Spring football presents new beginnings for the AAC West, and most teams were eager for a fresh start. After winning the West for the second year in a row, Memphis has a target on their back. Not to say they don’t have things to fix, but other teams appear to have more issues. Today, we take a look at the spring storylines for each AAC West team, and how they could shape the divisional race in 2019.
Tulsa Golden Hurricane: Montgomery’s 5th Year
It’s hard to believe that Montgomery’s been at Tulsa this long, considering how horrendous the last two years have been. After going 16-10 in his first two seasons, Montgomery’s team went 5-19 the following two years. At 21-29, his seat’s temperature continues to rise. Fortunately, it might not take much to get back to a bowl game. The Golden Hurricane saw significant improvement defensively, and are seemingly a quarterback away from a solid offense. Seth Boomer showed flashes of the future, but his consistency needs to get better for Montgomery to see Year 6.
Navy Midshipmen: Can Malcolm Perry keep the starting quarterback job?
It’s been reported that Malcolm Perry will be the starter in 2019, one year after struggling as the starting quarterback. We’ve seen what he’s capable of running the option, but he struggled a lot last year. The Midshipmen don’t have to travel nearly as much this year, but there are plenty of issues to address. Perry also must figure out how to improve as a passer, even if Navy doesn’t throw much.
SMU Mustangs: Which quarterback thrives with Sonny Dykes?
William Brown took over briefly for Ben Hicks last year, but ultimately lost the job back to Hicks to end the season. Now, he must battle with Texas transfer Shane Buchele to win the starting spot. Buchele was talented enough to start for the Longhorns at one time, but that shouldn’t phase Brown. Whoever wins the job enters an offense that has great talent at the skill positions, so it should be a fun position battle to watch.
Tulane Green Wave: How will they improve from 2018?
Many pegged the Green Wave to be a sleeper team in the AAC, but that never panned out. Still, this team showed resiliency by making a bowl game for the first time under Willie Fritz. Tulane’s improved by one win every year in the regular season under Fritz, but can they do it again? There’s talent all around, but the schedule becomes the real question mark.
Memphis Tigers: An experienced defense?
After making back to back conference championship appearances, the Tigers appear poised to make yet another run. The offense returns a lot of key starters, and so does their defense. That defense, in fact, returns eight of their top ten tacklers from 2018. All eight players also saw significant time the year before, but it didn’t quite translate into an improvement on that side of the ball. Memphis is loaded with experience on defense, so youth won’t be an issue, but that has to translate into success. Mike Norvell essentially had to build an entire new coaching staff once again, so they also have to learn a new defense.
Houston Cougars: Defensive leaders needed
It’s no secret that the Cougars struggled mightily on the defensive side of the ball last year (see: Army’s 70-14 beatdown), but a new staff brings a fresh start. Dana Holgorsen’s staff must find new leadership for a turnaround to begin. Switching from a three man to a four man front helps immensely, and there’s talent in the defensive backfield to adapt as well. Houston’s offense will score a ton of points again this year, but it’s up to the defense to determine the teams success.