Cajuns have been able to let young players develop _lowres

Advocate Photo by LEE CELANO - UL-Lafaytte coach Mark Hudspeth

LAFAYETTE — The Sun Belt Conference’s football coaches selected Georgia Southern to defend its league title, and Louisiana-Lafayette was the only other team to receive multiple first-place votes in the coaches’ poll, released Friday.

Six coaches gave first-place votes to the Eagles, giving them 110 total points in the poll. The Cajuns checked in at No. 2 with 108 points and three first-place votes. Arkansas State, Appalachian State and Texas State rounded out the top five.

Though the Cajuns have enjoyed the SBC’s highest winning percentage in the past four years, going 24-7 in conference play, they’ve yet to win the conference outright during coach Mark Hudspeth’s tenure.

Uncertainty at some key positions — especially at quarterback, where the team is replacing three-year starter Terrance Broadway — led to lowered preseason expectations for the Cajuns.

Georgia Southern, picked to finish eighth in last season’s preseason poll, ran the conference table in its first year at the Football Bowl Subdivision level, going 8-0 to win the conference outright.

The Eagles steamrolled SBC competition with their triple option offense, running up nearly 500 yards and 40 points per game. The Eagles also led the SBC in scoring defense at 23.4 points per game. The eight SBC teams on Georgia Southern’s schedule last season finished with a combined 31-65 record.

Arkansas State and South Alabama took the other two first-place votes.

Sun Belt football preseason coaches poll

Team (first-place votes) Total voting points

1. Georgia Southern (6) 110

2. UL-Lafayette (3) 108

3. Arkansas State (1) 96

4. Appalachian State 82

5. Texas State 78

6. South Alabama (1) 68

7. UL-Monroe 59

8. Troy 39

9. Georgia State 32

10. New Mexico State 30

11. Idaho 24

McGuire on Walter Camp list

Junior running back Elijah McGuire added another preseason honor Friday when he was one of 50 players named to the Walter Camp Award watch list.

It’s the fourth major award to put McGuire on its watch list this month, joining the Paul Hornung, the Maxwell and the Doak Walker.

The Walter Camp Award has been given to the college football player of the year as determined by the Walter Camp Foundation since 1967. Former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota won last year.