Week One Lessons for the Sun Belt

Socrates is a great teacher, his words pasted on millions of coffee mugs. Among those words, “True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.” Keep in mind, Socrates was also a bald old guy sentenced to chug a goblet of hemlock for keeping the youth woke.

Week One has provided all the knowledge we need to know everything about the Sun Belt. Your word-fu is weak, Socrat-cheese! I’ll be checking in with Plato for now on.

Pump The Breaks on Georgia State

Week One Army and their funky Triple Option will make any team look bad on defense. But what troubles me most is how poorly the Panthers played offensively. Georgia State QB Cornelius Brown IV was limited to just 129 passing yards with a pick and not a single touchdown on Saturday, and the Panthers went down 43-10. Many picked the Panthers to generate interest in the Sun Belt East. Judging from Week One’s performance, Georgia State isn’t ready. Not yet.

In retrospect

Mea Culpa, Chase Brice

When Appalachian State’s Chase Brice was included on Phil Steele’s All Sun Belt Team, I wasn’t a fan. After all, the guy tossed 15 picks against only 10 TDs as Duke’s signal caller in 2020. What was the attraction? As if he sensed my doubts, Brice put on a pigskin clinic against Eastern Carolina on Thursday night, chalking up 259 yards and two touchdowns while leading the Mountaineers to a 33-19 victory over the Pirates of the AAC. Is he one of the Sun Belt’s best QBs? He was in Week 1.

The Biggest Win Might Belong to South Alabama

The Golden Eagles scored the first points on Saturday. The Jaguars scored the next 31, opening the Kane Womack Era with a dominating 31-7 win in South Alabama’s sterling new on-campus stadium. Starting QB Jake Bentley was even better than Chase Brice, putting up 269 yards and accounting for three total TDs. Of course, wide receiver Jalen Tolbert was as effective as always – 168 yards on just five receptions. The distance between the two campuses is less than 90 miles, which is too close for comfort for both programs. The Jags just shifted the balance of power to Mobile.

Layne Hatcher Should Be The Starting QB for the Red Wolves

Florida State transfer James Blackman started for Arkansas State against Central Arkansas on Saturday night. Blackman wasn’t playing poorly, exactly, but early in the third quarter, the score was only 13-7 Red Wolves midway through the third quarter. After Blackman was forced to retire to the sideline after briefly losing his helmet, Hatcher took over the offensive and immediately flicked a 34 yard TD pass to Corey Rucker – who would go on to record two more Hatcher to Rucker scores. In a quarter and a half of work, Hatcher threw 4 touchdown and went a perfect 12/12 for a fantastic 315 QB rating. It’s hard to imagine Hatcher not starting next week against Memphis.

Not a bad night for Hatcher

Coastal Carolina and Texas State Acquitted Themselves Well

One program destroyed an FCS program. The other lost to a Big 12 program. Yet both can hold their heads high. The Chanticleers made mincemeat out of the Citadel before a boisterous home crowd. San Marcos was just as hopping hosting Baylor, and the Bobcats demonstrated that while they program may not be ready to challenge for the Sun Belt title, it is more than capable of giving Baylor a solid game. Coastal Carolina didn’t look past Citadel in its quest to validate its 2020 championship, and the Bobcats didn’t embarrass themselves as they might have just two seasons ago.

The Sun Belt Won the Supposed-To-Win Games

Week One saw six FCS upsets over FBS programs – but none came at the expense of the Sun Belt. We were spared that embarrassment. Yes, Gardner-Webb made life interesting for Georgia Southern, and UCA gave the Red Wolves some trouble for half a football game, but the business was taken care of in Week 1, which cannot be said for Vanderbilt, Washington, and Tulsa, among other unfortunate programs.

Louisiana Didn’t Look Especially Good in Austin (which isn’t good for the Sun Belt)

The Longhorns didn’t have a very difficult time with the Cajuns, and that was disappointing. The Louisiana defense gave up 435 yards in the 38-18 loss on national television, likely reducing the Sun Belt’s presence in the AP Top 25 to one.