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Why App State Could Win the Sun Belt

By Matt Osborne
SouthernPigskin.com
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Appalachian State has plenty of reasons to believe it can win the Sun Belt title in 2015.

Coming off of an undefeated conference record and a Sun Belt championship in 2014, Georgia Southern will undoubtedly be the preseason favorite in the league when media members begin to formulate their projections.

That does not mean, however, that the Eagles will not face some stiff competition in their quest to repeat as champions.

Longtime rival Appalachian State certainly has the look of a team capable of giving Georgia Southern a run for its money this fall.

Here are three reasons the Mountaineers could win the Sun Belt in 2015.

1. 20 Returning Starters

No team in the country is set to return more starters from the 2014 season than the Mountaineers. Appalachian State will return ten starters on both sides of the football, in addition to bringing back both starting specialists. There is no substitution for experience, which means that the Mountaineers should have a distinct advantage in the “intangibles” category in every contest they play in 2015. The key to winning football games at any level is finding quality play in the trenches, an area where Appalachian State lost just one starter on either side of the football. Having proven commodities also means that the coaching staff will be able to add in new schematic adjustments without having to worry too much about whether or not the players will be able to adapt.

2. Momentum

Halfway through the 2014 season, Appalachian State looked like it may have been a little out of its league in the FBS, as the Mountaineers stood with an unimpressive 1-5 record. Things would change drastically coming down the stretch, however, as the team would go on to win six straight contests to conclude the regular season. All six of those wins would come against Sun Belt competition, leading the Mountaineers to a third-place finish in its first year in the conference. Appalachian State finished last season believing that it could beat anybody it played, and look for the Mountaineers to continue on with that mindset this fall.

3. Taylor Lamb

Being a starting quarterback as a freshman at any level of football is difficult. All things considered, though, Lamb did a very nice job in his first season of collegiate action in 2014. Lamb finished his freshman campaign having completed 181 of his 295 passing attempts (61.4%) for 2,381 yards, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. His decision-making also got much better as the season progressed, as only three of his interceptions came during the second half of the year. Given the improvement which usually takes place between a quarterback’s freshman and sophomore seasons, fans should expect Lamb to develop into one of the Sun Belt’s most exciting and productive offensive players in 2015.

Matt Osborne - Matt Osborne currently serves as the director of recruiting and lead editor for Southern Pigskin. His work has been published in a number of national publications, including USA Today. Although he loves all levels of football, Matt's number one joy in his life is his relationship with Jesus Christ. Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattOsborne200. For media requests, please email Matt at matt@southernpigskin.com.