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2011 Sun Belt Preview - Unit Rankings
Arkansas State RB Derek Lawson
Arkansas State RB Derek Lawson
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 31, 2011


CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Sun Belt Preview - Unit Rankings


Preview 2011

Sun Belt Unit Rankings


- 2011 Arkansas State Preview | 2011 Florida Atlantic Preview
- 2011 FIU Preview | 2011 Louisiana-Lafayette Preview 
- 2011 Middle Tenn. Preview | 2011 North Texas Preview 
- 2011 Troy Preview | 2011 ULM Preview | 2011 WKU Preview 

- 2011 Sun Belt Preview
- CFN Thoughts on the Sun Belt | 2011 Sun Belt Unit Rankings
- 2011 CFN All-Sun Belt Team & Top 30 Players
- 2011 Sun Belt Schedules & Picks
- 2011 Sun Belt Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish  
- 2010 Sun Belt Preview  


Sun Belt Overall

Based on how good each team is and NOT the predicted finish

1. FIU
2. Troy
3. Middle Tennessee
4. North Texas
5. ULM
6. Arkansas State
7. WKU
8. Florida Atlantic
9. Louisiana-Lafayette

Offenses

1. Troy
The Troy offense was supposed to undergo a little bit of a change after bombing away in 2009, but offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield didn’t mix things up too much as the offense finished 11th in the nation in passing, and first in the Sun Belt in both passing and rushing. Sophomore Corey Robinson is the star of the passing game with good rushing ability and the potential to once again put up huge numbers following a 3,726-yard campaign. Shawn Southward and Chris Anderson and small, quick backs who can crank out yards in chunks and they can also catch. The receiving corps is full of options, and while some new players need to step up to replace Jerrell Jernigan, there’s good potential. The line gets back two key starters, led by James Brown at tackle, but the pass protection has to improve.

2. Arkansas State
3. FIU
4. WKU
5. North Texas
6. ULM
7. Middle Tennessee
8. Florida Atlantic
9. Louisiana-Lafayette

Quarterbacks

1. Troy
The quarterback battle of last year is over and Corey Robinson is the present and the future. He’ll be in the hunt for all-star honors if he can cut down on his picks and be a bit more consistent. While he won’t have Jerrel Jernigan to throw to anymore, he has a year of experience under his belt and he should be better. Jamie Hampton can step in at a moment’s notice, and Luke Barnes is a great prospect to keep an eye on.

2. Arkansas State
3. ULM
4. FIU
5. Middle Tennessee
6. Florida Atlantic
7. Louisiana-Lafayette
8. WKU
9. North Texas

Running Backs

1. WKU
Bobby Rainey is a special back with 2,857 career yards and 22 touchdowns. While it’ll be tempting to feed him the ball 30 times a game, the workload has to be kept to a minimum whenever possible to keep him fresh. While he’ll have a fight on his hands for the Sun Belt Player of the Year honors, there might not be a more valuable player. Keshawn Simpson, Antonio Andrews, and fullback Kadeem Jones will keep Rainey fresh.

2. North Texas
3. Arkansas State
4. FIU
5. Troy
6. Florida Atlantic
7. ULM
8. Middle Tennessee
9. Louisiana-Lafayette

Receivers

1. Arkansas State
Last year, the ASU receiving corps was big on upside and short on experience, and now the potential is there for this to be among the best groups in the Sun Belt. Three starters are back, along with the top tight ends, and they’ll all get the ball coming their way with QB Ryan Aplin returning to spread it around. Now the corps should be phenomenal with Dwayne Frampton, Allen Muse, and Taylor Stockemer all able to be a No. 1 target in a given week. Throw in the tight end situation, and the Red Wolves are loaded.

2. FIU
3. ULM
4. Troy
5. Middle Tennessee
6. Louisiana-Lafayette
7. WKU
8. North Texas
9. Florida Atlantic

Offensive Lines

1. Middle Tennessee
The Blue Raiders had one of the best lines in the Sun Belt last year, and now it gets just about everyone back. The pass protection was good enough to get by and the running game was excellent. This might not be the type of line that’ll flatten anyone, but it’ll be solid if everyone can stay healthy. Mike Williams and Brandon McLeroy form a good base for a terrific line with plenty of potential.

2. Troy
3. FIU
4. ULM
5. Florida Atlantic
6. ULM
7. Arkansas State
8. North Texas
9. Louisiana-Lafayette

Defenses

1. FIU
Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando enters the mix after working at Connecticut, and while FIU has its third defensive coordinator in the last three seasons, having a defensive head coach in Mario Cristobal is a big help. The D led the Sun Belt total defense and scoring defense, and while it was hardly a brick wall, it was productive. The pass rush was terrific, and it should be again with Tourek Williams leading a fast defensive front. There’s athleticism to burn at linebacker, but the bulk isn’t there to hold up against the bigger and badder running games. The secondary loses some key stars, but it’ll still be a strength led by the return of all-around playmaking safety Jonathan Cyprien.

2. Middle Tennessee
3. Troy
4. ULM
5. North Texas
6. Louisiana-Lafayette
7. Florida Atlantic
8. WKU
9. Arkansas State

Defensive Lines

1. FIU
The concern going into last year was the pass rush that needed new starters and new stars to emerge. Problem solved as the Golden Panthers finished third in the Sun Belt and 21st in the nation in sacks with several players across the defensive front doing their part. With three starters returning, there’s reason to be excited about the possibilities. The FIU line is extremely quick with all four spots athletic enough to get into the backfield on a regular basis. The line should be among the best in the Sun Belt at getting behind the line.

2. Troy
3. Middle Tennessee
4. ULM
5. Florida Atlantic
6. Louisiana-Lafayette
7. WKU
8. North Texas
9. Arkansas State

Linebackers

1. FIU
A big upgrade over where the linebackers were a few years ago, “Pooh Bear” Mars and now Jordan Hunt should become major factors after neither one was part of the mix last season. Winston Fraser will be the glue to keep it all together, and there’s plenty of talent around him. The corps isn’t all that big, but everyone can move and everyone is very, very tough. Mars and Fraser are both excellent interior tacklers who can go sideline to sideline. Hunt and Franklin Brown move like safeties.

2. Middle Tennessee
3. Troy
4. ULM
5. Louisiana-Lafayette
6. North Texas
7. Florida Atlantic
8. Arkansas State
9. WKU

Secondaries

1. FIU
The pass rush was tremendous and the pressure on the quarterback was constant, and that helped the secondary that finished 32nd in the nation and first in the Sun Belt in pass efficiency defense. With three starters returning, the defensive backs should be even stronger. Junior Mertile and Jose Cheeseborough know what they’re doing on the outside, while Jonathan Cyprien is a special talent at safety. Even the backups have logged in appreciable time.

2. North Texas
3. Troy
4. Middle Tennessee
5. Louisiana-Lafayette
6. Arkansas State
7. ULM
8. WKU
9. Arkansas State

Special Teams

1. Middle Tennessee
PK Jack Griffin and P Josh Brisk could be the best kicker-punter combo in the Sun Belt, and should be among the best in the nation with more blast to the punting game. Returner T.Y. Hilton is a special talent with the ability to score from anywhere on the field. The coverage teams have to be better.

2. FIU
3. Arkansas State
4. North Texas
5. Troy
6. ULM
7. WKU
8. Florida Atlantic
9. Louisiana-Lafayette

- 2011 Arkansas State Preview | 2011 Florida Atlantic Preview
- 2011 FIU Preview | 2011 Louisiana-Lafayette Preview 
- 2011 Middle Tenn. Preview | 2011 North Texas Preview 
- 2011 Troy Preview | 2011 ULM Preview | 2011 WKU Preview 

- 2011 Sun Belt Preview
- CFN Thoughts on the Sun Belt | 2011 Sun Belt Unit Rankings
- 2011 CFN All-Sun Belt Team & Top 30 Players
- 2011 Sun Belt Schedules & Picks
- 2011 Sun Belt Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish  
- 2010 Sun Belt Preview