The Sun Belt football season finally arrived this past weekend and it did not disappoint. Georgia State shocked the world, Arkansas State battled to the end with SMU and Louisiana-Lafayette and South Alabama had their Power Five opponents sweating to the finish line.
It was a perfect primer for the rest of the season and sets the stage for whatever the #FunBelt has in store for us next.
Teams will soon be vying for that coveted spot atop their divisions, but that’s not really why we are here.
We’re here to keep a close eye on the most important individual battle in the southeast, the one for punting supremacy across the Sun Belt.
Three punters enter the season as the unchallenged leader of the pack. Arkansas State’s Cody Grace, Georgia State’s Brandon Wright and Troy’s Tyler Sumpter. We’ll be keeping tabs on these three throughout the season while watching for any others who may punt themselves into the race.
For today, we’ll focus on how the Big Three did on week one.
Grace was the most active, sending off six punts and allowing just one return for one yard. His long of 55 is strong, but not good enough to best Sumpter’s long on Saturday. Sumpter’s 56 yard punt was still only good for third across the conference, bested by Anthony Beck’s 74 yard punt for Georgia Southern.
Sumpter only had two punts, but in the punting world, quality is always better than quantity. Both punts were downed inside the 20-yard line and one featured a -2 yard return.
Wright wasn’t called upon often, similar to Sumpter. But he did watch Marquez Calloway return a punt 37 yards to kill his NET number.
It’s too early to separate the group just yet and Beck may wiggle his way into the running if he continues his strong start.