Week 10 Previews: Sun Belt Conference
Thu., Nov. 4 @ 6:30 pm CT
Georgia State Panthers at Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns
Georgia State: 4-4, 3-1 Sun Belt
Louisiana: 7-1, 5-0 Sun Belt; Ranked No. 24 AP/RV Coaches
SERIES: Louisiana leads 5-0. Last Meeting:
Louisiana 34, GSU 31 (ot), 2020 in Atlanta
GSU HEAD COACH SHAWN ELLIOTT
Alma Mater: Appalachian State, 1996 Record at GSU: 26-29 (5th year) Career Record: 27-34 (6th year)
LA HEAD COACH BILLY NAPIER
Record at LA: 35-12 (4th year) Career Record: 35-12 (4th year)
Georgia State Panthers
THE KICKOFF: Riding a three-game winning streak, Georgia State’s next challenge is an ESPN Thursday night game at No. 24 Louisiana. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. ET at Cajun Field.
After consecutive wins over ULM, Texas State and Georgia Southern, the Panthers (4-4, 3-1) are tied for first in the Sun Belt East Division, while 24th-ranked Louisiana (7-1, 5-0) leads the West Division.
Jamyest Williams’ 23-yard touchdown run with 26 seconds left gave Georgia State a 21-14 win at Georgia Southern as the Panthers improved to 5-3 against their in-state rival.
On their three-game winnings streak, the Panthers have averaged 282 yards rushing.
Georgia State ranks No. 16 in FBS in rushing, averaging 221.9 ypg.
The running game features the trio of running backs Tucker Gregg (552 yds, 4 TD) and Jamyest Williams (413 yds, 5 TD) and quarterback Darren Grainger (388 yds, 1 TD) while running behind a veteran offensive line with 175 career starts.
The GSU defense allowed a total of three touchdowns in back-to-back wins over Texas State and Georgia Southern.
Louisiana will be Georgia State’s third nationally-ranked opponent of the season, all on the road, following No. 22 North Carolina and No. 23 Auburn. Next week’s opponent is No. 21 Coastal Carolina.
Georgia State is playing the second of three straight road games, with a trip to No. 24 Coastal Carolina (Nov. 13) to follow. The Oct. 23 win over Texas State was the Panthers’ lone home game between Oct. 2 and Nov. 20, when GSU returns home to host Troy and then Arkansas State.
GEORGIA STATE vs. RANKED TEAMS:
Although Georgia State is looking for its first win against a ranked FBS team, five of the 10 games have come against Power Five teams ranked 12th or higher in the AP poll.
Earlier this season, Georgia State led at No. 23 Auburn until the final minute, when the Tigers scored the go-ahead touchdown on a fourth-down play with 45 seconds left.
Last season, the Panthers lost 34-31 in overtime to No. 19/21 Louisiana in the season opener.
GSU also had a close call at No. 9 Wisconsin in 2016, leading 17-13 with less than 10 minutes to play before the Badgers scored the go-ahead touchdown with 7:25 left and went on to win 23-17.
Alabama, 2010 (10/12)………………………………… aL 63-7
Alabama, 2013 (1/1)…………………………………….. aL 56-3
Oregon, 2015 (12/13) …………………………………aL 61-28
Wisconsin, 2016 (9/12)……………………………….aL 23-17
Penn State, 2017 (5/5)…………………………………. aL 56-0
Appalachian State, 2019 (RV/24)…………….. hL 45-17
Louisiana, 2020, 19/21 ………………………(OT) hL 34-31
Coastal Carolina, 2020 (20/21)…………………….hL 51-0
North Carolina, 2021 (24/22) …………………….aL 59-17
Auburn, 2021 (23/23) …………………………………aL 34-24
* Rankings are AP/Coaches’ Poll
TUCKER THE TRUCKER: Senior running back Tucker Gregg, known for his hard-nosed style, has trucked his way to 1,159 career rushing yards to ranks No. 6 in GSU history.
He rushed for 87 yards and two touchdowns in the Panthers’ 21-14 win over Georgia Southern.
The former walk-on recorded his third career 100-yard game with 115 yards vs. Texas State including a key fourth-down run.
Gregg rushed for a career-high 150 yards on 12 carries at No. 23 Auburn. He had a career-long 57-yard run to set up a score in the first quarter, and then a 50-yard TD run to put GSU ahead 24-10 late in the second quarter. He is the first Panther to have two runs of 50 or more yards in the same game.
#STATENOTSOUTHERN: Georgia State
scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns, including Jamyest Williams’ game-winner on a 23-yard run with 26 seconds left, to earn a 21-14 victory at Georgia Southern.
After Georgia Southern tied the game with 1:39 left, the Panthers drove 73 yards in seven plays for the winning score. Williams started the drive with a 12-yard run, and QB Darren Grainger had a 5-yard completion and five rushes for 35 yards.
The GSU defense had to make one last stand after Georgia Southern drove to the GSU 21 with two seconds left, but Jhi’Shawn Taylor sacked QB Justin Tomlin on the final play.
The Panthers defeated their in-state rival for the second straight year and improved to 5-3 in the series.
In Georgia State’s last three wins in the series, the Panthers have scored a late touchdown to win. In 2020’s 30-24 victory, Cornelious Brown IV scored on a 1-yard run with 2:54 left, and in 2017, Penny Hart caught a 9-yard TD pass from Conner Manning with 2:31 to play for a 21-17 victory.
RECORD-SETTING WIN AT ULM: The
Panthers produced one of the top offensive outputs in program history in their 55-21 victory at ULM. GSU scored a school-record eight touchdowns while tying the program highs for points scored (55), margin of victory (34) and first downs (39). The offense piled up 572 total yards, including 326 yards on the ground, the fifth-best single-game in GSU annals.
Quarterback Darren Grainger tied the GSU record by accounting for five touchdowns while passing for 230 yards and rushing for 84. He threw two TD passes each to TE Aubry Payne and WR Ja’Cyais Credle and also scored on a 1-yard run.
NO MATTER HOW YOU SAY IT: Although his last name is frequently mispronounced, there is no mistaking ILB Jordan Veneziale (ven-zee-AL) as Georgia State’s leading
tackler. The junior moved into the starting lineup in Game 2 vs. North Carolina, and for the season, he has collected 65 tackles, with 3.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. His average of 8.1 tackles per game ranks third in the Sun Belt.
DOWN TO THE WIRE: Playing its second nationally-ranked Power 5 opponent in three games, Georgia State battled No. 23 Auburn down to the wire, leading 24-19 until the Tigers scored the go-ahead touchdown on a fourth-down play with 45 seconds left.
The Panthers rushed for 267 yards in the game, including a career-high 150 by Tucker Gregg. QB Darren Grainger, making his second start, rushed for 61 yards and threw TD passes to Jamari Thrash and Roger Carter.
The GSU defense held Auburn to 167 yards rushing and did not allow an offensive touchdown until the game-winning drive. IN A RUSH: The Georgia State has achieved
three of the top nine rushing games in program history in the last six games, gaining 326 yards against ULM and 298 vs. Charlotte and 283 vs. Texas State.
In the win over ULM, the Panthers gained 326 yards on the ground, the fifth-best single-game in program history. QB Darren Grainger led the way with 84 yards, followed by Tucker Gregg (83) and Jamyest Williams (67).
Against Texas State, it was Gregg (115), Grainger (91) and Williams (77) again.
The Panthers rushed for 298 yards in their win over Charlotte, with four players gaining 60 or more yards: Destin Coates (83), Gregg (76), Williams (73) and Grainger (64).
Leading 13-9 with nine minutes to play vs. Charlotte, GSU forced a punt and took over at its own 10-yard line. The Panthers proceeded to eat up 7:20 on the clock by
running 13 straight times for 90 yards, capped by Williams’ 13-yard TD with 1:38 left.
ON GUARD: Super senior left guard Shamarious Gilmore, the veteran of the Georgia State program, played in his 55th straight game against Georgia Southern, including 54 starts. The four-time All-Sun Belt selection had his streak of 51 consecutive starts snapped against Appalachian State due to an injury, but he holds the school
records for most games played and most starts.
ROGER THAT: Super senior tight end Roger Carter caught a 7-yard touchdown pass at Auburn for his 11th career touchdown reception. That gave him the GSU record for
touchdowns by a tight end, passing Keith Rucker (10, 2013-16).
Carter has 87 career receptions for 1,061 yards, second to Rucker in both categories among all GSU tight ends. Carter is 10th among all receivers in catches and yards.
MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU: Senior running back Tucker Gregg has converted sixth fourth-down runs into first downs.
Against Texas State, with the Panthers holding a just a 14-13 lead and facing 4th-and-1 at the GSU 42, Gregg took the handoff up the middle and appeared to be stuffed at the line of scrimmage, but he bounced outside and raced 14 yards around the right end for the first down. Three plays later, Georgia State scored a touchdown to go up 21-13.
Gregg had three fourth-down conversion runs in the second half of the win at Charlotte. One game earlier, he had two fourthdown conversions at North Carolina, giving him five in the two games.
THRASH, CREDLE EMERGE: With top receivers Sam Pinckney and Cornelius McCoy battling injuries, sophomores Jamari Thrash and Ja’Cyais Credle have stepped up.
Thrash is the Panthers leading receiver with 25 catches for 326 yards, including a 35-yard TD catch vs. Charlotte, a 12-yard TD at Auburn and a 35-yard TD vs. Texas State
Credle, the transfer from UCF, has 17 catches for 236 yards. In the win over Charlotte, he had a 33-yard reception to set up a touchdown and then a 28-yard TD catch.
Credle had his best game in the win at ULM, recording career highs with seven receptions for 130 yards, including touchdown catches of 31 and 38 yards.
Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns
LOUISIANA EYES WEST IN GAME AGAINST GEORGIA STATE
Facing its second five-day turnaround of the season, the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns are eying their fourthstraight Sun Belt Conference West Division title when they host the Georgia State Panthers on Thursday night on ESPN. With a victory, the team will secure a place in the league’s title game, making Louisiana the only team in Sun Belt history to have appeared in all of the conference’s championship games.
A LOOK AT THE RAGIN’ CAJUNS
• Louisiana is 28-5 since the start of the 2019 season.
• Louisiana owns a 24-7 record against Sun Belt opposition under Coach Napier, including a perfect 15-0 mark against Sun Belt West opposition.
• Louisiana returned to the national rankings this week, checking in at No. 24 in the AP Top 25. The team opened the season ranked No. 23 in both the AP Top 25 and the USA Today/AFCA Coaches Poll.
• Louisiana is 35-5 under Coach Napier when scoring more than 20 points. After scoring 45 points against Texas State, the team is 14-0 when scoring more than 40 points under Napier.
• Since 2018, Louisiana is 18-4 when playing in games at 6 p.m. or later.
• The Ragin’ Cajuns own a 13-3 record in one-possession games since the start of the 2018 season.
• Louisiana owns a 4-0 record on Thursday under Coach Napier.
• With three touchdown passes against Texas State on Oct. 30, Levi Lewis set the program record for career passing scores with 65. The previous record of 64 was held by Ragin’ Cajun legend Jake Delhomme.
• The Cajun defense recorded its first shutout since the 2012 season and now ranks 20th nationally in scoring defense, holding opponents to 19.2 points per game.
• Louisiana is 13-for-16 on 4th Down this year, good for second in the Sun Belt and fourth nationally.
• Louisiana has eight “super seniors” on the roster this year in quarterback Levi Lewis, linebacker Ferrod Gardner, offensive lineman Ken Marks, wide receiver Jalen Williams, linebacker Chauncey Manac, nose tackle Tayland Humphrey, safety Cameron Solomon and kicker Nate Snyder. Of the eight, Ken Marks and Ferrod Gardner are in their seventh season of eligibility.
• In Billy Napier’s first four seasons, the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns have won three Sun Belt Conference West Division titles, were the 2020 Sun Belt Co-Champions and have won two bowl games (LendingTree Bowl (2020) and SERVPRO First Responder Bowl (2021)).
• Louisiana owns a perfect 15-0 record against Sun Belt West Division opponents and is 24-7 overall against Sun Belt opposition.
• The 45 points scored against Texas State marked the 14th time that Louisiana has produced more than 40 points in a single game under Napier. The team is 14-0 in those games.
• Louisiana is 35-5 when scoring 20 or more points in the Napier era.
• Louisiana’s defense held Texas State to 0 points on Oct. 30, improving the Ragin’ Cajuns to 9-0 over the last four seasons when an opponent scores 14 or fewer points.
• The shutout marked the first by the Ragin’ Cajuns since Sept. 1, 2012, when it blanked Lamar, 40-0.
• The Ragin’ Cajuns had three passing scores and two rushing scores against the Bobcats on Oct. 30, the 22nd time the team has achieved that feat since 2000 and just the second time in the Napier era.
• After the tight win over Arkansas State, Louisiana is now 13-3 in one-possession games since 2018.
• Louisiana produced 546 yards of total offense against A-State, the 17th time the Cajuns have recorded 500+ yards in the Napier era and the second time this season, the first coming against Ohio (562). The team owns a 16-1 record in those contests.
• Of those 546 yards against the Red Wolves, 424 came on the ground. The Ragin’ Cajuns have rushed for more than 400 yards three times in the Napier era and own a 3-0 record in those contests.
• Louisiana has won 12-straight regular-season road games against Sun Belt teams and is 15-1 in regular-season road games since the start of the 2019 season.
• After defeating Georgia Southern, Louisiana moved to 3-1 in Sun Belt openers under Napier.
• Louisiana has eight “super seniors” on the roster this year in quarterback Levi Lewis, linebacker Ferrod Gardner, offensive lineman Ken Marks, wide receiver Jalen Williams, linebacker Chauncey Manac, nose tackle Tayland Humphrey, safety Cameron Solomon and kicker Nate Snyder. Of the eight, Ken Marks and Ferrod Gardner are entering their seventh season of eligibility.
• Per ESPN’s Bill Connelly, Louisiana returns 96 percent of its production entering the 2021 season. The team has 93 percent of its offense returning and 98 percent of the defense coming back.
• Louisiana placed nine on the Sun Belt’s All-Conference teams after having 14 All-Conference selections at the end of the 2020 campaign.
Sat., Nov. 6 @ 1:00 pm CT
App State Mountaineers at Arkansas State Red Wolves
App State Mountaineers
APP STATE STORYLINES
• Part of a three-way tie atop the Sun Belt’s East Division, with head-to-head wins over both Coastal Carolina and Georgia State, first-place App State heads to Arkansas State for the second of three straight games against West Division teams with a new head coach. Of the first four games in the series, only the first one in 2014 wasn’t a nationally televised midweek game.
• Since App State joined the FBS in 2014, its 29 road wins are No. 5 nationally, behind just Boise State’s 31 and 30 apiece from Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma. App State’s 52-10 record against Sun Belt teams includes a 23-6 mark in league road games.
• App State’s 83.9 win percentage vs. league foes since it joined the FBS is No. 5 nationally behind just Ohio State (94.0, 63-4), Alabama (91.3, 63-6), Clemson (89.9, 62-7) and Oklahoma (86.1, 62-10).
• App State’s 80.2 overall win percentage (69-17) since 2015 is No. 6 nationally behind Alabama (86-7, 92.5), Clemson (84-10, 89.4), Ohio State (75-9, 89.3), Oklahoma (76-12, 86.4) and Georgia (70-17, 80.5).
• App State’s 3-1 record in the head-to-head series includes a 45-17 home win last year, a 35-9 road win in its last trip to Jonesboro in 2018 and a 37-32 road win during its FBS debut in 2014. Last year, the Mountaineers hosted the Red Wolves to end a 26-day, COVID-related break and led 31-7 at halftime.
• Quarterback Chase Brice leads the Sun Belt at 262.0 passing yards per game — with 13 TDs and just two INTs in App State’s six wins. In back-to-back home wins against Coastal Carolina (30-27) and ULM (four first-half TDs to build a 49-7 halftime lead), he went 38 of 58 for 603 yards, six TDs and no INTs.
• Bednarik candidate D’Marco Jackson is No. 2 in the Sun Belt at 9.4 tackles a game (75 total), No. 3 at 1.3 tackles for loss per game (10.0 total) and is No. 10 with 4.0 total sacks. Demetrius Taylor (23.5 career sacks) and Nick Hampton (12.5 career sacks) also have 4.0 sacks this season.
• Nate Noel leads the Sun Belt in rushing (767 yards, 95.9 per game). Camerun Peoples is No. 1 with 12 rushing TDs even though he missed two straight games before scoring twice vs. both CCU and ULM.
• Super senior WRs Thomas Hennigan, Malik Williams and Corey Sutton are all among the top eight in school history in both receiving yards (No. 4-Hennigan; No. 5-Williams; No. 8-Sutton) and receiving TDs (T-No. 4-Sutton; No. 6-Hennigan; No. 8-Williams). App State is the only FBS team with three active players who have eclipsed 2,000 career receiving yards, and Texas Tech is the only other FBS program that has even two active receivers with at least 2,000 receiving yards at the FBS level.
• Shawn Clark was the only first-year FBS head coach in 2020 to win nine-plus games. At 16-5, his 76.2 winning percentage is No. 7 among current FBS coaches and No. 1 among current G5 coaches.
• In App State’s last game, a 59-28 rout of ULM, Thomas Hennigan became its career receptions leader (breaking a first-place tie with Andrew Peacock while pushing his total to 212) and Chandler Staton became its career field goals leader (hitting No. 56 to break a first-place tie with Bjorn Nittmo).
• Thomas Hennigan, Caleb Spurlin and Xavier Subotsch have played in all 60 of App State’s games since the start of 2017. Hennigan’s FBS-record 59 starts to date broke the FBS record of 57 each by Clemson OL Mitch Wyatt and Alabama OL Ross Pierschbacher from 2015-18.
• On Oct. 30, App State led 49-7 at halftime of its decisive win against ULM by forcing four turnovers and scoring seven touchdowns in the first two quarters. Trey Cobb earned Sun Belt weekly honors by making 12 tackles, recording an interception and recovering a fumble.
• On Oct. 20, Chandler Staton hit a 24-yard field goal as time expired in a 30-27 win against then No. 14 Coastal Carolina, with Chase Brice throwing for 347 yards and Malik Williams catching 10 passes for 206 yards. App State erased an early 14-0 deficit with two TDs in a span of 42 seconds — helped by Michael Hughes’ one-hop onside kick to Milan Tucker — and the Mountaineers limited Coastal to 55 rushing yards — 208.5 below its season average at the time — on 29 attempts.
• On Oct. 12, App State trailed 27-13 before Louisiana scored the final two TDs in a 41-13 home victory.
• The Mountaineers opened Sun Belt play with a 45-16 win at Georgia State, as App State built a 45-9 lead and the first-team defense allowed only three field goals. The Panthers pulled within 14-9 midway through the third quarter before App State went on a 31-0 run over roughly the next 12 minutes.
• App State returned 10 defensive starters, seven offensive starters and 80 percent of the letter-winners from 2020, including 14 super seniors taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA. Those 14 players have now combined to play 552 games for App State and make 362 starts.
• App State has eight team captains: WR Thomas Hennigan, OL Baer Hunter, LB D’Marco Jackson, OL Cooper Hodges, DL Demetrius Taylor, P Xavier Subotsch, LB T.D. Roof and DL Caleb Spurlin.
• Officially 5-0 at home with two Thursday games and one Wednesday game, App State leads the 130-team FBS at 103.8 percent attendance relative to capacity. The 31,147 average at 30,000-seat Kidd Brewer Stadium leads the Sun Belt’s second-place average by nearly 7,000. The only other FBS schools at 100-plus percent are Michigan (100.4 percent), Utah (100.4) and Georgia (100.0).
• App State’s impressive crowd support to start the 2021 season included 31,061 fans at the Wednesday night win against Coastal Carolina — it’s the biggest regular season crowd of the 115 FBS games played on a Tuesday or Wednesday since App State joined the Sun Belt in 2014, with the second-place total being 25,211 fans at Troy for South Alabama’s 2017 visit. Pitt’s home game against UConn on a Wednesday in 2011 — a decade ago — drew a crowd of 40,219 fans.
• A Thursday season opener vs. ECU in Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium was officially an App State home game that drew 36,752 fans, the Kidd Brewer Stadium debut vs. FCS-level Elon drew 30,224, and a Thursday home game vs. Marshall included a crowd of 28,377. The ULM game drew 29,321.
• App State is one of 12 schools to finish in the top 26 of AP Poll voting in each of the last three years. Four teams have at least nine wins in each of the last six years: App State, Alabama, Clemson and Oklahoma.
• Last year was App State’s 36th straight season (seven in the Sun Belt, 29 in the SoCon) with a league record of .500 or better. Among current FBS programs, counting seasons before and after any transitions, it’s the longest streak by 14 years — Clemson, Oklahoma and Boise State are at 22 in a row.
• App State led in-state FBS programs in wins during each of the last three seasons and at least tied for the most wins among in-state FBS programs during each of the last six seasons.
• App State posted a combined record of 33-6 from 2018-20 with three different head coaches, three different offensive coordinators and three different defensive coordinators in those three seasons.
• App State’s defense has ranked in the top 21 nationally in fewest points allowed in each of the previous four years under four different coordinators, and the offense has ranked top 16 in the country in rushing yards per game in each of the last three years under three different coordinators.
• In his 25th season as an App State assistant, Dale Jones is in Year 2 as the defensive coordinator after the Mountaineers ranked among the national leaders in scoring defense (16th, 20.0 points) and total defense (17th, 328.8 yards) in 2020. Offensive coordinator Frank Ponce came back after serving as the Mountaineers’ co-offensive coordinator (passing game)/QBs coach from 2013-18. Shawn Clark worked with Ponce as App State’s co-offensive coordinator (run game) from 2016-18.
• In 2019, App State became the first Sun Belt team AND the first FBS team in North Carolina history to win 13 games in a season (13-1). Programs in North Carolina have posted an 11-win season at the FBS level a combined 10 times, and App State accounted for three of those in its first six FBS seasons.
• App State has the Sun Belt’s most-followed Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok accounts among football programs. It ranked No. 2 among G5 programs (behind just UCF) and No. 42 in the FBS in social media interactions in 2020.
• App State was the only FBS team in 2020 with 500-yard rushing seasons from at least four players, and three of them are on the 2021 roster: Camerun Peoples, Nate Noel and Daetrich Harrington. They had yet to all play together in the same game this season before the Coastal Carolina game, when the trio combined for 186 rushing yards on 35 attempts (5.3 yards per carry).
• Nate Noel has started four straight games and leads the Sun Belt with 23 runs of 10-plus yards this year. Against Marshall, he rushed for 104 of his 187 yards during the fourth quarter, when App State turned a 30-21 deficit into a 31-30 win. Noel had gains of 11, 14, 41 and 22 yards on the final drive, smartly going down short of the end zone in the final two minutes to prevent Marshall from possibly regaining possession with an eight-point deficit.
• Camerun Peoples scored three first-half TDs vs. Marshall, sat out the next two games, then had two rushing touchdowns apiece vs. Coastal Carolina and ULM. He has 17 TDs in his last seven games and has rushed for 1,804 yards with 26 TDs in 21 career games.
• RB Daetrich Harrington returned to the lineup at Louisiana on Oct. 12 after tearing the ACL in his right knee for the second time in his college career at Texas State on Nov. 7, 2020. He tore it in the spring of 2018 (returning nine months later to play at Georgia State in Game 10), suffered a foot injury that forced him to miss the last six regular-season games in 2019 (before returning for two postseason wins) and led the Sun Belt with 595 yards in the first six games of his injury-shortened 2020.
• Chase Brice had a single-game high of 279 passing yards in his first three FBS seasons and has eclipsed that four times in his first eight games for App State. In addition to his 347 yards vs. Coastal Carolina, he threw for 293 yards (Elon), 283 yards (Marshall) and 326 yards (Georgia State, three TDs) to go along with 259 yards vs. ECU and 256 yards vs. ULM (four TDs and 198 yards in the first half).
• App State has four super senior receivers in Thomas Hennigan, Corey Sutton, Malik Williams and Jalen Virgil. They’ve combined for 609 career catches for 8,219 receiving yards and 65 touchdowns.
• In addition to being No. 1 in school history with 212 career catches, Thomas Hennigan is No. 4 with 2,704 receiving yards and No. 6 with 18 TD receptions. Malik Williams has climbed to No. 5 in school history in both career catches (T-5th, 178) and receiving yards (2,183), while Corey Sutton is No. 8 with 2,056 career receiving yards (on 130 catches) and tied for fourth with 22 TD catches.
• Through just eight games, Malik Williams already has a single-season high in receiving yards with 620 following back-to-back seasons with 536 (in 11 games last season) and 598 (in 14 games during the 2019 season). He has six receptions gaining at least 40 yards this season (No. 2 in the Sun Belt) after totaling three in his first four seasons.
• A Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year candidate after he missed 2020 to fully recover from a 2019 knee injury, Corey Sutton has eclipsed 100 yards in four of the last six games, including a streak of three straight. He had 128 yards vs. Elon, 127 yards vs. Marshall (on a career-high 10 catches), 106 yards vs. Georgia State and 113 yards vs. Coastal Carolina.
• Despite sitting out last year, Corey Sutton has the second-most receiving TDs (22 in just 30 games) among Sun Belt players in FBS play since the start of 2018. After dragging his back foot in bounds on a fourth-quarter TD grab that ranked No. 1 on SportsCenter’s top plays following the Marshall victory, he had a 79-yard TD at Georgia State, a 28-yard TD vs. Coastal Carolina and a 14-yard TD vs. ULM.
• With 11 plays of more than 40 yards in his career, Jalen Virgil is No. 4 overall (No. 1 among offensive skill position players) on “The Freaks List” from The Athletic, marking the fourth straight year he’s been named one of the most-gifted athletes in college football. At Miami, he scored on a 100-yard kickoff return for the second time in a span of four games (adding to one at Georgia Southern late in 2020).
• On the midseason honor roll for the Joe Moore Award, an App State offensive line that’s tied for seventh nationally with only seven sacks allowed includes All-Sun Belt pick Baer Hunter, who moved to center during the spring after starting 31 straight games at right guard, right tackle Cooper Hodges (All-Sun Belt pick who now has 33 career starts) and left tackle Anderson Hardy (three starts there in 2020). Isaiah Helms occupies the right guard spot as a Western Carolina transfer, while Damion Daley and Luke Smith have both performed well at left guard. Hunter, Daley and Smith all began their college careers as defensive linemen.
• Cooper Hodges leads the line in knockdown blocks, followed by Isaiah Helms and Baer Hunter. Running behind the “Bulls,” App State has ranked among the nation’s top 25 rushing teams in all seven of its FBS seasons: No. 6 in 2020 (264.9 yards), No. 16 in 2019 (231.4), No. 14 in 2018 (240.3), No. 22 in 2017 (223.6), No. 10 in 2016 (250.9), No. 6 in 2015 (271.5) and No. 18 in 2014 (241.8).
• Camerun Peoples capped a 1,124-yard rushing season in 2020 with 317 yards and five touchdowns in the Myrtle Beach Bowl. He set the NCAA single-game bowl record for rushing yards (Georgia Tech’s P.J. Daniels had 307 in the 2004 Humanitarian Bowl), broke the school record for single-game rushing yards (Armanti Edwards had 313 in a 2007 FCS semifinal win), tied the NCAA bowl record for rushing TDs and tied the school record for rushing TDs (John Settle also had five vs. Davidson in 1986).
• Camerun Peoples arrived at the 2020 Myrtle Beach Bowl needing 193 yards to give App State a 1,000-yard rusher for the ninth straight year, and that streak is now the longest among current FBS programs. The second-longest active streak of three seasons is shared by Minnesota and Buffalo.
• Jerry Moore is App State’s winningest head coach with a 215-87 record in 24 seasons. Through 24 years as an App State assistant, many alongside Moore, defensive coordinator Dale Jones has been part of 227 wins. He coached at Louisville with Scott Satterfield in 2019 following a 23-year run at App State, where he was the defensive coordinator from 2010-12 and co-defensive coordinator in 2018.
• Nick Hampton had a sack in each of the Mountaineers’ first three league games, with 5.0 tackles for loss in that stretch, and Demetrius Taylor had 5.0 tackles for loss (with 3.5 sacks) through three league games. They’ve combined for 11.5 TFLs and 6.0 sacks in the first four league games.
• D’Marco Jackson had a career-high 14 tackles against Marshall less than a week after becoming the first FBS player since 2014 and first-ever Sun Belt player to record at least 13 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks in the same game (against Elon). In 2020, he was the only FBS player with at least 90 tackles (91), 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, two interceptions and eight passes defended (he had six PBUs), leading him to be called one of the nation’s most versatile players by ESPN.
• D’Marco Jackson was named the Sun Belt’s defensive player of the week after posting nine tackles, one sack, one interception, one pass breakup and one quarterback hurry — all in the first three quarters — against Georgia State. The play gained 2 yards or less on seven of his tackles.
• A preseason All-American (honorable mention) from PFF College as well as a member of the watch lists for the Walter Camp Player of the Year, Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Ted Hendricks Award, Demetrius Taylor increased his career total to 23.5 sacks with 1.5 vs. Coastal Carolina and 2.0 at Georgia State. He is No. 6 among active FBS players and tied for No. 5 in school history in career sacks.
• OLB Nick Hampton has 4.0 sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss and 42 tackles this year, contributing to his 12.5 sacks and 21.5 TFLs in 32 games since the start of the 2019 season.
• T.D. Roof posted 2.0 sacks among seven tackles from his OLB position in his first career start at Miami, leading to him being named the Sun Belt’s Defensive Player of the Week by The Draft Network, and he added a 90-yard INT return from the visiting end zone in the win against Elon. He came up with five big tackles in the win vs. Coastal Carolina, including three on the Chants’ 10 fourth-quarter plays, then started again against ULM and had a career-high nine tackles to go with 1.5 TFLs and a forced fumble.
• Trey Cobb’s standout game against ULM included a fumble recovery, his first career interception and a fourth-down tackle 1 yard short of the sticks — all in the first 17 minutes. He has 196 career tackles.
• Caleb Spurlin, who paired a blocked field goal with a career-high seven tackles at Miami, had 1.5 sacks against Coastal Carolina and is on the watch list for the Paul Hornung Award because of his versatility — he had two 1-yard TD catches against ULM (giving him four career TD catches) and was the lead blocker on two rushing TDs vs. Marshall (he’s provided the lead block as a fullback/H-back on five rushing TDs in his career).
• Strong safety Kaiden Smith started every game in 2020, returned for a sixth year as a super senior, suffered a torn Achilles tendon during an April 15 spring practice but returned less than six months later as a starter at Georgia State, then had a team-high 10 tackles at Louisiana. Caleb Spurlin gave up his captain’s spot for the Georgia State game to let Smith have it while playing close to his hometown.
• Steven Jones Jr. intercepted a pass at Louisiana and had a pick-six TD return against ULM, with Trey Cobb and Ryan Huff also picking off passes against the Warhawks as App State increased its interception total to 111 since 2015. That’s No. 2 nationally in that span, behind Alabama’s 112.
• Shaun Jolly received All-America recognition in each of his first two years as a starting cornerback, with PFF College naming him a second-team All-American to end a five-INT campaign in 2019 (with two INTs vs. Georgia State) and Phil Steele naming him an Honorable Mention All-American in 2020. He had a tone-setting interception on the second play of this year’s Georgia State game.
• Based on a Wins Above Average metric from PFF College, linebacker Brendan Harrington was named the fifth-most valuable defender in college football in 2020, and he recorded two sacks in the 2021 opener before adding half a sack against Marshall. Last season, he had 48 tackles, a team-leading four interceptions that produced 95 return yards, six pass breakups, 4.0 tackles for loss and four QB hurries.
• With the 111 INTs since the start of 2015, four DBs who attended App State were with NFL franchises at the start of training camp: Shemar Jean-Charles (Packers draft pick, after leading the nation in PBUs and being a first-team All-American in 2020), Josh Thomas (Bills), Doug Middleton (Panthers) and Tae Hayes (Cardinals). Jean-Charles is the only departed starter from the 2020 defense.
• Assistant Brian Haines again directs a unit with returning starters at kicker (Chandler Staton), punter (Xavier Subotsch), long snapper (Christian Johnstone) and holder (Clayton Howell).
• Chandler Staton has a league-record 415 career points (also No. 1 among active FBS players). With 56 career field goals, he’s approaching the league record of 60 by Idaho’s Austin Rehkow from 2014-16. Staton trails only RB Kevin Richardson (444 points from 2004-07) on App State’s career scoring list.
• Chandler Staton is 12-for-12 on field goals this season and 20-for-22 from 40-49 yards in his career.
• True freshman Michael Hughes executed an onside kick, recovered by Milan Tucker, against Coastal
Carolina. That helped App State score two touchdowns in the span of 42 seconds.
Arkansas State Red Wolves
BY THE NUMBERS…
1 of just two all-Ɵ me programs to win five Sun Belt Conference championships.
1.0 or more tackles for loss by Kivon BenneƩ in each of A-State’s first eight games.
1.6 fi eld goals per game by Blake Grupe ranks 10th in the nation.
2 A-State players have been named a SBC Player of the Week this season (Alan Lamar & Corey Rucker).
3 A-State receivers (Foreman, Hunt, Rucker) with over 100 receiving yards in at least one game this season.
5 Sun Belt Conference titles (2011-13, 2015, 2016) over the last 10 seasons (2011-20).
7 interceptions by the A-State defense is one more than its total for all of last season.
8 touchdown receptions by Corey Rucker are tied for the seventh most in the nation.
9 straight winning seasons and bowl-game appearances from 2011-19.
10 consecutive Homecoming victories by Arkansas State.
11 all-time Sun Belt Conference Team Academic Awards, including four of the last five years.
13.0 TFL by Kivon BenneƩ are Ɵ ed for the second most in the nation.
16 punts inside the opponent’s 20 (2+ in 5 games) by Ryan Hanson are Ɵ ed for the second most in the SBC.
16 consecutive seasons with a winning record at Centennial Bank Stadium (2005-20).
22 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks combined this season by defensive ends Kivon BenneƩ and Joe Ozougwu.
28 Arkansas State victories over its last 37 games played in the month of November.
58 Sun Belt Conference victories over the last 11 (2011-21) seasons (58-27 league record).
80 victories by A-State over the last 11 seasons (2011-21) ranks tied for the 37th most in the nation.
90 all-Ɵ me Sun Belt victories by A-State — the second most in the history of the league by any program.
300 or more passing yards and at least 2 passing TDs by A-State in five of its eight games this season.
325 career points by kicking by Blake Grupe are the 2nd & 3rd most in A-State & SBC history, respectively.
328.2 passing yards per game by A-State is the 10th highest average in the nation.
922 kickoff return yards by Alan Lamar are the most in the nation.
ON TAP: Arkansas State continues Sun Belt Conference play this week, hosting East Division foe Appalachian State on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at Centennial Bank Stadium. The Red Wolves’ 2021 Homecoming game will appear on ESPN+, and every A-State football game can be heard live on the EAB Sports Radio Network, including flagship station 107.9 FM in the Northeast Arkansas area.
THE PRINCIPALS: Arkansas State is set to play its first Saturday home game since facing Memphis in its second contest of the season on Sept. 11.
2021 ARKANSAS STATE FOOTBALL 1 AStateRedWolves.com then, the Red Wolves have played four road games and a pair of nationally-televised home outings on Thursday nights. While A-State is still looking for its first conference win of the season, the Mountaineers come into the contest 3-1 in league play and receiving votes in both the Associated Press and AFCA Coaches Top 25 polls with a 6-2 overall record.
HEAD COACH BUTCH JONES: Butch Jones was announced as the Red Wolves’ 31st all-time head football coach on December 12, 2020. Jones not only brought 11 years of head-coaching experience at the NCAA FBS level with him to Jonesboro after previous stops leading the football programs at Tennessee (2013-17), Cincinnati (2010-12) and Central Michigan (2007-09), but he also spent the last three seasons (2018-20) working as part of Nick Saban’s staff at national-power Alabama. During Jones’ first 11 seasons serving as a head coach, his teams combined to win four conference championships, played in eight bowl games and finished ranked in the AP Top 25 five times. He has coached a combined 77 all-conference honorees and 27 NFL Draft picks.
DEBUT GAMES: Butch Jones is A-State’s 31st all-time head coach, but became just the 11th to claim a victory in his first ever game at the school. Each of the two head coaches (Blake Anderson and Bryan Harsin) immediately preceding Jones won their initial games, but Harsin in 2013 was actually the first to do so since Larry Lacewell in 1979, snapping a streak of seven head coaches to drop their debuts. A-State’s head coaches to win their first game at the school include Jones (2021), Anderson (2014), Harsin, Lacewell, Bill Davidson (1971), Gene Harlow (1955), Glen Harmeson (1954), Bill Adams (1939), Jack Dale (1931), Bill Stanley (1924) and Clint Young (1913). Among the same group, Davidson was the last to win his first two games in 1971.
THE ARKANSAS STATE – APPALACHIAN STATE SERIES:
Although Arkansas State and Appalachian State have shared the Sun Belt Conference since 2014, the two teams are set to meet for just the fifth time ever as they didn’t play during the 2016, 2017 and 2019 seasons. The Mountaineers claimed a narrow 37-32 road victory in the initial 2014 meeting, but the Red Wolves bounced back to win the following year in Boone by a 40-27 margin. App State came back to win the last two meetings, including a 45-17 home victory a year ago. In addition to this season, the Mountaineers were also receiving votes in the AP and Coaches Top 25 polls at the Ɵ me of the 2015 and 2018 meetings.
Oct. 22, 2020 ……………… @ App State 45, A-State 17
Oct. 9, 2018 …………………. App State 35, @ A-State 9
Nov. 5, 2015 ……………….. A-State 40, @ App State 27
Nov. 15, 2014 ……………… App State 37, @ A-State 32
A-STATE vs THE SUN BELT: Arkansas State has won 58 of its last 83 Sun Belt Conference games (.699 winning percentage) to run its all-Ɵ me record in the league to 90-61. The Red Wolves hold their most all-time victories against ULM with 27. A-State has defeated every team in the conference since the football league was formed in 2001. Along with ULM and Louisiana, A-State is one of three teams that have been a part of the conference since its inaugural football season.
RED WOLVES NOVEMBER: Although Arkansas State went 0-3 in November games last season, it still holds a 28-9 record over its last 37 games played in the month. The Red Wolves had won nine consecutive November games before dropping its 2019 regular-season finale at South Alabama.
HOMECOMING HISTORY: Arkansas State is 63-27-3 all-time in Homecoming contests. The Red Wolves have won 17 of their last 18 Homecoming games, including the last 10 in a row dating back to the 2003 season. The only setback during that time came 34- 24 against Louisville in 2010. A-State defeated Central Arkansas 50-27 last season in its Homecoming game.
AN A-STATE VICTORY WOULD . . . : give it 11 consecutive Homecoming victories . . . snap a two-game skid against Appalachian State and run its all-time record against the Mountaineers to 2-3 . . . improve its record to 29-9 over its last 38 games played in the month of November.
LAMAR EARNS 2ND SBC WEEKLY AWARD: Senior running back Alan Lamar was named the Sun Belt Conference Special Teams player of the week after posting a school-record 232 kickoff return yards, including a 100-yard touchdown, during the Red Wolves’ road game at South Alabama. He also garnered the honor following A-State’s game at Tulsa when he had a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
PASSING ATTACK: Including a school-record 582 passing yards against Memphis and 443 versus Georgia Southern, the eighth most in school history, Arkansas State has thrown for 2,626 yards and 20 touchdowns this season. The Red Wolves are averaging 328.2 passing yards per game that ranks 10th in the nation, while their 20 passing touchdowns are tied for the 16th most. A-State has thrown for at least 300 yards and two scores in five of its first eight games, including the UCA, Memphis, Tulsa, Georgia Southern and Louisiana contests.
RUNNING BACK RECEPTIONS: Running back Lincoln Pare has already caught 18 passes for 144 yards this season, which is 59 more yards than he had for all of last season as a true freshman. He’s ranked fourth on the team in receptions and sixth in receiving yards. His 18 catches are also six more than his career total entering the year. Pare finished the Washington game with seven catches for 69 yards — both career highs.
ON THE RETURN: A-State running back Johnnie Lang Jr. posted a career-long 63-yard punt return for a touchdown during A-State’s game at Tulsa, which was A-State’s first punt return for a score since Blaise Taylor also found the end zone on a 63-yard return against Nebraska in 2017. It was the longest return by a Sun Belt player this season, and he now has 11 returns for 127 yards.
PICK IT OFF: Arkansas State posted one interception last week versus South Alabama and now has seven on the season, which already tops its six total for all of last year. Six players have combined for the seven interceptions, including Samy Johnson, EJ Alexander, Jeff Mario Brown, Leon Jones, Jarius Reimonenq and Kenneth Harris. Johnson now has three career interceptions and Reimonenq and Harris two each, while the other three players have posted their first pick this year as a member of the A-State football team.
DISRUPTING THE BACKFIELD: Junior defensive end Kivon BenneƩ has made an immediate impact on the A-State defense his first season with the program, already posting 13.0 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks. The Tennessee transfer has recorded 1.0 or more TFL in every game and at least a half sack in six outings. BenneƩ is ranked tied for third in the nation in TFL with 1.6 per game, and he is tied for 21st in sacks with 0.75 per contest.
DYNAMIC DUO: A-State’s two starting defensive ends, Jojo Ozougwu and Kivon BenneƩ, have combined for 22.0 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks through A-State’s first eight games. Both players have recorded at least 4.5 sacks this year, and Ozougwu has posted 9.0 tackles for loss to go along with BenneƩ ’s 13.0 stops behind the line of scrimmage.
EXPERIENCE UP FRONT: Arkansas State entered the season with nine different offensive linemen who had combined to start 149 career games at the FBS level, which was the fourth most in the nation behind only Minnesota (180), Miami (159) and Michigan State (151). Including players who have started at least one FCS game, the Red Wolves had 10 o-linemen who combined for 157 career starts, which was also the fourth most in the nation behind Illinois (193), Minnesota (180) and Miami (159).
RUCKER HONORED: Wide receiver Corey Rucker
was named the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 6 after recording nine receptions for 138 yards and three touchdowns against UCA. He was also named the league’s offensive player of the week following the Red Wolves’ 2020 season finale. Over his last nine games played, he has recorded 48 receptions for 927 yards and 12 touchdowns — he has at least one TD reception in six of those nine outings.
HOME SWEET HOME: Arkansas State strung together 16 consecutive years from 2005-20 with a winning record at Centennial Bank Stadium. The Red Wolves are now 72-22 (.766 winning percentage) when playing at home since the 2005 season. A-State’s actual on-field record all-Ɵ me at Centennial Bank Stadium is 164-85-1 since it opened in 1974.
A LOOK BACK: A-State’s first spring camp under HC Butch Jones wrapped up April 17 with its spring game at Centennial Bank Stadium. There were several spring-camp team awards presented as the football staff chose five individuals who maintained consistent success on the field, in the weight room and in the classroom. The players recognized for “consistency in performance” were wide receiver Corey Rucker (offense), linebacker Caleb Bonner (defense) and kicker Blake Grupe (special teams). Senior safety EJ Alexander was awarded the “Pack Performance Award” for his consistent performance in the weight room. Defensive back Taylon Doss was issued the 4-6/A to B” award for his performance on special teams in the secondary.
IT’S GOOD: Junior kicker Blake Grupe continues to climb the A-State record books this season, ranking among the top three players in career points scored, field goals made and extra points made. Grupe has posted a double-digit points total in three of eight games this season, including a career-high 14 against Memphis. Grupe is 13-of-16 on field goals attempts this season, including a career-long covering 50 yards against Tulsa.
INSIDE THE 20: Ryan Hanson has posted at least two punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line in five of eight games this year, including a career-high four against Washington. His 16 total punts inside the 20 are tied for the second most in the Sun Belt Conference. Additionally, his 43.5 average per punt is more than a full three yards per attempt better than his 40.3 average a year ago.
Sat., Nov. 6 @ 2:00 pm CT
Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks at Texas State Bobcats
• The ULM Warhawks go on the road for the second consecutive week on Saturday when they visit Bobcat Stadium in San Marcos, Texas, to meet the Texas State Bobcats. ULM is coming off a 59-28 loss at App State to drop to 4-4 overall and 2-3 in the Sun Belt Conference. Texas State has lost three straight games, including Saturday’s 45-0 loss at the Ragin’ Cajuns to fall to 2-6 overall and 1-3 in the SBC.
• Saturday’s game marks the 18th meeting between ULM and Texas State. The Warhawks lead the series, 12-5. Texas State won last year’s meeting in Monroe, 38-17, on Sept. 19. ULM has won four of the last five matchups, including the last two contests in San Marcos: 24-14 on Oct. 10, 2019, and 45-27 on Oct. 7, 2017. Texas State last defeated ULM in San Marcos, 16-3, on Nov. 19, 2015. The Warhawks are 6-2 all-time in San Marcos.
• ULM recorded season highs for rushing attempts (51), rushing yards (231) and rushing touchdowns (3) at App State. It marked the Warhawks’ first 200-yard rushing game since the 2019 season finale at UL Lafayette (a span of 17 games; 37 rushes for 240 yards and 2 scores vs. the Ragin’ Cajuns).
• Chandler Rogers has appeared in all eight games, including starts in the last five games (2-3 record) following a chest injury to junior Rhett Rodriguez. The 6-foot, 188-pound Rogers has completed 71-of-115 passes for 962 yards, eight TDs and three interceptions. He is one of 20 freshmen quarterbacks starting in the NCAA FBS, and his 149.7 pass efficiency rating ranks sixth among the group. Rogers played just four series (14 total snaps) at App State before exiting the game early in the second quarter with a bruised biceps. During ULM’s recent three-game homestand, he completed 56-of-83 throws (.675) for 802 yards (267.3 ypg.), eight TDs and one interception. His passing efficiency rating during that stretch was an impressive 178.0.
• Sophomore quarterback Jiya Wright, who played nearly three full quarters at App State after starter Chandler Rogers was sidelined with a bruised biceps, set career highs across the board and directed all four of ULM’s touchdown drives. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Wright hit 9-of-17 throws for 158 yards, including a 13-yard TD strike to Dariyan Wiley, and two interceptions. He completed passes to seven different receivers. Wright also led the Warhawks in rushing with 91 yards on 20 carries, including his first career rushing TD on a 3-yard run around right end late in the second quarter. He led back-to-back 75-yard TD drives, covering 10 and 16 plays, in the third quarter. Late in the fourth quarter, Wright managed an 11-play, 60-yard drive that ended in a turnover near the App State goal line.
• ULM linebackers Traveion Webster and Zack Woodard, who rank 1-2 on the team in tackles, rank among the Sun Belt Conference’s Top 10 in tackles. Webster leads the Warhawks with 59 tackles (22 solos, 37 assists), with 2.5 for losses including half a sack, a pass break-up and two quarterback hurries. His 7.4 tackles per game is good for fourth in the SBC. Woodard, who ranks second on the team in tackles (54), tackles for loss (4 for 18 yards) and sacks (2.5 for 16 yards), is seventh in the conference, averaging 6.8 stops per game. The duo has combined for 113 total tackles, with 6.5 for losses (27 yards) including three sacks (21 yards).
• Through the first nine weeks of the 2021 season, ULM and Boise State have faced the nation’s most difficult schedules, according to NCAA figures. The Warhawks’ first eight opponents have a combined record of 42-15 (.737).
• Fifth-year senior placekicker Calum Sutherland is second in the Sun Belt Conference and ranks 20th in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision with 1.5 field goals made per game. He is second to Arkansas State’s Blake Grupe (.812, 13-for-16) for the SBC lead in field-goal percentage at .750 (12-for-16). Through eight games, he leads the Warhawks in scoring with 56 points. Sutherland made all four of his extra-point attempts to remain perfect on the season last Saturday at App State. He did not attempt a field goal in the contest. Sutherland is 20-for-20 on extra-point attempts this season. Sutherland made both of his field-goal attempts on Oct. 23 vs. South Alabama, hitting from 39 yards in the second quarter for the 17-10 lead and again from 40 yards with 6:28 to play in the fourth quarter to give ULM a 10-point lead at 41-31.
• ULM is second in the Sun Belt Conference in turnover margin at +0.50 per game. The Warhawks have recorded 14 takeaways (6 fumble recoveries, 8 interceptions) in eight games. By comparison, ULM totaled 10 takeaways (6 fumble recoveries, 4 interceptions) in 10 games during the 2020 season.
• Since taking over the ULM program, first-year head coach Terry Bowden has emphasized the importance of playing disciplined football and his team has taken the message to heart. The Warhawks rank as one of the least-penalized teams in the Sun Belt Conference and NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision. ULM leads the SBC and is tied for ninth in FBS at 4.29 penalties per game. The Warhawks also lead the SBC and are tied for 13th in FBS at 39.9 penalty yards per game.
Texas State Bobcats
No Notes Available
Sat., Nov. 6 @ 2:30 pm CT
South Alabama Jaguars at Troy Trojans
Series (Overall): 6-3
Series in Troy: 2-2
Series in Mobile: 4-1
Neutral Site: 0-0
Lindsey vs. USA: 2-0
South Alabama Jaguars
No Notes Available
Did You Know?
• Kimani Vidal ranks second in the Group of Five and ninth nationally averaging 3.84 yards after contact this season (min 115 carries); he was second nationally among freshmen last year with a 3.83 average
• Troy’s win over South Alabama at The Vet in 2019 snapped a four-game winning streak by the visiting team in the “Battle for the Belt”
• Gunnar Watson has completed 63-of-95 passes for 677 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions since taking over the starting duties three weeks ago
• Troy has targeted its tight ends 21 times through seven games with 20 receptions; in the previous seven seasons COMBINED, Troy’s tight ends had been targeted 18 times with 12 receptions
• Troy is 12-19 during Chip Lindsey’s tenure on coin tosses and 4-4 this season. Troy has received the opening kickoff in 22-of-31 games under Lindsey and has scored on 13 of those possessions. The Trojans have elected to kick just three times when winning the coin toss
• Troy is throwing the ball 55.33 percent of the time the last three seasons, that is the 11th highest percentage nationally and the sixth highest in the G5
• Troy is 10-2 when winning the time of possession battle under Chip Lindsey; the Trojans’ victory over Georgia Southern was just their fourth when possessing the ball for fewer than 30 minutes
• Tez Johnson’s 49 receptions are the third most by a Trojan since at least 2000 through the first eight games of a season — he would need 11 catches to tie Kaylon Geiger for the most through nine games by a Trojan
• Troy is one of just two teams (Iowa) to have three or more interceptions in three or more games this season
• In Al Pogue’s last four seasons coaching Troy’s cornerbacks (2016-18, 21), Troy has ranked 2nd, 15th, 5th and 3rd nationally in interceptions.
• Troy ranks second nationally since 2016 forcing 1.93 turnovers per game
Sat., Nov. 6 @ 6:00 pm ET
Coastal Carolina Chanticleers at Georgia Southern Eagles
Series Record (Streak):………………………………………………………..Georgia Southern leads 5-2 (CCU: W1)
at Coastal Carolina (Streak):……………………………………………….Georgia Southern leads 3-2 (CCU: W1)
at Georgia Southern (Streak):…………………………………………………Georgia Southern leads 2-0 (GS: W2)
Neutral Sites (Streak):………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. N/A
Last Meeting:…………………..Oct. 24, 2020 – Coastal Carolina 28, Georgia Southern 14 (Conway, S.C.)
Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
A COASTAL WIN WOULD …
• put the Chanticleers at 8-1 overall and 4-1 in Sun Belt Conference play;
• push the Chants’ winning streak to two-straight games over the Georgia Southern Eagles;
• hand Coastal its first-ever win at Allen E. Paulson Stadium in Statesboro, Ga.;
• put CCU at 3-5 all-time versus Georgia Southern
A COASTAL LOSS WOULD …
• hand the Chanticleers their second loss of the season (7-2);
• give Coastal its second consecutive road loss for the first time since dropping back-to-back road contests at Arkansas State (Nov. 16) and ULM (Nov. 23) in 2019;
• put the Chants at 2-6 all-time versus Georgia Southern.
LAST TIME VS. GEORGIA SOUTHERN
• The No. 24/25 nationally-ranked Coastal Carolina Chanticleers scored twice in the fourth quarter, held the nation’s fourth-ranked rushing offense to just 119 rushing yards, and got three passing touchdowns from junior quarterback Fred Payton to defeat the Georgia Southern Eagles 28-14 in a Sun Belt East Division matchup in Brooks Stadium.
• Coastal improved to 5-0 to start the season for the first time since 2015 and only the fourth time in program history (2013, 2014, and 2015). The five wins also matched the Chants’ wins total from each of the past two seasons.
• The five-straight wins were the most consecutive wins for the Chants in a single season in the program’s young FBS history.
DIFFERENCE ON THE GROUND
• After being held to just two rushing yards in the first half, the Chants ran for 128 yards in the second half including 85 in the fourth quarter. Shermari Jones led the committee of backs with five carries on 44 yards, while Reese White added 23 yards on three carries and a game-sealing touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
• The Eagles rushing attack was led by J.D. King (15 carries, 67 yards, TD) and quarterback Shai Werts (16 carries, 78 yards), while no other Eagle rushed for more than seven yards for the game.
• The “Black Swarm” defense stifled the Eagles’ running attack, holding the triple-option offense to just 119 rushing yards, well below their average of 281.3 per game on the season
Georgia Southern Eagles
• This will be the eighth football meeting between Georgia
Southern and Coastal Carolina in a series that dates back to
2006. The Eagles lead the series 5-2 after Coastal won 28-14
last season in Conway.
• In 2007, Georgia Southern went to Brooks Stadium and came
away with a 42-34 win behind a combined 459 yards rushing
from Jayson Foster (253, school-record 6 TDs) and Lamar Lewis
• The Eagles are 66-26 against teams from the Palmetto State
and have eight players from South Carolina, including two
starters (Jjay Mcafee, Charleston; Anthony Wilson, Columbia).
• No. 21 Coastal Carolina will be the second team ranked in the
Associated Press FBS Top 25 to visit Allen E. Paulson Stadium,
and the highest ever. In 2018, 25th-ranked App State fell to the
Eagles 34-14 in Statesboro. Georgia Southern is 2-19 against
FBS AP Top 25 teams, 2-6 since joining the FBS in 2014.
COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF
10 Anthony Beck II has 10 punts of 50 yards or longer this season. His 63-yard punt late last week capped off a career-best 49.2-yard average against Georgia State and he now averages 45.4 yards per punt.
9 This will be the ninth time Georgia Southern will face an FBS team ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 since joining the FBS in 2014. The Eagles are 2-6 in the previous eight games, but are 1-0 at home.
8 This will be the eighth meeting between Georgia Southern and Coastal Carolina with the Eagles leading 5-2. Coastal has won two of the past three contests, however, after winning last year in Conway.
7 Coastal Carolina tight end Isaiah Likely is tied for seventh in the FBS in touchdown receptions with eight, including four against Arkansas State.
6 Jayson Foster scored a school-record six rushing touchdowns in the 2007 win at Coastal Carolina.
5 Georgia Southern has started the same five offensive lineman for the first eight games this season.
4 The Eagles have four interceptions this year, but all four came against Arkansas State.
3 In Coastal Carolina’s last visit to Allen E. Paulson Stadium, the two teams played a three-overtime game with the Eagles winning 30-27.
2 Georgia Southern has already recorded 21 sacks on the season, just two shy of last year’s 13-game total of 23 sacks.
1 Najee Thompson has now started one game on offense and one game on defense after starting at cornerback last week against Georgia State. He also started at receiver last year before moving to defense earlier this season.
Gettin’ It Done In The Classroom
• Fourteen Eagles are playing this season as college graduates.
• They are, in alphabetical order: Tre Allen, Darrell Baker Jr., Robb Bozeman, Todd Bradley-Glenn, D.J. Butler, Dexter Carter Jr., Aaron Dowdell, Lawrence Edwards, Benz Josue, Caleb Kelly, Brian Miller, Liam Ryan (NCSU), Randy Wade Jr. and Logan Wright.
• Anthony Beck II, Justin Ellis, J.D. King, Logan Langemeier and Dillon Springer are on track to graduate in December and Derrick Canteen, Parker Devine, Jon Ferguson, Gabriel Howard, Will Lovett Jr. and NaJee Thompson are scheduled to graduate in May or summer of 2022.
• Eight Eagles took advantage of the NCAA’s COVID-19 eligibility waiver and returned for an extra year of action: Darrell Baker Jr., Robb Bozeman, Todd BradleyGlenn, Dexter Carter Jr., Aaron Dowdell, Lawrence Edwards, J.D. King and Randy Wade Jr.
• While Wade Jr. is the oldest player on the team (born April 20, 1997), Bradley-Glenn (born June 11, 1997) is the only one of the eight who played as a true freshman in 2016. He played in four games before hurting his knee in warmups prior to the game at Arkansas State.
• This year’s freshman class was in the eighth grade when Bradley-Glenn took his first snaps as an Eagle in 2016.
Georgia Southern Alums on Staff
• Four former GS football players are on the current football staff: Victor Cabral (defensive line/recruiting), Kevin Whitley (interim head coach/cornerbacks), Favian Upshaw (running backs), Adrian Peterson (director of student-athlete development) and Matt Wise (character development).
• Receiver Dexter Carter Jr. is the son of Dexter Sr., who was a Florida State standout and San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets running back who won a Super Bowl
with the 49ers.
• Sophomore tight end Beau Johnson’s father, Charles, was a two-time All-Star catcher and World Series champion with the Florida Marlins and his brother, Brandon played wide receiver at Tennessee.
• Sophomore Verneal Henshaw Jr.’s sister Jasmine played basketball at Eastern Kentucky and his sister Tamara played basketball at South Florida.
The King is Back
• J.D. King transferred to Georgia Southern from Oklahoma State in January of 2019 and went through spring practice anticipating he’d have to sit out due to the
NCAA transfer rule. His appeal was approved in time for the 2019 season, allowing him to play for the Eagles.
• After a slow start due to still learning the offense, King finished 2019 as the Eagles’ second-leading rusher with 804 yards rushing and eight touchdowns. In 2020, he rushed for 625 yards and five touchdowns, including a career-high 196 yards at ULM on Oct. 3.
• Last season, he played in and started seven games before going down in the second quarter against Troy on Nov. 7 with a torn ACL in his left knee. He was second on the team in rushing despite missing the final six games, rushing for 625 yards and five touchdowns.
• An honorable mention All-Sun Belt Conference selection by the league and Pro Football Focus, the fifth year senior used the option to return in 2021 based on the
NCAA COVID-19 eligibility ruling. He was brought back slowly after having some swelling in the repaired knee this preseason and returned to the field against Louisiana.
• He ran for 85 yards and a touchdown against Arkansas State.
• The Georgia Southern defense has already lost three starters to injury, leaving coordinator Scot Sloan to plug and play with the next man up.
• Super senior Todd-Bradley Glenn (inside linebacker) suffered a torn biceps in the first preseason scrimmage and fellow inside linebacker Marques Watson-Trent tore his ACL in the opener against GardnerWebb.
• Redshirt sophomore cornerback Derrick Canteen went down early in the FAU game and an MRI revealed a torn pectoral muscle that required surgery.
• Canteen finished 2020 with six interceptions, tying the school record and finishing tied for the national lead. He was named a Freshman All-American by both The
Athletic and the FWAA, as well as a first-team All-Sun Belt corner by most outlets.
• According to Pro Football Focus, Canteen had the third-highest coverage grade among Group of 5 cornerbacks who played 50 percent of defensive snaps last season at an 80.8 and gave up just 32 receptions on 69 targets (46.4 percent, fourth best among G5 cornerbacks) with just two penalties.
• Heading into the 2019 season, offensive lineman Brian Miller had earned preseason all-conference accolades from several magazines and was expected to be the anchor at right tackle for the Eagles.
• That all changed on Aug. 18 in the preseason when he suffered a dislocated right hip in a freak, non-contact injury at practice. He had surgery soon after to repair the hip and began a long road to recovery. There was doubt he would ever play again. But after a rigorous rehabilitation, which included work on a zero-gravity treadmill, Miller returned in 2020 and started six games for the Eagles.
• He was a nominee for the 2020 Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year, an award won by his teammate Drew Wilson in 2019