Old Guard Not Likely to Relinquish C-USA Title to Newcomers
Four schools — Central Florida, Houston, Memphis and Southern Methodist — departed for the league formerly known as the Big East and redubbed the American Athletic Conference.
Three more — East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa — are in their final season of C-USA competition before joining the AAC in 2014-15.
In response, six schools were added to the league’s football ranks this season, giving the conference a robust roster of 14 teams. C-USA plucked a quartet from the Sun Belt — Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Middle Tennessee State and North Texas — and Louisiana Tech and Texas-San Antonio from the Western Athletic Conference.
Three more programs — Old Dominion, Western Kentucky and Charlotte — wait in the wings to join the C-USA football ranks.
While change has been constant for C-USA since its inception in 1996, 2013 should see two old guard teams meeting Dec. 7 for the league title.
In the East Division, East Carolina and Marshall return arguably the top two quarterbacks in the league in Shane Carden and Rakeem Cato, respectively.
Carden threw for 3,116 yards and 23 TDs.
Cato, the 2012 C-USA MVP, helmed one of the nation’s most productive attacks, throwing for 4,201 yards and a whopping 37 TDs.
Right in the thick of the west race with ECU and Marshall will be a Middle Tennessee squad that returns plenty of starters, including senior quarterback Logan Kilgore and sophomore running back Jordan Parker.
In the West, defending champion Tulsa lost eight starters from the league’s best defense, but seems to reload rather than rebuild.
Third-year coach Bill Blakenship should field another potent offense, led by a dynamic duo at running back in seniors Trey Watts and Ja’Terian Douglas, who combined for 2,044 yards in 2012.
Rice returns 19 starters from a bowl-winning team. Quarterback Taylor McHargue had 12 passing TDs and 11 more on the ground last season.
|OFFENSE – FIRST TEAM||OFFENSE – SECOND TEAM|
|QB||Rakeem Cato||Jr.||Marshall||QB||Shane Carden||Jr.||East Carolina|
|RB||Kenneth Dixon||So.||Louisiana Tech||RB||Darrin Reaves||Jr||UAB|
|RB||Trey Watts||Sr.||Tulsa||RB||Vintavious Cooper||Sr.||East Carolina|
|WR||Justin Hardy||Jr.||East Carolina||WR||Tommy Shuler||Jr.||Marshall|
|WR||Ryan Grant||Sr.||Tulane||WR||Jordan Leslie||Jr.||UTEP|
|TE||Gator Hoskins||Sr.||Marshall||TE||Justin Jones||Sr.||East Carolina|
|OL||Nate Richards||Sr.||Rice||OL||Jon Hodde||Sr.||Rice|
|OL||Will Simmons||Sr.||East Carolina||OL||Josh Walker||Sr.||Middle Tennessee|
|OL||Jake Alexander||Jr.||Tulsa||OL||Scott Inskeep||Jr.||Texas-San Antonio|
|OL||Darius Johnson||So.||Middle Tennessee||OL||Stetson Burnett||Sr.||Tulsa|
|OL||Adhem Elsawi||Sr.||East Carolina||OL||Jordan Jeffries||Sr.||Marshall|
|AP||D.J. Banks||Sr.||Louisiana Tech||AP||Kevin Grooms||So.||Marshall|
|PK||Cairo Santos||Sr.||Tulane||PK||Chris Boswell||Sr.||Rice|
|DEFENSE – FIRST TEAM||DEFENSE – SECOND TEAM|
|DL||Justin Ellis||Sr.||Louisiana Tech||DL||Greg Hickman||Sr.||FIU|
|DL||Khryi Thornton||Sr.||Southern Miss||DL||Shakeil Lucas||Sr.||Louisiana Tech|
|DL||Lee Pegues||Sr.||East Carolina||DL||Jimmy Staten||Sr.||Middle Tennessee|
|DL||Alex Bazzie||Sr.||Marshall||DL||Marcus Bagley||Sr.||UTEP|
|LB||Derrell Johnson||Sr.||East Carolina||LB||Zach Orr||Sr.||North Texas|
|LB||Shawn Jackson||Sr.||Tulsa||LB||Jermaine Holmes||Jr.||Marshall|
|LB||Jeremy Grove||Jr.||East Carolina||LB||Andrae Kirk||Jr.||Florida Atlantic|
|DB||Phillip Gaines||Sr.||Rice||DB||Deron Wilson||Sr.||Southern Miss|
|DB||Kevin Byard||So.||Middle Tennessee||DB||Sam Miller||Sr.||FIU|
|DB||Darion Monroe||So.||Tulane||DB||D.J. Hunter||So.||Marshall|
|DB||Marco Nelson||Sr.||Tulsa||DB||Damon Magazu||Sr.||East Carolina|
|P||Hunter Mullins||Jr.||UAB||P||Tyler Williams||So.||Marshall|