C-USA Preseason Coaches Poll
Louisiana Tech was picked to finish fourth in the Conference-USA West Division as the league releases its preseason coaches poll Wednesday morning.
North Texas edged out Rice and Texas-San Antonio in a close vote for first place. Only four points separated the top three teams as the Mean Green garnered 66 points, followed by Rice with 65 and UTSA with 62. Rounding out the West Division were Tech with 38 points, Southern Mississippi with 24 and Texas-El Paso with 18.
Marshall was the decisive pick in the East with 91 points, followed by Middle Tennessee with 73, Florida Atlantic with 60, Western Kentucky with 57, Old Dominion with 33, Alabama-Birmingham with 31 and Florida International with 19.
Marshall also claimed two of the three individual awards on the preseason All-Conference team as senior quarterback Rakeem Cato was named Offensive Player of the Year and senior defensive lineman James Rouse was tabbed as Defensive Player of the Year. UAB senior punter Hunter Mullins was chosen as preseason Special Teams Player of the Year.
Junior running back Kenneth Dixon and junior defensive lineman Vernon Butler represent the Bulldogs on the preseason all-conference team.
A second-team all-conference pick last season, Dixon rushed for 917 yards and four touchdowns on 151 carries in 10 games. As a freshman, he set an NCAA record with 27 rushing touchdowns while carrying 200 times for 1,194 yards.
Butler was credited with 43 stops, 4.5 tackles for loss and one sack last season.
Entering its second season in C-USA, the Bulldogs are to improve upon a 4-8 finish, including a 3-5 conference mark. Second-year head coach Skip Holtz welcomes back 13 returning starters (6 offense, 7 defense).
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Marshall 91 points
2. Middle Tennessee 73
3. Florida Atlantic 60
4. Western Kentucky 56
5. Old Dominion 33
6. Alabama-Birmingham 31
7. Florida International 19
1. North Texas 66
2. Rice 65
3. Texas-San Antonio 62
4. Louisiana Tech 38
5. Southern Miss 24
6. Texas-El Paso 18