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Early Conference FB Predictions...we ain’t last 🤷‍♂️


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collegefootballnews.com/2021/01/american-athletic-conference-football-rankings-cfn-2021-pre-spring/amp

2021 American Athletic Conference Rankings: Pre-Spring

1. Cincinnati Bearcats

Why To Be Happy: Star OT James Hudson and RB Gerrid Dokes are off to the NFL, but that’s about it for an offense that should be every bit as devastating, if not more so. The return of QB Desmond Ridder is everything and he has the parts around him to shine again. However …

What To Work On: Doaks was great, and WR Jayshon Jackson has hit the transfer portal. The defensive line loses a few main guys starting with Elijah Ponder, and the secondary has to replace enough key parts to matter with James Wiggins and Darrick Forrest two big-time playmakers who’ll be missed.

Bottom Line: It’s asking for the world to repeat all the success of 2020, but the Bearcats have the experience and enough main men back to demand nothing less than another amazing run.

2. Memphis Tigers

Why To Be Happy: How do you replace a quarterback who produced like Brady White did? You throw talent at the problem with Grant Gunnell coming in from Arizona and Peter Parrish adding some possible flash from LSU. This was a young, rebuilding team last year that now should be okay at quarterback and loaded everywhere else. There are a few losses, but not enough to be a killer.

What To Work On: The Tigers have to improve the pass defense with most of the starters back, the offense has to slow down with the turnovers, and the explosion needs to return. The O was more than fine, but getting back to 2019 levels would be huge.

Bottom Line: It’s all about being able to challenge Cincinnati, and the Tigers have the parts to do it. It’ll be a loaded fight at quarterback to replace White, more than enough talent is back to repeat the 2020 8-3-level success, and the expectations should be sky high.

3. UCF Knights

Why To Be Happy: The offensive line should be a rock. The Knights always fill in the parts at the skill jobs, and QB Dillon Gabriel is back, but start with the offensive front five that appears to be loaded and build from there. The defense might have had issues, but the front six/seven is loaded with veterans and now a little bit of depth.

What To Work On: There were a ton of opt-outs and missing parts before 2020, and there are a whole slew of losses to the NFL from the 2021 version. The underclassmen are sticking around, but RB Greg McCrae, S Richie Grant, WR/RB Otis Anderson and WR Tre Nixon are just the main guys who have to be replaced, and …

Bottom Line: UCF needs to find the new stars in a hurry. The Knights will be dangerous and explosive again, but Cincinnati might be even better and several other American Athletic Conference teams will be strong. UCF doesn’t start 2021 by owning the league.

4. SMU Mustangs

Why To Be Happy: Shane Buechele is gone, and in comes Oklahoma transfer Tanner Mordecai to push for the starting quarterback job to keep the machine up and going. North Texas transfer Tre Siggers is a perfect-fit running back for the attack to go along with an already deep backfield, all five starters are retuning to the offensive line, and best of all, WR Reggie Roberson is back.

What To Work On: It might not seem like much, but losing PK Chris Naggar to the NFL matters. He was an all-star who hit 17-of-21 field goals for a team that won two games by three points each.

Bottom Line: The Mustangs have the pieces to challenge for the American Athletic Conference title, but they’ve had them for the last two years and weren’t able to pull it off. If the quarterback situation is solid right away, they’ll be a true challenger to Cincinnati.

5. Houston Cougars

Why To Be Happy: It’s time for this offense to start working already, and it begins with QB Clayton Tune returning along with most of the defense. Active in the transfer portal, getting WR KeSean Carter and CB Alex Hogan from Texas Tech matters, and landing DE Tre Williams from Missouri should help, but …

What To Work On: This is one of the biggest X factor teams in the AAC with so many parts in flux and in the transfer portal. Positive consistency has been non-existent for the program, and this year’s team will need to come together fast with several new parts to be any sort of a player in an improved league.

Bottom Line: Now is when the Houston program might actually get rolling under Dana Holgorsen – at least that’s the hope. The program all but opted out in 2019 to get ready for 2020, and 2020 never got going for obvious reasons. A quick fix would be nice.

6. Tulane Green Wave

Why To Be Happy: There’s not a whole lot of messing around with the transfer portal – the team appears to be relatively settled. That’s a plus considering the 2020 version needs more tweaking than overhauling. The few losses might be more like upgrades if the new parts are as good as expected. As long as QB Michael Pratt keeps improving, look out, because …

What To Work On: The passing game needs work. The addition of Utah transfer RB Devin Brumfield will help the ground game that pays the program’s bills, but there weren’t enough third down conversions – that’s where Pratt has to be better. The secondary needs to get stronger, too.

Bottom Line: The Green Wave might not lead the league in rushing again, but it’ll still be a dangerous team with the right blend of parts to hang with anyone. However, this team has got to figure out how to get off to good starts and needs to be far more consistent.

 2021 Pre-Spring AAC Rankings No. 7-11

2021 American Athletic Conference Rankings: Pre-Spring 7-11

 

2021 American Athletic Conference Rankings, 7-11

7. Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Why To Be Happy: It’s going to be an interesting mix of players for one of the biggest surprise teams of 2020. The hope is for star RB Shamari Brooks to be back from the the torn ACL that cost him the season, and the offensive line might quietly grow into one of the best in the AAC if the ground game can do a bit more.

What To Work On: Zaven Collins won’t be around anymore. The nation’s top linebacker was the magical playmaker who made the D special. He’s gone and so is QB Zach Smith from an offense that was hardly special, but it somehow all worked well enough to have a big year.

Bottom Line: None of it it made a whole lot of sense. There’s still enough talent returning for 2020 to be a one-off, but experience was one of the team’s biggest advantages in the run to the AAC Championship appearance – that’s gone now with every team in the league loaded with veterans.

8. Navy Midshipmen

Why To Be Happy: It might have been a rough run in 2019 on both sides of the ball, but the parts are there in the backfield to get the ground game going again. QB Xavier Arline rose up as the season went on, Jamale Carothers is a solid fullback, and there are real, live receivers who won’t get thrown to, but are there. Nine starters are expected back on defense. However …

What To Work On: It’s Navy – the running game has to be amazing. It stalled way too often, the ground game only averaged 178 yards per game, and the attack almost never controlled the action. Navy has to work on being Navy again, and that means it has to be among the best in the nation on the ground.

Bottom Line: Navy was just never, ever right from the start. Call it a blip after a brilliant 11-2 2019 season, but the offensive line has to find a few replacements and there has to be a reboot for the program to do what it does right. Head coach Ken Niumatalolo knows how to do that.

RELATED

ACC Football Rankings: CFN 2021 Pre-Spring

9. East Carolina Pirates

Why To Be Happy: Leading yardage receiver Blake Prohl is taking off for the NFL. That’s it. The other ten starting offensive players are expected back, with QB Holton Ahlers strong enough and experience enough to make the O explode. The defense returns just about everyone, too, including almost all of the top tacklers, but …

What To Work On: The defense has to be more productive after allowing 447 yards per game. The D has to be a whole lot better, and the O has to stop turning the ball over after giving it up 21 times and struggling on third downs.

Bottom Line: East Carolina hasn’t been able to turn a corner. There hasn’t been a bowl appearance since 2014 and comes off another rough year. However, it won the last two games and battled hard in just enough games to be hopeful – but that’s not the first time you’ve heard that with this program over the last few seasons.

10. USF Bulls

Why To Be Happy: Yeah, QB Jordan McCloud has entered the transfer portal, but USF has an interesting group of quarterbacks to work with. Miami transfer Jarren Williams is a talent and there are plenty of other options ready to battle it out. Everyone is expected to be back on the offensive front, and the secondary is getting some instant help at corner with Christian Williams coming over from Miami and Kansas State’s Will Jones promising enough to help provide a boost.

What To Work On: Everything. The Bulls didn’t beat an FBS team. There’s experience now and even a little bit of depth, but there was no pass rush, the offensive line struggled, there were too many turnovers, no running game, and … wins. There weren’t enough wins.

Bottom Line: There’s a whole lot of hope for a big improvement in Year Two under Jeff Scott, but there are a whole slew of position battles to deal with and a whole slew of things that need fixing. However, there’s a shot this becomes one of the sneaky-good looking teams as the offseason rolls on.

11. Temple Owls

Why To Be Happy: No American Athletic Conference team is more active in the transfer portal, and it really, really needs it. Yeah, Temple lost a ton of players, but there needed to be an overhaul from last year’s awful 1-6 version. In comes QB D’Wan Mathis from Georgia, and RB Ra’Von Bonner from Illinois and RB Iverson Clement from Florida.

What To Work On: The passing game has to find something that starts to work. The Owls averaged fewer than ten yards per completion and the running game wasn’t good enough to make up for it. QB Anthony Russo is transferring to Michigan State, and this is where Mathis – a one-time great get for Georgia – should step up. He’s not alone, though, with several other options fighting for the gig.

Bottom Line: Rod Carey was a success at Northern Illinois but he’s coming off an awful second season with the Owls. There’s a TON of movement and a whole lot of new parts that have to be put together in a big hurry to make up for all of 2020’s issues.

 

 


 

Edited by NewEnglandBull
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At this rate CJS will have us a double digit winner in 2030! Yay improvement.

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Why To Be Happy: Yeah, QB Jordan McCloud has entered the transfer portal,
 

wow this is an independent person writing this stuff. Must have been obvious from the outside too. 

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4 minutes ago, jchem1995 said:

Why To Be Happy: Yeah, QB Jordan McCloud has entered the transfer portal,
 

wow this is an independent person writing this stuff. Must have been obvious from the outside too. 

Addition by subtraction, we brought in transfers that couldn’t beat out McCloud last year so I am not getting my hopes up yet, hopes are not being in last, how are expectations have dropped.  

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4 hours ago, Jonesy Bull said:

See the source image

How much excitement can being the penultimate generate? Its better than last and that's about it. 

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This seems pretty fair...waaay to many unknowns at this point...

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8 minutes ago, DJBulls said:

This seems pretty fair...waaay to many unknowns at this point...

I think the ranking reflects more of what they do know about us than what they don’t know 

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15 minutes ago, puc86 said:

How much excitement can being the penultimate generate? Its better than last and that's about it. 

Wait...earlier in the week I thought you said we need positive impressions and ideas from fans? I guess this does not apply to you? 

Edited by NewEnglandBull
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