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 2018, Athlon asked coaches in Conference USA to talk anonymously about their opponents.
Note: These scouting reports come directly from coaching staffs and do not necessarily reflect the views of Athlon's editorial staff.
Conference USA Coaches Talk Anonymously About Conference Foes for 2018
"Will be interesting for them this season, this is probably it for Brad Lambert to prove his plan can work."
"They made really great coordinators and overhauled the staff, and the good news is that they were young in most places and injured in others."
"Without their starting QB they were totally different, even on defense. You see that at places without any institutional memory of winning football games."
"Lane Kiffin lost a lot more than people are talking about this offseason. Multiple defensive coaches, his OC, and his quarterback."
"Last year it was clearly Baylor on offense, Ole Miss on defense."
"They’ve brought some great players in, but it will be interesting to see where they take their identity from this season. He made it look easy, and it isn’t."
Related: Conference USA Predictions for 2018
"They were a better coached team fundamentally than their execution and talent would allow for."
"Turn on the film and you see them letting the opponent make the mistakes."
"They lose a lot, Alex McGough was great and didn’t get the attention."
"Butch is recruiting there like a coach should be, maybe for the first time at FIU."
"Their roster most compares to a Power 5 program in power and size than any other program in the conference."
"That matters most in the defensive front seven, and it jumps out at you on film."
"They’re also more talented than their record last season, and if they can win the close ones they’re a conference title contender."
"Skip Holtz could create a really long run there if he wants."
"A program that should be ready to cycle back up."
"They’ve been really great at how they recruit, how they handle non-qualifiers and evaluate talent."
"The defense is deep and talented, maybe the best in the division. They’re patient in how they build a roster."
"Great running backs, but they lost an offensive coordinator and a QB [Chase Litton] out of nowhere. If they’re not surging again this season, that’s why."
"Brent Stockstill coming back for another year at quarterback is huge for them. He makes things happen in that offense. They were one team with him and a very bad team without him."
"If that team stays healthy on offense they’re the second breakout team of last season behind FAU, because they’ve got enough on defense to slow you down possession to possession."
"This year they can really make a conference title run."
Related: Conference USA Predictions for 2018
"The Mean Green could be a threat if they can get their defense up to speed with their offense. They’re a one sided opponent - outscore them, because they can go on offense but they can’t dictate pace."
"Strong offense, the wide receiver from Notre Dame [Jaylen Guyton] really stands out on film."
"The offensive system is interesting, they’re doing more experimental stuff than you’d expect from a Leach tree OC [Graham Harrell]."
"You could show ODU as a textbook on how to transition up to FBS play. Now, their roster pops out at you."
"They don’t have national attention but they’re not a transition program anymore"
"They’ve defensive ends that can cause major problems in pass rush."
"This could be the year they mature in the right places and make a run."
"Maybe one of the only programs in the nation willing to tolerate a total Year Zero type season. That’s what they need."
"The first thing Mike Bloomgren will do is overhaul player evaluation for early high school prospects. They’ll have to apply the Stanford model to Texas recruiting, then also learn to go outside the state."
"Take the losses now, commit totally to the future. Build from scratch."
"Jay Hopson has reinstalled the identity that made the program really great in the '90s under Jeff Bower."
"They’re mean on defense, they evaluate talent aggressively so that they can make the best of recruiting underneath the SEC."
"Losing Tony Pecoraro to a conference team is hard. That’s the USM problem, though. They’re always having to do more with less."
"Not enough can be said about the Incredible job done by Bill Clark. But now we know what they’re capable of and there’s a belief they aren’t creeping up anyone this year."
"The switch at offensive coordinator really surprised a lot of coaches in the conference."
"Les Koenning did a fantastic job. If they regress it will be because of defense. They’re thinner on that side of the ball."
"They’re rebuilding. Expect a heavy amount of JUCO early while they try to figure out how to recruit to that area."
"It’s Texas, but it’s also not Texas."
"It’s fair to say Dana Dimel will use a lot of basic K-State concepts. They’ll run QB option from the shotgun, they’ll run a lot of misdirection."
"The Kansas State model is interesting for El Paso. There’s similar deficiencies in talent on paper with those two places."
"No one expected UTSA to look so inconsistent."
"What Frank Wilson has built in such a short time is really impressive."
"Their entire offense is gone, QB, WR, RB, but Frank has recruited at such a level that they’ll be more talented at those positions soon. Just maybe not this coming season, at least early."
"They’ll go back to sleeper status, and could finish this year the opposite of last year."
"The Hilltoppers are in a unique situation. It’s still a transition phase from the Petrino and Brohm era to Mike Sanford but they’re expected to keep that pace while doing something fundamentally different."
"There’s a lot of roster overhaul but they can’t afford to drop off in wins."
"Mike White was a great quarterback but didn’t really fit what Sanford likes to do. Expect them to be more mobile at that position."
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Devin Singletary photo courtesy of FAU Athletics;