2007 North Texas Mean Green

Posted Jan 21, 2008

2007 North Texas Mean Green Season Game-By-Game Recaps and More

2007 North Texas Mean Green

Recap: The debut of "Dodge Ball" in Denton was a rocky one, but considering the dramatic changes on offense, the results surprised few observers.  There were growing pains everywhere in Todd Dodge's first season, none more so than on defense, where the Mean Green allowed more points than any team in the country.  Recognizing that it wasn't going to vie for a conference title, North Texas played for the future, handing the ball to true freshman QB Giovanni Vizza, who threw for a ton of yards to go along with an equal amount of rookie mistakes.         

Offensive Player of the Year: WR Casey Fitzgerald

Defensive Player of the Year: DE Jeremiah Chapman

Biggest Surprise: The Mean Green broke into the win column on Oct. 13, beating a UL-Monroe team that wound up in third place in the league.  Getting its best defensive effort of the year, including two picks for touchdowns, North Texas scored the first 21 points, holding on for a 31-21 victory.     

Biggest Disappointment: The offense.  No, this is not going to be an overnight transformation, but considering how often the Mean Green put the ball up and how many prevent defenses it faced, 24 points a game comes off as underwhelming.  Take out the 62-point explosion in a loss to Navy, and North Texas managed just 21 points per game. 

Looking Ahead: There's a justified feeling around Denton that it's just a matter of time before North Texas is once again a dangerous Sun Belt opponent.  Dodge had to break old habits and basically start over before moving forward with his vision for the program.  He's recruiting well, and destined to be more competitive in 2008.

- 2007 UNT Preview
2006 UNT Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 2-10
2007 Record:

Sept. 1 at Oklahoma L 79-10
Sept. 8 at SMU L 45-31
Sept. 22
Florida Atlantic L 30-20
Sept. 29 at Arkansas L 66-7
Oct. 6 at UL Laf. L 38-29
Oct. 13 UL Monroe W 31-21
Oct. 20 at Troy L 45-7
Oct. 27 Middle Tenn L 48-28
Nov. 10 Navy L 74-62
Nov. 15 at Ark. State L 31-27
Nov. 24
W. Kentucky W 27-26
Dec. 1 at FIU L 38-19

Dec. 1
Florida International 38 ... North Texas 19
Audric Adger came up with four sacks and Paul McCall threw a 58-yard touchdown pass to Trenard Turner and a 23-yarder to Jeremy Dickens as FIU broke the nation's longest losing streak. North Texas got one-yard touchdown runs from Jamario Thomas and Micah Mosley in the first half, but FIU responded with a Lionell Singleton kickoff return for a score as part of a 31-7 run to close things out. North Texas outgained FIU 345 yards to 344, but turned it over three times.
Player of the game: Florida International DE Audric Adger made eight tackles and four sacks
Stat Leaders: North Texas - Passing: Giovanni Vizza, 31-54, 253 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Micah Mosley, 9-65, 1 TD. Receiving: Sam Dibrell, 7-60
Florida International - Passing: Paul McCall, 11-19, 228 yds, 3 TD
Amod Ned, 17-74. Receiving: Jeremy Dickens, 4-45, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Just when it looks like the program is about to turn a corner, it clunks in a season ending loss to FIU to go into the offseason on a painful low note. However, the pieces are there to come out roaring in 2008, at least on offense. The focus going into spring ball will be defense, needing to slow someone down on the days when the offense isn't at peak efficiency. Offensively, getting a more consistent running game would be nice, but getting a strong year from Giovanni Vizza throwing it around would be better.

Nov. 24
North Texas 27 ... Western Kentucky 26
WKU's Chris James hit field goals from 26 and 44 yards away in the second half, but he missed a 38-yarder with just over a minute to play to seal UNT's second win of the year. Jamario Thomas ran for 147 yards with three second half touchdowns from eight, 30 and 42 yards out. Down 14-0 early, the Mean Green got on the board with a Chris Neal blocked punt return for a score, but the Hilltoppers took the momentum going into halftime with a 44-yard Terald Clark interception return for a touchdown. And then Thomas took over even though WKU controlled the ball for most of the second half. The two teams combined for 19 penalties for 198 yards.
Player of the game: North Texas RB Jamario Thomas ran 16 times for 147 yards and three touchdowns.
Stat Leaders: Western Kentucky - Passing: David Wolke, 14-20, 129 yds
Rushing: Tyrell Hayden, 19-97, 1 TD. Receiving: Curtis Hamilton, 7-73
North Texas - Passing: Giovanni Vizza, 20-42, 202 yds, 3 INT
Jamario Thomas, 16-147, 3 TD. Receiving: Casey Fitzgerald, 8-80
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Oh yeah, Jamario Thomas. It only took 10.5 games, but the UNT runner came up with a brilliant second half in his final home game to take control in the win over Western Kentucky. There were three interceptions from Giovanni Vizza and eight penalties, but there was, shock of shocks, some clutch defense in the second half. After a lousy year, UNT has a chance to close out with a two-game winning streak that could mean everything to the young Todd Dodge era, but a loss at FIU would mean there's a lot more rebuilding to be done.

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
Giovanni Vizza, 17-79. Receiving: Casey Fitzgerald, 11-58

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Can North Texas ever get a break? It lost to Navy in an epic shootout last week, and now it can't hold on to a ten-point lead against Arkansas State. The run defense did a terrific job a week after getting steamrolled over by Navy, while the running game provided as much balance as it's had all year. As ugly as things have gotten, the team has had its moments where it looks terrific. If the Mean Green can ever put it all together and get everything working at once, this will be a tough team to stop. That might not happen until next year.

Nov. 10
Navy 74 ... North Texas 62
In one of the wildest games in college football history, the two teams set a D-I record with 136 points with 1,315 yards of total offense. North Texas QB Giovanni Vizza threw eight touchdown passes including five to Casey Fitzgerald from nine, nine, 24, 29 and 17 yards out and a 75-yarder to Sam Dibrell, but Navy was able to roll up 572 yards of rushing offense to keep up. Down 49-31, Navy scored 27 straight points to take control of the game helped by a 21-yard Reggie Campbell touchdown run and a 66-yard Zerbin Singleton dash, but it wasn't until Reggie Campbell took a kickoff 73 yards for a touchdown did the Midshipmen finally take control. Navy averaged ten yards per carry.
Player of the game: In a losing cause, North Texas QB Giovanni Vizza completed 40 of 50 passes for 478 yards and eight touchdowns with two interceptions, and ran 13 times for 93 yards.
Stat Leaders: Navy - Passing: Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, 4-5, 108 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Shun White, 8-131, 1 TD. Receiving: Tyree Barns, 3-61, 1 TD
North Texas - Passing: Giovanni Vizza, 40-50, 478 yds, 8 TD, 2 INT
Giovanni Vizza, 13-93. Receiving: Casey Fitzgerald, 13-134, 5 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... UNT has gotten involved in two major shootouts this year, once with SMU and now with Navy, and lost them both because the defense wasn't remotely close to coming through with a clutch stop. Even so, cranking out eight touchdown passes from Gionvanni Vizza shows that the offense is certainly headed in the right direction, and eventually, the defense will catch up enough to start winning. Vizza is definitely one to build around.

Oct. 27
Middle Tennessee 48 ... North Texas 28
Middle Tennessee forced five turnovers and over came a 77-yard Jamario Thomas touchdown run on UNT's second play of the game to get the win. MT went on a 23-point first half run helped by a one-yard DeMarco McNair touchdown run and two Dwight Dasher touchdown passes with Taron Henry catching a 51-yard pass. North Texas stormed back at the end of the first half with two Giovanni Vizza touchdown passes, but the Blue Raiders got a four-yard McNair scoring run with :40 to play. UNT still wouldn't go away as Vizza ran for a two-yard score to pull within two, and then MT scored the final 18 points helped by a third McNair scoring run.
Player of the game: Middle Tennessee RB DeMarco McNair ran 11 times for 62 yards and two touchdowns, and caught two passes for 14 yards and a score.
Stat Leaders: Middle Tennessee - Passing: Dwight Dasher, 16-21, 159 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: DeMarco McNair, 11-62, 2 TD. Receiving: Taron Henry, 6-103, 1 TD
North Texas - Passing: Giovanni Vizza, 25-45, 296 yds, 2 TD, 4 INT
Jamario Thomas, 10-89, 1 TD. Receiving: Sam Dibrell, 8-121, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The North Texas offense moved well on Middle Tennessee, but 13 penalties and five turnovers were way too much to overcome. The running game has to be established over the last month. Jamario Thomas is a good back who isn't getting nearly enough work. He ripped off a 77-yard touchdown dash right away, and finished with 89 yards. That's inexcusable. The defense, for the most part, didn't do a bad job considering MT put 48 points on the board.

Oct. 20
Troy  45 ... North Texas 7
Troy turned it over seven times, but it didn't mater as Omar Haugabook threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Gary Banks, and caught a 22-yard score from Banks, as part of a 21-point first quarter. Haugabook kept bombing with a 46-yard touchdown pass to Jerrel Jernigan and an eight-yard pass to Kenny Cattouse in the route. North Texas wasn't able to take advantage of all the opportunities, only getting a 30-yard Micah Mosley score late in the third.
Player of the game: Troy DE Kenny Mainor made nine tackles and 3.5 sacks
Stat Leaders: Troy - Passing: Omar Haugabook, 25-37, 287 yds, 3 TD, 4 INT
Rushing: Omar Haugabook, 12-42. Receiving: Gary Banks, 6-95, 1 TD
North Texas - Passing: Giovanni Vizza, 22-37, 172 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Jamario Thomas, 8-19. Receiving: Brandon Jackson, 9-77

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... How is it even possible to forced seven turnovers and only score seven points? The running game against Troy was abysmal. There's such a reliance on Giovanni Vizza to run the ball that no one else is getting involved. Jamario Thomas only got eight carries. There were only 172 passing yards on 37 completions, and there were nine sacks of Vizza to screw things up. Now it's on to Middle Tennessee who also came up with nine sacks this week in a win over Arkansas State. Uh oh.

Oct. 13
North Texas 31 ...UL Monroe 21
North Texas got two defensive touchdowns and a 99-yard touchdown catch from Casey Fitzgerald on the way to a stunningly easy win. Defensive tackle Montey Stevenson took an interception 20 yards for a score, Fitzgerald came up with his big play, and Dominique Green took an interception 75 yards for a touchdown as part of a 21-0 second quarter. The Mean Green was up 31-7 on a one-yard Micah Mosley run, while the D only allowed a 46-yard Zeek Zacharie touchdown catch before the final 1:23.
Player of the game: North Texas LB Maurice Stevenson made ten tackles, an interception, two tackles for loss, a broken up pass, and 1.5 sacks, with a
Stat Leaders: UL Monroe - Passing: Trey Revell, 14-29, 196 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Calvin Dawson, 18-65. Receiving: Frank Goodin, 6-79, 1 TD
North Texas - Passing: Giovanni Vizza, 16-30, 202 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Micah Mosley, 11-73, 1 TD. Receiving: Casey Fitzgerald, 6-118, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Defense? For the first time all year, the Mean Green defense showed up, coming up with big plays early, and holding UL Monroe to 130 rushing yards with three pickoffs. The offense didn't get its normal passing numbers, even with a 99-yard touchdown, but it didn't need it. The running game and the defense were enough to win with this week. Eventually it'll all come together, and the passing game will blow up and the defense will be a rock, but for now, just getting wins any way possible is important.

Oct. 6
UL Lafayette 38 ... North Texas 29
Michael Desormeaux tore of a 73-yard touchdown run, and ran for a four yard score, as UL Lafayette ran past North Texas. The Mean Green passing game took a while to get going, but eventually, Giovanni Vizza got hot and hit Casey Fitzgerald with touchdown passes from 39 and 27 yards out. Brock Stickler recovered a fumble for a Mean Green touchdown in the second quarter, and caught an eight-yard scoring pass in the third to help the Mean Green keep pace, but the defense couldn't get the ULL running game off the field.
Player of the game: UL Lafayette QB Michael Desormeaux completed ten of 20 passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns, and ran 18 times for 150 yards and two scores.
Stat Leaders: North Texas - Passing: Giovanni Vizza, 35-57, 383 yds, 3 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Jamario Thomas, 13-60. Receiving: Casey Fitzgerald, 14-121, 2 TD
UL Lafayette - Passing: Michael Desormeaux, 10-20, 114 yds, 2 TD
Michael Desormeaux, 18-150, 2 TD. Receiving:
Derrick Smith, 4-80, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The defense has to do more when it's given a rest. UNT held the ball for 40:36 against UL Lafayette, and did a great job of keeping the chains moving, but the Ragin' Cajuns hit home run after home run. Offensively, Giovanni Vizza is going to fight through growing pains all year, but as much as he's going to wing it around, he has to do a better job of not turning the ball over. Right now, the Mean Green has to be almost perfect to win.

Sept. 29
Arkansas 66 ... North Texas 7
Arkansas ripped off 416 rushing yards and scored the first 45 points of the game before North Texas put an end to the run with a one-yard Giovanni Vizza touchdown run late in the first half. Darren McFadden scored from two and four yards out, while Felix Jones ripped off scoring dashes from 35 and 71 yards away. Casey Dick threw thee touchdown passes, including a 61-yarder to London Crawford and a 37-yarder to Robert Johnson.
Player of the game: Arkansas RBs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones combined for 270 yards and four touchdowns on 26 carries.
Stat Leaders: North Texas - Passing: Giovanni Vizza, 8-16, 118 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Micah Mosley, 11-68. Receiving: Brandon Jackson, 6-84
Arkansas - Passing: Casey Dick, 12-21, 210 yds, 3 TD
Darren McFadden, 19-138, 2 TD. Receiving: Robert Johnson, 4-71, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... It's not fair to judge the Mean Green run defense against Arkansas, but at least the offense should've been able to get something going. It's not like the Hogs kept up the intensity in the second half after getting up 45-7, but UNT still going get anything from anyone to move the chains. The passing game doesn't have to be explosive, but it has to be efficient. It has to complete the short to midrange passes on a regular basis, and both Giovanni Vizza and Daniel Meager weren't' even close, combining to completed 15 of 41 passes with two interceptions.

Sept. 22
Florida Atlantic 30 ... North Texas 20
North Texas took a 20-10 lead late into the third quarter helped by a 37-yard Jamario Thomas touchdown run and two 37-yard Thomas Moreland field goals, and then FAU's defense took over and the offense exploded for 20 unanswered points on two of Warley Leroy's three field goals, a 74-yard Cortez Gent touchdown pass, and a seven-yard DiIvory Edgecomb scoring run after an interception.
Player of the game: Florida Atlantic QB Rusty Smith completed 21 of 45 passes for 322 yards and a touchdown.
Stat Leaders: Florida Atlantic - Passing: Rusty Smith, 21-45, 322 yds, 1 TD
Charles Pierre, 8-25, 1 TD. Receiving: Cortez Gent, 4-96, 1 TD
North Texas - Passing: Daniel Meager, 38-61, 301 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT
Jamario Thomas, 14-117, 1 TD. Receiving: Casey Fitzgerald, 10-89

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Now that the new offense is in place, UNT can't lose the passing battle. Florida Atlantic was able to outpass the Mean Green 322 yards to 301, while the running game didn't work outside of a big run from Jamario Thomas. A positive overall sign was the play of the run defense that did a decent job throughout, but to start winning, there can't be three interceptions in critical times, and Daniel Meager has to get more yards after the catch from his receivers. 301 yards on 61 pass attempts isn't going to get it done in this offense.

Sept. 8
SMU 45 ... North Texas 31
In a wild game with the two teams combining for 954 passing yards and 1,147 yards of total offense, North Texas QB Daniel Meager threw for 601 yards and three touchdowns, with Casey Fitzgerald catching 18 passes for 327 yards and two touchdowns and Brandon Jackson catching ten passes for 133 yards and a touchdown ... in a loss. SMU's Justin Willis was unstoppable with two touchdown passes and 82 rushing yards, with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Zack Sledge breaking a 31-31 tie late in the fourth quarter. North Texas had one last shot and was driving, but Bryce Hudman picked off a Meager pass and took it 49 yards for a score. The two teams traded long, quick scoring drives all game long, with UNT getting touchdown grabs from 25 and 26 yards out from Fitzgerald, and SMU getting help from two James Mapps touchdown runs along with a one-yard DeMyron Martin dash.
Player of the game ... SMU QB Justin Willis completed 30 of 42 passes for 353 yards and two touchdowns with an interception and ran ten times for 82 yards
Stat Leaders: North Texas - Passing: Daniel Meager, 46-64, 601 yds, 3 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Micah Mosley, 12-39, 1 TD  Receiving: Casey Fitzgerald, 18-327, 2 TD
SMU - Passing: Justin Willis, 30-42, 353 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Justin Willis, 10-82   Receiving: Emmanuel Sanders, 10-72, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Big picture time. Yeah, the loss to SMU stinks, and it would've been nice to get some winning momentum, but it doesn't really matter. All that matters right now is that Todd Dodge's offense ripped off 601 passing yards and appears to be ready to take the Sun Belt by storm. There were too many penalties, some huge turnovers, and no real running game, but if the offense can really keep putting up ridiculous passing numbers, no one in the Sun Belt has a prayer of keeping pace.

Sept. 1
Oklahoma 79 ... North Texas 10
Sam Bradford was nearly perfect, completing 21 of 23 passes for 363 yards and three touchdowns, but he was slightly overshadowed by a five touchdown performance from DeMarco Murray, who scored from 44, one, three, one and three yards out. Malcolm Kelly caught touchdown passes from 65 and 24 yards out, and Nic Harris returned an interception 35 yard for a score as OU was up 63-3 before Casey Fitzgerald scored on a 69-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter.
Player of the game ... Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford completed 21 of 23 passes for 363 yards and three touchdowns
Stat Leaders: North Texas - Passing: Giovanni Vizza, 4-11, 124 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Micah Mosley, 5-15  Receiving: Casey Fitzgerald, 7-126, 1 TD
Oklahoma - Passing: Sam Bradford, 21-23, 363 yds, 3 TD
Mossis Madu, 9-87, 1 TD  Receiving: Juaquin Iglesias, 7-128
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... There will be better days for Todd Dodge. Playing a fired up Oklahoma team isn't the way to start and era, and for a team that needs time to get an offense in place, several warm-up games are needed before things start to get better. The defense didn't have a prayer against the Sooner offense with a line that allowed the skill players to do whatever they wanted to. The one positive was punter Truman Spencer, who had a nice day pushing the Sooners deep. He'll be used a lot this year.

Sept. 1 – at Oklahoma
Offense: If a quarterback comes through and shines, this could be the nation's most effective offense. If the offensive line isn't the best in college football, it's number two, the running backs are very fast and very talented, and the receiving corps, led by top pro prospect Malcolm Kelly, is very big and very fast. It all comes down to redshirt freshman Sam Bradford, who won a tight quarterback battle and needs to be efficient from the opening snap.
Defense: It'll be an interesting defense that has the potential to be a killer, but has some major concerns. The secondary should be among the best in America with enough size, speed, and talent to keep the NFL scouts buzzing. DeMarcus Granger is a rising superstar tackle who should combine with Gerald McCoy, Cory Bennett and Steven Coleman to stuff up everything on the inside. If the unknown ends come though with a halfway decent season, and the untested linebacking corps is nearly as good as last year's, look out.

Sept. 8 – at 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 - 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.

Sept. 29 – at Arkansas
Offense: The Gus Malzahn experience quickly got pushed aside, forgetting about his spread offense to better utilize the devastating running attack. Now it'll be up to new offensive coordinator David Lee, who'll try to run a pro style passing attack, but will spend most of his time figuring out how to get the ball into the hands of the magnificent running duo of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. The line, despite the loss of three starters, will be fantastic for the running game, but suspect in pass protection. Marcus Monk is an elite receiver, but a number two option has to emerge and Casey Dick has to throw the ball effectively and consistently.
Defense: It'll be a good defense, but there are some big-time talent losses in linemen Jamaal Anderson and Keith Jackson, corner Chris Houston, and linebacker Sam Olajubutu. There's plenty of speed and athleticism to go around in what should be a solid back seven, but everyone has to stay healthy. The line needs tackle depth with Marcus Harrison questionable after tearing his knee this spring. Overall, coordinator Reggie Herring will keep things aggressive with tons of plays in the backfield, along with lots of pressure applied by the defensive backs.

Oct. 6 – at 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. 13 - 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. 20 – at 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.
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.

Oct. 27 - 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.

Nov. 10 - Navy
Offense: Navy led the nation in rushing in 2005, led the nation in rushing in 2006, and will lead the nation in rushing in 2007. What's the difference? The ground game will be terrific as always, but now it'll be truly special with the best combination of backfield talent and experience head coach Paul Johnson has ever had. There won't be any passing game, but it won't matter with a ground attack that can crank out a big run from anywhere on the field. The big concern will be the line with no experience among the backups whatsoever and a shaky starting five if left tackle Josh Meek's injured knee isn't healthy.
Uh oh. Wholesale changes need to be made with only three starters and seven lettermen returning. The best defense will be a good offense needing the ground game to crank out long drives to keep this inexperienced, woefully undersized, untested group off the field. Pass rushers need to emerge with the hope for Chris Kuhar-Pitters and Casey Hebert to turn into playmakers around rising star tackle Nate Frazier. Clint Sovie and Irv Spencer will turn into reliable inside linebackers, but outside linebacker will be a question. The secondary will be a work in progress around solid corner Rashawn King.

Nov. 15 – at Arkansas State
Offense: Run, run and run some more. At least that's what ASU has done over the last several years, and it has the talent in the backfield to do it again with speedy quarterback Corey Leonard leading a loaded group of runners with several great backs to hand off to. Reggie Arnold is the best of the bunch, but he's one of just four good options to carry the load. Two problems with what ASU likes to do. 1. The line needs major revamping losing three key players and 2) the receiving corps might be the team's second biggest strength behind the running backs. The underutilized corps has speed to burn, but Leonard couldn't get them the ball on a consistent basis last season. That has to quickly change.
Defense: It's all up to the defensive line. The linebacking corps, despite some huge losses, will be surprisingly solid with Koby McKinnon returning with plenty of help around him. The safeties are tremendous with Tyrell Johnson and Khayyam Burns each on the fast track to All-Sun Belt honors. The corners are deep and potentially a major strength of the defense. And then there's the line, which has to figure out how to get to the quarterback at some point. The return of Brian Flagg and Brandon Rollins from injuries will be a huge boost. The 4-3 alignment works, and it should produce the league's best statistical pass defense.

Nov. 24 – Western Kentucky

Dec. 1 – at 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.


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