While Marshall fans are focused on the Thundering Herd’s season opener versus Miami (Ohio), it doesn’t hurt to see what’s going on around the rest of Conference USA. Below are some of the news and notes from teams around the rest of the conference.
We’ll start with Rice, who has the unenviable task of preparing for not one, but two Texas A&M quarterbacks on short notice. It was announced yesterday that Johnny “Football” Manziel will sit two quarters Saturday as punishment (?) for signing a bunch of autographs for vendors. So the Owls will deal with either Matt Joekel or Kenny Hill in the first half, then get the defending Heisman Trophy winner in the second half.
Welcome to the 2013 season, David Bailiff.
Bailiff’s press conference came before the suspension announcement, but even then, the Rice head coach said who’s under center is pretty much irrelevant.
What we have to is we have to worry about Rice and make sure that we get better offensively, defensively and special teams. We know going into this game what the odds are and these games, as much as it is about winning, it’s about improving and we want to make sure we get that type of improvement. We want to compete for a Conference USA championship.
Now we swing to Southern Miss, where first-year Coach Todd Monken has quarterback issues of his own, mainly whether he has one he could call a starter. The Golden Eagles put four under center last season, and none of them could win a game. But Monken thinks he does have a guy worthy of the first team. He’s just not telling. Neener-neener-foo-foo.
Oh I’m comfortable with one guy, I’m just not going to announce it. We’re at that point. It does us no good to announce it. I don’t even know if it does us good to announce it. I can’t tell you if it’s good or bad, I’m just not going to do it. I don’t think (Texas State is) going to change what they do against us. I wouldn’t think so. But there’s no sense in divulging who that is or what their skill set may be.
Let’s go to Florida International, where Ron Turner was the surprise pick to replace the fired Mario Cristobal. Turner hasn’t been a head coach since a dismal 3-8 season at Illinois in 2004. Then he came to FIU and, in July, kicked starting running back Kedrick Rhodes off the team for the always-popular “violation of team policy,” which turned out to be an arrest on felony charges of discharging a weapon on school property.
Turner talked about the difficulties of implementing a new regime in the face of significant off-field issues.
That always makes it tough. You would love for everyone to buy in and do exactly what you want right away, but it doesn’t happen. They have been doing things a certain way for a long time and now all of the sudden we ask them to do something different. It takes a little bit of time.
FIU is one of six new C-USA football teams, along with Florida Atlantic, Middle Tennessee State, North Texas, the University of Texas at San Antonio and Louisiana Tech. Perhaps the newcomer with the highest expectations is MTSU, which won eight games but missed a bowl, yet returns 17 starters from last season. MTSU Coach Rick Stockstill said a change in conference affiliation has done nothing to dampen the team’s expectations.
Our objective last year was to win the Sun Belt. Our goal this year is to win the Conference USA championship, but we’ll focus on one game at a time, and when that first Conference USA game gets here we’ll be ready to play. I don’t look at this season any differently. Going into it, our goal is still the same – to win the conference.
We’ll finish up with Tulane. (Yes, they’re still in Conference USA. … Yes, they were in Conference USA to begin with.) There’s a familiar last name starting at quarterback for the Green Wave: Montana, as in Nick Montana, as in son of Joe Montana. Nick began his collegiate career at Washington, then transferred to Mt. San Antonio Junior College before landing in New Orleans.
Tulane Coach Curtis Johnson said Montana’s resume gave him the edge.
Nick came in and he had college experience prior to coming here. He knew a little bit about the offense when he got here. I think I liked his presence in the huddle and what he does. He just doesn’t call the plays. He calls the plays and tells a guy, ‘Hey, be careful. Here comes the slant. I’m throwing the slant to you.’ Just things like that. He gets guys lined up better than the other guys, and he does a better job of seeing the blitz and a better job with protection.
That’s all for this week. Tune in next week, same blog time, same blog channel.