Midseason Report - Sun Belt

Posted Oct 12, 2006

The best Sun Belt players, coaches, surprises of the midseason and more

Offensive Player of the Midseason – Omar Haugabook, QB Troy
Defensive Player of the Midseason
– Keyonvis Bouie, LB FIU

Ten best Sun Belt players in the first half of the season
1. Keyonvis Bouie, LB FIU
2. Kevin Payne, S/P, UL Monroe
3. J.K Sabb, LB MTSU
4. Omar Haugabook, QB Troy
5. Jerry Babb, QB UL Lafayette
6. Calvin Dawson, RB UL Monroe
7. Antwan Barnes, LB FIU
8. Lionell Singleton, DB/KR FIU
9. Jamario Thomas, RB North Texas
10. Gary Banks, WR Troy

Biggest Surprise – UL Lafayette’s 31-28 win over Houston
The Sun Belt wasn’t as awful as usual in non-conference play over the first part of the season with several close calls and a few nice performances, but UL Lafayette’s win over Houston on October 7th was a shocker that was the type of strong win, following a blowout of Eastern Michigan, to bring the league a little bit of respect.

Biggest Disappointment – FIU’s inability to close.
Possibly the most talented team in the league, FIU lost five games by a grand total of 14 points to go along with a humbling 31-6 home blasting by Arkansas State. Expect a good second half season, after getting pasted by Miami and Alabama, that will be too little, too late.

The Sun Belt Champion will be ... Troy.
The schedule works out nicely with UL Lafayette and Arkansas State coming to Movie Gallery, while QB Omar Haugabook has provided the spark needed to get past the stingier defenses in the league.

Best Game of the First Half 
North Texas 25 ... FIU 22 7OT, Oct. 7
It took an NCAA record tying seven overtimes for North Texas to finally put away FIU on a 34-yard field goal from Denis Hopovac. With the game tied at 16 after regulation, the two teams traded field goals until FIU's Dustin Rivest pushed a 35-yard shot wide right allowing North Texas to come up with the game-winning score. FIU thought it had the game won in the fifth OT, but an apparent touchdown pass to Jeremy Dickens was reviewed and reversed. The ball was put on the one, and the Golden Panthers ended up settling for a field goal.

Second Best Game South Florida 21 ... FIU 20, Sept. 9
Third Best Game South Florida 21 ... FIU 20, Sept. 16

Worst Game of the First Half 
Texas 56 ... North Texas 7, Sept. 2
Texas scored 14 points in each quarter with QB Colt McCoy throwing three touchdown passes and running for another. Limas Sweed started off the scoring with a 60-yard touchdown grab and added a 29-yard scoring catch midway through the third quarter. Selvin Young ran for two shore scores in the second quarter with a five-yard run making it 28-0 just seconds before halftime. North Texas managed a 12-yard touchdown pass from Woody Wilson to Brandon Jackson.

Coach of the Midseason – Rick Stockstill, Middle Tennessee
Despite the loss of just about everyone, the defense has been able to stay strong despite blowout losses to Louisville and Oklahoma. In Sun Belt play, the Blue Raiders will be hard to move on, while the offense is slowly going to start coming around. Stockstill has been an injection of energy to the program.

Player who'll step up in the second half – Eugene Gross, RB Middle Tennessee
The ultra-quick back is great against mediocre run defenses, and he’ll face a slew of them in the second half of the year. It’s taking a little while but look for the MT offense to get on track with Gorss turning into a top scorer.

Best performance so far -
UL Lafayette QB Jerry Babb completed 17 of 21 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns and ran ten times for 31 yards and a score in the 33-14 win over Eastern Michgan.

Top Freshman – Reggie Arnold, RB Arkansas State
Who was going to be the next back to step in and shine in the Indian offense? Arnold has fit the bill leading the Sun Belt in rushing by a large margin showing off a tremendous blend of speed and power. He’ll be a good one for years to come.

Coach who needs to have a big second half – Darrell Dickey, North Texas
While not on any sort of hot seat, Dickey’s team is in the midst of a second straight disappointing season after dominating the league for years. Considering how much the league has improved from top to bottom, if the Mean Green doesn’t finish strong, the glory days will be long gone.

Player who needs to have a big second half – Corey Leonard and Travis Hewitt, QBs Arkansas State.
The Indians will be in the mix for the Sun Belt title all season long, but they need their two-headed quarterback tandem to play up to snuff in big games. They can both run and they can both move the offense. Now they need to prove they can outplay teams with solid, veteran quarterbacks.

Best remaining conference game – UL Lafayette at Arkansas State, Nov. 25
Troy and Middle Tennessee will have some big games in the mix, but the season-ender between the Ragin’ Cajuns and the Indians will have the biggest overall impact on the final Sun Belt picking order if ASU beat Troy the week before..

Team Mid-Season MVPs & Predictions   
Arkansas State – RB Reggie Arnold
predicted wins: North Texas, at Florida Atlantic
predicted losses: at Memphis, at Auburn, at Troy, at UL Lafayette, MTSU
predicted record: 5-7

Florida Atlantic – QB Sean Clayton
predicted wins: Southern Utah
predicted losses: UL Lafayette, Arkansas State, at Middle Tennessee, Troy, at North Texas, at FIU
predicted record: 1-11

FIU – LB Keyonvis Bouie
predicted wins: UL Monroe, UL Lafayette, at Florida Atlantic, Troy
predicted losses: at Miami, at Alabama
predicted record: 4-8

MTSU – LB J.K. Sabb
predicted wins: at UL Monroe, Florida Atlantic, at Arkansas State
predicted losses: at UL Lafayette, at South Carolina, Troy
predicted record: 6-6

North Texas – RB Jamario Thomas
predicted wins: Florida Atlantic
predicted losses: at Arkansas State, at Troy, Louisiana Tech, at UL Lafayette, at UL Monroe
predicted record: 3-9

Troy – QB Omar Haugabook
predicted wins: UL Monroe, North Texas, UL Lafayette, at Florida Atlantic, Arkansas State, Middle Tennessee
predicted losses: at FIU
predicted record: 7-5

UL Lafayette – RB Tyrell Fenroy
predicted wins: at Florida Atlantic, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Arkansas State, UL Monroe
predicted losses: at Troy, at FIU
predicted record: 8-4

UL Monroe – S/P Kevin Payne
predicted wins: North Texas
predicted losses: at Troy, Middle Tennessee, vs. Arkansas, at FIU, at Kentucky, at UL Lafayette
predicted record: 2-10