Can't wait to see these things this fall

Originally Published: May 16, 2008
By Ivan Maisel and Mark Schlabach |

Three Things I Can't Wait To See This Fall In The Sun Belt
Ivan Maisel
Mark Schlabach
Michael Desormeaux1. Keep an eye on Louisiana-Lafayette quarterback Michael Desormeaux, who rushed for 1,141 yards (6.1 per carry) and passed for 1,405 yards before missing the final game-and-a-half of the season with an injured clavicle. Not every quarterback is tough enough to play on special teams before he wins the starting job. If Desormeaux (109.1 efficiency rating) learns how to be a passer instead of a thrower, he'll inject the Ragin' Cajuns into the Sun Belt race.

2. Florida Atlantic's old-school coach, Howard Schellenberger, took the Owls to the Sun Belt championship with old-school football. FAU finished tied for third in the nation with only four lost fumbles, and third in the nation in turnover margin at plus-18. With 18 of 22 starters returning, the Owls should continue to do the little things right -- meaning big results will follow.

3. There's no more interesting 2-10 team in the country than North Texas. Coach Todd Dodge's son Riley enrolls in college this summer, and Riley is so well-versed in the offense that he has conducted clinics for his dad. Riley quarterbacked the Southlake (Tex.) Carroll team coached by his dad to a state championship in 2006. How quickly he adjusts to the speed of the college game will go a long way toward defining the Mean Green's future.
1. Does any Sun Belt Conference team have to replace more production than Troy? Not only did offensive coordinator Tony Franklin bolt for Auburn, but the Trojans have to replace record-setting quarterback Omar Haugabook, who threw for 2,975 yards with 18 touchdowns and ran for 617 yards and 11 scores. On top of those losses, cornerback Leodis McKelvin was a first-round pick (No. 11 overall) by the Buffalo Bills in the NFL draft.

2.If Florida Atlantic can survive a challenging start to the season -- six of the Owls' first eight games are on the road, including trips to Texas, Michigan State and Minnesota -- the Sun Belt title might be decided in its Oct. 7 home game against Troy. Coach Howard Schnellenberger returns 18 starters, including quarterback Rusty Smith, who threw for 3,688 yards and 32 touchdowns last season.

Corey Leonard3. Do you believe in miracles? Arkansas State might actually have enough offensive firepower to scare Texas A&M in Aggies coach Mike Sherman's debut on Aug. 30. Last season, Indians quarterback Corey Leonard (from Lake Placid, N.Y.) threw for 2,235 yards with 16 touchdowns and ran for 547 yards and five scores. Tailback Reggie Arnold has run for more than 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons and had 130 yards in a 48-27 loss at Tennessee.

Ivan Maisel | email

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Mark Schlabach | email

College Football and Basketball