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Red Zone Report- Sunbelt Preivew

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Red Zone Report- Sunbelt Preivew

Nice write up on the Sunbelt and FAU.


http://www.gotroytrojans.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10158

2008 Sun Belt Conference Preview Part I: Defending champion FAU locked and loaded for repeat | The Red Zone Report -

2008 Sun Belt Conference Preview Part I: Defending champion FAU locked and loaded for repeat
By Eddie Griffin ? May 9, 2008 ? Post a comment


Last season, Florida Atlantic and Troy were the class of the Sun Belt Conference, and fittingly, the conference title and a New Orleans Bowl berth came down to the final weekend of the season, when the Owls and Trojans met in Troy.

The Owls were down 9-7 at halftime, but outscored Troy 28-3 over the first 15:06 of the second half to take a commanding 35-12 lead. But, the Trojans weren’t finished, and closed within 38-32 with minutes left.

However, the Owls stepped up and closed the deal, making a defensive stop after the Trojans had driven into FAU territory, and became the youngest program to make a bowl game, in only their third year on the I-A level. Then, Howard Schnellenberger’s Owls routed Memphis 44-27 in the New Orleans Bowl to finish off a historic 8-5 season.

This year, FAU is primed for a repeat, as they return the reigning Sun Belt Player of the Year in Rusty Smith and most of their other key pieces on both sides of the ball, and are the hands-down favorites to repeat as Sun Belt champions. Schnellenberger brought two programs in Miami and Louisville into the national spotlight, and he’s well on his way to doing the same with FAU.

Can anyone stand in their way of repeating as Sun Belt champs?


Conference Favorite

As I just mentioned above, it’s Florida Atlantic, without a doubt. Besides returning Smith, the Owls return all but a handful of starters, and five all-Sun Belt first-team selections (Smith, WR Cortez Gent, TE Jason Harmon, LB Frantz Joseph, DB Tavious Polo). They also return three second-team selections (OL John Rizzo, DL Jevonte Jackson, DB Corey Small) and an honorable mention selection (RB Charles Pierre).

Smith (3,688 yards, 32 TD, 9 INT) is primed for another big year, as his top targets return in Gent (64-1,082-9 TD), Harmon (63-825-5), fullback Willie Rose (38 catches, 7 TD), Chris Bonner (25-420-3), and DiIvory Edgecomb (24-416-4). The junior put up big numbers and made few mistakes despite completing only 58.7% of his passes last season, so if he can get in the 60-65% range, he could easily top last year’s marks.

With Pierre (782 yards, 7 TD), Rose (333 yards, TD), and Edgecomb (190 yards, 4 TD) in the backfield, FAU shouldn’t be one-dimensional.

We know the offense will be good, but what about the defense? They allowed 33.2 points and 415.6 yards per game last season, but had one of the nation’s highest turnover margins at +18 - third behind Orange Bowl winner Kansas and national champion LSU.

With several starters returning on defense, a lot of plays will be made once again, and if less can be given up, the sky’s the limit for the Owls. Polo (53 tackles, 7 INT) was a star as a freshman, and he returns along with Small, who had 103 tackles, 5 INT, and 10 pass breakups last season.

They’re going to miss playmaker Cergile Sincere, but Joseph (131 tackles, 12 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 2 INT) should have another big year, and senior LB Andre Clark (68 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 3 sacks), senior DL Robert St. Clair (37 tackles, 7 TFL, 4 sacks), and 2007 first-team All-Sun Belt DL Jervonte Jackson will be counted on to wreak havoc as well.

The league is FAU’s to lose, and if they can pull off an upset or two in non-conference play (at Texas, Michigan St., and Minnesota), they could be staring at a 10-win season.


Who Can Challenge Them?

UL-Monroe does lose a 1,400 yard rusher in Calvin Dawson, but I think they can push FAU for the title. Why? There’s already a replacement for Dawson in sophomore Frank Goodin, who ran for 596 yards and four scores last season. Goodin will carry the load, but he won’t be all of the offense, as QB and fellow soph Kinsmon Lancaster (1,866 yards, 13 TD, 10 INT) is primed for a big year, with his top three targets returning.

The Warhawks’ defense was one of the better ones in the conference last year, coming in third in scoring and total defense. With eight primary starters returning, including linebacker Cardia Jackson (79 tackles, 7 TFL), corner Greg James (77 tackles, 5 INT), safety James Truxillo (68 tackles, 2 INT), and defensive end Aaron Morgan (34 tackles, 3 sacks, 10 QB hurries), ULM has enough on both sides of the ball to challenge the Owls.

ULM ended the 2007 season on a high, winning five of their last six games to finish 6-6 after a 1-5 start, and that finish, which included a win at Alabama, should have Charlie Weatherbie and Co. feeling good about their chances in 2008.

Darkhorse

With the likes of Troy (Omar Haugabrook, Kenny Cattouse, first-round pick Leodis McKelvin), Arkansas St. (three of their top four leading tackles, including second-round pick Tyrell Johnson), and Middle Tennessee St. (DeMarco McNair, several key defensive players), UL-Lafayette could jump past them to challenge FAU and ULM.

The Ragin’ Cajuns return two 1,000 yard rushers in senior RB Tyrell Fenroy (three straight 1,000 yard seasons) and senior QB Michael Desormeaux (1,405 yards, 10 TD passing, 1,141 yards, 7 TD rushing), and should have an improved defense, led by linebacker Antwyne Zanders (93 tackles, 7 TFL).

Conference Predictions

1. Florida Atlantic - The Owls have the most returning talent in the conference, and should repeat as champions, barring a rash of injuries (knock on wood).
2. ULM - The Warhawks could be FAU’s biggest challenger. The offense should put up some points, and with many of their key defensive players returning from one of the league’s better defenses, ULM has the pieces in place for a title run.

3. ULL - The Ragin’ Cajuns could be the real darkhorse, with a lot of talent returning on both sides of the ball.

4. Arkansas St. - The defense takes a big hit (though LB Ben Owens - 96 tackles - returns), but with QB Corey Leonard and RB Reggie Arnold returning, the Indians should have a pretty potent offense.

5. Troy - They have to replace several key players on both sides of the ball, but don’t count them out, as key pieces return on defense (Sherrod Martin, Kenny Mainor, Boris Lee).

6. Middle Tennessee St. - They’re set at QB, with either Dwight Dasher or Joe Craddock, and also return all-purpose star Desmond Gee, but defense is a big question mark.

7. North Texas - There’ll be improvement in Todd Dodge’s second year, but the defense will be key to just how much it translates in the win column. The offense will be fun to watch, that’s for sure.

8. Florida International - With a lot of returning talent, they’ll also make strides in Mario Cristobal’s second year, but there’s still a ways to go. They could be a surprise team though, and starting out the season against Kansas, Iowa, and South Florida should help them when they hit SBC play.

Part II of the Sun Belt preview will come tomorrow, and it will include the preseason all-conference team and more

I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick @$$ and I'm out of bubble gum.

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Re: Red Zone Report- Sunbelt Preivew

We can't use the underdog or getting to respect cards for motivation anymore.

Now, the players need to find a way to play harder, knowing every game the opponent is looking to knock us off our little pedestal.  This is unfamiliar territory for this program, it will be interesting to see how the players handle it.  It they thought it was hard work to get to the top, they will soon realize it's will require even more work to stay on top.
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Re: Red Zone Report- Sunbelt Preivew

Part 2-

2008 Sun Belt Conference Preview Part II | The Red Zone Report -

Another nice Sunbelt Article, I'd say he thinks were loaded.  ;D

A few days ago, I posted the first part of the 2008 Sun Belt preview, which you can see here.

In the second half of the preview, I give my take on 2008’s key games, impact newcomers, and all-conference performers.

Key Non-Conference Games

Arkansas State went to Texas in their 2007 season opener and gave the Longhorns all they had and then some, even though they came up on the short end of a 21-13 scoreline. Florida Atlantic should do the same when they start out the season in Austin, and if FAU’s defense can force Colt McCoy and the Texas offense into some mistakes, and Rusty Smith can stay mistake-free on offense, it could be a nervous day for Longhorn fans.


Speaking of Arkansas State, they’ll be upset-minded when Southern Mississippi, who should be one of the favorites in Conference USA, comes to Jonesboro on Sept. 13.

Last November, ULM scored a huge upset when they went into Tuscaloosa and knocked off Alabama, and the Warhawks will have three chances to knock off another SEC team this season, as they play Auburn and Arkansas in the first two weeks of the season, and visit Ole Miss on November 15th.

Troy’s certainly not shying away from playing some of the nation’s big boys, as they’ll be going to defending national champion LSU, BCS runner-up Ohio State, and Oklahoma State, who should be fielding a pretty good team in 2008.

We’ll get to see just how improved Todd Dodge’s North Texas team is when they start the season against Kansas State, Tulsa, LSU, and Rice. While K-State and LSU are certain to be tough tests, so will Tulsa and Rice, whose powerful offenses will give the Mean Green’s defense a chance to assert themselves and build some confidence heading into Sun Belt play.

Key Conference Games

Troy vs. Middle Tennessee St., Aug. 28: Starting your season with a conference game can either give you momentum or give you some ground to make up right off the bat.

North Texas vs. FIU, Oct. 4: Last year’s bottom teams return a lot of talent, and after starting the season with some tough non-conference games, opening up Sun Belt play against one another will be a big indicator of where both of these teams stand in regards to improvement.

ULL at ULM, Oct. 4: I think these two teams have the talent to make a run at the conference title, and whoever comes out on top in the SBC opener for these Louisiana rivals will get their potential title challenge off to the perfect start.

FAU vs. Troy, Oct. 7: A week after starting Sun Belt play with a nationally-televised showdown at MTSU, the Owls will be on ESPN2 for the second straight game when they host Troy in what should be a thriller. After FAU ripped the Sun Belt title and a bowl bid away from the Trojans in their backyard in a 38-32 thriller in last year’s regular-season finale, Troy will have a little payback - and a valuable leg up in the title race - on their minds.

ULM vs. FAU, Oct. 25: ULM starts conference play with four of their first five conference games at home, and if they want to be serious title contenders, they’ll have to try to make a perfect run through those games (vs. ULL, at Arkansas St., vs. UNT, vs. FAU, vs. Troy). The Warhawks handed FAU their only conference loss last year, in a 33-30, three-overtime road win at Lockhart Stadium, so ULM should feel pretty good about their chances of holding serve at home.

Impact Newcomers

North Texas had one of the worst defenses in the country, and Todd Dodge stressed defense in the Mean Green’s 2008 recruiting class. There should be a couple of immediate contributors in the defense, in JC LB/DE Alonzo Horton, who played for a season at Auburn, and originally committed to Ole Miss before switching his commitment to UNT, JC safety Justin Edwards (120 tackles in 2007 at Eastern Arizona), and JC cornerback Adryan Adams, a four-star recruit on Scout.com.

While Frank Goodin is likely the starter at ULM, expect recruit Luther Ambrose to make an early impact somewhere. The 5?9, 160 pound Ambrose was timed at 4.29 in the 40 at a Scout.com combine last year, and that speed will get him on the field immediately.

Troy signed a couple of receivers in the 2008 class that could see the field for the Trojans right away, in 6?5 DaJuan Morgan, who’s pretty raw but has a great deal of potential, and speedster Charles Reeves. Both incoming receivers had offers from some of the country’s top programs, and could really prove to be difference-makers, certainly in the future if not this year. .

All-Conference Team

QB: Rusty Smith, FAU
RB: Tyrell Fenroy, ULL
RB: Reggie Arnold, Arkansas St.
WR: Cortez Gent, FAU
WR: Casey Fitzgerald, North Texas
TE: Jason Harmon, FAU
OL: Matt Mandich, Arkansas St.
OL: Dion Small, Troy
OL: Chris Fisher, ULL
OL: John Rizzo, FAU
OL: Chris Jamison, Troy

DL: Kenny Mainor, Troy
DL: Robert St. Clair, FAU
DL: Trevor Jenkins, Middle Tennessee St.
DL: Jervonte Jackson, FAU
LB: Frantz Joseph, FAU

LB: Boris Lee, Troy
LB: Antwyne Zanders, ULL
DB: Tavious Polo, FAU
DB: Greg James, ULM
DB: Corey Small, FAU
DB: Sherrod Martin, Troy

Kicker: Warley Leroy, FAU
Punter: Scott Love, ULM
Kick Returner: DiIvory Edgecomb, FAU
All-Purpose: Desmond Gee, Middle Tennessee St.

Sun Belt Player of the Year: Rusty Smith, QB, Florida Atlantic
Offensive Player of the Year: Rusty Smith, QB, FAU
Defensive Player of the Year: Frantz Joseph, LB, FAU

Newcomer of the Year: Luther Ambrose, RB, ULM
Coach of the Year: Charlie Weatherbie, ULM


I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick @$$ and I'm out of bubble gum.

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Re: Red Zone Report- Sunbelt Preivew

Leroy?!!?!!?

;D
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Re: Red Zone Report- Sunbelt Preivew

Florida_Owl said

Leroy?!!?!!?

;D

LOL

I thought the same thing, but I have no idea whats left kicking talent wise in the belt.

I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick @$$ and I'm out of bubble gum.

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Re: Red Zone Report- Sunbelt Preivew

owlfamily said

Florida_Owl said

Leroy?!!?!!?

;D

LOL

I thought the same thing, but I have no idea whats left kicking talent wise in the belt.


Troy's kicker was outstanding.  Wonder if he'll get picked up by an NFL team.  Warley does not belong on this list.

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Re: Red Zone Report- Sunbelt Preivew

Hey now, Leroy was good except for USF... the rest of the season he was legit.

Florida Atlantic University Owls
2007 Sun Belt Football Champions 2007 New Orleans Bowl Champions 2008 Motor City Bowl Champions 2011 Sun Belt Basketball Champions No Bowls without Owls
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Re: Red Zone Report- Sunbelt Preivew

The all sunbelt team on defense makes us question why we gave up 30 points a game last year????
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Re: Red Zone Report- Sunbelt Preivew

SeminOWL2006 said

Hey now, Leroy was good except for USF… the rest of the season he was legit.

Not going to go there again, but I would never call a kicker who went 10-19 on Fg's past 30 yards "legit" or "good".  Definitely not All Conference based on those numbers.

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Re: Red Zone Report- Sunbelt Preivew

Don't all these questionable opinions make you wonder about the credibility of the writer?

President of the No Homers Club. Keepin' it real since 2001.
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