Three Things We Learned About the AAC in Week Six

Anyone could win the conference now…

I mean that in all seriousness. South Florida, Navy, Memphis, Houston and Tulsa all have one loss, all should probably have more than one loss, and could either dominate or get dominated in any given game. The Bulls continue to be stout running the ball with Marlon Mack and Quinton Flowers. It remains to be seen if their defense can play well enough for long enough to be a title team, but there’s plenty of games left.

Same is true for Tulsa, except we already know their defense has shown flashes of both amazing and awful in every single game they’ve played, so their 4-1 start could be anywhere from 6 to 9 wins by the end andnone of those results would surprise me. Memphis looked very strong against Temple and their defense played well enough for the offense to get on track eventually.

Which leaves us with Houston, who is suddenly fourth in the AAC West standings, and Navy, the team that just beat them 46-40. The Cougars looked weirdly unprepared for the Midshipmen’s triple-option this week, This is weird both because Tom Hermann is Tom Hermann but also because… y’know, Navy is Navy. They’re a one-trick pony, and a team like Memphis should be good enough to handle that kind of attack.

Anything is possible now, especially in the West division, so we’ll have to keep a closer eye on this ballooning crowd of “top teams.”

…Except most definitely not Cincinnati

Holy cow what a difference a couple weeks makes. The Cincinnati Bearcats of two weeks ago were 3-1 and saw their lone loss be a game where they hung with Houston for three quarters. Now they are 3-3 overall, 0-3 in conference, and their signature win so far this season is Purdue. I would find you some Purdue fans to tell you how that isn’t a compliment, but they have better things to do than talk about their team.

Tommy Tuberville’s job has to be in some degree of jeopardy at this point, now that the Bearcats are 4-7 in conference since the start of last season, and perhaps he’s done if they don’t go bowling. It’s hard to say where his bosses’ thoughts are at since he coaches a program that hasn’t had to fire a coach in almost 15 years. I would have to think that a losing record might do him in, and looking at the remainder of their schedule there’s at least an outside chance that happens.

ECU’s season could stink, but Zay Jones will rewrite Justin Hardy’s records in the process

This is a legitimate possibility, and it needs to be discussed. Jones caught 18 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown today in ECU’s loss to USF. Here is what he has done so far this season: 84 catches for 840 yards and three touchdowns. His 18 catches today shot him all the way up to 325 for his career, which ties him with Taylor Stubblefield for third all-time in career receptions behind Ryan Broyles (349) and his former teammate Justin Hardy (387).

Jones could have caught zero passes in the Pirates’ first two games and he would still lead all of FBS in receptions at this point in the season. That is how hard Scottie Montgomery’s offense has leaned on him. After Philip Nelson got his bell rung at quarterback for the second week in a row, there’s an outside chance that freshman Gardner Minshew may start under center going forward, and in what little action Minshew has seen, he has leaned even harder on Jones.

He currently needs to average only 10 catches per game to become the third receiver in FBS history to crack 140 receptions in a single season, and I would argue that’s highly likely for a guy who has caught at least 17 passes four times in his last six games. Up that average to 11, and he would pass Hardy for the all-time receptions record. Move it to 12, and he’ll set a new single-season receptions record.

It’s nice to have a bright spot in a rough season, and I think ECU has got theirs.



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