We know Coastal Carolina will represent the East in the Sun Belt Championship game. The West is still very close with two weeks left, but it’s technically South Alabama’s lose since they beat Troy earlier in the year. Just another week in the SBC.
In Thursday night action, Louisiana seemed to have little trouble dispatching Georgia Southern in a somewhat surprising result.
James Madison dominated Old Dominion 37-3, but every other Saturday Sun Belt game was much closer. Troy downed Army on Saturday in a defensive clash, ULM finished a comeback bid against Georgia State, and Arkansas State survived a comeback bid from UMass. Then Marshall and Coastal Carolina squeaked out one-score conference wins, and South Alabama beat Texas State by 14.
Here’s what stood out in Week 11.
How Coastal Performs Without Grayson McCall
Two-time Sun Belt Player of the Year Grayson McCall will miss the rest of the regular season with a foot injury. He may be back in time for the league championship game, but will need to be reevaluated closer to the game. Unless the injury ends up being something major and incredibly unforeseen, it’s tough to imagine that he’s played his last snaps in college. In the meantime though, his offensive teammates are figuring things out in his absence.
We’ve seen quite a bit of Bryce Carpenter subbing in for McCall over the last few years, but especially so in the last few weeks. Carpenter has earned a reputation for being a hard-nosed running quarterback who refuses to slide. Carpenter carried the ball eight times for 15 yards in the Chants win over Southern Miss this past weekend in addition to completing one 28-yard pass.
For the majority of passing situations, CCU fans got their longest glimpse yet of junior quarterback Jarrett Guest, who started the game. Guest completed seven of 14 pass attempts on Saturday for 163 yards and two interceptions. Guest was also sacked twice and ran the ball seven times for four yards in the 26-23 win.
Postgame, head coach Jamey Chadwell indicated that he thought Guest played a solid game, save for his first half interception that he threw across his body. Chadwell also indicated his strategy for how to use the two quarterbacks could change in the final weeks of the season, including likely extended time for Carpenter.
Carlton Martial Breaks The FBS Tackle Record
With a career-high 22 tackles in Troy’s win over Army, 5’9” senior linebacker Carlton Martial broke FBS career tackles record by bringing his total to 548.
“I’m so incredibly proud of him,” Trojans’ head coach Jon Sumrall stated. “He’s had enough people his whole life tell him you’re not this or you’re not that, but all he is is a tackling machine who plays the game the right way, who is a phenomenal teammate. I think he would tell you he does not care about the tackles record. He came back to go to a bowl game, pursue a conference championship, and do those sort of things.”
Jon Sumrall reminisced briefly postgame on recruiting Martial to Troy when Sumrall was an assistant at Troy from 2015 to 2017. It’s clear that Sumrall thinks the world of Martial, and the past five years are a clear indication why.
Martial himself also spoke postgame, stating “It’s crazy to think about. I don’t think it’s actually hit me yet. It might hit me later when I lay my head on the pillow. I’m lost for words. I’m proud of my team. Every guy on that team, they’re the reason I came back. It’s not for this record or anything. We’re not done yet. I like to think we have four more games left. That’s where my mind is.”
Louisiana Kicker Keeps Bowl Hopes Alive
Louisiana built up a 27-7 lead at the half of their game against Georgia Southern. While their offense wasn’t quite as effective in the second half, it didn’t matter much thanks to the play of their defense and that of kicker Kenneth Almendares.
Almendares accounted for 18 of his team’s 36 points and tied a program record with five field goals. Almendares connected from 48, 34, 27, 42 and 40 yards out to become the first player to repeat as Sun Belt Special Teams Player of the Week this season. His 18 points in a single game are tied for the most among FBS kickers this season.
The Cajuns are 5-5 with two opponents remaining: #23 Florida State and Texas State. Both contests are on the road. Almendares is a Clute, Texas native. The Cajuns shouldn’t have much trouble getting that sixth win against Texas State, but if they get into trouble, it has to be comforting to know they have a kicker who can convert three attempts from beyond forty yards in a game, if he needs to do so. The redshirt sophomore is 12 of 17 this year on field goal attempts after taking over the job at the beginning of October.