NEW ORLEANS – For the second consecutive season, Appalachian State is the preseason favorite in the Sun Belt Conference in a vote by the league head coaches. The Sun Belt released the preseason poll Thursday in advance of the Sun Belt’s annual media day that begins Sunday, July 23.
The Mountaineers, under fifth-year Head Coach Scott Satterfield (32-18 at App State), received 136 total points and seven first-place votes to take the top spot in the poll. App is coming off a 10-3 season in which it claimed the program’s first Sun Belt Conference championship and a second consecutive bowl win, a 31-28 win over Toledo the in 2016 Raycom Camellia Bowl. The Mountaineers will return 47 lettermen, which includes 13 of 22 starters on offense and defense.
Troy was picked to finish second and received two first-place votes as the Trojans tallied 127 points.The Trojans finished 2016 with a 10-3 overall record and a 6-2 league mark. Arkansas State was chosen third by the coaches with 122 points and one first-place vote and was followed by South Alabama in fourth with 98 points.
Louisiana tallied 95 points with a first-place vote and was picked to finish fifth while Idaho tallied 84 points and was picked to finish sixth. The top six teams in this year’s preseason poll all participated in bowl games last season, which was a new record for the Sun Belt, as the league tied the ACC for the second-best winning percentage amongst all conferences (0.667, 4-2).
The 2017 Sun Belt Conference Football Media Day begins on Sunday, July 23 with the Fais Do-Do and then on Monday, July 24 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Live coverage from the event will be available on the Sun Belt’s media day central website as well as the Sun Belt social media platforms. ESPN3 will broadcast live from the event from 1-3 p.m. CT.
App State returns a veteran backfield including the 2016 Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year in running back Jalin Moore and a three-year starter at quarterback in Taylor Lamb. Moore rushed for 1,402 yards last year despite sharing the backfield with fellow 1,000-yard rusher Marcus Cox. Lamb is 27-9 as a starter and needs 18 touchdown passes to set the Sun Belt career mark.
Defensively, the 2016 Sun Belt Freshman of the Year, cornerback Clifton Duck and linebacker Eric Boggs anchor a unit that led the FBS last season allowing only 91 points (11.4 ppg) in conference play. The Mountaineers did not allow a touchdown in Sun Belt play until the final seconds of their third game. App returns six starters on defense.
The Mountaineers open the 2017 season on Sept. 2 at Georgia. Kickoff is at 6:15 p.m. on ESPN.
Season tickets are available now to purchase now, online at appstatesports.com, by phone at 828-262-2079 or in person at the Appalachian State Athletics Ticket Office located at the Holmes Center. Office hours are Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
2017 Sun Belt Football Coaches Predicted Order of Finish (first place votes)
Appalachian St. (7) – 136 pts
Troy (2) – 127 pts
Arkansas State (1) – 122 pts
South Alabama – 98 pts
Louisiana (1) – 95 pts
Idaho – 84 pts
Georgia Southern – 82 pts
Georgia State – 48 pts
ULM – 46 pts
New Mexico St. (1) – 41 pts
Texas State – 31 pts
Coastal Carolina – 26 pts