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C-USA spring wrap-up: What we learned

5/12/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson
1.East is wide open: East Carolina is the favorite for the Conference USA East title because it's the reigning champion and because it returns almost all of last year's team, but it's not going to be easy. There is far more competition in C-USA this year than last. Expect teams such as Southern Miss and Memphis to put up a fight and I wouldn't discount the much-improved UCF and UAB squads either.

2.Offense on display: Houston, Tulsa and Rice lit up the scoreboard last season, but don't be surprised to see a couple of other teams jump on the high-scoring bandwagon. Teams such as UTEP, Southern Miss, Memphis, and SMU have potent offenses. C-USA could yet again take the award for the most unbelievable offensive statistics.

3.So where's the defense?: That's a good question. C-USA teams aren't usually known for their defenses, but after seeing some of the offensive advances many teams have made this spring, having a strong defense might win the title. Teams such as East Carolina and UCF have had strong defenses, but watch out for Memphis, Southern Miss and Tulsa, teams that showed strong defensive strides this spring.

4.SMU on the move?: It would be shocking if SMU went 1-11 again this year especially with so much experience returning. The key for the Mustangs will be pulling it together on defense and establishing a running game. SMU won't challenge traditional powers Houston, Rice and Tulsa, but it could make some noise foreshadowing some really good seasons for the Mustangs down the road.

5.Quarterbacking questions: Five teams went into the spring with quarterback competitions and two came out with one. The crazy thing is the competitions are at Tulsa and Rice, two of the better quarterbacking schools in the conference. Both teams each have three candidates battling it out and both would do themselves a favor to get the issue resolved quickly once fall camp begins so they can start creating some continuity on offense.