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2004 Sun Belt Conference Capsules
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Gridiron Reality: 2004 Sun Belt Conference Capsules

10:47 AM CDT on Wednesday, August 25, 2004




2004 Sun Belt Conference Capsules



Arkansas State

Location: Jonesboro, Ark.

Enrollment

: 10,573
Colors

: Scarlet and black
Stadium

: Indian Stadium (capacity — 30,694; surface — grass)
Coach

: Steve Roberts (60-47-1, 11-14 at ASU)
Returning starters

: Eight offensive, three defensive
2003 record

: 5-7 (3-4 in the Sun Belt)
2003 highlight

: ASU won five games in 2003 to push its victory total over the last two years to 11 games, the highest total for the team since the 1987-88 seasons.
Top returning player

: Running back Shermar Bracey rushed for 530 yards and eight touchdowns last season and will have a heavy load to carry after quarterback Elliot Jacobs decided to give up football to concentrate on baseball.
Top newcomer

: Quarterback Devin Hollins transferred to ASU after a record-setting career at West Los Angeles Junior College, where he earned a spot on JC Gridwire’s All-America team.
Preseason all-conference players

: None
Key players lost

: Cornerback Johnathan Burke finished tied for third nationally in interceptions with an average of .75 a game. He intercepted nine passes on the season.
Bottom line

: Arkansas State will have to break in a new quarterback and also lost a series of key defensive players, including two all-conference defensive linemen in Corey Williams and Jon Bradley. The Indians were among the worst offensive teams in the Sun Belt last season and could struggle.


Idaho

Location: Moscow, Idaho

Enrollment

: 12,894
Colors

: Silver and Vandal Gold
Stadium

: Kibbie Dome (capacity — 16,000; surface — artificial turf)
Coach

: Nick Holt (First season as a head coach)
Returning starters

: Three offensive, two defensive
2003 record

: 3-9 (3-4 in the Sun Belt)
2003 highlight

: Idaho won its last two games of the season, including a 58-20 thrashing of Louisiana-Monroe. The wins were not enough to save former coach Tom Cable’s job, but they did give the Vandals momentum heading into their first season under Nick Holt, a former USC assistant coach.
Top returning player

: Hank Therien started the final 10 games of the season at left tackle and helped Zach Gerstner rush for 1,157 yards in his final season. Therien was a preseason All-Sun Belt Conference selection.
Top newcomer

: T.J. Conley is one of the top quarterbacks to sign with Idaho in recent years. The Walla Walla, Wash., native was a four-year starter at DeSales Catholic High and finished with 10,139 career passing yards. He is the second player in Washington state history to clear the 10,000-yard mark in passing yards.
Preseason all-conference players

: Therien
Key players lost

: Quarterback Brian Lindgren threw for 2,077 yards to rank third in the Sun Belt as a senior.
Bottom line

: Holt faces a tough rebuilding process at Idaho, where he worked as an assistant coach from 1990-97. The Vandals have won just six games in the last three years.


Louisiana-Lafayette

Location

: Lafayette, La.
Enrollment

: 15,343
Colors

: Vermillion and white
Stadium

: Cajun Field (capacity — 31,000; surface — grass)
Coach

: Rickey Bustle (7-17 at La.-Lafayette)
Returning starters

: Five offensive, five defensive
2003 record

: 4-8 (4-3 in the Sun Belt)
2003 highlight

: The Ragin’ Cajuns won four of their last five games. La.-Lafayette capped its season with a 57-51 win over Middle Tennessee in four overtimes.
Top returning player

: C.C. Brown earned second-team All-Sun Belt Conference honors in 2003 after leading the Ragin’ Cajuns in tackles with an average of 6.1 per game. He was a preseason all-conference pick.
Top newcomer

: Quarterback Michael Desormeaux was a Class 3A first-team all-state selection in Louisiana after throwing for 2,447 yards as a senior.
Preseason all-conference players

: Brown, K Sean Comiskey
Key players lost

: Wide receiver Fred Stamps earned first-team All-Sun Belt Conference honors after finishing second in the league with 973 yards receiving.
Bottom line

: La.-Lafayette enters the season with a head of steam and could make a run at the Sun Belt title. The Ragin’ Cajuns have the advantage of playing three-time league champ North Texas at home in a game set to start at 9 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 5.


Louisiana-Monroe

Location: Monroe, La.

Enrollment

: 8,563
Colors

: Maroon and gold
Stadium

: Malone Stadium (capacity — 30,427; surface — grass)
Coach

: Charlie Weatherbie (46-75, 1-11 at ULM)
Returning starters

: Six offensive, nine defensive
2003 record

: 1-11 (1-6 in the Sun Belt)
2003 highlight

: There were not many, but Monroe beat Louisiana-Lafayette, 45-42, in a shootout with its in-state rival. Tyler Kuecker made a 31-yard field goal with 1:46 left to give Monroe the win.
Top returning player

: Defensive back Chris Harris earned first-team All-Sun Belt Conference honors in 2003 after ranking fourth in the league with four interceptions. He is also a member of the Sun Belt’s preseason all-conference team for 2004.
Top newcomer

: The Dallas Morning News named Offensive lineman Adam Hill one of the top recruits at his position in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
Preseason all-conference players

: Harris, OL Bruce Hampton, KR Charles Estes, P Joel Stelly
Key players lost

: Mack Vincent ranked among the top 10 wide receivers in the Sun Belt Conference in both receptions with 37 and receiving yards with 394 in league games.
Bottom line

: Weatherbie has built his career on the ability to turn around struggling programs. Louisiana-Monroe’s new coach should begin to make progress this season.


Middle Tennessee

Location: Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Enrollment

: 21,741
Colors

: Royal blue and white
Stadium

: Floyd Stadium (capacity — 30,788; surface — artificial turf)
Coach

: Andy McCollum (25-32 at MTSU)
Returning starters

: Six offensive, five defensive
2003 record

: 4-8 (4-3 in the Sun Belt)
2003 highlight:

Middle Tennessee won two of its last three games, but perhaps its finest moment came when it just missed upending Missouri on the road before losing 41-40 in overtime.
Top returning player

: Wide receiver Kerry Wright is one of the most electrifying and dangerous players in the Sun Belt. The senior set school and Sun Belt records when he racked up 1,280 yards receiving in 2003.
Top newcomer

: College Football News ranked Cleannord Saintil the 14th-best junior college wide receiver in the country after his sophomore year at Highland Community College.
Preseason all-conference players

: Wright
Key players lost

: Brandon Westbook anchored Middle Tennessee’s offensive line last season and was a first-team All-Sun Belt selection
Bottom line

: Middle Tennessee always has a load of talented players, but has under-achieved. This could be a key year for McCollum.


New Mexico State

Location: Las Cruces, N.M.

Enrollment

: 16,174
Colors

: Crimson and white
Stadium

: Aggie Memorial Stadium (capacity — 30,343; surface — grass)
Coach

: Tony Samuel (29-51 at NMSU)
Returning starters

: Three offensive, 10 defensive
2003 record

: 3-9 (2-5 in the Sun Belt)
2003 highlight

: New Mexico State struggled for most of the year, but did beat Sun Belt rivals Louisiana-Monroe and Utah State in a three-week stretch midway through the 2003 conference season.
Top returning player

: Steve Subia was a unanimous first-team All-Sun Belt Conference selection in 2003 and is also a member of the 2004 preseason all-conference team.
Top newcomer

: Wide receiver Jeremy Lawson was a first-team all-state selection in New Mexico as both a quarterback and defensive back. Lawson, who will play wide receiver at NMSU, led Mayfield High to three straight Class 5A state title games.
Preseason all-conference players

: Subia, LB Jimmy Cottrell, LB Rich Glover
Key players lost:

Wide receiver Ronshay Jenkins ranked among the top 10 players in the Sun Belt in both receptions (57) and receiving yards (928) as a senior.
Bottom line

: New Mexico State lost four games in Sun Belt play by less than a touchdown and should make a big jump this season.


Troy

Location: Troy, Ala.

Enrollment

: 22,000
Colors

: Cardinal, silver and black
Stadium

: Movie Gallery Stadium (capacity — 30,000; surface — artificial turf)
Coach

: Larry Blakeney (108-48-1 at Troy)
Returning starters

: Eight offensive, nine defensive
2003 record

: 6-6 as an independent
2003 highlight

: Troy finished its season on a high note and showed it would be a force in its first season in the Sun Belt when it beat conference members Utah State and Louisiana-Monroe in its final two games of the season.
Top returning player

: DeWhitt Betterson ranked 32nd nationally with an average of 96.75 rushing yards a game. He finished the season with 1,161 yards rushing and became the first Troy back since 1996 to surpass the 1,000-yard mark.
Top newcomer

: Kenny Cattouse finished his high school career as one of the greatest running backs in New Jersey prep history. Cattouse rushed for 6,720 yards in his high school career
Preseason all-conference players:

Betterson, OL Junior Louissaint, DL Demarcus Ware, DB Derrick Ansley
Key players lost

: Safety Rayshun Reed finished fourth among Troy players in tackles with 65 and led the team in passes defended with 12.
Bottom line

: Troy might have a better chance than any other team in the Sun Belt Conference to end North Texas’ run of three straight conference titles. Unfortunately for the Trojans, they won’t play UNT this year and will have to hope another team knocks off the Mean Green, clearing their path to the league title.


Utah State

Location: Logan, Utah

Enrollment

: 21,490
Colors

: Navy blue and white
Stadium

: Romney Stadium (capacity — 30,257; surface — synthetic turf)
Coach

: Mick Dennehy (65-54, 16-29 at USU)
Returning starters

: Four offensive, six defensive
2003 record

: 3-9 (3-4 in the Sun Belt)
2003 highlight

: Quarterback Travis Cox threw for 2,791 yards and led the Sun Belt Conference with an average of 232.6 passing yards a game. He was a second-team all-conference selection as a junior.
Top returning player

: Cox is among the top returning offensive players in the Sun Belt.
Top newcomer

: Running back Chris Forbes of Norland High in Miami was ranked the 45th-best high school recruit in the country by The InsidersRecruiting.com.
Preseason all-conference players

: DL Ronald Tupea, LB Robert Watts
Key players lost

: Tight end Chris Cooley earned first-team All-Sun Belt Conference honors in 2003 and was selected in the third round of the NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins.
Bottom line

: Utah State could be a surprise team in the Sun Belt after finishing sixth in the league’s preseason poll. This text is invisible on the page, but this text is affected by the invisible item's flow. This text is invisible on the page, but this text is affected by the invisible item's flow.
08-25-2004 11:47 AM
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Trojans1andAll Offline
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Post: #2
 
Before one of our own malcontents decides to chime in, or a UA'sB lurker makes a comment, I should tell you now that the figure of 22,000 enrollment includes all of our branch campus locations (Dothan, Montgomery, Phoenix City) as well. Total main campus enrollment currently is about 6,000.

GO TROJANS!
08-25-2004 05:07 PM
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Manhattan Offline
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Post: #3
 
I don't know why Troy has always put up that bogus enrollment number. Troy should be proud that they can fill a 30k stadium with only 6k students....a lot of schools triple that size can't do that.
08-25-2004 07:03 PM
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