It was another solid weekend of football as the Fun Belt kicked off on Wednesday night with Arkansas State knocking off Georgia Southern and wrapped up with Georgia State getting a huge road win over Coastal Carolina.
As always, there were some big lessons that this week taught us and we’re starting to see who the real contenders for a conference crown are in 2017.
Appalachian State passes test
On paper, the toughest Sun Belt game the Mountaineers were going to have this season was with New Mexico State in Kidd Brewer Stadium. The Aggies have one of the best passing attacks in all of college football and Scott Satterfield’s squad was going to need its best offensive performance of the season.
The Mountaineers responded by posting 350 rushing yards and a 28-point fourth quarter to knock off Doug Martin’s squad. Jalin Moore had his best game of the season as the star tailback ran for 241 yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns.
Freshman wide receiver Thomas Hennigan continued his excellent play as he had six receptions for 66 yards and one score. It was a disappointing game for the App State passing game, but Hennigan is emerging as one of the best receivers in the Sun Belt.
Tyler Rogers had another big performance as he tossed for over 300 yards for the fifth time this season. However, the senior threw six interceptions against a very good Mountaineers defense. This was ultimately the difference as the Aggies outgained Appalachian State on the day.
This was probably App State’s toughest test on the conference schedule and they passed it with a total team effort. App State has a tricky road game with Idaho this weekend, but the trip to Monroe in November could be the one that keeps them from running the table in the Fun Belt.
Georgia Southern shows improvement
The game got out of hand in the second half, but the Southern offense flashed signs of progress on Wednesday night. The defense has some obvious problems, but Bryan Cook’s option attack could give Sun Belt foes a lot of headaches as the season moves along.
Shai Werts played his best game of the season as the redshirt freshman threw for 160 yards and ran for 112. Turnovers remain an issue as he threw one interception and put the ball on the turf on four different occasions. But the freshman is getting better with each coming game and is flashing signs of being an excellent option quarterback.
Wesley Fields and L.A. Ramsby both averaged over four yards per carry and the Eagles outgained the Red Wolves on the night, 493-361.
Turnovers are setting this team back and explosive plays did the defense in. This Saturday will be a nice opportunity for Southern as they’ll welcome New Mexico State to Statesboro. The defensive issues are a concern, but Werts getting better with each outing is a nice sign moving forward.
The Cajuns defense come alive
It had to be a long off week in Lafayette as Mark Hudspeth’s squad was sitting on the worst defense in the country. UL-Lafayette was giving up over 50 points per game and had really wasted some excellent performances by their offense.
That changed on Saturday as the defense played their best game of the season in the road upset of Idaho.
The Cajuns held the Vandals to only 279 total yards and 13 first downs. Quarterback Matt Linehan was off all night and the rushing duo of Aaron Duckworth and Isaiah Saunders was only able to get 122 yards on the ground.
The defense was helped out by their offense as the Cajuns won the time of possession battle and were able to have nearly a 50% third down conversion rate. It took a total team effort and UL-Lafayette looked like a different squad on Saturday night.
With an upcoming home game with Texas State scheduled for Thursday night, the Cajuns should be able to get off to a 2-1 start in conference play.