- Matt Fortuna, College Football
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Our series looking at the best and worst of each Big East's team' personnel units continues today with conference newcomer Houston
To read Monday's entry, Cincinnati, click here.
Strongest position: Wide receiver
The loss of Dewayne Peace will hurt Houston, but the Cougars remain deep at wideout. Despite catching 54 passes last year for a team-best 603 yards with two touchdowns, Peace was not a first-teamer this spring. That distinction went to Larry McDuffey, Xavier Maxwell, Daniel Spencer and Deontay Greenberry. Greenberry, who spurned Notre Dame on national signing day in 2012, went out and caught 47 passes for 569 yards and three scores for the Cougars as a rookie last fall. He should only be better come this fall. Houston will also have Markeith Ambles and all the potential he brings along. Ambles was ESPN's No. 23 player from the Class of 2010 before going to USC and later Western College, and he will be immediately eligible to play this season after deciding to become a Cougar. If David Piland can make slight improvements -- or if someone behind him rises and takes control of the offense in camp -- the Houston passing attack should be more than ready to make an impact in its new conference, with the potential to become the best in the Big East.
Weakest position: Running back
Funny how quickly things change. Houston had one of the conference's best running backs just a few weeks ago, but now Charles Sims is gone, leaving a major hole in the Cougars' backfield. Sims has his degree and has left the team, post-draft, for undisclosed reasons. He had 384 career carries for 2,370 yards and 29 touchdowns, and added 158 career catches for 1,707 yards and eight more scores. Kenneth Farrow rushed for 466 yards and two touchdowns last season and will assume the No. 1 duties heading into camp. Ryan Jackson rushed for 129 yards and two scores in his freshman finale last season at Tulane. The Cougars are lucky to have experienced players returning, and both players shared most of the reps during contact periods this spring while Sims was held out to stay healthy. A defense that finished 92nd or worse in four major categories in 2012 certainly has its holes, but it returns seven starters and has a new coordinator. The timing of Sims' departure really stings, as Tony Levine thought he had perhaps the best running back in the league on his roster.