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2007 Arkansas State Indians

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 21, 2008


2007 Arkansas State Indians Season Game-By-Game Recaps and More

2007 Arkansas State Indians

Recap: For the first time since 2004, the Indians swam in uncharted waters, finishing the season below the .500 mark.  After a nice start that included a moral victory in the opener with Texas, Arkansas State slumped in the middle of the season, showing an inability to protect QB Corey Leonard or get pressure on opposing quarterbacks.  With the talented trio of Leonard, RB Reggie Arnold, and WR Levi Dejohnette in Jonesboro, the Indians had too much skill position talent to slump on offense, a byproduct of inconsistent blocking up front.     

Offensive Player of the Year: QB Corey Leonard

Defensive Player of the Year: S Tyrell Johnson

Biggest Surprise: Scheduled as a Week 1 tune-up, the Indians darn near picked off Texas in Austin on Sept. 1.  Behind a plucky defense and a fourth quarter rally, Arkansas State closed the gap to 21-13, and was within a converted onside kick from getting the ball back in the final minute.   

Biggest Disappointment: The pass defense.  Sure, the Indians only allowed 197 yards a game, but it’s the 21 touchdown passes that were cause for concern.  For a unit that boasted four senior starters and a pair of All-Sun Belt first-teamers, it got burned too often, yielding at least two scoring strikes in seven games.  

Looking Ahead: While the defensive backfield gets gutted by graduation, the offensive backfield is thrilled to get Leonard and Arnold back for another season.  DE Alex Carrington has the size and quickness to give a lift in 2008 to the Indians’ sagging pass rush.

- 2007 ASU Preview
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2006 ASU Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 3-9
2006 Record:
5-7

Sept. 1 at Texas L 21-13
Sept. 15 SMU W 45-28
Sept. 22 at Tennessee L 48-27
Sept.
27 Memphis W 35-31
Oct. 6 at UL Monroe L 30-13
Oct. 13
UL Lafayette W 52-21
Oct. 20 at Middle Tenn. L 24-7
Oct. 27 Troy L 27-0
Nov. 3
FIU W 27-24
Nov. 10 at Fla Atlantic L 34-31
Nov. 17
North Texas W 31-27
Nov. 24 at So Miss L 16-10

Nov. 24
Southern Miss 16 ... Arkansas State 10
Southern Miss got three Justin Estes field goals in the second half and a one-yard Damion Fletcher scoring run in the second to get by Arkansas State and get a bid to the Papajohns.com Bowl. Arkansas State managed a 24-yard Josh Arauco field goal and a three-yard Brandon Thompkins scoring run in the third, but got a fourth quarter field goal blocked and stalled on a final drive deep in USM territory.
Player of the game: Southern Miss LB Gerald McRath made 17 tackles with a sack and two tackles for loss
Stat Leaders: Arkansas State - Passing: Corey Leonard, 9-23, 118 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Reggie Arnold, 13-87. Receiving: Brandon Thompkins, 3-37
Southern Miss - Passing: Jeremy Young, 13-24, 123 yds, 1 INT
Rushing:
Damion Fletcher, 27-133, 1 TD. Receiving: Torris McGee, 3-22

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The running game was able to crank out 242 yards on a good Southern Miss defense, but Corey Leonard struggled too much throwing the ball and failed to generate fourth quarter points off two good drives. This was a good season against a tough schedule, but not a great one with too many inconsistent performances, but 5-7 isn't awful. Enough key parts return next year to expect a winning season.

Nov. 15
Arkansas State 31 ... North Texas 27
Arkansas State QB Corey Leonard connected with Brandon Thompkins on a 27-yard touchdown pass with two seconds to play for the win. North Texas held a 27-17 lead late into the fourth helped by two Jamario Thomas touchdown runs and a two-yard Micah Mosley score, but ASU came back with touchdown runs from Preston Brown and Reggie Arnold, and started the fourth quarter comeback with a six-yard T.J. Jordan touchdown catch. The vaunted UNT passing game was held to 160 yards.
Player of the game: Arkansas State QB Corey Leonard completed 25 of 50 passes for 305 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions and ran 11 times for 52 yards.
Stat Leaders: Arkansas State - Passing: Corey Leonard, 25-50, 305 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Reggie Arnold,  11-75, 1 TD. Receiving: Levi Dejohnette, 9-108
North Texas - Passing: Giovanni Vizza, 22-30, 160 yds, 1 INT
Rushing:
Giovanni Vizza, 17-79. Receiving: Casey Fitzgerald, 11-58

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Corey Leonard means everything to the ASU offense. The way he was able to lead the comeback against North Texas showed just how much he's worth to the team. Now the problem is how the Indians got down in the first place. In the final home game of the year, this will be a very nice way to go into the off-season if ASU loses to Southern Miss next week. To have any chance of winning, the running game will have to be stronger than it was next week.

Nov. 10
Florida Atlantic 34 ... Arkansas State 31
FAU rallied from down 11 in the fourth with a 56-yard touchdown pass from Rusty Smith to Willie Rose, and then DiIvory Edgecomb gave the Owls the lead for good on a six-yard scoring pass. ASU got Reggie Arnold touchdowns from 15, two and four yards out and a six-yard Corey Leonard run on the way to a 31-20 lead, but the offense couldn't get back on the board late.
Player of the game: Florida Atlantic QB Rusty Smith completed 22 of 42 passes for 268 yards for three touchdowns and two interception, and ran 14 times for 52 yards.
Stat Leaders: Arkansas State - Passing: Corey Leonard, 19-33, 131 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Reggie Arnold, 14-58, 2 TD. Receiving: Levi Dejohnette, 7-37
Florida Atlantic - Passing: Rusty Smith, 22-42, 268 yds, 3 TD, 2 INT
Rushing:
Charles Pierre, 14-52. Receiving: DiIvory Edgecomb, 5-49, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... ASU got Corey Leonard back to handle the offense against Florida Atlantic, and while the offense was balanced, there wasn't enough of it. The Indians were able to take advantage of three turnovers and make up for the inconsistent attack early, but when they needed a big drive late, Leonard couldn't keep the chains moving. Even a disappointing season, a 6-6 record is still possible with a winnable game against North Texas next, and a battle with another disappointment, Southern Miss, to close out the year.

Nov. 3
Arkansas State 27 ,.. Florida International 24
Josh Arauco nailed a 32-yad field goal with two seconds to play to give ASU the win after a wild fourth quarter. Reggie Arnold ran for touchdowns from 16 and 31 yards with fewer than five minutes to play, but FIU was able to tie up with a 29-yard Greg Ellingson touchdown pass with 48 second left. Darren Toney returned the ensuing kickoff 60 yards, and ASU was able to come up with the win. FIU only gained 250 yards of total offense, but got a 80-yard Lionel Singelton punt return for a touchdown. ASU stayed in the game with a 17-yard Darren Toney interception return for a score in the opening minute of the second half.

Player of the game:
Arkansas State RB Reggie Arnold ran 20 times for 120 yards and two touchdowns, and caught a pass for ten yards.
Stat Leaders: FIU - Passing: Wayne Younger, 9-19, 110 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Wayne Younger, 16-53. Receiving: Greg Ellingson, 2-35, 1 TD
Arkansas State - Passing: Travis Hewitt, 19-30, 174 yds
Rushing:
Reggie Arnold, 20-120, 2 TD. Receiving: Levi Dejohnette, 6-39

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
The team might not be playing well, but the rally to beat FIU might be just what it needs to kickstart a big final month. Reggie Arnold continues to run well when he gets a little bit of room, but Travis Hewitt, stepping in for Corey Leonard, has to start pushing the ball deeper and come up with more through the air. ASU got next to nothing going against FIU outside of Arnold.

Oct. 27
Troy 27 .. Arkansas State 0
Troy's defense pitched a near-perfect game holding Arkansas State to 237 yards and not allowing a third down conversion, while the offense got two one-yard touchdown runs from Omar Haugabook and two Greg Whibbs field goals. The defense put a capper on the domination with a one-yard Boris Lee fumble recovery for a score midway through the fourth. The two teams combined for eight turnovers.
Player of the game: Troy QB Omar Haugabook completed 14 of 23 passes for 156 yards and an interception, and ran 18 times for 94 yards and two scores
Stat Leaders: Troy - Passing: Omar Haugabook, 14-23, 156 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Omar Haguabook, 18-94, 2 TD. Receiving: Jerrell Jernigan, 5-61
Arkansas State - Passing: Corey Leonard, 10-24, 105 yds, 2 INT
Rushing:
Corey Leonard, 18-56. Receiving: Levi Dejohnette, 4-11

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...  For the second straight week the offense has done absolutely nothing. Basically, ASU proved against Middle Tennessee and Troy that it's not one of the top tier Sun Belt teams, and while it's good enough to beat the FIU's and North Texas's of the world, both games coming up, the offense simply isn't working at a higher level. It can't be all Corey Leonard all the time. To go 0 for 13 on third down conversions at this point in the year is a big problem.

Oct. 20
Middle Tennessee 24 ... Arkansas State 7
Middle Tennessee came up with nine sacks and a 42-yard Rod Issac fumble return for a score, while the offense chipped in with Taron Henry touchdown catches from 17 and 52 yards out in the surprisingly easy win. ASU got its only points on a six-yard Danny McNeal catch, but never got the offense going thanks to the problems up front. MT outgained ASU 384 yards to 138.
Player of the game: Middle Tennessee QB Dwight Dasher completed 9 of 20 passes for 118 yards and a touchdown with an interception, and ran 20 times for 96 yards
Stat Leaders: Arkansas State - Passing: Corey Leonard, 9-19, 116 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Reggie Arnold, 14-39. Receiving: Brandon Thompkins, 3-69
Middle Tennessee - Passing: Dwight Dasher, 9-20, 118 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Dwight Dasher, 20-96. Receiving: Taron Henry, 3-71

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Can ASU ever come up with a consistent performance from one week to the next? After stinking it up against a bad UL Monroe team, it bombed UL Lafayette, and then this week, didn't bother to block the Middle Tennessee defensive front in the ugly loss. If the offensive line couldn't handle the Blue Raiders, it'll have a nightmare of a time against Troy next week. There won't be many wins when Reggie Arnold is held to 39 yards.

Oct. 13
Arkansas State 52 ... UL Lafayette 21
Arkansas State cranked out 681 yards of total offense, including 406 on the ground, but it was the passing of Corey Leonard with five touchdown passes, highlighted by an 84-yard pass play to David Johnson, that helped make the game a blowout. ULL kept it tight in the first half, with Michael Desormeaux running for a 64-yard touchdown and hitting Jason Chery for a 64-yard scoring pass, but Leonard connected with Levi Dejohnette for a six-yard touchdown pass with 30 seconds to play to spark a run of 28 unanswered points. Reggie Arnold ran for 225 yards, and put the icing on the cake with a 16-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter.
Player of the game: Arkansas State QB Corey Leonard completed 17 of 23 passes for 275 yards and five touchdowns and ran 18 times for 84 yards and a score.
Stat Leaders: UL Lafayette - Passing: Michael Desormeaux, 6-15, 100 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Michael Desormeaux, 9-74, 1 TD. Receiving: Derrick Smith, 4-33
Arkansas State - Passing: Corey Leonard, 17-23, 275 yds, 5 TD
Rushing:
Reggie Arnold, 24-225, 1 TD. Receiving: Levi Dejohnette, 5-75, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Now there's the ASU offense everyone has been looking for. After collapsing in the loss to UL Monroe, everything worked against UL Lafayette with one of the best overall performances of the Sun Belt season, highlighted by five Corey Leonard touchdown passes. Now it all has to carry over for the next two weeks against Middle Tennessee and Troy. Win those games, and all of a sudden, ASU will be the lead dog in the Sun Belt title race.

Oct. 6
UL Monroe 30 ... Arkansas State 13
Arkansas State appeared to be on the way to an easy win, scoring the first 13 points of the game with Chris Miller catching a 21-point touchdown pass, but ULM scored 30 unanswered points, helped by two Kinsmon Lancaster touchdown passes to Darrell McNeal, three Cole Wilson field goals, and a one-yard Calvin Dawson touchdown run. ULM's Greg James picked off two passes, giving him seven on the year.
Player of the game: UL Monroe RB Calvin Dawson ran 26 times for 114 yards and a touchdown
Stat Leaders: Arkansas State - Passing: Corey Leonard, 14-35, 206 yds, 1 TD, 2 INTs
Rushing: Corey Leonard, 11-90. Receiving: Levi Dejohnette, 6-82
UL Monroe - Passing: Kinsmon Lancaster, 15-22, 195 yds, 2 TDs
Rushing:
Calvin Dawson, 26-114, 1 TD. Receiving: Darrell McNeal, 5-72, 2 TDs
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... What happened to the running game against UL Monroe? The Indian offensive line struggled way too much against the average Warhawk front, but when things started to slip away, the passing game was used far more than it should've been. Reggie Arnold and Preston Brown were running relatively well, and they should've been allowed to keep pounding the ball. Corey Leonard struggled throwing it, ASU only converted two of 13 third down chances, ball game.

Sept. 27
Arkansas State 35 ... Memphis 31
Down 31-6, Arkansas State stormed back in the second half with 29 unanswered points, kicked off by an 89-yard Kevin Jones punt return for a score. and followed up by three Corey Leonard touchdown passes. The final score, on a one-yard throw to Preston Brown, came midway through the fourth quarter, and then ASU held on with the final Memphis drive stalling at midfield. The Tigers got an 80-yard touchdown pass from Dave Thomas to Steven Black, and an 88-yard fumble return for a touchdown from 300-pound defensive tackle Freddie Barnett, but they couldn't get on the board in the second half.
Player of the game: Arkansas State QB Corey Leonard completed 16 of 37 passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns, and ran 22 times for 74 yards.
Stat Leaders: Memphis - Passing: Martin Hankins, 10-21, 119 yds
Rushing:
Joseph Doss, 17-50, 1 TD. Receiving: Maurice Jones, 3-71
Arkansas State
- Passing: Corey Leonard, 16-37, 255 yds, 3 TD
Rushing:
Corey Leonard, 22-74. Receiving: Levi Dejohnette, 7-99, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... ASU is the last team you'd think could come back from a 31-6 deficit, but with big plays from the defense and special teams, and a phenomenal final 20 minutes from QB Corey Leonard, it came up with the win over Memphis that should do wonders with the Sun Belt season starting up next week. The Indians didn't get their running game working like they'd like to; they simply found a way to win.

Sept. 22
Tennessee 48... Arkansas State 27
Erik Ainge threw four touchdown passes, and for a career high 334 yards, as Tennessee's passing game overcame the ground attack of ASU. Ainge connected with Lucas Taylor for scores from 17 and 24 yards out, and he found Chris Brown and LaMarucus Coker for scores. ASU was able to stay alive with a 54-yard interception return for a touchdown, and two Josh Arauco field goals, but Ainge proved to be too sharp. His 24-yard scoring pass to Taylor early in the fourth quarter finally gave the Vols some breathing room.
Player of the game: Tennessee QB Erik Ainge completed 27 of 39 passes for 334 yards and four touchdowns with an interception.
Stat Leaders: Tennessee - Passing: Erik Ainge, 27-39, 334 yds, 4 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
LaMarcus Coker, 15-101, 1 TD. Receiving: Lucas Taylor, 7-104, 2 TD
Arkansas State - Passing: Corey Leonard, 18-35, 199 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing:
Reggie Arnold, 16-130, 1 TD. Receiving: Kevin Jones, 5-37
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Indians might have lost to Tennessee, but the offense went toe-to-toe with the mighty SEC team and came up with 377 yards of total offense. Corey Leonard was under constant pressure, but he threw well, while Reggie Arnold averaged 8.1 yards per carry with 130 yards and a score. Even in the loss, this should be a confidence builder; the team knows it can play. Once again, Tyrell Johnson and Khayyam Burns showed why they have to be considered among the nation's better safety tandems, combining for 16 tackles with Johnson breaking up three passes and picking off a pass for a score.

Sept. 15
Arkansas State 45 ... SMU 28
Arkansas State exploded for 21 first quarter points on two Corey Leonard touchdown runs and a Reggie Arnold score from one yard out. SMU bounced back with two Justin Willis touchdown passes in the second quarter, but spent the rest of the game trying to play catchup. Leonard connected with Chris Miller for a six-yard touchdown on the first drive of the second half, but SMU kept it close with a Willis ten-yard scoring pass to Emmanuel Sanders. Then ASU was able to overcome its mistakes and put it away with a 17-point run helped by a third Leonard rushing touchdown and a 12-yard catch from David Johnson.
Player of the game: Arkansas State QB Corey Leonard completed 22 of 34 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns with an interception and ran 20 times for 52 yards and three scores
Stat Leaders: SMU - Passing: Justin Willis, 21-40, 251 yds, 4 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Justin Willis, 14-88 yds. Receiving: Emmanuel Sanders, 8-100, 1 TD
Arkansas State - Passing: Corey Leonard, 22-34, 266 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Reggie Arnold, 19-156, 1 TD. Receiving: Levi Dejohnette, 6-77

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Where did the offensive balance come from? Against SMU, the Indian attack wasn't just about the running game thanks to an efficient day from Corey Leonard. ASU was able to control the ball and the clock in the second half, hanging on to the ball for close to 20 minutes thanks to a nice mix of Reggie Arnold on the ground and Leonard's passing. SMU wasn't able to do a thing to counter. The 13 penalties were way too many, and the secondary didn't tighten up in the red zone, but with 516 yards of total offense, ASU was more than able to gloss over any problems.

Sept. 1
Texas 21 ... Arkansas State 13
Texas was outgained 397 yards to 340, but the defense made it an easier win than it might appear, holding ASU to two Josh Arauco field goals until the final minute of the game when Reggie Arnold ran for a two-yard score. The Longhorns scored on their opening drive on a 35-yard catch from Limas Sweed, and got a second Colt McCoy touchdown pass late in the first quarter on a 16-yard play to Antwan Cobb. Jamaal Charles added a ten-yard scoring run late in the third quarter.
Player of the game ... Texas RB Jamaal Charles ran 27 times for 112 yards and a touchdown
Stat Leaders: Arkansas State - Passing: Corey Leonard, 23-36, 259 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Reggie Arnold, 11-68, 1 TD  Receiving: Levi Dejohnette, 6-92
Texas - Passing: Colt McCoy, 22-33, 223 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing:
Jamaal Charles, 27-112, 1 TD   Receiving:
Nate Jones, 9-72
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Either Texas was going through the motions, or Arkansas State served notice that it'll be a major player in the Sun Belt race. The running game did a good job to keep things moving, and Corey Leonard was decent throwing it, but there simply weren't any big scoring drives until it was too late. Tyrell Johnson was the best defensive back in the game, making 14 stops with an interception and a tackle for loss.

Sept. 1 – at Texas
Offense: This might be the best offense yet under head coach Mack Brown, with one bump in the road: the line. The starting five will be fine, but there's absolutely no depth at tackle. While that's the concern, the skill players will be fantastic with a deep, talented receiving corps that welcomes back the top four targets, Jamaal Charles and a speedy backfield, and Colt McCoy to lead the show. Now a seasoned veteran, McCoy will run more than last year while making more plays on the move. Expect plenty of scoring, plenty of explosiveness, and a top five finish in total offense ... as long as the line holds up.
Defense: Duane Akina goes from co-defensive coordinator to the head man in charge, and there will be changes. Last year's defense was all about stopping the run, and the talented secondary got torched. This year's D will focus on doing everything, with an eye towards being more aggressive and generating more pressure. The strength is at tackle and in the linebacking corps, with NFL caliber talent that should keep the Longhorns among the nation's leaders against the run. The ends will be fine, in time, and they'll get to pin their ears back and go to the quarterback. All the pressure should help out a secondary in transition, with only one starter returning from a group that loses Thorpe Award winner Aaron Ross and All-American Michael Griffin.

Sept. 8 - Memphis
Offense: The offense had its moments, but it was consistently mediocre and not nearly explosive enough. The ground game struggled behind a bad offensive line, and now the hope fill be for Joseph Doss to get more room behind a more experienced front five. The passing attack should shine, led by veteran quarterback Martin Hankins and the usual array of tall, athletic Tiger receivers. Duke Calhoun is a rising star touchdown maker, while Earnest Williams is a solid target to keep the chains moving.
Defense: A disaster last year, especially against the pass and at getting into the backfield, the defense is undergoing an almost complete overhaul with several newcomers taking over for established veterans. The 4-3 needs to start making more big plays behind the line, and the hope will be for a steady rotation of players to keep everyone fresh and be more productive. The key will be the play of corners LaKeitharun Ford and Michael Grandberry, who need to beef up a secondary that allowed 231 yards per game and finished 116th in the nation in pass efficiency defense.

Sept. 15 - SMU
Offense: In sophomore Justin Willis, SMU has a legitimate franchise quarterback with the physical tools to move an offense and the intangibles to lead a program to victories and eventually bowl games.  He’ll be growing alongside classmate Emmanuel Sanders, who ignited a mediocre receiving corps last year with 46 catches and nine touchdown receptions.  Junior back DeMyron Martin is eyeing the kind of rebound year that’ll refocus his career while giving more balance to the offense.  He’ll have the luxury of running behind a seasoned line that returns four starters.  If, as expected, the Mustangs are playing in shootouts this year, they’ve now got the offensive weapons to keep pace.
Defense: The Mustangs will spend the better part of the year trying to replace three starters from the 2006 defensive line, including standouts Justin Rogers and Adrian Haywood.  If they can solve that complex riddle, look out.  The back seven, led by Butkus Award candidate Reggie Carrington, is very fast and very capable of spurring an improvement from last year’s middling results.  The more likely scenario has the line struggling to create a consistent push and the secondary getting burned by opposing hurlers with way too much time to find their targets.

Sept. 22 – at Tennessee
Offense: The return of David Cutcliffe as offensive coordinator made a night-and-day difference in the passing game. Now he needs to get the running game to do more, and there needs to be even more from QB Erik Ainge after a nice bounceback year. The receiving corps loses the top three targets and the line loses the two best players, so it'll be up to the trio of Arian Foster, LaMarcus Coker and Montario Hardesty to carry the running game and the offense. Ainge has to make everyone around him better until new producers at receiver emerge.
Defense: Is there a defense in America that's produced less with so much promise and potential? The Vols have a who's who of top high school prospects that haven't quite panned out, and now that has to change to have any hope of winning the SEC East. Jerod Mayo will move from the outside to the middle and Jonathan Hefney returns at free safety to give the Vols two All-America caliber defenders to build around. Now there needs to be more of a pass rush after coming up with an inexcusable 17 sacks, and the new starting tackles have to quickly emerge. The secondary has to replace three starters, but should be fine in time, while the linebacking corps, if healthy, will be among the SEC's best.

Oct. 6 – at UL Monroe
Offense: The best offense in the Sun Belt gets 11 starters back led by RB Calvin Dawson working behind a terrific line with several all-star candidates. QB Kinsmon Lancaster has a year of starting experience under his belt, and he has all his top targets to get the ball to including LaGregory Sapp and tight end Zeek Zacharie. While the attack will spread it out and allow Lancaster to use his mobility and big-time arm to find the right receiver, it'll be Dawson who carries the workload when things get tight.
Defense: The same problems ULM had last year appear to be the same issues going into this year with a questionable run defense and no proven pass rush, but the strength, the secondary, will be the same even without Kevin Payne and Chaz Williams. The 4-2-5 did its job against mediocre offenses, but got ripped apart by any offense with a pulse. Unless the line is better, the Warhawks will be pounded on by everyone in the Sun Belt.


Oct. 13 - UL Lafayette
Offense: The nation's seventh best rushing team two years ago, and 11th best last year, ULL will run more than ever with the return of two-time 1,000-yard back Tyrell Fenroy, speedy Deon Wallace, and running quarterback Michael Desormeaux. The receivers aren't used much, but they're experienced enough to make plays when they get the chance. The offensive line isn't deep, but the starting five will end up fine. The team will hope for around 2,500 rushing yards, and around 60% completion percentage throwing it.
Defense: New defensive coordinator Kevin Fouqueir won't change too much from one of the Sun Belt's better defenses. Five starters return, along with a few others with starting experience, to form a solid run defense that needs to be tighter against the pass. The secondary will give up completions, but it's not going to get beaten too often. The front seven should be great with a nice blend of talents and depth to form a good rotation almost everywhere. If ULL doesn't lead the league in run defense, it'll finish second.


Oct. 20 – at Middle Tennessee
Offense: The offense was strange last year finishing sixth in the league in total yards but first in scoring. In other words, the O took advantage of almost every opportunity despite not being all that good scoring on 33 of 36 chances in the red zone. Even without long-time starting quarterback Clint Marks, the passing game can't help but better whether it's Joe Craddock, or one of three other options under center. The receiving corps is experienced, but unless Bobby Williams plays up to his talent, it won't be much better. The running game will be the strength with DeMarco McNair and speedsters Desmond Gee and Phillip Tanner running behind a massive line.
Defense: This should be one of the Sun Belt's best defenses in time, but only if the back seven can fill all the holes. The front four will be regulars in the backfield with three all-conference caliber ends in Erik Walden, Sean Mosley and Tavares Jones along with nose tackle Trevor Jenkins. The linebackers are a big problem needing to replace all three starters, but they aren't the problem the cornerbacks are. Bradley Robinson is an all-star, but there's no depth and a concern at the second spot. Damon Nickson will carry things for a while at safety.


Oct. 27 - Troy
Offense: Spread it out with four wide receivers, let Sun Belt Player of the Year Omar Haugabook throw to the open guy, hope it all works. This isn't an explosive attack, and it won't be for a while with a mixed bag of talents on the front line trying to fit the puzzle. The running backs are fine with the return of Sean Dawkins helping out Kenny Cattouse, and Gary Banks and Mykeal Terry lead an inexperienced receiving corps that'll be fine. But it's all up to Haugabook. He's the difference between a second straight Sun Belt title and a losing season.
Defense:
Troy won the Sun Belt title despite a mediocre year from the defense. Now the D will be positively dominant with the best secondary and a defensive line that's either the best, or a close second behind Middle Tennessee's. Generating pressure won't be a problem with phenomenal pass rushers from every spot, while the secondary will use five and six defensive backs at times just to get all its talent on the field. The linebacking corps is the weakness of the defense by default considering how good the line and secondary will be, but it'll still be fantastic with Boris Lee and Marcus Richardson each deserving all-star consideration.


Nov. 3 - FIU
Offense New offensive coordinator James Coley has a lot of work to do with an offense that finished dead last in America in scoring averaging fewer than ten points per game and 116th in the nation in yards averaging 233 per outing. Eight starters return, including the entire offensive line, and there's good potential in the backfield with the 1-2 rushing punch of Julian Reams and A'mod Ned, but the passing game needs work with Paul McCall likely to take over at quarterback and no experience at receiver to rely on. 
Defense: The defense did what it could with no help from the offense, and now seven starters return with a shot to be among the league's best. The secondary gets all four starters back, led by Lionell Singleton at corner. The line is big and good with a pair of strong 300-pounders (Roland Clarke and Jonas Murrell) inside. Now for the problem: the great linebacking corps loses all three starters. The top four tacklers are gone, along with the top pass rushers. Keyonvis Bouie, Alexander Bostic, and Antwan Barnes were stars who won't be easily replaced.


Nov. 10 – at Florida Atlantic
Offense: Things should be more consistent now that the quarterback situation is settled (at least to start the year) with Rusty Smith the full-time starter and Sean Clayton the backup. The running backs are experienced and quick, and Frantz Simeon leads a decent receiving corps, but it's all up to the line which was decent in pass protection last season but awful in the running game. It's a small front five by design, and that's a major issue for a ground game that averaged just 110 yards per game and an offense that struggled to amass 300 yards and 15 points per outing. 
Defense: The defense should be tremendous is all the starters play as expected. The back seven will be among the best in the Sun Belt with all three starters returning to the linebacking corps, two All-Sun Belt caliber safeties in Kris Bartels and Taheem Acevedo, and a shut-down corner in Corey Small. The defensive front gets three starters back led by top pass rusher Josh Pinnick and star tackle Jervonte Jackson. Even so, the run defense will be average, while the pass defense will be great.


Nov. 17 - North Texas
Offense: The offense hasn't moved the ball in two years finishing 117th in the nation last season in yards and 115th in scoring. The look of the attack will change dramatically as new head coach Todd Dodge will incorporate his spread attack in an attempt to get something going. The backfield is solid with RB Jamario Thomas leading the way and a slew of veteran, yet mediocre quarterbacks returning. The receiving corps will need a while to jell with all the talent in the incoming freshman class, while the line will be a major problem early on.
Defense: The defense improved dramatically after making a drastic move to the 3-4. Now it'll go back to a traditional 4-3 and hope the overall experience and depth will pay off with more big plays after forcing just 14 turnovers. The linebackers will be solid with the return of Maurice Holman, Brandon Monroe and Derek Mendoza, while Aaron Weathers anchors a secondary that should be better in time. Generating a pass rush from the front four is a must, but Jeremiah Chapman will be a good end to work around.


Nov. 24 – at
Southern Miss
Offense: While it’s become fashionable for programs across the country to switch to some fancy derivative of the spread offense, Southern Miss is content to pound the ball on the ground, control the clock and let its defense win games.  Sure, the Eagles prefer balance, but in Hattiesburg, the run continues to set up the pass.  Last year’s league-leading rusher, sophomore Damion Fletcher, is back for an encore, and this time, he brought friends.  Southern Miss is deep in the backfield, which will take pressure off versatile, yet erratic, senior quarterback Jeremy Young.  His favorite target will again be tight end Shawn Nelson, a future pro with All-America potential.  For a change, there are restless moments about an offensive line that’s replacing three starters, two of which were First Team All-Conference USA in 2006.
Defense: The “Nasty Bunch” defense that’s become the trademark of Southern Miss football under Jeff Bower should be one of the nation’s top ranked units in 2007.  It’s fast and experienced, and if Bower gets his way, about to become as physical as his vintage teams of the late 1990s.  The Eagles return nine starters, including the entire front seven and five players that earned all-Conference USA recognition in 2006.  Good luck moving the ball on this veteran group.  If there’s a weak link on defense it’s in the secondary, where two new starting corners will be broken in.  One way to help rookies Eddie Willingham and Michael McGee will be to get more pressure on the quarterback than last year, when USM was No. 81 in the country in sacks.

 

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