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Sun Belt Coaches Talk Anonymously About Conference Foes for 2017


It's not easy getting college football coaches to honestly comment on another coach, player or team. Most coaches don't want to give opposing teams billboard material, which is why there is a lot of coach speak or overused clichés used during the year.

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In order to get an accurate assessment of teams heading into 2017, Athlon asked coaches in the Sun Belt to talk anonymously about their opponents.

Related: Sun Belt Football 2017 Predictions

Note: These scouting reports come directly from coaching staffs and do not necessarily reflect the views of Athlon's editorial staff.

Sun Belt Coaches Anonymously Scout Conference Foes

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Appalachian State

“The quarterback (Taylor Lamb) is back, so that’s huge. He makes that team go.”

“Marcus Cox was a great player at running back, but his backup, Jalin Moore, ended up being the offensive player of the year in the conference and he’s got two years left.”

“They need some receivers step up and make some plays when it counts.”

“There’s a lot of guys coming back on defense and that defense is what keeps them going.”

“When they get off the field, that offense will run the ball and start chewing up clock. If you go three-and-out, they really put the squeeze on your offense because there’s only going to be so many possessions in the game. It’s no secret what they’re doing, but they execute well.”

“It’s still probably going to be them and Arkansas State at the top of the league.”

Related: Sun Belt Football 2017 All-Conference Team

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Arkansas State

“They recruit a lot of junior college players, and I think that’s why it takes a little time for them to gel. But they do a great job, they came on after their non-conference schedule and I think they’re going to be good again this year.”

“Blake Anderson took over the play-calling in the offseason, so that’s a little bit unusual for a team that won the conference. They only lost one game in the league so I don’t know why they would make a big change.”

“Their skill is good. They can run, they’re built to control the ball, but they make some big plays and defensively they are fast, they keep the ball in front of them.”

“They’re just good all the way around. There’s a reason they’ve won the conference title the last two years.”

College Football Rankings: Coastal Carolina

Coastal Carolina

[Editor’s note: Coastal Carolina is in its first season as a FBS member.]

“We’ve seen other teams make the transition (from FCS) to the Sun Belt. They can be competitive right away.”

Related: Ranking All 130 College Football Teams for 2017

College Football Rankings: Georgia Southern

Georgia Southern

“I hear so many crazy things out of there and I just think [head coach Tyson] Summers is just a young guy who’s trying to figure it out and followed a guy who had a really good plan.”

“Offensively, you associate Georgia Southern with the option, so last year when they were trying to throw the ball a bunch, they really got away from their identity.”

“They were solid defensively and on special teams, but they just really struggled with the offense. I think it will be a quick transition back to the option hiring the guy (Bryan Cook) from Georgia Tech, and that’s what they were built for to start with.”

“They’re certainly talented enough.”

“He’s got a lot of new coaches on his staff, but they’ve got a touch schedule early. That will give us some indication of how they’re going to play.”

College Football Rankings: Georgia State

Georgia State

“They’ll be good defensively. They hired a 3-4 guy [new head coach Shawn Elliott] who’s going to run that same system. They were already built for the 3-4 so that should be an easy transition and they were good up front. They had some long guys who could get after you.”

“Offensively, they struggled to throw the ball last year. They were okay up front and had a couple good backs, they just had a hard time completing third downs and ultimately that’s what got Trent fired. If he still had the quarterback from two years ago with that defense, he’d still be the coach.”

“I don’t see how they can keep going forward with Conner Manning at QB with a new staff, trying to spark it and win some games.”

“Moving to Turner Field (Georgia State Stadium), I hope that gets them a little more buzz. It’s a tough job.”

Related: College Football Bowl Projections for 2017

College Football Rankings: Idaho


“They’re really good offensively.”

“Matt Linehan is a really good quarterback, and you’re talking about a four-year starter so they know exactly what they’re doing.”

“The running back (Isaiah Saunders) is pretty good.”

“It’s a very similar system to what they do at Louisville. It’s all on the quarterback, a lot of underneath option routes, run the ball on occasion. They spread the ball around to a bunch of receivers make you defend all 11 guys. Defensively, they play hard and they’re sound, well coached all the way around.

“I feel like it’s a tough deal with them because they’re leaving the conference and dropping down to FCS, but in my mind they’re good enough to compete. They definitely belong from a talent standpoint.”

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“I think the quarterback play hurt them last year. He (Anthony Jennings) was really inconsistent, but they’ve always got a very talented roster.”

“Defensively it was strange to have a coordinator change after Week 1, and I know we were a little bit unsure how they were going to line up, but they played well later in the season and ended up getting bowl eligible.”

“They’re a team that if they get some quarterback play, they’re pretty good top to bottom.”

“They didn’t play with a lot of confidence early and then I saw them later in the year and they looked like they knew what they were doing.”

“If the pieces fall into place, Mark Hudspeth has kind of weathered the storm there, so I expect them to bounce back.”

Related: Ranking All 130 College Football Head Coaches for 2017

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New Mexico State

“They’re very good on offense.”

“The quarterback (Tyler Rogers) is good and he’s a senior coming back. We obviously liked the running back (Larry Rose), but he's a smaller guy and they put a lot on his shoulders. They utilize him all over the field. If he gets hurt, they’re in trouble.”

“Their offensive line they really struggled, but their QB gets the ball out quick and they don’t have to protect him all day.”

“Defensively, they’re not as big up front as a lot of the other teams in the league.”

“They have one good linebacker (Rodney Butler) who led the league in tackles.”

“They’re going to have to outscore people. [head coach Doug Martin] knows how to move the ball, knows how to throw it, and they can score points if remain healthy. But they just get into scoring matches and it’s hard to win that way.”

College Football Rankings: South Alabama

South Alabama

“One of the most talented teams in the league.”

“Always very hard to beat.”

“We honestly thought they should have been a lot better last year. They looked great on film but didn’t play well all the time.”

“The more I watch our league, it just seems like so many of the wins and losses come down to the quarterback. Not that the kid (Dallas Davis) was a bad player, but he wasn’t consistent. The teams they beat, he played well and they looked lights out, running up and down the field, scoring like crazy.”

“I think their roster has got a lot of speed. They’ll give you matchup problems.”

“The tight end who is an NFL player graduates (Gerald Everett), but they’ve got some other guys that are NFL quality.”

Related: Examining the Over/Under 2017 Win Totals for the Sun Belt

College Football Rankings: Texas State

Texas State

“I don’t know how good they’ll be this year, but he played a ton of young kids and they were sound.”

“I felt like they had a good plan on both sides of the ball, so in Year 2 and Year 3 Everett Withers got something to work with as those kids are going to keep getting older.”

“We got after them pretty good, but I just remember looking at the depth chart and it was a ton of redshirt freshmen, true freshmen, a bunch of young guys.”

“They were a 3-4 defense and were much better on defense than offense.”

“Quarterback is a big question mark. They’re bringing in a transfer from Mississippi State (Damian Williams), but he didn’t play much and the guys they’ve got are all young.”

“They’ll probably struggle on offense until the QBs they’ve recruited are ready.

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“I think it’s all about their quarterback. If he’s on, he’s really good and he throws the ball well. If he’s not, they’re average, but he’s a talented kid with good pieces around him.”

“The running back (Jordan Chunn) is a big load, he’s a good 230, 240 pounds and he’s tough to get on the ground.”

“Defensively, [coordinator Vic Koenning] has been a really good coach for a long time. They mix things up defensively, pressure when you don’t feel like they’re going to and then you think they’re going got pressure and they pull out of there. Their scheme is good.”

“Vic kind of got them some confidence because they could get off the field on third down and that trickled down to their whole team.”

College Football Rankings: ULM


“The offensive line is the strength of their team, so they’re going to try to run the ball and that’s what you’ve got to game plan for.”

“They didn’t throw it real well last year, and I think that’s why some of those games got away from them.”

“They just couldn’t convert third downs and put their defense in some bad spots.”

“Quarterback battle is going to be interesting. They played a few different guys I don’t think any of them really stood out.”

“[head coach Matt Viator] a good coach, so I expect them to be better in Year 2.”

“I just don’t have a great feel for their personnel because they bring back a lot of guys, but I know they brought in some junior college prospects and transfers to try to get better.”