Monday: Spotlight on Charlotte kicks off countdown to Conference USA kickoff
"I love playing in Conference USA," says Middle Tennessee senior safety Kevin Byard, "because it's an offensive game."
Western Kentucky quarterback Brandon Doughty is the nation's top returning passer. Nick Mullen of Southern Miss, Austin Grammer of Middle Tennessee, Driphus Jackson of Rice and Jaquez Johnson of Florida Atlantic also were among conference passing leaders last season. And there are high expectations for new starters Michael Birdsong at Marshall, redshirt Shuler Bentley at Old Dominion and Florida transfer Jeff Driskel at Louisiana Tech.
At running back, take your pick of returning leaders Devon Johnson of Marshall, Leon Allen of Western Kentucky, Aaron Jones of UTEP, Kenneth Dixon of Louisiana Tech, Ray Lawry of Old Dominion, the conference offensive rookie of the year, or Kalif Phillips of conference newcomer Charlotte.
Meanwhile, Charlotte's Austin Duke joins four of last season's top seven wide receivers — Carlos Harris of North Texas, Jared Dangerfield of Western Kentucky, Zach Pascal of Old Dominion and Trent Taylor of Louisiana Tech.
Then there are tight ends Jonnu Smith of Florida International, David Morgan of UTSA and Marcus Smith of North Texas. Add offensive linemen like left tackle Darius Johnson of Middle Tennessee who open the holes and protect the quarterbacks and it's easy to see why the conference is loaded on offense.
So which position is it? Tell us what you think:
On the cover: Western Kentucky quarterback Brandon Doughty was selected Conference USA's preseason offensive player of the year by coaches.. (Photo courtesy WKU Athletics)