State

UTSA Road Runners
2014 Record: 4-8
2015 Projected Record: 1-11
Head Coach: Larry Coker (23-23, 5th season)

The Good News: I'm trying to find some people. I am really trying. The sad part is, we all knew this was coming. The apocalypse was near after 20 starters at the start of 2014 were all scheduled to depart this season. What's worse is that the unit that existed in 2014 was supposed to win big, and didn't nearly do that.
Jarveon Williams may be the only good news coming back on offense, as he has been a big play back that will be the primary ball carrier for the first time ever.
Only three starters return on defense in LB Drew Douglas, CB Bennett Okotcha, and S Maurice Sanchez. The Road Runners will need to completely retool almost everywhere.
The Bad News: Almost everything is bad news right now, as UTSA is in complete rebuild mode. Every starter on offense must be replaced, with the basic exception of anyone who played due to injuries, which occurred all over the place. QB is an open battle, every member of the line must be replaced, and there is little to no experience at receiver. Off field issues have clouded WR Kenny Bias, and TE David Morgan, the best receiver available, has had injury issues.
On defense, the entire line must be replaced, and three new starters must be found in the secondary.
Both kicking jobs are open, and expected to go to Daniel Portillo at PK (sophomore) and Yannis Routsas at Punter (freshman).
The Overview: Nobody can have any delusions of grandeur as to what to expect in San Antonio in 2015. The club must be largely rebuilt from the bottom up. Coker is a fantastic coach, but he will need two to three years to get the Runners back up to full speed. We all saw this coming, so no surprises here. Winning will return, but it's going to be a tough go.
First Game: 9/3 at Arizona

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