AAC Notebook: Change abounds throughout AAC

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

It was a week of transition in the AAC. Not many of the results were uniformly positive for those charting a new path, but all provided hope to downtrodden fan bases.
Start with Connecticut, a school which didn't play but nevertheless made news by firing its coach. Paul Pasqualoni was in just his third season at the helm of the Huskies, but two 5-7 finishes and a 0-4 start were enough to get athletic director Warde Manuel to make a change. Offensive coordinator T.J. Weist will coach on an interim basis for the rest of the season, but he'll have to really impress on the field to retain the job beyond that.
"I think any time you have new energy, new life, new direction when things haven't gone your way, it can bring some energy. We need that right now," Weist said. "We haven't had that much. So I think I'm ready for this, I'm ready for this challenge. I'm excited about it and I appreciate it. But I have to get down to work."
It didn't take him long to make a major change. True freshman Tim Boyle will get the start at quarterback when the team takes on South Florida this weekend. And he won't be the only freshman under center.
Temple coach Matt Rhule replaced Connor Reilly in the first half with freshman P.J. Walker. Walker did not lead his team to victory -- then again, the Owls were facing then-No. 7 Louisville -- but he did well enough that he looks like the safe bet to run the team going forward.
"I didn't really envision myself playing, but I felt like I would get a chance one day," Walter said. "I didn't know if it was going to be towards the end of the season or the beginning of the season, but I knew that whenever I got my opportunity I was just going to make the best of it."
Memphis nearly pulled off the upset of Central Florida thanks to its own youngster. Redshirt freshman Paxton Lynch was driving the team down for what would have been the game-tying score in the final minute before an interception on a halfback pass ended the threat.
"We know we can win now," Lynch said. "We just have to go out there and do it and not hurt ourselves."
Add in Houston freshman John O'Korn, whose 4-0 Cougars were on a bye this week, and the AAC doesn't lack for quarterbacks poised to be around for a long time.

1. Rutgers apparently grows running backs on trees. First, Paul James came out of obscurity to lead the NCAA in rushing after three games. When he got hurt against Arkansas, Savon Huggins got the needed yards down the stretch. Then, against SMU, true freshman Justin Goodwin came off the bench for 222 total yards and three touchdowns, including the winning score in overtime.
2. Remember that Cincinnati team that beat up on Purdue 42-7 to open the season? Barely? You're not alone. That memory's fading for everyone, and the Bearcats' loss to South Florida last week left that glorious day ever more firmly in the rear-view mirror. "We haven't played like a very positive football team since really the first football game," coach Tommy Tuberville said.
3. Want a sign for how poorly the AAC is viewed across the nation? Louisville won on the road by 23 points against conference rival Temple ... and dropped in both the AP and coaches polls. The Cardinals were passed by Florida State in the rankings in each, and enter the week ranked eighth in the country.
4. Memphis is not going to be a fun team this season, at least for opposing offenses. The Tigers nearly upset Central Florida on Saturday, and have not allowed more than 28 points all season. If the offense ever catches up to the defense, this team will be dangerous.
5. South Florida paid a very big price for its first victory. Both starting quarterback Steven Bench and running back Marcus Shaw left with leg injuries in the first half. Neither returned to the game.