“When the local media turns its guns on you, you’re finished” –Brent Musberger in “Pony Excess”
June Jones has literally revived this program back from the dead. They’ve been to three straight bowls, with the fourth being this year.
2011 was: another good step in the right direction. Their 5-3 in conference, 8-5 overall finish included a bowl win over Pitt. Hats off to the run d -23rd in the nation! Overall their defense was really solid, and it’s improved every year under Jones. Which is ironic considering what an offensive guru he is. They didn’t really run the ball all too well, but they didn’t have to. As the run n shoot was 3rd in CUSA in passing.
2012 will go smoothly if: They figure out what’s eating Garrett Gilbert. There’s a new offensive coordinator with Jason Phillips from Houston, who helped make Case Keenum go. There are 8 new starters to break in on offense though. Will be interesting to see how it all meshes together. Gilbert was a 5 star recruit coming out of high school but his Texas career left much to be desired: 13 TDs, 23 INTs. He worked hard to graduate ahead of time so now he can start right away.
2012 will be rough if: The offense doesn’t gel around Zach Line, a tailback that won’t make Pony Express fans forget Craig James any time soon, but he’s pretty good. He’s looking for his third straight 1,200 yard season. It all depends on how all those new OL starters in front of him pave the way
The Ponies were 27th in total d, 40th in scoring defense, and again will lead the way.
BMOC: Gilbert, Line, LB Taylor Reed, DE Margus Hunt
All-name team: Prescott Line (what is this a civil war terminology quiz?) DBs A.J. Justice and Ty Law (wow those two go together, not sure if the latter is related to the Patriots defensive back), C Blake McJunkin, OLB Ja’Gared Davis
Bottom Line: They have enough talent to pull off a couple upsets and be a force in the conference. With all those starters returning to a good defense, and the passing game in decent shape, or at least it should be under Gilbert, they should be okay. Maybe better.
Rankings Athlon- 93 Lindy’s- 53 Phil Steele- 68
All the 77s
#51 South Florida
#67 Southern Miss
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Chicago Tribune.com, Fox Sports, MSN, Walter Football and Yardbarker
A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too