Andy Davis

GSC Pendulum Swings Back in 2017

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So far this season, it looks like teams that were at the top a season ago may be taking a backseat to the programs on the rise this year.

Delta State, West Alabama, and Florida Tech have been impressive, while West Georgia is also still in the mix. Meanwhile, Valdosta State and North Alabama have had some struggles during the first part of this 2017 Gulf South Conference football campaign.

This upcoming week features four head-to-head conference matchups but I’m not thinking any of them will be close games. Yet, this is college football. I could be surprised.

A Tale of Two Teams

Yin and Yang in Carrollton. When UWG hosts UNA mid-day on Saturday it will be a matchup of two teams on different sides of the football universe. West Georgia has blown out three opponents, including Albany State this past weekend, with only one blemish on their record – a loss to Delta State. North Alabama opened the year by splitting two hard fought games that were offset with a bye week and is coming off a tough loss to West Alabama. Reviewing the NCAA individual stats, West Georgia punter Christian Ramirez ranks in the Top 10 nationally averaging over 44 yards per punt as UNA wide receiver Austin Hicks ranks in the national Top 10 averaging 24.38 yards per reception. UWG players and fans are still bitter about last year’s game and I just don’t see UNA, with a new starting quarterback, correcting the mistakes in just one week before going on the road to face the Wolves.

My pick: West Georgia by 10

Too Legit To Quit

Hey hey! The Tigers of West Alabama will return home filled with pride after the big win in Florence and will ride that wave of momentum into Week 5 when they welcome the winless Shorter Hawks to town. To Shorter’s credit, they were much improved in several facets of the game this past week but were up against a tall order playing DSU. BJ McCoy was back in the lineup but the most improved aspect of the Hawks’ offense was the passing game as the Hawks passed for 262 yards against the Statesmen. West Alabama was in control the entire game last week and look to use this game as a tune up before a showdown with the DSU. The Tigers are perfect in the red zone, scoring on all 19 possessions inside their opponent’s 20 yard line, while Harry Satterwhite ranks in the Top 10 nationally for pass completion percentage and completions per game. No disrespect to Shorter fans but UWA is the real deal and this week will get ugly on the scoreboard.

My pick: West Alabama by 35

Magnolia State Title

“Only Positive Mississippi Spoken Here.” Road signs as you entered the state used to say that. They may have to pull those back out this weekend, but not for out-of-staters. The Magnolia State rivalry between Delta State and Mississippi College has been lopsided since the Choctaws rejoined the division and conference, but the competitive spirts of both programs and fan bases goes back decades. The main problem for MC this year is that DSU has been playing lights out so far this season. Per the individual national statistics, it’s the Statesmen defense that is represented with Ovenson Cledanord ranking in the Top 20 in several categories including sacks (5 for 34 yards) and tackles for loss (7.0 for 38 yards). The Choctaws were in the game all during the first half against FIT last week but let things get away from them the final two quarters. Delta State controlled the game against Shorter from the start and will look to do so again this weekend in Clinton.

My pick: Delta State by 35

Sunshine State Bragging Rights

D2 Football in Florida! After decades of there being no Division II teams in Florida, year two of having two programs in the state is almost making it feel normal. Of course, the Panthers got a bad taste in their mouths last year when upstart West Florida defeated ranked Florida Tech in Pensacola. So far this year, FIT looks to be on par with last year’s team while the Argos have had some inconsistencies in all components of the game. Panther running back Antwuan Haynes ranks in the national Top 10 in rushing yards per carry averaging 7.2 per rush and will give the Argo defense fits if they don’t corral him. Even though the schools are in the same state, UWF is closer in proximity to every other GSC town than they are Melbourne. Coming off a home loss combined with long travel will keep West Florida outside of their desired performance mode and turn into a comfortable home win for the Panthers.

My pick: Florida Tech by 17

One Week On

One Week Off. After the cancelled game two weeks ago, Valdosta State will have their actual scheduled bye week this weekend. After executing better in almost every category of play in the win over West Florida, the Blazers will use the time to prepare for the West Georgia game next weekend with the goal of keeping the Peach Basket in Title Town.

Andy Davis has followed GSC sports since 1985 and proudly covered the conference for since 2014. He is a past contributor to the D2 Football Preview, TimesDaily, and Franklin County Times as well as having appeared on ESPN Pensacola radio. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

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  1. Wide_Right's Avatar
    Blazers will end up, maybe 3 -6. Think Coach Bell may want to put some more sizzle on his C.V... may be hard to do come November.