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Sun Belt Pre-Spring Preview - What Needs Work
Florida Atlantic RB Alfred Morris
Florida Atlantic RB Alfred Morris
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Feb 12, 2011


2011 Sun Belt Pre-Spring Preview - What Every Sun Belt Team Needs To Work On.

2011 Pre-Spring Preview   

What To Work On - Sun Belt


Click for each team's pre-spring lookback and lookahead
Arkansas State | Florida Atlantic | Florida International | MTSU
North Texas | Troy | UL Lafayette | UL Monroe | Western Kentucky

2011 Sun Belt Pre-Spring Preview
- Sun Belt Pre-Spring Rankings
- Why Every Team Should Be Excited
- Why Every Team Should Be Grouchy
- What Every Team Needs To Work On

Arkansas State
Stopping the run. The secondary was hardly a brick wall, but that was expected – at least a little bit. The key to a turnaround will be a big-time upgrade on the defensive front with the need to stop someone from running the ball. To be fair, the stats are going to look awful after playing Auburn and Navy, but Western Kentucky, Middle Tennessee, and UL Lafayette were able to run without a problem, too.

Florida Atlantic
The offensive line. The line was a major plus going into 2009, and it had to start from scratch last year and it showed. The pass protection was non-existent and the running game didn’t do nearly enough to help out the attack. The hope has to be that experience turns into production with three seniors and good potential inside with Jimmy Colley a big center and Andy Czurpynski a promising left guard. The offense has to revolve around RB Alfred Morris, but that only happens if the line is better.

Florida International
Besides the punting game, penalties. The punting game was among the worst in the nation last year and needs a lot of work, especially on the coverage teams, but it would help the cause if the team stopped committing penalties. Troy was last in the nation in penalties and won a part of the Sun Belt title, and FIU finished tied for 117th averaging 8.23 sins per game while averaging 73.3 yards per outing. The team is good, but it’s not so good offensively that it can keep making a ton of errors.

Middle Tennessee
Turnovers. It can’t be stressed enough how big a problem the turnover margin was. Middle Tennessee was eighth in the nation in turnover margin in 2009, but last year the offense turned it over 38 times and came up with just 19 takeaways. Only seven other teams turned it over 30 times or more, and only Miami gave it away more than 31. Consider it a major miracle that the team got to a bowl game with so many mistakes.

North Texas
Pass protection. With two quarterbacks getting knocked out for the season early on and with Riley Dodge getting bounced around, the offensive line has got to be Job One for the new coaching staff to work on. The O line did a great job at paving the way for Lance Dunbar, arguably the league’s best player, and the running game, but it has to do a much, much better job against the better pass rushing teams.

Troy
Pass defense. While the loss of Jerrel Jernigan kills the league’s best punt return game, he didn’t do anything on kickoffs as the Trojans finished 119th in the nation averaging just 17.72 yards per try. But the biggest problem for the second season in a row is pass defense. The pass rush should be the best in the Sun Belt, and the experience is there in the secondary with three starters returning but the production has to come after giving up a Sun Belt-worst 245 yards per game.

UL Lafayette
The lines. Both lines have to be far, far better to have any hope of an improved season. Despite losing three starters, the offensive front has to be more consistent and more physical, needing to stop someone from blasting the quarterback and needing to do something, anything, for the ground game. The defensive line didn’t generate a pass rush last year and has to be far more disruptive.

UL Monroe
Pass protection. Having a mobile quarterback in Kolton Browning will bring sacks here and there, but he has also had to move a bit because the offensive line is getting ripped through. The problems with the scoring offense come from an inability to let Browning work, but if he gets time, he should be able to make the offense go. He has enough talent to make the offense far better.

Western Kentucky
A pass rush. This has been a problem ever since WKU joined the FBS ranks, and while the secondary was able to survive without much help from the defensive front, more pressure would be nice. The Hilltoppers came up with just ten sacks last season and was 83rd in the nation in tackles for loss. Offensively, the offense has to find a passing game after finishing dead-last in the Sun Belt averaging just 144 yards per game.
 
Click for each team's pre-spring lookback and lookahead
Arkansas State | Florida Atlantic | Florida International | MTSU
North Texas | Troy | UL Lafayette | UL Monroe | Western Kentucky

2011 Sun Belt Pre-Spring Preview
- Sun Belt Pre-Spring Rankings
- Why Every Team Should Be Excited
- Why Every Team Should Be Grouchy
- What Every Team Needs To Work On