C-USA Notes: Familiar names start strong

The Sports Xchange

September 09, 2013 at 1:01 am.

Shane Carden leads a potent East Carolina offense. (Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports)

On the week Conference USA play started in the new-look formation of the league, the same old names kept rising to the top.

It is no surprise, for instance, that East Carolina easily defeated Florida Atlantic in the Owls’ first C-USA game. Shane Carden and Tommy Shuler continue to be some of the league’s finest offensive weapons.

Tulsa got back to the winning ways with a dramatic come-from-behind home win over Colorado State. After an embarrassing opening weekend loss, it was exactly what the Golden Hurricane needed.

Marshall continues to impress, though it did it against an overmatched FCS team.

So that was Week 2. Week 3 will get these teams’ attention quickly.

Tulsa is at Oklahoma. East Carolina hosts Virginia Tech. Marshall plays at an Ohio team that defeated conference mate North Texas last week.

No, none of these games will help determine who will win the Conference USA race. But they will help provide a measuring stick to see just how much some of these teams can separate themselves from the pack. Pull off an upset of one of these teams — or, in Marshall’s case, defeat Ohio handily — and a team can honestly profess to be head and shoulders above the rest of the league.


1. It’s worth considering the opponents, sure. But Marshall has given up just 141 rushing yards in its first two games combined — against Miami (Ohio) and Gardner-Webb. For all that is said about the Thundering Herd’s offense and Rakeem Cato, this might be Marshall’s most useful aspect going forward, if it can keep it up.

2. Louisiana Tech’s running back situation now has intrigue. If Kenneth Dixon, who injured his knee in the Bulldogs’ 27-14 win over Lamar, can’t go this week against Tulane, Tech will turn to Tevin King. That’s OK, considering he was the starter last year until injury forced him to the sideline. Dixon was a freshman All-American last year, which gives Skip Holtz nice options in a run game as his passing game continues to find its way with a new quarterback.

3. It might not look like it given Colorado State’s 27 points, but Tulsa’s defense played a huge hand in its win a week after an embarrassing 34-point outing at Bowling Green. Colorado State’s 113 passing yards was the smallest total allowed by Tulsa in three years, since the Hurricane kept an inept Memphis team to 82 yards in a 48-7 win.

4. Tulane doesn’t appear ready to make the big jump into the top half of Conference USA, at least not anytime soon. Not when you fall behind early and lose to South Alabama at home. Nick Montana, the son of Joe Montana, brings promise to the Green Wave, but there are bigger issues to fix for second-year coach Curtis Johnson.

5. Logan Kilgore is a really, really big deal to Middle Tennessee State. Obvious, right? He threw three interceptions the week after suffering a shoulder injury, and now coach Rick Stockstill is wondering how a two-quarterback system would work. Not out of promise, mind you, but necessity. Middle’s fortunes would increase dramatically if Kilgore can become healthy, and soon.

ALL  |  NFL  |  College Football  |  MLB  |  NBA