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2008 CFN Sun Belt Team Capsules
UL Lafayette QB Michael Desormeaux
UL Lafayette QB Michael Desormeaux
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 17, 2008


2008 CFN Sun Belt Predictions and Team-by-Team Thumbnail Views

2008 CFN Sun Belt Preview

Predictions & Quick Team Previews

Team Previews & Predictions
Arkansas State | Florida Atlantic | FIU | Middle Tennessee
North Texas | Troy | Louisiana-Lafayette | UL Monroe

- 2008 CFN Sun Belt Preview
- CFN All-Sun Belt Team & Top 30 Players

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Sun Belt Unit Rankings

- Sun Belt Schedules & Predictions


1.
Florida Atlantic
- Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
Predicted record: 7-5  Conf. record: 5-2
Best Offensive Player:
QB Rusty Smith, Jr.
Best Defensive Player:
LB Frantz Joseph, Sr.
Offense: Almost everyone returns on what should be the Sun Belt's best offense. No one in the league can touch FAU's talent at the skill positions, led by Sun Belt Player of the Year Rusty Smith at quarterback, while the line that was 13th in the nation in sacks allowed gets most of the key parts back. The receiving corps, led by WR Cortez Gent and TE Jason Harmon, is deep and talented, while the backfield has three good backs in Charles Pierre (the runner), William Rose (the receiver) and DiIvory Edgecomb (the all-around talent) to do even more for the ground game. While there might be a little more balance, this is a passing team. Smith could throw for 4,000 yards after gong for 3,688 last year.
Defense: Nine starters return to an underwhelming group that was good at forcing turnovers, but lousy at making plays in the backfield. Injuries to the line were part of the problem, and now veteran ends Robert St. Clair, by far the team's best pass rusher, and Jermaine Council have to do more. The corner tandem of Corey Small and Tavious Polo should be the best in the league, while all-around playmaker Frantz Joseph could be the Sun Belt's best defensive player from his spot in the middle. Overall, there has to be more production against the run and better play against efficient passers, but this should be a decent defense that will hold up just enough to the great offense can do its thing.

T2. Arkansas State
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Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
Predicted record: 5-7   Conf. record: 4-3
Best Offensive Player:
RB Reggie Arnold, Jr.
Best Defensive Player:
LB Ben Owens, Sr.
Offense: The offense went from being all run all the time in 2006 to balanced and inconsistent. The emergence of Corey Leonard as a top all-around quarterback helped the passing game crank out over 200 yards per game, but the offense revolves around Reggie Arnold and the running game. The line is big and beefy, but outside of all-star OT Matt Mandich there's little experience and big-time concern about the depth. The receiving corps is decent and could grow into one of the best in the league as the season goes on.
Defense: The best defense in the Sun Belt last year wasn't great at stopping offenses cold, but it was good at keeping teams from blowing up. Now there are issues with the entire secondary needing to be replaced, including the tremendous safety tandem of Tyrell Johnson and Khyyam Burns, but things should be fine if Cordarious Mingo and the JUCO transfers can shine right away. The linebacking corps should be good, even though it's woefully undersized, while the line needs to figure out how to get into the backfield after being the worst in the Sun Belt in sacks and tackles for loss.

T2. Middle Tennessee
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Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
Predicted record: 5-7  Conf. record: 4-3
Best Offensive Player:
QB Dwight Dasher, Soph
Best Defensive Player:
FS Jeremy Kellem, Soph.
Offense: The offense hasn't moved the ball in a few years, but it does a great job of taking advantage of every opportunity. It doesn't turn the ball over, usually makes plays when it has to, and tries to balance things out. Now, with massive holes on the line and at receiver, it'll be up to the backfield to save the team. QB Dwight Dasher is one of the Sun Belt's most dangerous players, but he hasn't taken the job by the horns this off-season leaving the door open for Joe Craddock to be the main man. Desmond Gee and Phillip Tanner can fly, but they're hardly workhorse running backs. The tight ends are good and will be used more, and Patrick Honeycutt is a promising wideout, but nothing will happen unless the depleted line restocks in a big hurry.
Defense: Considering the talent on the defensive front, the Blue Raider D was a slight disappointment. The biggest issue will be on the ends after losing all-stars Erik Walden and Tavares Jones, but there's good potential with Chris McCoy and rising star Jamari Lattimore looking to keep up the pressure. The back seven should be far better with MLB Danny Carmichael sure to be one of the team's top tacklers, and FS Jeremy Kellem and CB Alex Suber good defensive backs to work around. The key will be the improvement of the tackles and the run defense. Too many ground games were able to produce, and now the linebacking corps and the tackles have to be better.

T2. Troy
- Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
Predicted record: 6-6  Conf. record: 4-3
Best Offensive Player:
OT Dion Small, Sr.
Best Defensive Player:
LB Boris Lee, Jr.
Offense: Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin might be off to Auburn, but Neal Brown isn't exactly going to change things up to the wishbone. The spread, four-wide set will stay in place. Star QB Omar Haugabook is gone, but Jamie Hampton is a good runner leading a decent group of quarterback options. There might not be a sure-thing No. 1 running back or receiver to count on, but there are plenty of good options to work with and good young talents waiting to shine through. The key is the line. Easily the best in the Sun Belt, it's big, talented, and full of experience with six significant starters returning.
Defense: The defense bounced back in a big way after a mediocre 2006, but it failed when it had to in the season finale against Florida Atlantic. This year's group will be strong up front and in the middle of the back seven, but will be suspect on the outside. Ends Kenny Mainor and Brandon Lang, along with tackle Dion Gales, lead a scary-good front four that'll be better with the addition of three key JUCO transfers (Rashad Roussell, Tim Lamb and Mario Addison). MLB Boris Lee could be the Sun Belt's best defensive player, and he'll have to play like it as the outside linebackers need to get their feet wet. All-star corners Leodis McKelvin and Elbert Mack are gone, but the safeties, Sherrod Martin, Terence Moore, in a nickel role, and Tavares Williams, will be fantastic.

T2. Louisiana-Lafayette
- Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
Predicted record: 4-8  Conf. record: 4-3
Best Offensive Player:
RB Tyrell Fenroy, Sr.
Best Defensive Player:
LB Antwyne Zanders, Sr.
Offense: The running game will once again be the bread-and-butter after finishing seventh in the nation for the second time in three years, but it could all go in the tank if the line isn't healthy. The front five will be fine if it's 100%, but several key players went down in spring ball and durability will be a big concern during the year. The backfield is set with 1,000-yard rushing quarterback Michael Desormeaux back along with RB Tyrell Fenroy, who could be just the seventh player in the history of college football with four 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Derrick Smith and Jason Chery are veteran receivers, but they don't get used too often in the offense.
Defense: Defensive coordinator Kevin Fouqueir's group had a disastrous 2007 as the run defense went from one of the best in the Sun Belt to one of the worst in America despite the emergence of a good linebacking corps. Almost the entire line and secondary need to be replaced, there's no proven pass rush to count on, and the defensive backs are woefully undersized and a bit green. On the plus side, Antwyne Zanders, Brenton Burkhalter and Grant Fleming form one of the league's best linebacking corps, and there's a good second team to fill in when needed. There have to be more takeaways, more third down stops and more production overall from a D that allowed 447 yards and 36 points per game. Improvement might be hard to come by with so much turnover.

T2. UL Monroe
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Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
Predicted record: 5-7  Conf. record: 4-3
Best Offensive Player:
RB Frank Goodin, Soph.
Best Defensive Player:
LB Cardia Jackson, Sr.
Offense: After getting all the starters back from the league's best offense the attack was a disappointment, but now the O should be solid even with the loss of a few key linemen and the school's all-time leading rusher, Calvin Dawson. JUCO transfer Keating Helms and Ryan Dercher will fill in the gaps on the line, while speedster Frank Goodin is explosive enough to have a huge season now that he has the starting tailback gig. The passing game should be better with veteran Kinsmon Lancaster throwing to one of the league's best receiving corps. TE Zeek Zacharie is an all-star, and the 1-2 receiving punch of Darrell McNeal and LaGregory Sapp is consistent and dangerous. The key will be the coaching with Steve Farmer moving from handling the offensive line to the coordinator spot, but he knows what he's doing.
Defense: Major strides were made last year, and this could turn out to be the Sun Belt's best defense if two productive corners can be found. The addition of key JUCO transfers, especially tackles Alex Ford and Aaron Williams, will be a big boost for what was the league's top run defense. There are too many good linebackers to get on the field at the same time in the 4-2-5 scheme, so there will be a good rotation at one spot to go along with top-tackler Cardia Jackson. ULM is beyond loaded at safety getting all-star-to-be Josh Thompson back from a chest injury that knocked him out early last year, while Greg James and James Truxillo are top playmakers. The key will be getting to the quarterback meaning ends Alaric Coleman and Aaron Morgan need to be steady pass rushers to help out the green corners.

7. North Texas
- Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
Predicted record:
3-9  Conf. record: 2-5
Best Offensive Player:
WR Casey Fitzgerald, Sr.
Best Defensive Player:
LB Craig Robertson, Soph.
Offense: The offense got a jump-start in a huge way going from being among the worst in America to becoming more explosive with a high-octane, mistake-prone passing game. Now all the square pegs forced into round holes last year know what they're doing, but a newcomer, Riley Dodge, head coach Todd Dodge's son, could instantly be the new star quarterback. If not, Giovanni Vizza can run the attack helped by pass-catching machine Casey Fitzgerald back as the elder statesman of a promising young receiving corps. Micah Mosley and Cam Montgomery are talented backs who'll produce when called upon, but they need room. The banged up line, led by all-star C Kelvin Drake, gets almost everyone back, but it has to find something it does well after a disastrous first season under Dodge.
Defense:  A humongous disappointment last year considering all the returning veterans, the nation's worst scoring defense, and 113th ranked D in total yards, will undergo a bit of a personnel overhaul. Transfers, like Greg Garden from Navy and JUCO stars Adryan Adams and Justin Edwards will help the secondary, while several new faces will help out Craig Robertson in the linebacking corps. Generating more of a pass rush is a must with former linebackers Sam Owusu-Hemeng and Marquis Sykes working on the end. The tackles that were banged up throughout the spring need to heal up in a hurry.

8. FIU
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Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
Predicted record: 2-10  Conf. record: 1-6
Best Offensive Player:
C Brad Serini, Soph.
Best Defensive Player:
LB Scott Bryant, Jr.
Offense: James Coley had one year as offensive coordinator. His attack finished dead last in the nation in scoring, dead last in passing efficiency, and second-to-last in total offense. In from Purdue comes Bill Legg and a spread attack looking to get the passing game going and get the offense moving. Does FIU have a quarterback who can throw? Paul McCall could be the answer, but Wayne Younger, last year's main man, will get a shot at his old job when he comes back from a collarbone injury. The running backs are experienced, the receivers are promising, and the line should be better. Now the offense has to start producing.
Defense: The defense did what it could with no help from the offense for the second year in a row, but it didn't exactly help the cause having problems coming up with stops and almost never forcing a key turnover. There's promise for a big turnaround with decent, athletic veterans all across the board. The linebacking corps was a mess last season, but now it could be a strength with Scott Bryant and Mannie Wellington leading an undersized, quick group. The line will generate pressure but needs to do far more against the run, while the secondary should be better with good options at each spot and potential all-stars in corner Anthony Gaitor and SS Jeremiah Weatherspoon.