2007 Troy Trojans

Posted Jan 21, 2008

2007 Troy Trojans Season Game-By-Game Recaps and More

2007 Troy Trojans

Recap: The Trojans were built for a second straight Sun Belt Conference championship, and seemingly headed in that direction with one final hurdle remaining.  Florida Atlantic, however, had other plans.  The underdog Owls shocked Troy on Dec. 1, dethroning Troy and ending its eight-game winning streak in league games.  Although it was a good year on many levels for the Trojans, which beat Oklahoma State in September and hung with Georgia in November, they were unable to land another bowl game as the Sun Belt runner-up.     

Offensive Player of the Year: QB Omar Haugabook

Defensive Player of the Year: CB Elbert Mack

Biggest Surprise: Sure, Troy was dangerous, but no one expected it to obliterate Oklahoma State on Sept. 15.  The Trojans dominated from the kickoff, opening up a 41-10 bulge after three quarters behind a monster effort through the air and on the ground from Haugabook.

Biggest Disappointment: With the league crown at stake, it was a foregone conclusion that the Trojans would beat Florida Atlantic at home, right? Uh-uh.  The Owl passing game took it to Troy for four quarters, winning 38-32, and leaving the defending champs without a 13th game to play in December.          

Looking Ahead: It's a good thing that Larry Blakeney has recruited so well in recent years because he's going to need the depth in a post-Haugabook era.  While the offense gets up to speed in 2008, the Trojans will be paced by a defense that returns an all-league performer at each level. 

- 2007 Troy Preview
2006 Troy Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2007 Record: 8-

Sept. 1 at Arkansas L 46-26
Sept. 8 at Florida L 59-31
Sept. 14 Oklahoma St W 41-23
Sept. 22 at UL Laf. W 48-31
Sept. 29
UL Monroe W 24-7
Oct. 6 at FIU W 34-16
Oct. 20 North Texas W 45-7
Oct. 27 at Ark. St W 27-0
Nov. 3 at Georgia L 44-34
Nov. 10
at West. Ky W 21-17
Nov. 20 Middle Tenn W 45-7
Dec. 1 Florida Atlantic L 38-32

Dec. 1
Florida Atlantic 38 ... Troy 32
Florida Atlantic won the Sun Belt title and a trip to the New Orleans Bowl by forcing three turnovers and getting two second half touchdown passes from Rusty Smith. DiIvory Edgecomb started out the scoring with a one-yard run, and Willie Rose ran for a 41 yard touchdown, but Troy kept the pressure on with four Greg Whibbs field goals in the first half and two Omar Haugabook touchdown passes in the fourth quarter. The Trojans pulled within six on a 14-yard Gerald Tate catch with 4:25 to play, and then held as Troy got to the Owl 30 in the final minute before sputtering out.
Player of the game: Florida Atlantic QB Rusty Smith completed 23 of 34 passes or 291 yards and two touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Florida Atlantic - Passing: Rusty Smith, 23-34, 291 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Charles Pierre, 19-60, 1 TD. Receiving: Cortez Gent, 8-155, 1 TD
Troy - Passing: Omar Haugabook, 35-47, 265 yds, 2 TD
Omar Haugabook, 23-86. Receiving: Gary Banks, 8-75

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Troy was prone to turning the ball over throughout the year, and this time it proved costly. Three giveaways, with Florida Atlantic not committing any turnovers, hurt, but the big problem was an inability to finish off drives in the first half. Time and again the Troy offense got close, only to have to settle for field goals. Omar Haugabook, mistakes and all, had a huge game, but this wasn't the way he'd have wanted to close out his Sun Belt career. It's a shame he had to carry the entire offense with top RB Kenny Cattouse hurt with an ankle injury.

Nov. 19
Troy 45 ... Middle Tennessee 7
Middle Tennessee tied the game late in the first quarter on a five-yard Stephen Chicola touchdown catch. Troy completely and totally dominated on both sides the ball the rest of the way scoring 38 unanswered points with Omar Haugabook scoring on two short runs along with a one-yard Sean Dawkins run. Cornelius Williams closed out the rout with a 16-yard touchdown catch. Troy came up with 37 first downs to 12 and outgained the Blue Raiders 551 yards to 209.
Player of the game: Troy QB Omar Haugabook completed 16 of 29 passes fro 194 yards and a touchdown with an interception, and ran 16 times for 64 yards and two scores.
Stat Leaders: Middle Tennessee - Passing: Joe Craddock, 18-25, 116 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: DeMarco McNair, 10-43. Receiving: Desmond Gee, 5-41
Troy - Passing: Omar Haugabook, 16-29, 194 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Omar Haugabook, 16-64, 2 TD. Receiving:
Jerrel Jernigan, 5-74
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Troy appears to be totally locked in with its best game of the year coming at just the right time. Middle Tennessee didn't have a chance once all the parts of the perfectly balanced Trojan attack started to hum, and now everything is set up for the showdown for the Sun Belt title against Florida Atlantic (as long as the Owls don't lose to FIU). The defense camped out in the backfield and Omar Haugabook was on, but to nitpick, there were two interceptions. The only was FAU can win next week is by winning the turnover battle.

Nov. 10
Troy 21 ... Western Kentucky 17
Troy held on as Western Kentucky scored the final ten points of the game, but failed to move the ball on its final two drives. The Trojans got a five-yard Gary Banks touchdown catch and a 16-yard Chris Bradwell fumble recovery for a score in the first, and a three-yard Kenny Cattouse touchdown run in the third for a 21-7 lead. Western Kentucky ran for 256 yards, while Troy ran for 241.
Player of the game: Troy RB Kenny Cattouse ran 19 times for 112 yards and a touchdown, and ran four times for 29 yards
Stat Leaders: Troy - Passing: Omar Haugabook, 12-25, 125 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Kenny Cattouse, 19-112, 1 TD. Receiving: Kenny Cattouse, 4-29
Western Kentucky - Passing: K.J. Black, 10-10, 149 yds, 1 TD
Stephen Willis, 7-158, 1 TD. Receiving: Curtis Hamilton, 9-147, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Trojans didn't need the game against Western Kentucky, but it kept the momentum going with its seventh win in eight games. Omar Haugabook had one of his worst games of the year, and the run defense struggled, but coming off the loss to Georgia, and with the showdowns with Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic ahead, the team can be forgiven if the intensity wasn't there. One win in the final two games assures at least a tie for the Sun Belt title.

Nov. 3
Georgia 44 ... Troy 34
Knowshown Moreno tore off an 80-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and Matthew Stafford threw two second quarter touchdown passes to give Georgia a 24-10 lead, but Troy never backed down all game long with Omar Haugabook throwing a 32-yard touchdown pass to Jerrel Jernigan and connecting with Kennard Burton for a 44-yard score to pull within four. The Dawgs were able to pull away with two one-yard Moreno scoring runs and two Brandon Coutu field goals. The Trojans outgained Georgia 488 yards to 465.
Player of the game: Georgia RB Knowshon Moreno ran 26 times for 196 yards and three touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Troy - Passing: Omar Haugabook, 29-45, 310 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Kenny Cattouse, 9-60. Receiving: Jerrell Jernigan, 11-102, 2 TD
Georgia - Passing: Matthew Stafford, 17-29, 217 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Knowshon Moreno, 26-196, 3 TD. Receiving:
Sean Bailey, 5-57, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Give the Trojans credit for never backing down against Georgia, even if they didn't have enough ammo to keep up in the second half. Omar Haugabook kept pressing and pressing, and Jerrell Jernigan once again showed what a weapon he can be for the attack with 11 catches. Turnovers were a problem yet again, giving up four to make it 15 in three weeks, and those have to stop to make sure there isn't an upset to Western Kentucky next week.

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
Corey Leonard, 18-56. Receiving: Levi Dejohnette, 4-11

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The defense has been unbelievable over the past month and came up with its magnum opus in the win over Arkansas State. It was a dominant thing of beauty with five sacks and play after play to snuff out drives. Now the offense has to figure out how to stop screwing up. A week after giving it away seven times in the win over North Texas, to turn it over four times this week is inexcusable. To upset Georgia in two weeks, ball security will be a must.

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? ... Troy won't be able to overcome seven turnovers against anyone ever again, but North Texas isn't just anyone. Omar Haugabook was hardly sharp and there was no running game, but it didn't matter, The O kept screwing up, and the D kept making stops. There are bound to be clunkers, but the sign of a good team is being able overcome a lousy day and still win. 45-7 is still 45-7.

Oct. 6
Troy 34 ... Florida International 16
FIU made it interesting early on, holding a 7-0 lead into the second quarter on a four-yard run from Wayne Younger, but helped by a career day from Kenny Cattouse, Troy rumbled for a 34-3 run that wasn't stopped until Younger threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to James Rucker with 29 second to play. Omar Haugabook ran for a two-yard score and threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Davis, but it as a 84-yard Leodis McKelvin punt return for a score and an 88-yard dash from Cattouse that turned the game into a blowout.
Player of the game: Troy RB Kenny Cattouse ran for 205 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, adding six catches for 18 yards.
Stat Leaders: Troy - Passing: Omar Haugabook, 24-34, 195 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Kenny Cattouse, 14-205, 1 TD. Receiving: Gary Banks, 6-65
Florida International - Passing: Wayne Younger, 19-40, 248 yds, 1 TD, 2 INTs
Wayne Younger, 16-35, 1 TD . Receiving: Jason Frierson, 4-64

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
It was a simple equation against FIU. Run the ball, don't turn it over, don't make any major mistakes, win the game. The Golden Panther offense didn't have enough to make any sort of a comeback once Troy got rolling. It was a major plus that Omar Haugabook didn't have to carry the load for a game, with Kenny Cattouse, and a great punt return from Leodis McKelvin, making things easy after the first FIU drive. One more breather against North Texas, and then the real work begins.

Sept. 29
Troy 24 ... UL Monroe 7
In a defensive battle, Boris Lee returned an interception 28 yards for a touchdown, and Omar Haugabook hit Kennard Burton for a four-yard score and Josh Allen from six yards out as Troy came up with the hard win. UL Monroe managed a third quarter Zeek Zacharie touchdown catch from two yards out, but had problems with penalties turnovers. The two teams combined for 20 penalties and five turnovers.
Player of the game: Troy QB Omar Haugabook went 29-of-49 for 288 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, running for 25 yards on 10 carries.
Stat Leaders: UL Monroe - Passing: Kinsmon Lancaster, 18-26, 114 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Calvin Dawson, 20-159. Receiving: Darrell McNeal, 8-31
Troy - Passing: Omar Haugabook, 29-49, 288 yds, 2 TDs, 2 INTs
DuJuan Harris, 7-50. Receiving: Gary Banks, 8-97
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... It might not have been pretty, and the run defense might have had a problem with Calvin Dawson, but the win over UL Monroe should be the key to a big run. Now at 2-0 in Sun Belt play, the Trojans get to layups against FIU and North Texas before traveling to Arkansas State. The offense could use more from the ground game, but if the defense plays as tough as it did this week, this should still be the Sun Belt's team to beat.

Sept. 22
Troy 48 ... UL Lafayette 31
Kenny Cattouse scored from 36, nine, and eight yards out, and Elbert Mack returned an interception 39 yards for a score as Troy overcame an early deficit to get the win. UL Lafayette got up 14-0 before everyone was in their seats. Jason Chery busted off an 80-yard touchdown run on the second play from scrimmage, and following a Troy fumble, Deon Wallace scored from six yards out,. And then the Trojan offense took over, with Omar Haugabook running for a 15-yard score and throwing two touchdown passes to go along with Cattouse's scores. The two teams combined for 1,072 yards of total offense.
Player of the game: Troy RB Kenny Cattouse ran 19 times for 139 yards and three touchdowns.
Stat Leaders: UL Lafayette - Passing: Michael Desormeaux, 20-38, 158 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Michael Desormeaux, 21-159. Receiving: Derrick Smith, 6-72

Troy - Passing: Omar Haugabook, 30-43, 297 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Kenny Cattouse, 19-139, 3 TD. Receiving: Josh Allen 7-128
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The offense is humming right now. After blowing past Oklahoma State, the Trojans got all the parts working against UL Lafayette, with a near perfect balance. The defense struggled a bit too much, especially giving up 345 yards on the ground, meaning the offense will have to continue to put up big numbers unless that tightens up in a hurry against all the good Sun Belt running games. The defensive line has to start doing more, and the return of Kenny Mainor should help.

Sept. 14
Troy 41 ... Oklahoma State 23
Bad weather delayed the start of the game, but a little rain didn't slow down Troy in the first half as it jumped out to a stunning 27-10 lead on a touchdown run and throw from Omar Haugabook, a 17-yard scoring play from WR Gary Banks to Mykeal Terry, and a 54-yard Leodis McKelvin punt return for a score. The Trojans stayed hot out of the locker room with two short touchdown runs from Haugabook and Sean Dawkins, while the OSU offense sputtered with missed passes, penalties, and poor play on third downs. Julius Crosslin ran for two short fourth quarter scores for the Cowboys.
Player of the game: Troy QB Omar Haugabook completed 33 of 48 passes for 371 yards and a touchdown with an interception, and ran 13 times for 49 yards and two scores.
Stat Leaders: Troy
- Passing: Omar Haugabook, 33-48, 371 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Kenny Cattouse, 12-62. Receiving: Gary Banks, 5.66
Oklahoma State
- Passing: Zac Robinson, 27-37, 191 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Zac Robinson, 9-61. Receiving: Dez Bryant, 3-67
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Just being fired up to play in the national spotlight only goes so far. Troy came up with a perfectly executed game on both sides of the ball against Oklahoma State, with the offense inventive, efficient, and explosive early on, showing what a difference Omar Haugabook can make when he's accurate. The defense always hits hard at Troy, but once the rout was on, everyone was still popping. Now the key will be to keep the momentum going against UL Lafayette. Beating OSU is nice, but beating ULL means more.

Sept. 8
Florida 59 ... Troy 31
Florida cranked out 49 first half points as Tim Tebow threw three touchdown passes and ran for a three-yard score. Troy didn't exactly make it interesting after going into the locker room down by 42, but it didn't give up as Omar Haugabook ran for a touchdown and threw two touchdown passes. Tebow added a 16-yard touchdown run late in the fourth after playing the entire game. Florida outgained the Trojans 500 yards to 336 and 264 yards to 53 on the ground.
Player of the game: Florida QB Tim Tebow went 18-of-25 for 236 yards and three touchdown passes, and had 93 yards and two more scores on the ground.
Stat Leaders: Troy
- Passing: Omar Haugabook, 29-52, 283 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Rushing: DuJuan Harris, 6-18. Receiving: Austin Silvoy, 5-72, 2 TDs
- Passing: Tim Tebow, 18-25, 236 yds, 3 TDs
Rushing: Tim Tebow, 17-93, 2 TDs. Receiving: Cornelius Ingram, 7-105, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Trojan defense has taken a beating over the first two games against Arkansas and Florida, and while that's not a surprise, the real concern, as it applies to future Sun Belt play, is the issue with quarterbacks who move. Granted, Darren McFadden isn't your normal quarterback, and Tim Tebow is special, but considering the Sun Belt quarterbacks run, and Oklahoma State's mobile Bobby Reid is up next, it's a trend worth watching. Give the Trojans credit for not giving up after halftime. It was never a ball game, but QB Omar Haugabook certainly made it interesting.

Sept. 1
Arkansas 46 ... Troy 26
Arkansas got 100-yard rushing days from both Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, and also got a 42-yard McFadden touchdown pass to Crosby Tuck as part of a big third quarter. After a tight first half, with Troy getting a 17-yard Gerald Tate touchdown catch and a one-yard Kenny Cattouse scoring run, Arkansas pulled away in the second half as Jones, who also tore off a 100-yard kickoff return for a score, ran for a 44-yard score. The Trojans got their final points on a two-yard Tanner Jones run as time ran out.
Player of the game ... Arkansas RB Darren McFadden ran 24 times for 151 yards and a touchdown, caught two passes for 30 yards,  and completed one pass for a 42-yard score.
Stat Leaders: Troy - Passing: Omar Haugabook, 15-43, 204 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Jamie Hampton, 3-72  Receiving: Gary Banks, 5-66
Arkansas - Passing: Casey Dick, 11-20, 108 yds
Darren McFadden, 24-151, 1 TD  Receiving: Peyton Hillis, 6-39
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Arkansas is going to run for 350 yards on just about everyone, so there's no need to be too upset about the defensive performance against the Hogs. What was a problem was Omar Haugabook's accuracy, completing just 15 of 43 passes, but bombing for 204 yards. Troy needs Haugabook to be consistent, especially on third downs, and he needs to keep the chains moving against Florida and Oklahoma State over the next few weeks. If he's completing 35% of his passes, Troy will get blown out again.

Sept. 1 – 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.

Sept. 8 – at Florida
Offense: Now it's time to see how this baby runs. Now the Urban Meyer spread offense will do what it's supposed to with Tim Tebow at the controls full-time, and with a slew of speedy players around him. The offensive line isn't going to wow anyone, but it's experienced, and good enough to win with. The receiving corps has explosion, led by Percy Harvin, Andre Caldwell, and some tremendous tight ends, and the running backs, with the emergence of smallish speedster Chris Rainey, will have more pop. Now it's up to Tebow to not only shine, but stay healthy with two true freshmen behind him.
This is what's called giving Florida the benefit of the doubt. Anyone else replacing nine starters, needing a slew of true freshman to play big roles right away, and/or had the issues the Gators have on the line and at corner, would be instantly dismissed from any SEC East title talk much less the national championship discussion. The recruiting classes have brought in a ton of ultra-fast, ultra-athletic player for the back seven, but there isn't enough size up front, or developed depth anywhere, to hope for any sort of consistency. No, things won't fall off the map after finishing sixth in the nation in scoring and total defense, but there will be some major growing pains to fight through.

Sept. 14 - Oklahoma State
Offense: The potential is there for the nation's 16th best offense and seventh best scoring attack to be even better. Quarterback Bobby Reid lived up to the hype last season and proved he could be a star. While he loses a great target in D'Juan Woods, he gets Adarius Bowman back to go along with a slew of speedy but unproven receivers to stretch the field. The 1-2 rushing punch of Dantrell Savage and Keith Toston is among the fastest and most dangerous in America running behind a decent line that has experience, but will be a work in progress to find the right starting combination.
Defense: If nothing else, the defense was certainly interesting with an aggressive style that produced a ton of sacks, plenty of tackles for loss, and gave up too many big plays. New defensive coordinator Tim Beckman will tone things down a little bit while still taking the fight to the offense. The back seven will be terrific with a fantastic linebacking corps, even with top middle man Rodrick Johnson playing end and star Chris Collins trying to get through knee and off-the-field problems, while the secondary will strong as long as injuries don't hit the safeties. Experience on the line, especially at tackle, will be an issue early on, but the starting ends, Marque Fountain and Nathan Peterson, will be all-stars.

Sept. 22 – 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.

Sept. 29 - 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. 6 – 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.

Oct. 20 - 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.

Oct. 27 – 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. 3 – at Georgia
Offense: The offense was a disaster at times throughout an inconsistent season, but that was to be expected with a true freshman at quarterback, at times, injury problems at running back, and the team's best receiver out. Now, sophomore QB Matthew Stafford appears on the verge of being the superstar he's supposed to be, Thomas Brown is expected to be back at some point to help out the running game, after missing the second half of last year with a knee injury, and Sean Bailey should be the number one target now that he's back from his knee injury. The offense, at least early on, will revolve around big Kregg Lumpkin and the running game, but the line needs to produce as well as it did this spring. A mega-concern going into the off-season, now the front five appears to be a strength.
Defense: Defensive coordinator Willie Martinez has his work cut out for him. After losing star corner Paul Oliver to academic ineligibility, the defense is woefully short on sure-thing veteran stars with only three returning starters. There's plenty of potential, speed, and athleticism, but several things have to happen for this to be nearly as good as the number eight defense it was last year. The pass rush should be there in time, but it might take the wheels of outside linebackers Darius Dewberry and Dannell Ellerbe to generate some consistent pressure early on. The secondary needs to unearth more big play options, and a number one corner has to quickly emerge. While undersized, the line is tough and should grow into a rock as the year goes on. This will be a far, far better defense after a few games. By then the coaching staff will have the right combination.

Nov. 10 – at Western Kentucky

Nov. 20 - 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.

Dec. 1 - 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.


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