Outlook: Edsall seemed genuinely moved by the opportunity to return home to UConn and understands the hurdles the program faces recruiting talent in the northeast. His energy and knowledge will likely help the team rack up a few more wins than last season, but a bowl bid is unlikely in his first year back.
Outlook: USF and UCF pushing to win the AAC East title, a Temple team adapting to new personnel on and off the field faces challenges repeating as conference champions. Collins’ philosophies are similar to Rhule, so don’t expect a huge dropoff in production.
Outlook: Bailiff has a history of doing more with less, helping a school with high academic standards and a small enrollment go 3-1 in bowl games during his tenure. However, the combination of losing key players on offense and facing four teams during nonconference play that went to bowl games last season may make it tough for Rice to post a winning record.
Outlook: Fritz is known for turning programs around quickly, but he will face a daunting task at Tulane, which has limited depth on the roster. With rising teams in the West Division — including Memphis, Houston and Tulsa — the Green Wave will likely finish toward the bottom of their division again.
Outlook: Montgomery’s progress was hampered in year one by an usual amount of injuries, but he should get a chance to redeem the program this season behind Minshew and key playmakers like Williams. Improvements are inevitable this season, but exactly how much is anyone’s guess with USF and UCF expected to lead the East Division.
Outlook: It’s bowl or bust during Morris’ third season. SMU has the pieces to accomplish the task if the Mustangs can avoid injury and respond well during some challenging matchups on the schedule. If the Mustangs continue their upward trajectory, they could end up being a wildcard team in the AAC West that could cause trouble for Houston, Memphis and Navy.
Outlook: Wilson hit all the right buttons during his first season at UTSA. He vowed his team would play an exciting brand of football San Antonio residents could be proud of. Now he faces the next big challenge, urging his players to avoid complacency and build on success. Several of the teams UTSA beat are expected to improve, so it will take a focused and spirited effort on both sides of the ball to avoid a step back.
Outlook: Kingsbury was considered a sort of coaching wunderkind when he took over the Texas Tech program four years ago, but the Red Raiders have never been able to finish higher than fifth in the Big 12 standings. It’s a trend that probably won’t change this season with questions at several positions, including on the defensive side of the football.
Outlook: With so many new coaches rotating through the AAC, Montgomery is poised to make a big jump this season as the league’s third longest tenured coach. Despite the player departures, he supervises a Golden Hurricane roster that boasts enough firepower to contend for the AAC West title.
Outlook: Navy’s triple-option offense has helped the Midshipmen win consistently despite personnel changes. During the past 14 years, the Midshipmen have never finished lower than No. 6 nationally in rushing yards per game. With several key players returning, Navy should be in position to again push for a spot at the top of the AAC West Division.
Outlook: With lots of inexperience in the secondary combined with some holes on offense, coach Major Applewhite faces a daunting task in his first year replacing Herman. The AAC West Division has been stronger than the East during the past few seasons and the trend is expected to continue, with Memphis, Navy and Tulsa pushing for the division title. Houston has some work to do, but the Cougars return enough players capable of helping the team stay competitive.
Outlook: The future looks bright for Memphis, with Norvell pulling in the second strongest recruiting class in February to complement what should already be an experience and productive offense and defense. The Tigers are favored to win the AAC West and could contend for the league title.
Outlook: If the UCF offensive line and quarterback play improve, the team could challenge rival USF for an AAC East Division title. While Frost is hoping to show off more elements of his UCFast offense, the more experienced defense will still likely play the biggest role in the team’s success.
That will be an interesting game as it will be in Orlando and should be a pretty big game if USF can make it that far. You know me, I’m not on board the USF train as I think they’ll struggle those last 3 games after a cake schedule.
UCF gets Memphis in week 2 at home, has to travel to Navy (will be their 8th game in 8 weeks) and has to travel to Philly the week before the USF game. I think they lose at least 2 of those 3 games and lose a couple of others. 8-4 team.
Agree. 8-4 at best. Funny…in the write up it is mentioned that “if” UCF can improve upon it’s OL and QB play then they could challenge USF in the east. Those are two very glaring uncertainties that usually leave a team out of the conversation for any kind of conference title. Hell, Tulane could be good “if” they improved in those areas.
I think Temple will be USF’s only challenge in the east…and I don’t even think they’ll pose much of one.
I think it is more indicative of how weak the East Division appears to be this year that UCF would be USF’s biggest challenge.
I am in agreement with Pray regarding USF. First, I don’t see Strong as that good of a head coach. His last Louisville team had an unbelievable amount of talent with Bridgewater at Quarterback and a very strong defense. But we were a fingertip of beating them and the ultimately lost to UCF who went to the BCS game. He needs to put trust and leave his OC alone, who I think is good (forgot his name), and focus on the defense which is his strength. This could make USF very formidable and get Strong to a more elite level of head coach (has the potential to be this.)