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2008 Sun Belt Preview - Unit Rankings
ULM QB Kinsmon Lancaster
ULM QB Kinsmon Lancaster
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 17, 2008


2008 CFN Preview - Sun Belt Unit Rankings from top to bottom

2008 CFN Sun Belt Preview

Unit Rankings

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

- Sun Belt Team-by-Team Capsules

- Sun Belt Schedules & Predictions

Offenses
1. Florida Atlantic
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.

2.
Troy
3. Arkansas State
4. North Texas
5. UL Monroe
6. UL Lafayette
7. Middle Tennessee
8. FIU

Quarterbacks  
1. Florida Atlantic
Rusty Smith was the best quarterback in the Sun Belt last year and will be the preseason favorite to win a second straight Player of the Year honor. He's a special playmaker who makes everyone around him better, and was great at keeping his poise and calm when thrown to the wolves early; he'll have total command now. Now a backup has to be counted on to come through if needed.

2.
Arkansas State
3. North Texas
4. Middle Tennessee
5. Troy
6. UL Monroe
7. UL Lafayette
8. FIU


Running Backs
1. Arkansas State
The running game, helped by QB Corey Leonard, rolled for 2,112 yards last season, and it should do it again as long as Arnold's banged up shoulder isn't a problem. Derek Lawson and Ronnie Johnson will be fine backup options, but losing Preston Brown's versatility isn't a plus. The rating would be much higher if there was a proven backup.

2. UL Lafayette
3. Florida Atlantic
4. UL Monroe
5. Troy
6. Middle Tennessee
7. North Texas
8. FIU

Receivers
1. Florida Atlantic
Last year the corps was a bit of a question mark, but it was an extremely promising question mark. This year it should be a juggernaut, and it could be unreal if Frantz Simeon is ever able to get back in the equation. There's speed, experience, options, and all-stars. Cortez Gent and Jason Harmon would provide the makings of a top-shelf receiving corps on their own, but there are several other great options in the mix.

2. North Texas
3. Troy
4. UL Monroe
5. Arkansas State
6. UL Lafayette
7. FIU
8. Middle Tennessee

Offensive Line
1. Troy
This is a big, experienced, talented line that'll be the best in the Sun Belt by far. Tremendous in pass protection and strong for the ground game, as long as everyone stays healthy, this will be the team's biggest strength.

2.
Florida Atlantic
3. UL Monroe
4. Arkansas State
5. UL Lafayette
6. FIU
7. North Texas
8. Middle Tennessee

Defenses
1. Troy
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.

2. Florida Atlantic
3. Middle Tennessee
4. UL Monroe
5. Arkansas State
6. FIU
7. UL Lafayette
8. North Texas

Defensive Lines
1. Troy
While there might not be a Demarcus Ware or Osi Umenyiora up front, there are several all-star candidates, a few fringe pro prospects, and more on the way. This should be the Sun Belt's best line when it comes to getting into the backfield, but Dion Gales, Steve McLendon, Rashad Roussell and Tim Lamb have to form a brick wall against the run.

2.
Middle Tennessee
3. UL Monroe
4. Florida Atlantic
5. FIU
6. Arkansas State
7. UL Lafayette
8. North Texas

Linebackers
1. Florida Atlantic
With a big, veteran line to handle the workload at the front, the idea will be to allow the linebacking corps to roam more and make big plays. First, the group has to be better at stopping the run, and the outside defenders have to carry more weight and not let Frantz Joseph do everything. There's decent enough depth to survive if injuries hit.

2. Troy
3. Middle Tennessee
4. UL Monroe
5. Arkansas State
6. UL Lafayette
7. FIU
8. North Texas

Defensive Backs
1. Troy
The coaching staff has liked to go into a nickel defense as much as possible to get all the good defensive backs on the field, and there should be more of the same this year. Even without Leodis McKelvin and Elbert Mack, the secondary will be a strength with so many good safeties and so many promising athletes at corner.

2.
Florida Atlantic
3. Middle Tennessee
4. UL Monroe
5. Arkansas State
6. FIU
7. North Texas
8. UL Lafayette

Special Teams
1. Arkansas State
The special teams made the biggest improvement of any unit on the team and it should be a strength again. As long as Josh Arauco and Brent Shrable are consistent, and if Kevin Jones and Brandon Thompkins do what they did last year as return men, ASU will have a major advantage. The coverage units are solid.

2. Middle Tennessee
3. Florida Atlantic
4. North Texas
5. UL Monroe
6. Troy
7. FIU
8. UL Lafayette