Central Florida

COACH: George O’Leary

PLAYERS: DB Clayton Geathers, WR Rannell Hall, LB Terrance Plummer, OT Torrian Wilson.

EASY TO ANSWER: The defense will be good. The Knights were 17th nationally in points allowed last year (21.3 per game) and return eight starters on that side of the ball, led by Plummer and cornerback Jacoby Glenn, both first-team all-conference performers.

TOUGH TO SAY: When you lose the No. 1 quarterback in the draft and have no clear-cut successor, those are big cleats to fill. Blake Bortles is now playing up the road in Jacksonville, leaving sophomore Justin Holman, who threw all of 14 passes last season as Bortles’ backup and Nick Patti, an immediately eligible transfer from Boise State, to settle what they couldn’t in the spring.

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Cincinnati

COACH: Tommy Tuberville.

PLAYERS: RB Ralph David Abernathy IV; QB Munchie Legaux; LB Nick Temple;

DB Adrian Witty.

EASY TO ANSWER: You might not know the names of any of the Bearcats defensive players, but they ranked 14th nationally in scoring defense (21.0) and ninth in total defense (315.6) in 2013 without having a player drafted.

TOUGH TO SAY: Despite Les Miles’ remarks about him not having the “chest” to play for LSU, former five-star quarterback Gunner Kiel is ready to take the No. 1 spot after sitting out last season after transferring from Notre Dame.

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Connecticut

COACH: Bob Diaco.

PLAYERS: WR Geremy Davis; CB Byron Jones.

EASY TO ANSWER: The Huskies needed an infusion of energy after the Paul Pasqualoni experiment bombed, and they’re getting it with Diaco, who most recently was Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator under Brian Kelly.

TOUGH TO SAY: Who’s the quarterback? Sophomore Casey Cochran guided the Huskies to three straight victories at the end of the season, UConn’s only ones of 2013, but senior Chandler Whitaker and sophomore Tim Boyle also got starts, all in defeat. Nobody claimed the job in the spring.

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East Carolina

COACH: Ruffin McNeill.

PLAYERS: QB Shane Carden; LB Maurice Falls; WR Justin Hardy; LB Brandon Williams.

EASY TO ANSWER: Carden has the opportunity of earning MVP honors in two leagues. He is the frontrunner for first-team All-AAC based on his junior season when he threw for 4,139 yards and 33 touchdowns while running for 10 more.

TOUGH TO SAY: Carden’s going to have to be prolific. The Pirates return only four defensive starters. Junior linebacker Zeke Bigger is the top returning tackler and pass defender back from a team that ranked 13th against the run last year but only 93rd against the pass.

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Houston

COACH: Tony Levine.

PLAYERS: C Bryce Redman; DT Joey Mbu; WR Daniel Spencer; LB Derrick Mathews.

EASY TO ANSWER: The pitch-and-catch combination of sophomore quarterback John O’Korn and junior wide receiver Deontay Greenway should be among the best in the country.

TOUGH TO SAY: Can the Cougars ever put it together? Remember 2011 when Houston was 12-0 and seemingly Sugar Bowl-bound when it lost to Southern Miss in the Conference USA championship game?

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Memphis

COACH: Justin Fuente.

PLAYERS: RB Brandon Hayes; CB Bobby McCain; WR Andre Davis; LB Reshard Cliett

EASY TO ANSWER: The Tigers will have one of the league’s best defenses. Coordinator Barry Odom has turned down offers from major-conference schools and will be working with eight starters back from a unit that has improved from allowing 30.3 points-per-game in 2012 to 24.7 last season.

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South Florida

COACH: Willie Taggart.

PLAYERS: WR Andre Davis; DE Elkino Watson.

EASY TO ANSWER: The offensive line will be improved. All five starters are back, plus imposingly named guard Thor Jozwiak, who missed last season with health issues. They’re all bigger by an average of 13 pounds.

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SMU

COACH: June Jones

PLAYERS: RB Kevin Pope; LB Stephon Sanders.

EASY TO ANSWER: The Mustangs must get better on defense. SMU was 99th in points allowed last season (33.3 per-game), although giving up just 17 in a season-ending loss to UCF shows promise.

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Temple

COACH: Mark Rhule.

PLAYERS: C Kyle Friend; RB Kenneth Harper; LB Tyler Matakevich, QB P.J. Walker

EASY TO ANSWER: There aren’t many strengths on a team that went 2-10 last season, but Walker is one of them. As a true freshman Walker hit on 60.8 percent of his passes, throwing for 20 touchdowns against eight interceptions while rushing for three more.

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Tulane

COACH: Curtis Johnson.

PLAYERS: DB Sam Scofield; DB Lorenzo Doss; DB Darion Monroe; OT Sean Donnelly

EASY TO ANSWER: The gem of Johnson’s first three recruiting classes is Doss, who as a sophomore was tremendously productive with seven interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. A preseason second-team All-America (Lindy’s), the junior who prepped at St. Augustine, could be Tulane’s first true early draft entrant.

TOUGH TO SAY: Coming off a feel-good bowl season that broke an 11-year drought plus the opening of Yulman Stadium, the Green Wave should be riding the momentum success brings. However, key losses and a decidedly upgraded schedule have lowered expectations for this year. Johnson’s signees will have to step up or it will be a step back.

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Tulsa

COACH: Bill Blankenship.

PLAYERS: DB Michael Mudoh; OT Garrett Stafford.

EAST TO ANSWER: Last season’s 3-9 record was an anomaly for a program that won two Conference USA titles, including one just two years ago. There are 15 returning starters and new offensive coordinator Denver Johnson has helped Blankenship tweak the attack with an emphasis on becoming more physical. The team that plays host to Tulane in the season opener will be a far cry from the one that could muster only seven points against the Wave last year.

TOUGH TO SAY: Who is going to replace linebacker Shawn Jackson? Despite playing on a losing team that ranked 101st in scoring defense and 93rd in total defense, Johnson was the C-USA Defensive Player of the Year. Redshirt freshman C.J. Gooden won the job in the spring and has many of the pass-rushing skills that made Jackson such an effective playmaker.

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