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February 1, 2010

Rivals.com Spring Practice Primer: C-USA

We're two days from National Signing Day, and that also means the start of spring practice is just around the corner.

The first team to open spring ball? It's Duke, on Feb. 15. (Uhh, that's two weeks from today.)

To get you primed for spring practice, here's a look at the start dates for all 120 FBS teams plus the overriding problem each program must deal with during spring drills.

C-USA Spring Practice Primer

EAST CAROLINA
Practice begins: March 15.
Spring game: April 17.
Biggest task: There's a new coaching staff in place, and finding a new quarterback and rebuilding what had been an excellent defensive line will be the highest priority.

HOUSTON
Practice begins: March 27.
Spring game: April 24.
Biggest task: The Cougars have a new defensive coordinator -- Brian Stewart, a former Dallas Cowboys coordinator -- and he has to find a way to make that unit better everywhere. He needs to find a pass rusher and some big-play guys in the back seven. Offensively, there are no questions.

MARSHALL
Practice begins: March 31.
Spring game: April 24.
Biggest task: A new coaching staff figures to be more offense-oriented, which means replacing 1,000-yard rusher Darius Marshall is going to be important.

MEMPHIS
Practice begins: March 17.
Spring game: April 17.
Biggest task: This is yet another C-USA program with a new coach. Memphis suffered from mediocre quarterback play the past two seasons, so finding some consistency at the position needs to be the top priority for coach Larry Porter.

RICE
Practice begins: Feb. 22.
Spring game: March 27.
Biggest task: Finding playmakers on offense is vital. Perhaps sophomore RB Sam McGuffie, a transfer from Michigan, can help solve some of those problems.

SMU
Practice begins: March 29.
Spring game: April 24.
Biggest task: The unexpected departure of 1,000-yard rusher Shawnbrey McNeal to the NFL a year early means coach June Jones needs to find out if he has a feature back on the roster. It seems more likely that the Mustangs are going to have to resort to a committee approach.

SOUTHERN MISS
Practice begins: March 3.
Spring game: April 10.
Biggest task: The offensive line must be overhauled after four senior starters departed. The coaches also need to find a new starting tailback, as starter Damion Fletcher and backup Tory Harrison were seniors.

TULANE
Practice begins: March 22.
Spring game: April 24.
Biggest task: The Green Wave's best offensive players were RB Andre Anderson and WR Jeremy Williams. Both were seniors. Finding adequate replacements is going to be difficult.

TULSA
Practice begins: March 9.
Spring game: April 17.
Biggest task: Rebuilding the linebacker corps is the most important spring job. Finding two new starters in the secondary comes in right behind that task.

UAB
Practice begins: March 24.
Spring game: April 17.
Biggest task: QB Joe Webb was a huge part of the Blazers' offense last season, but he's now gone. There's no way the new quarterback can replace Webb's production; that means Blazers coaches need to find some other ways to generate offense.

UCF
Practice begins: March 18.
Spring game: April 17.
Biggest task: Deciding on a new starting quarterback obviously is important. So is replacing both starting defensive tackles and rebuilding the interior offensive line.

UTEP
Practice begins: March 25.
Spring game: April 24.
Biggest task: QB Trevor Vittatoe slumped as a junior, and coaches need to help him regain his consistency. They also need to find some playmakers in the defensive line.

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