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Three things we learned in the Sun Belt: Week Eight

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Georgia Southern makes a move.

NCAA Football: Georgia Southern at Indiana
The Tyson Summers era in Statesboro is officially over after 18 games.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

There’s never a dull moment in this league. After a weekend full of conference action, the decision makers at Georgia Southern decided to make a move for the future of the program. The dynamics for the future of the league have now immediately changed as the gig in Statesboro may be the best in the Sun Belt when the right guy is calling the shots.

Other than that, we saw the big dogs flex their muscles and the league embarrassed themselves in two non-conference matchups. After taking some time to let everything digest, here’s what you need to know about week eight.


Coaching search in Statesboro

On Sunday afternoon, it was leaked that Georgia Southern has decided to part ways with second year head coach Tyson Summers after 18 games. Under Summers, the Eagles compiled a 5-13 record in Statesboro. Summers inherited a program from Willie Fritz that went 17-7 in 2014 and 2015. The Eagles made their Sun Belt debut in 2014 and went 14-2 in the league under Fritz.

Fritz made a surprising move taking the Tulane job and Georgia Southern followed that up with an even more surprising hire of Summers who was coming off his first year as the defensive coordinator at Colorado State. Summers, a Georgia native, never really seemed to embrace the option or knew exactly what type offense he wanted to run and the Eagles bombed. Add in the fact that the defense had major issues and the last gasp effort of bringing in Georgia Tech assistant Bryan Cook did not pay off.

Now Georgia Southern is clearly the worst team in the conference and this was a move that had to be made. I suspect that Georgia Southern will try to get back to the flexbone style of the triple option and we’ll start to see candidates leaking out the next few weeks. For the best coaching search coverage, make sure you stay tuned into UDD’s Georgia Southern coaching search stream.

Blake Anderson is a hell of a football coach

Arkansas State brought home a conference title last season but for the first time in their run of six straight bowl appearances, the Red Wolves did it with defense and not offense. That rubbed head coach Blake Anderson the wrong way and the former offensive coordinator under Larry Fedora at both Southern Miss and North Carolina decided to take control.

The results have been off the chart this fall. The Red Wolves are averaging 41 points per game and have the best offense in the Sun Belt this season. Outside of the SMU game where starting quarterback Justice Hansen left with an injury, the Red Wolves have scored at least 36 points in each outing.

Hansen is averaging 8.3 yards per pass attempt and has thrown for 21 touchdowns in just six games. The junior and second-year starter has tossed for four or more touchdowns three times and this passing offense is one of the best in the country.

The receiving corps are absolutely stacked as seven different players have recorded double-digit catches and six have recorded at least two touchdowns. The Red Wolves love to throw it deep and this shows with Justin McInnis and Chris Murray who are each averaging over 15 yards per catch. Add in athletic tight end Blake Mack, who leads the team with six touchdown receptions, and this is one of the best passing attacks in college football.

The offense is absolutely dynamite and if you aren’t paying attention you better start before the season ends. Saturday’s matchup with New Mexico State in Las Cruces could be the most Fun Belt game of all-time.

Trojans bounce back

After the huge win over LSU, Troy returned home for their rivalry game with South Alabama. Then the Trojans offense laid an absolute egg as they only scored six points and their passing game still struggled to get going.

The Trojans entered the road game against Georgia State having not scored more than 30 points against any FBS team this season. Troy began the season with a four-year started at quarterback and all of the receiving production back from 2016, the passing game was suppose to be a strength.

Troy had only tossed two touchdown passes in six games.

It was obvious that Neal Brown’s squad focused on getting the offense fixed during the long week and the Trojans played their best game of the season on Saturday. Brandon Silvers passed 335 yards and two touchdowns in the blowout win over Georgia State and averaged a season high 9.6 yards per attempt.

Finding big plays for this passing game has been a real struggle and it was good to see Troy attempt to stretch the field this past Saturday.

Moving forward, Troy is going to have to score points if they want to make a run at a conference crown. Saturday’s performance was a good step forward.