NCAA Preview 2016
NCAA Conference USA
The NCAA football season is near. Get ready to play CFB at FanPicks (click to play). With the impending kickoff in Sydney on August 26th, FanPicks will cover every NCAA conferences and their teams for the 2016 season. If you’ve missed the Big Ten West CFB preview, click here. Now let’s get to the NCAA Conference USA.
Western Kentucky enters the season as defending Conference USA champions as they defeated Southern Miss in the previous year’s championship game. The Hilltoppers would then go on to defeat South Florida in the Miami Beach Bowl 45–35. This season, Middle Tennessee is the early favorite to finish first in the East divison standings. While in the West, Southern Miss have taken the media prediction to repeat atop the standings for a second year in a row.
There will be a quarterback battle at Charlotte. Lee McNeill tossed one TD and 10 INTs, then was pulled for Brooks Barden (four TDs, five picks) last year. They’ll be pushed by transfers Hasaan Klugh (NC A&T), Cody Keith (ECU) and former four-star recruit Kevin Olsen (Miami).
FIU begins its 15th season of football when the Panthers start fall camp Wednesday morning. Coming off a 5-7 season, FIU features an experienced offense this season that looks to build on 2015.
FAU has experienced wide receivers, none of whom has emerged as a star. They all possess varied and often impressive skills sets. The biggest question the Owls hope to answer in the coming weeks is whether new offensive coordinator Travis Trickett’s offense exploits the explosiveness of this unit while also helping it develop consistency.
Wide receiver Trent Taylor hauled in 99 passes for 1,282 yards last season, the league’s fourth most. He caught 75.6 percent of all targets. He should be one to watch again this year.
The Herd’s offensive production declined in 2015, small surprise considering record-breaking QB Rakeem Cato was supplanted by a true freshman, Chase Litton. But now that Litton is a year older, and maturing, Marshall expects to rise back to the top of the Conference USA scoring charts.
Coach Rick Stockstill’s son, QB Brent Stockstill, was the only freshman in the country to throw for 4,000 yards, and his 77.7 QBR was the nation’s 19th best. He threw 30 TDs to 9 INTs and had 66 completions for 20 or more yards.
Alabama former backup quarterback Alec Morris has transferred to North Texas, where he will be eligible to play immediately for new coach Seth Littrell. Morris was the third-string quarterback and appeared in seven games the past two seasons for the Crimson Tide, who won the national championship earlier this month. As a graduate student, he can play next season as a senior at North Texas.
Shuler Bentley started at quarterback as a freshman only to be replaced by ex-WR David Washington, who then tore his ACL in November. Washington should be at full strength by August, so like the fast-paced offense, the position is wide open.
Last season, Rice University went 5-7 overall under tenth year head coach David Bailiff. Running back Darik Dillard should provide big numbers this year. When healthy, he can be an effective back for the Owls offense.
Last season, only five NCAA players threw more yards than quarterback Nick Mullen’s 4,476, while just three topped his 38 TDs. Should I say more?
The UTEP offense is always going to be conservative and run-oriented under coach Sean Kugler, but after a season of struggles at the quarterback position and a general lack of production overall, Kugler brought in a new coordinator in Brent Pease to liven things up.
Running Back Jarveon Williams was the most prominent piece in the offense last year, gaining 1,042 rushing yards without a fumble. Only three Conference USA backs averaged more than his 6.0 yards per carry.
Wide receiver Taywan Taylor caught 86 passes for 1,467 yards last year, which topped the Conference USA and stood third in the FBS. His 17 TD catches was second nationally.
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