2013 Sun Belt preview
Top Team: Louisiana-Lafayette has the potential to win the first Sun Belt title in school history. After taking over the offense midway through his sophomore season in 2012, QB Terrance Broadway quickly established himself as a dynamic offensive leader. He set a school record with 3,611 yards of total offense. He earned honorable mention All-Sun Belt honors after going 206-of-315 passing for 2,842 yards and 17 touchdowns. The Ragin’ Cajuns return the key members of their offensive line, including Daniel Quave, Andre Huval and Mykheal Quave. On the defensive side of the ball, the team returns the top tackler from last season in LB Justin Anderson (105 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks).
Other Contenders: Arkansas State has won back-to-back Sun Belt titles and could be in the mix for a third, but the team will have to bounce back from another coaching change following the departure of Gus Malzahn and star QB Ryan Aplin. Western Kentucky also could rise from the middle of the pack to contend for a Sun Belt title. After Willie Taggart jumped to USF, Bobby Petrino took over the program. Petrino was forced to resign from his Arkansas job after he admitted having an affair with a female member of the football staff, giving the Hilltoppers a coach with elite pedigree to run the program.
Top Players: Broadway is the Sun Belt’s top returning passer and it’s most dynamic offensive weapon, but the league features other playmakers. Arkansas State running back David Oku will be featured in the Red Wolves’ offense, while Arkansas State defensive lineman Ryan Carrether will be a disruptive force for the team. Western Kentucky running back Antonio Andrews rushed for 1,728 yards last season and should once again put up big numbers in Petrino’s offense.
The Buzz: The Sun Belt, like Conference USA, is going through a major makeover thanks to conference realignment. The league hopes the remaining members can build on last season’s success. Four Sun Belt teams earned bowl invitations. Sun Belt programs Louisiana-Monroe, Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky scored signature wins over Arkansas, Georgia Tech and Kentucky.