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    [2022] Week 2 Sun Belt Power Rankings

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    Image result for sun belt conference png

    Disclaimer: Since this is the first power ranking of the year for the Sun Belt, I talk about all of the games the teams have played so far. In the future I will just be writing about the previous week.

     

    1.  :arkstate: Arkansas State Red Wolves (1-0, 0-0 Sun Belt) Change: N/A

    Previous results: Bye, at :nt: UNT W 45-17, Bye

     

    Positives: Holy cow, Arkansas State made quite the statement in their first game of the season defeating North Texas by the score of 45-17. The Red Wolves’ passing game is legitimately dangerous with QB Eugene Salas and WR Roscoe Bishop leading the charge. Against UNT, Salas completed over 60% of his passes with half of them going to Bishop. The Arkansas State secondary was also able to keep UNT QB Elias Noble in check keeping to him to just a 50% completion rate and forcing three interceptions. The Red Wolves returned a punt for a touchdown as well.

     

    Negatives: Despite the big win, the offensive line for the Red Wolves was definitely suspect. Giving up 4 sacks with just a 3.4 rating is a huge concern going forward, especially against teams with solid front sevens. Even with this being a pass-first, pass-second offense, they’re probably going to need to show a little bit more on the ground if they want to keep teams honest. Running Back Robert Robertson carried the ball only three times for ten yards. If teams are able to limit Salas and Bishop the Red Wolves’ offense could be in trouble. Kicker Jack Edwards also missed a 36 yard field goal, which could be a problem if the Red Wolves find themselves in a close game this season.

     

    What’s next: at :tulsa: Tulsa

     

    2. :ull: Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (0-2, 0-0 Sun Belt) Change: N/A

    Previous results: Bye, at :uva: Virginia L 3-55, vs. :kstate: Kansas State L 16-19

     

    Positives: Louisiana-Lafayette’s defense played very well in week 2 against a feisty Kansas State team, not allowing the Wildcats to be very successful in the air or on the ground. Cornerback Corey Flaherty has been a key piece to that, having defensed two passes, and intercepting another so far this season. Kicker Vaughn Hudgins has played well so far, going 4 of 5 on field goals, only missing from 45 yards out. The schedule should start to soften up a bit for ULL as we get closer to conference play.

     

    Negatives: The offense does not look very high powered thus far. They have played tough opponents, but receivers have failed to find space and QB Emory West has left much to be desired through two games. West is going to need to cut down on turnovers if ULL has plans for a deep run in the Sun Belt this year. It may not be completely West’s fault as his line is averaging just a 3.0 rating over the two games and has already given up seven sacks. The special teams coverage needs to be improved as well as the Ragin’ Cajuns gave up both a punt return TD and a kick return TD against UVA.

     

    What’s next: vs. :emu: Eastern Michigan


     

    3. :ulm: Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks (0-1, 0-0 Sun Belt) Change: N/A

    Previous results: Bye, Bye, at :uga: Georgia L 21-31

     

    Positives: Wow, what a game by ULM. Georgia came into this matchup as 24.5 point favorites, but the Warhawks gave them a hell of a fight on warm Saturday morning. Quarterback Martin Johnson looked good, despite throwing one pick. The passing game is definitely going to surprise some teams this year as they were able to do fairly well against UGA without stud TE Abdoul Brinson making much of an impact. The offensive line gave up 3 sacks, but had a respectable 4.4 rating against a solid SEC front seven. The Warhawks were also able to strip pro-ready Bulldog RB Grant McLean one time for their lone turnover.

     

    Negatives: The Georgia offense was still able to sleep-walk through the ULM defense. Georgia QB Zeke Burnett carved up the Warhawk secondary to the tune of 20/26 for 239 yards and two touchdowns. And despite the fumble, McLean was still able to gain 94 yards on 21 carries for two touchdowns. It appears discipline was an issue for Louisiana-Monroe this game, being penalized 8 times for 80 yards. This made a big difference as it caused some 3rd and manageables to become difficult to convert against the hostile Sanford Stadium crowd, resulting in a lousy 4/13 3rd down conversion rate.

     

    What’s next: vs. :usf: USF

     

    4. :gsu: Georgia State Panthers (0-1, 0-0 Sun Belt) Change: N/A

    Previous results: Bye, at logo :wake: L 7-38, Bye

     

    Positives: Georgia State’s first game of the year had few bright spots. Despite giving up four sacks, the offensive line graded out fairly well with a rating of 4.6. Zachary Mattson showed some flashes of what he can be in the future, but it wasn’t sustainable at any point against the Demon Deacon defense. As far as the first game goes, that’s about all that went right, but the Panthers still have one the conference’s most talented rosters going forward, so there should be improvement as they get more games under their belt.

     

    Negatives: Quarterback Zachary Mattson looked every bit of a true freshman during Georgia State’s first game. Completing under 50% of his passes and turning the ball over twice is not the debut he was hoping for, but he does have tremendous potential as long as the coaching staff spends plenty of time with him. The offense couldn’t get anything done on the late downs, going 0/9 on third down and 0/1 on fourth down. This was against ACC competition, but that certainly doesn’t look promising as they must play two more power conference foes before heading into conference play. This team has plenty of talent, they just need to put it all together.

     

    What's next: vs. :fsu: Florida State
     

    5. :txst: Texas State Bobcats (0-2, 0-0 Sun Belt) Change: N/A

    Previous results: at :msu: Michigan State L 20-45, Bye, at :utep: UTEP L 28-30

     

    Positives: The Texas State defensive line has proved it has been out for blood so far. Between their first two games they have accumulated five sacks and are looking to improve that when they start facing weaker competition. Junior DE Ryan Starling will be the focus in the film room for offensive line coaches as he already has 2.5 sacks and 4 TFL. Middle linebacker Jayden Tyson is also starting to put together a nice campaign for himself with 13 tackles through two games.

     

    Negatives: Texas State’s offense has not been creative enough on third down this year as they are converting on just 25% of third downs. This simply isn’t acceptable if the Bobcats have postseason aspirations. The secondary has been sliced up so far allowing a 67% completion percentage. The defense needs to be a little more opportunistic as well as they have yet to force a turnover in two games, even against an average UTEP squad. The loss against the Miners definitely stings, but Texas State should be talented enough to win some scrappy games and claw their way into a bowl game.

     

    What’s next: Bye

     

    6. :usa: South Alabama Jaguars (0-1, 0-0 Sun Belt) Change: N/A

    Previous results: Bye, Bye, at :usf: USF L 10-38

     

    Positives: Despite a fairly lopsided game, the South Alabama secondary showed out pretty well in this one. Allowing just 219 yards on 18 attempts isn’t too shabby for a fairly young group of cornerbacks. Freshman Zahir Allen is already showing off his ball skills as he intercepted a pass in his first game in a USA uniform. The defense was able to shore up on third downs, as the Bulls only converted on 2 of their 7 third down attempts. The offensive line held up alright against a very talented USF defensive line, which will help with their confidence as the season progresses.

     

    Negatives: The offensive backfield had a forgettable experience in this one. Talented quarterback Rafael Higgins didn’t look the part in this one, as he threw a pick and lost a fumble. USF’s secondary is fairly talented, but more needs to be seen from a guy who was considered one of the better QB’s in the Sun Belt this year. Ray Ray Dougherty didn’t get much going on the ground either averaging less than three yards a carry and losing a fumble. When you convert only 20% of your third downs it’s tough to score and the Jaguars showed us that on Saturday. USA will need to figure out how to score if they want to win ball games.  

     

    What’s next: at :ttu: Texas Tech

     

    7. :ccu: Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (1-1, 0-0 Sun Belt) Change: N/A

    Previous results: Bye, at :niu: Northern Illinois L 14-51, vs. :nt: North Texas W 28-24

     

    Positives: The 2022 Coastal Carolina football team has already won half as many games as last year’s squad. It was an ugly win against a coachless team, but a win nonetheless. CCU has showed quite a bit of discipline through two games, accumulating just 54 penalty yards. This is an important thing to continue if this talent-stricken squad wants to keep winning games. Freshman running back Amadou Jackson has looked good so far, averaging 4.8 yards per carry and punching in three touchdowns. The secondary looked good against North Texas limiting the Mean Green to just 168 passing yards and picking off an errant Elias Noble pass.

     

    Negatives: This is still one of the least talented rosters in the Sun Belt. The offensive line hasn’t looked good, even in the win. They have yet to eclipse a rating of 3.0. This shows on third down as CCU has converted just 5 of 26 third down attempts. Kicker Greg Luther III has yet to make a field goal, going 0/2 from distances of 39 and 45 yards out. Another thing killing the Chants’ offense is turnovers. Junior quarterback Roger Reese threw an interception in each game and Jackson lost a fumble against NIU. Despite their respectable performance against UNT, the secondary was absolutely torched by Charlie Sanford and the Huskie receivers, giving up 444 yards and 6 touchdowns through the air. This year will be a struggle for the young Coastal Carolina team, but getting that first win doesn’t hurt.

     

    What’s next: Bye

     

    8. :gaso: Georgia Southern Eagles (0-1, 0-0 Sun Belt) Change: N/A

    Previous results: Bye, Bye, at :vols: Tennessee L 0-38

     

    Positives: This is definitely a Georgia Southern team looking towards the future. In their game against Tennessee, 15 of their 22 starters were either freshman or sophomores. In-game experience is the best way to learn and these players certainly won’t have any shortage of that. Freshman linebacker Jude Herring had himself a decent day, getting six tackles in the loss.

     

    Negatives: The youthful Eagles certainly struggled on both sides of the ball, resulting in more negatives than positives. Their defense was carved up in the air and on the ground. SEC offenses have a tendency to do that, but there are some high-powered Sun Belt offenses that could be trouble for Georgia Southern. Penalties certainly didn’t help the Eagles in this one. They were penalized 10 times for 96 yards, which contributed to their inability to score on the Volunteers’ defense. Turnovers didn’t go in their favor either, with two different players losing fumbles and QB Ian Sorensen throwing a pick. There should be improvement throughout the year, but this first game had some growing pains.

     

    What’s next: vs. :uga: Georgia

     

    9. :app: Appalachian State Mountaineers (0-2, 0-0 Sun Belt) Change: N/A

    Previous results: Bye, vs. :msst: Mississippi State L 3-62, vs. :iowa: Iowa L 7-31

     

    Positives: Appalachian State hasn’t showed much thus far, but there are a few good things to take away. After giving up a whopping six sacks against Mississippi State, they were able to cut that number in half against Iowa. Linebacker Ian Fleming looks to be the leader of this defense, totaling 15 tackles through just two games. If he keeps it up he could find himself on an All-Sun Belt team at season’s end. Other than that, Appalachian State has struggled mightily. At least they’ve got a bye week to figure some things out before taking on Troy.

     

    Negatives: Opening the season against two power conference foes is never easy, but when you play both of them at home, you hope you can at least show some hope for the season. App State did not succeed in doing so, getting blown out in both games. NFL-hopeful wide receiver Jermaine Jennings hasn’t shown much to scouts yet, as he was essentially nonexistent against these secondaries. The freshman struggles have been real for quarterback Hernando Cortez who has already turned the ball over four times. Appalachian State should be able to score on lesser opponents, but will need to convert on third downs first. The Mountaineers are an abysmal 3 for 27 on such downs so far. App State’s schedule gets lighter from here, but there are definitely improvements to be made.

     

    What’s next: Bye

     

    10. :troy: Troy Trojans (0-2, 0-0 Sun Belt) Change: N/A

    Previous results: at :tulane: Tulane L 17-42, Bye, at :bama: Alabama L 10-41

     

    Positives: Troy was able to hang with the Crimson Tide for a quarter before getting shut down. Even though it was just a quarter, Alabama is one of the top teams in the country, so this is certainly a good sign for the Trojans. Quarterback Jose Lynn has proven that teams will need to respect his legs, running for 101 yards on just 12 attempts. After giving up a punt return touchdown against Tulane in their first game, the Trojans’ punt coverage got much better against Alabama. They held the Crimson Tide to just 26 punt return yards.

     

    Negatives: Troy did not play well at all against a Tulane squad that wasn’t supposed to be that great this season. The Trojans should have been able to hang with the Green Wave, but were out of the game by halftime. Lynn hasn’t been able to show much passing the ball, which isn’t beneficial if Troy is going to keep having to play from behind. Punter Robert Allred didn’t put the defense in optimal positions with a well-below average punting average in both games. Although this didn’t help the defense, it should be asked if the defense would’ve been able to stop these offenses anyway. They were picked apart by both the run and the pass, giving up around 400 yards of offense in each game.

     

    What’s next: Bye

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    Very well written.  It's tough to sort the conference out right now, and you've done as well of a job as can be done.   You're right about that UTEP loss, it hurt us a lot.  I had that game in there because I figured they were just about the strongest team we had a shot at beating, and we came pretty close.  Now we're going to take advantage of this bye week to implement some scheme changes and depth chart tweaks, and see if we can't play some grown up football.

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    Great article and right on the spot regarding the Eagles. 

     

    We're a young team, that are suffering a lot growing pains. I don't expect this to go away in this game, but, on the conference play, I expect to be, at least, closer.

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    Nice article. I'm hoping that Brinson makes an apperance on the sheet but as of now, I like what I'm seeing from the the team and the Georgia game is given me some confidence for the other 3 OOC games.

     

    Also can't wait for conference play ;)

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