Chappy's Clipboard - 2003 Sun Belt Breakdown
By Tim Chapman
NationalChamps.net Writer/Analyst

 

ORDER OF FINISH

1. New Mexico State 7-5 (6-1)

2. North Texas 8-4 (6-1)

3. Middle Tennessee State 6-6 (4-2)

4. Louisiana- Monroe 5-7 (3-3)

5. Idaho 5-7 (3-4)

6. Utah State 3-9 (2-4)

7. Arkansas State 3-9 (1-5)

8. Louisiana- Lafayette 1-11 (0-5)

 

Team most likely to surpriseUL Monroe… The Indians bring back 17 starters plus their kicker and have a favorable schedule. Stephen Jyles should step up as one of the Sun Belt’s better QBs this season, having some great targets at which to throw. The key will be on defense, where ULM must get better against the pass and, appropriately, rushing the passer. If LB Maurice Sonnier can stay healthy, look for the Indians to be a dark horse candidate for the Sun Belt Conference title.

 

Team most likely to disappointArkansas State… I have seen Arkansas State as high as third in the Sun Belt, and I do not agree. The offense will be breaking in a new offensive line, which is not good news for an already shoddy passing attack. The defense will be respectable, but should be on the field more often than they would like to be.  This will wear them down, thus succumbing them to defeat. They also play a tough schedule, which is never good on a “tweener” team.

 

UNIT RANKINGS

 

OFFENSE

1. New Mexico State

2. Middle Tennessee State

3. Louisiana- Monroe

4. Idaho

5. North Texas

 

DEFENSE

1. North Texas

2. Arkansas State

3. New Mexico State

4. Middle Tennessee State

5. Idaho

 

OFF BACKFIELD: New Mexico State (QB Dombrowski, IB Higgins, FB Dixon… backups- IB Bostic, IB Mouton, QB Pierce, FB Fiaseu)

 

RECEIVERS: UL Monroe (WR Vincent, WR Quillen, TE Ebersole… backups- WR V.Mitchell, WR F.Smith, WR Estes, WR Deml, WR Adams, TE Hammock)

 

O-LINE: Utah State (OT Penn, OG Vandermade, C Galliano, OG Hutton, OT Tupea… backups- OT Burningham, OG Gunstream, C Rawlins, OG Cin, OT Calverley)

 

D-LINE: North Texas (DE Conder, DT Kennedy, DT Pruitt, DE Awasom… backups- DT Cardwell, DE T.Harrison, DT C.Miller, DE Hutchinson)

 

LINEBACKERS: North Texas (OLB Casey, MLB Spencer, OLB Hurd… backups- MLB Wyatt, OLB Parks, OLB McNac, LB Graves)

 

DEFENSIVE BACKS: North Texas (CB Pearl, CB Priestly, SS C.Jones, FS Buckles… backups- CB Mackey, CB/FS Knowlton, SS Early, CB Hollis)

 

SPECIAL TEAMS: Middle Tennessee State (PK Kelly, P Billings, KR German, KR K.Davis, PR Wright)

 

Chappy’s 2003 All- Sun Belt Team

 

OFFENSE

QB Steven Jyles (so)- UL MONROE

RB Eric Higgins (sr)- NEW MEXICO ST

RB Patrick Cobbs (sr)- NORTH TEXAS

FB Marcus Dixon (sr)- NEW MEXICO ST

WR Mack Vincent (sr)- UL MONROE

WR Fred Stamps (sr)- UL LAFAYETTE

TE Chris Cooley (sr)- UTAH ST

OT Jake Scott (sr)- IDAHO

OG Trevor Hutton (sr)- UTAH ST

C Andy Brewster (jr)- NORTH TEXAS

OG Nick Zuniga (sr)- NORTH TEXAS

OT Kimani Jones (sr)- ARKANSAS ST

 

DEFENSE

DE Brandon Kania (jr)- IDAHO

DT Jon Bradley (sr)- ARKANSAS ST

DT Brandon Kennedy (sr)- NORTH TEXAS

DE Adrian Awasom (jr)- NORTH TEXAS

OLB Taylor Casey (sr)- NORTH TEXAS

ILB Cody Spencer (sr)- NORTH TEXAS

ILB Jimmy Cottrell (so)- NEW MEXICO ST

OLB Chris Hurd (sr)- NORTH TEXAS

CB Muhammed Rashada (sr)- MTSU

CB Jonathan Burke (sr)- ARKANSAS ST

FS Chris Harris (jr)- UL MONROE

SS Craig Jones (sr)- NORTH TEXAS

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

KO Brad Kadlubar (so)- NORTH TEXAS

PK Dario Aguiniga (sr)- NEW MEXICO ST

P Ryan Downes (sr) - IDAHO

KR J.R. Ruffin (jr)- IDAHO

PR Ja’Mel Branch (jr)- NORTH TEXAS

 

 

OFFENSIVE MVP: RB Eric Higgins (sr)- NEW MEXICO ST

DEFENSIVE MVP: DT Brandon Kennedy (sr)- NORTH TEXAS

SPECIAL TEAMS MVP: RS Ja’Mel Branch (jr)- NORTH TEXAS

OFF. NEWCOMER: RB Michael Ruff (rsf)- NTU and RB Kevin Davis (rsf)- MTSU

DEFENSIVE NEWCOMER: SAF LeUndo Adams (jr)- ARKANSAS ST

 

HONOR ROLL

TOUGHEST SCHEDULE: North Texas… The Mean Green are looking to move up in the college football world and the only way to do so is to play the big boys.  They do just that this season. They are one of only two Sun Belt teams who don’t play a I-AA team and get Oklahoma, Air Force and Arkansas out of conference. The biggest game slated, though, should be the season finale at New Mexico State, a game that will most likely crown the conference champion.

 

WEAKEST SCHEDULE: Louisiana- Monroe… The Indians do have to play at LSU and Ole Miss, but have surrounding home games against I-AA teams Stephen F. Austin and Northwestern St that will even out that stretch. ULM also brings New Mexico St and North Texas to Monroe and they miss MTSU this year. Times should be just a little better in northeastern Louisiana this year.

 

BEST COACHING STAFF: North Texas… The Mean Green faithful love Darrel Dickey almost as much as they love their team. The man has led the ‘Green to eleven straight conference victories, back-to-back conference championships and a bowl victory. DC Kenny Evans’ work speaks for itself. He’s led one of the country’s top defenses the last couple years and they only seem to be getting better. OC Ramon Flanigan is starting to develop a worthy group as well. Said alone, these guys win.

 

MOST TO PROVE: UL Monroe QB Stephen Jyles. Jyles had a sensational freshman year, finishing with 2318 yards and 17 TDs. The knock against him, though, is his 49% completion rate- that must improve. Freshman year is over now, and beginner’s mistakes will not be tolerated. If the Indians have any hopes of a winning season (and expectations are a bit higher this year), Jyles’ play must rise above the standard he set a year ago. With seven returning starters around him on offense, there’s no excuse for inconsistent execution.

 

MOST TO GAIN: North Texas MLB Cody Spencer. North Texas has one of the best front seven units in the country; I’m NOT exaggerating. With Kennedy and Awasom, plus two hot JUCO transfers up front, Hurd and Taylor on his wings, Spencer should have no problem getting to the line of scrimmage and collapsing the point of attack. He’s a strong-minded, physical player and should have a big year.

 

OVERRATED: Middle Tennessee State FS Will Martin. Martin originally signed with Kansas State before transferring to MTSU, and big things were expected of him. Not that he has (overly) disappointed, but the criticism lies in his pass defense. He was the third leading tackler last year with only 78 stops and just two PassBreakUps and two INTs. In this day and age, free safeties are expected to do a little more and folks will be expecting that from him in 2003. He should come through and have a solid senior season, but eyes are going to be squarely on him to do so.

 

UNDERRATED: North Texas C Andy Brewster. People often overlook Brewster because of his unusual size for a lineman (only 247 lbs.). However, this young man has started every game since his freshman year for the Mean Green and has been an instrumental part in RB Kevin Galbreath producing back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. He is an anchor up front and possesses a great knowledge of blocking schemes and how to work against a defensive front. He may be the most important member of that stout offensive front.

 

BEST PLAYER NOBODY KNOWS: North Texas MLB Koryee Wyatt. Wyatt doesn’t even start on that famed defense, but could very well be an all-Sun Belt selection with most other schools. He finished sixth on the team with 60 tackles and is a remarkable athlete. Mark down #51 on your scout sheets.

 

TOP GAMES OF THE YEAR:

Nov. 25th         North Texas at NEW MEXICO ST

Oct. 11th          New Mexico St at MIDDLE TENNESSEE ST

Oct 25th           NORTH TEXAS at Middle Tennessee State

Oct. 4th            UL MONROE at Arkansas St

Nov. 15th         Idaho at UL MONROE

(team in ITAL-CAPS is Chappy’s pick to win)