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American Athletic Coaches Talk Anonymously About Conference Foes for 2017

Quinton Flowers, USF Bulls Football

Quinton Flowers, USF Bulls Football

It's not easy getting college football coaches to honestly comment on another coach, player or team. Most coaches don't want to give opposing teams billboard material, which is why there is a lot of coach speak or overused cliches used during the year.

In order to get an accurate assessment of teams heading into 2017, Athlon asked coaches in the American Athletic Conference to talk anonymously about their opponents.

Related: American Athletic Conference 2017 Predictions

Note: These scouting reports come directly from coaching staffs and do not necessarily reflect the views of Athlon's editorial staff.

American Athletic Coaches Anonymously Scout Conference Foes

Cincinnati

“Tommy Tuberville never really fit the Ohio culture, so that played a big part with [Luke] Fickell. They’re already recruiting better in Southern Ohio because of it.”

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“The roster is in pretty good shape, they just didn’t really have an identity on offense last year. They looked they were trying to do too much on film and the Gunner Kiel experiment went bust.”

“So many coaches have proven you can win there, Fickell will too, but maybe he sticks around and wins for a while if they get the local support Brian Kelly had going.”

UConn

“Everyone saying Randy Edsall is plug and play for UConn to go back to winning seasons but a lot has changed since he was there. He’s an upgrade over Bob Diaco, no one argues that.”

College Football Rankings: UConn

“They’ll score touchdowns because Diaco isn’t there. But this is a conference with a core group of teams really striving to be as good or better than a lot of Power 5 teams.

“UConn is going to be solid again but they have a lot of ground to make up with our without Edsall."

Related: College Football Bowl Projections for 2017

East Carolina

“They need to clean up a lot on both sides of the ball.”

College Football Rankings: East Carolina

“They turn the ball over a lot, it was easy to rattle them last season.”

“This is the year you start really looking at what Scottie Montgomery can do, because the roster wasn’t great when he got there. They lose their quarterback and they’re going to overhaul their defensive scheme. I think they’re still working out what they want to do while a lot of their competitors are already building past them."

Houston

“Ed Oliver isn’t gone. Those skill position guys aren’t gone. Everyone’s talking about Houston being easier or less effective because Tom Herman left for Texas, but he’s leaving them stocked, the same Tony Levine did for his staff.”

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“Major Applewhite won’t miss a beat with those guys, even restocking the offense.”

“Kyle Allen will be better than Greg Ward.”

“It’s a program that tells you to win 10 games or else. You don’t see many of those at this level. They operate like a Power 5 team.”

Related: College Football's Top 25 Breakout Quarterbacks for 2017

Memphis

“If there’s a sleeper program in this conference I think these guys are it.”

College Football Rankings: Memphis Football

“Riley Ferguson in that offense will be really good.”

“The recruiting didn’t fall off from Justin Fuente to Mike Norvell. You can find the guys in the local radius same as you can in the Texas and Florida schools.”

“They replace some guys on defense and that might keep them from being one of the conference’s elite. But imagine if this school wakes up and decides to be a consistent football program. That’s scary.”

“You can probably say the same thing every season about these guys now. They’ll run your ass off and beat you up, and you’re a bad break on scheduling from losing to these guys. Ask Houston. How does that happen to Houston? Where is Navy better one on one? They work up to the talent level they face. I know they lost to Army but conference play is a different type of game, and they were on a third string quarterback.

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“You don’t know a name on their roster but they’re the last team you want a play on a short week or after a road trip.”

Related: American Athletic Conference 2017 Predictions

SMU

“Chad Morris is a QB away from a breakout season.”

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“The wide receiver group is good, the line is good. You put a competent QB in there and they’ll light you up.”

“He’s really built out that program with his Texas connections. He looked silly running his offense with virtually no talent in that first season but he could see the long play, now they’re starting to turn heads recruiting. This year is ‘next year’ for that roster.”

Temple

“Geoff Collins is a very close friend to Matt Rhule, who filled him in on exactly how you work at a place like Temple.”

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“Rhule proved it’s possible to win there but you have a lot working against you.”

“Collins is a great defensive guy who can adjust schemes so he’ll probably find something that fits for them. Perception will still be that Rhule was a unique case until Collins can win a division title at least.”

Tulane

“Probably another long year for them but they’ll be better in conference play, at least on offense.”

College Football Rankings: Tulane

“That offense is great at providing matchup problems if you’re not disciplined and smart with your front seven. It’s like an option but they do some zone stuff that throws you off and evens the talent gap.”

“[Willie] Fritz is a good coach but the staff is going to have to find a way to recruit better athletes to a Stanford/Northwestern type school in Louisiana. That’s damn hard."

Related: Ranking All 130 College Football Teams for 2017

Tulsa

“Philip Montgomery has turned them into a Baylor style attack and they’re expanding on the concepts more than any other ex-Briles guy is right now.”

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“This is the most important position battle to watch in the AAC because if they find the right guy to replace Dane Evans they’re good to compete for the conference title again this year.”

“Their liability is still on defense, which is what separates them from the Group of 5 schools who get national attention.”

UCF  

“A team that got better on film week by week last season. You saw a much more disciplined group by November.”

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“Scott Frost is recruiting the hell out of that state and has a head start on the other first-year guys at the directionals.”

“They’ll be back at the top of the conference very soon and could challenge this season if they identify a quarterback early in the offseason.”

Related: American Athletic Conference 2017 Predictions

USF

“Quinton Flowers is probably the best player in the conference. He could really explode in the offense. Charlie [Strong] had his [Terry] Bridgewater at Louisville and he [Bridgewater] is friends with Flowers. Sterlin Gilbert can make that work really well.”

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“If Charlie can get a few things sorted out on defense he could have a conference title in his first year.”

“They have real athletes in that program, and they can get them, but the school has to step up and look at UCF’s level of commitment.”