Could CUSA be the new cradle of coaches?
For the past several years the AAC has been a hotbed of coaches jumping to bigger power five jobs. Tom Herman, Justin Fuente, Matt Rhule, Willie Taggart, Barry Odom, have all left CUSA for syndicate gigs. They've got Scott Frost, Chad Morris, Mike Norvell, and Willie Fritz who seem set to take their programs to the next level and thereby get snapped up by a bigger fish. The best way for a conference to raise its profile is by making great hires and the AAC has hit homerun after homerun in the past several years.
At the same time CUSA has made several big/shrewd hires including Frank Wilson at UTSA, Butch Davis at FIU, Seth Littrell at North Texas, Skip Holts at Louisiana Tech and yes, even Lane Kiffin at FAU. Wilson is big season away from a Power 5 gig, Littrell could be as well, Holtz has been named in several Power 5 searches was well.
The two Miami based schools hiring Butch Davis and Lane Kiffin made waves. Davis has a well earned reputation as a great talent evaluator and recruiter. He rebuilt the U into perhaps the most talented roster in NCAA history. Kiffin, in spite of failing at places like Tennessee and USC, has drawn eyes and ears to Florida International through either calculated buffoonery or legitimate buffoonery. Either way, if he succeeds at FAU someone will take yet another gamble on his buffoonery at a big name destination.
CUSA has elevated its brand by hiring good coaches and could be in line for big things in 2017 and beyond. The league might also need to start gathering names for the next round of poachable coaches.
Texas State's Receiving Corps
In the midst of a 2-10 season there aren't many bright spots, however for Texas State there may be one in the Bobcats' young receiving corps. Case in point, according Bill Connelly's target rate numbers Tyler Watts, the diminutive Brenham product, had a catch rate that was 40th among the 717 receivers who were targeted at least ten times or more in 2016. Watts caught 76.8% of passes thrown his direction and his success rate was over 50%.
There's more, sophomore Thurman Morbley caught 70% or 35 of his 50 targets. Mason Hayes caught 68% of his targets. Five of Texas State's leading receivers caught 60% or more of their targets. The NCAA average catch rate in 2016 was 58.9%. Four of Texas State's seven returning receivers were in the top 84th percentile or higher among all pass catchers with ten or more targets.
Are there issue? Sure, Bobcat receiver yards per catch and yards per target were well below the national average. Part of that was due to the Bobcat line issues that caused Tyler Jones to run for his life for twelve games and work in perpetual check down mode. The Bobcats also ran the ball at less than a three yard clip which didn't help either. Another more cosmetic issue is that Texas State's receivers are generally undersized with an average height of less than 6 feet.
The upside is that the line should be better and quarterback Damian Williams, the grad transfer from Mississippi State, adds a run game component that wasn't previously available. And the bottom line is that the returning group of receivers caught passes at an elite rate in 2016 even with an offense that didn't give them much help.
Houston's Indoor Facility is on track
The University of Houston's new indoor football practice facility will be ready for use by Sept. 1. There's a chance the facility could be available for preseason camp in early August, which would be ideal considering the Houston heat and humidity.
"There may be some opportunities to get in there before that, possibly Aug. 1," Applewhite said on the American Athletic Conference spring conference call. "Right now Sept. 1 is the date and we're still on track."
The $20 million facility is currently under construction on the west side of TDECU Stadium. It will include 80,000 square feet of space, including a 120-yard synthetic field and football-only sports performance area.
UTSA Set to Upgrade On-Campus Facility
The city of San Antonio passed an $850 million dollar bond and part of that money will head out to 1604 and UTSA.
$10 million is earmarked towards the development of UTSA’s Park West athletics facility. The Park West facility currently houses soccer and track at UTSA but the facility is planned to eventually host all of UTSA’s athletics programs. The additions will include a new football operations building and other facilities that will take UTSA athletics to the next level.
While specific earmarks haven't been announced for the funds, the influx of cash should kick start the overall facility campaign and get UTSA closer to its goal of a top flight football facility upgrade.