Coach Speak: C-USA Opponents Analyze Matchups
By Dan Harralson
Thursday night kicks off the C-USA conference schedule with FAU traveling to ECU. It is the only conference game this week. There are also five C-USA teams that are taking on BCS teams.
Here are six C-USA non-conference games and what the opposing coaches told me about the match-ups:
UCF at FIU (Friday, 8 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)
So, George O'Leary, how do you feel about Blake Bortles going against an FIU defense that gave up 350 passing yards in its first game against Maryland?
O'Leary: "I think that Blake Bortles has improved and his fieldsmanship has been much better. He has a better feel for as far as everything downfield. For FIU, it was their first game, first step, and hey had a lot of young players in the game. We're looking forward to good competition."
Oklahoma State at UTSA (11 a.m. CT, Fox Sports 1)
UTSA head coach Larry Coker coached you at Oklahoma State. What is it like to coach against him Saturday? Also, how do you like your quarterback play after the Mississippi State game?
Mike Gundy: "I have a lot of respect for Coach Coker. I think he's a terrific coach that is obviously doing a great job and has had success. I've always enjoyed his friendship. Going into the game (Mississippi State) we felt comfortable. My only concern was the amount of time each quarterback was able to spend with the ones in practice. They both had quality reps and J.W. (Walsh) was effective for us running the ball and as the game got going, he threw the ball more effectively. So we were pleased with the balance he brought to our offense."
MTSU at North Carolina (12:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network)
You had a good first drive against South Carolina tempo-wise. Is that the tempo you want to see on a consistent basis?
Larry Fedora: "It is the tempo that we want to see. There were numerous times during the game that we had a really good tempo going, we just weren't consistent enough. To do that you have to move the chains and if you don't move the chains it doesn't matter what you're doing tempo-wise."
South Alabama at Tulane (2:30 p.m. CT, Cox)
What are your thoughts about going up against the Nick Montana-led Tulane team?
Joey Jones: "They are a much-improved team from last year on both sides of the ball. They've got one of the best kickers in the country and offensively, Montana's playing good. They have a good running back. Their defensive line is huge. Their inside guys are about 330 pounds. Their linebackers are much better than last year."
Southern Miss at Nebraska (5 p.m. CT, Big Ten Network)
Is it harder to get your team motivated facing a Southern Miss team that has lost 13 consecutive games, or does having a close three-point win last week against Wyoming help your team get up for the Southern Miss game?
Bo Pellini: "I think it helps you. You look at Southern Miss on tape and they're a dramatically improved football team. Now they turned the ball over a bunch, which hurt them, but they're a better football team than what their record states and kind of what they are going through as a program right now."
UAB at LSU (6 p.m. CT, ESPNU)
UAB beat LSU in 2000. How does that help in preparation for this week?
Les Miles: "We recognize that UAB beat the Tigers in 2000, in our stadium. So we recognize that we're going to be challenged and that we look forward to meeting that challenge."