It was a long day at the Superdome as the Sun Belt held their annual meeting with the media. Commissioner Karl Benson took to the podium and threw out some very interesting info. UDD was tuned in all day and here’s a recap of what each program had to say when they fielded questions.
- Scott Satterfield believes that being the preseason favorite does not put any more pressure on his team to win football games. Satterfield emphasizes for his team to “stay in the moment” and not look towards the future.
- The Mountaineers expected easy schedule was brought up and Satterfield believes that is “just the way it is”. Satterfield mentions App State’s brutal first year schedule when they had to travel to Lafayette and Jonesboro.
- The opener against Georgia will be “a big time challenge”, but the Mountaineers will be ready. The App State roster has quite of few players from the Peach State who will be very excited to play in that game.
- Last year’s Miami game was a big moment for this program, but that game got out of hand early. Satterfield believes the moment may have been too big and QB Taylor Lamb believes the team “was too excited” for that contest.
- Lamb says “the next step” for the Mountaineers will be to win a Sun Belt title and receive the G5’s New Year’s Six bid.
- Blake Anderson did not hide from it, the goal for his program is the be the best team in the G5. Arkansas State wants to receive the New Year’s Six bid and be the first Sun Belt team to accomplish this feat. Per Anderson, the team knows to do this the Red Wolves will need to run the table in league play and finish 3-1 in non-conference play. This would mean a victory over Nebraska or Miami. Getting a chance to host Miami will be a great opportunity for the program and it should be a crazy atmosphere at The Vault.
- Once again, the media didn’t pick Arkansas State to win the league and that’s just fine with the folks in Jonesboro. Per Anderson, the Red Wolves are “used to being underdogs” and they’ll be going after their sixth conference crown in the last seven years in 2017.
- Anderson really likes the maturity he’s seen from QB Justice Hansen this offseason and that’s something that will be needed behind five new offensive linemen. Anderson mentioned the new offensive line multiple times and that is a worry for this fall.
- Offensive coordinator Jamey Chadwell filled in for Joe Moglia today and he believes Coastal will be a team that plays hard, with passion, and a purpose.
- Chadwell admits that this will be a “hard transition”, but the Chants look forward to the competition. Coastal picked to finish last but he expects the team to use it as motivation.
- Chadwell believes this program will be a “great addition” to the Sun Belt.
- After a rough first season in Statesboro, Tyson Summers went on record to say he’s made a concerted effort to “build trust” in his players on the roster.
- Summers kind of avoided a question focusing on if he felt pressure to go back to an option offense. However, he believes he upgraded the staff in the offseason and now his team has an identity, something they lacked last fall. The plan is to find “one individual” at QB in Bryan Cook’s offense.
- Defensively, Georgia Southern wants to get more aggressive and the secondary will be a strength after being a weak link in 2016 according to Summers. We had them as the league’s fourth best secondary entering the season.
- Running back Wesley Fields was one of the player representatives and he wants to win. Per Fields, this program was “built on winning” and the Eagles must get back to that this fall.
- The reviews are high for the new offense:
- Shawn Elliott mentioned multiple times that he wants to play fast and physical. Elliott notes that this offense will play up-tempo under coordinator Travis Trickett.
- Georgia State Stadium has everyone excited and it will be “one heck of a stadium”. Elliott talked up the facility multiple times and wants people to know it won’t be “some second rate facility”. Even if it is a renovated MLB facility.
- We may need to pump the brakes on the Georgia State hype as Elliott states his team must get better in a lot of areas. The line of scrimmage is a worry and Elliott believes “any football program is measured” with line play.
- QB Conner Manning states the entire team has bought into everything Shawn Elliott is selling and the squad is excited for this fall.
- Paul Petrino expects linebacker play to be one of the strengths of the team. We had this group as the best one in the Fun Belt.
- Dorian Clark returns at corner after missing last year due to injury. Expectations are high for the junior out of Jacksonville.
- Petrino is not shying away from expectations and he believes the goal for this team is to win a conference title.
- This will “be the fastest defense” Petrino has had in his tenure at Moscow and look for this unit to try and force a lot of turnovers.
- QB Matt Linehan believes the team is focused on this year and not about the transition to FCS.
- The strength of this football team will be along the line of scrimmage according to head coachMark Hudspeth. The hope is that the four starting offensive linemen will take some pressure off new QB Jordan Davis.
- This defensive front has the chance to be special and this effort will be led on the interior by Taboris Lee and on the outside by Joe Dillon.
- The Cajuns plan to use more spread formations this fall as they look to utilize their big wide receivers under offensive coordinator Will Hall.
- The schedule is brutal as UL-Lafayette has seven road games to manage.
- Linebacker and running back play will be the big questions for the Cajuns to answer as they enter 2017.
- Per Hudspeth, this program’s goal is to “compete for championships”.
New Mexico State
- Star running back Larry Rose III represented the Aggies and he declares to finally be healthy. Rose gained some weight in the offseason and claims to have never been 100% last fall.
- Doug Martin thinks the defense being in year two under coordinator Frank Spaziani will make a big difference.
- For the first time in awhile, NMSU does not expect to play any freshmen and this will be a very experienced squad.
- Doug Martin says “if you can win in this league you can win in any G5” conference. The Aggies seem optimistic as Independent live awaits them in 2018.
- Joey Jones believes that USA will not sneak up on Ole Miss in the opener. Jones believes the Rebs will be “ready to play” and so will the Jags.
- Jones believes his squad has a “shot” at the conference title . However, USA must improve on the road as they were 0-4 in conference away games last fall. Jones mentioned the running game and if they can get that going USA “will be playing for a conference table”.
- Jeremy Reaves, a safety from Pensacola, Florida, believes the program is still building a culture. It seems people tend to forget USA is still fairly new to college football.
- Everett Withers said in year one it was all about getting everyone on the same page. He even stated he wanted to call 2017 “Year 1A”. Withers spent last year getting the “disheartened and disinterested” out of the program.
- Withers reported that true freshmen will make up 31% of the roster. With that note the future is bright, but the Bobcats won’t compete until 2018. Withers “never wants to look at wins and losses”. Instead, the second year head coach wants to focus on “singular growth”.
- Texas State wants to find a way to run the football and to that they must get more physical along the offensive line. For that to work, Withers believes the Bobcats need more depth along the line of scrimmage.
- Neal Brown took the podium and believed 2016 was a successful season for not only Troy, but the entire Sun Belt. Brown mentioned the conference’s bowl record as evidence.
- The goal for the Trojans in 2017 will be to “flip the switch”. Troy wants to close the deal with a league title and fell they left one on the table last year. Brown states the expectation for this program is to “contend for a conference championship”.
- Brown believes this will be the best offense he’s had at Troy and there is room for improvement even with a ton of production back. The Trojans need to find a sidekick to Jordan Chunn in the ground game.
- The biggest question mark for Troy will be the pass rush. Brown states his staff must figure out if they can win iso situations or if they need to produce it by creating more pressure with scheme.
- With Matt Viator having a personal issue to deal with, defensive coordinator Mike Collins represented the program. He believes that the new staff has instituted a “culture change” at Monroe. Offensive guard Frank Sutton, Jr. believes that there has been a culture change and the program is heading in the right direction.
- Collins states that in just two seasons, the new staff has brought in 50-55 new players.
- Collins states the football program is excited about new athletics director Nick Floyd. Now ULM has a leader in administration.
- With the statement of the day, Collins says head coach Matt Viator coaches his players hard but he’s “not Hitler”. I suppose that is good to know.
- There is a QB competition entering fall camp as Garrett Smith returns from injury and Caleb Evans looks to build off getting playing time as a true freshman.