Matt Dobson pulled down a tipped pass for a pick six and Ean Days took a handoff up the middle in the final seconds of play to seal the deal against for the Eagles against a tough Idaho team on Saturday night.
Though the margin of victory was 23 points, Idaho was still very much in the game as the 3rd quarter ran out. Idaho scored in the final seconds of the 3rd quarter, but failed on the two-point conversion that would have made it a one score game as the final stanza began.
Though the game was close in those waning minutes, it never felt in doubt. Georgia Southern's offense was rolling strong in a balanced attack that put up 349 yards on the ground and 201 through the air. The defense held Idaho to its 2nd lowest point total of the season. Though they are winless, the Vandals have given other Sun Belt teams a scare this season, and the story was similar in Statesboro until Matt Dobson's Pick-six drained the life from the Idaho sidelines.
It was a great day all around in Statesboro. I finally got to meet Mrs Rose Carter in the football office, who has helped me so much with access, pictures, etc. I also met Paul Barkley of GSUFans.com and drank a few of his beers.
I would have to say that one of the best parts of the day was getting to see someone I grew up tailgating with and haven't seen in a few years, and to see his younger children experiencing a Georgia Southern football game. It was funny to see their looks when I told them I grew up going to Georgia Southern football games with their older sister when I was their age.
At the end of the night 47 was more than 24, and I'll take a Georgia Southern win however we come by it. Now let's look at some observations from the game.
Balance on offense. Kevin Ellison and Favian Upshaw combined for 201 yards passing while the rushing attack racked up 349 yards on the ground. This is the fourth game where the Eagles threw for over 100 yards in addition to the rushing attack, and the first in which they passed the two hundred yard mark. The ability to throw the football opens up the rushing attack even more, and makes the Eagles' offense deadly to opposing defenses.
Agility. I don't know if it's coaching, fantastic athletes, or Idaho players' lack of reaction times, but I saw more cuts and jukes that left defenders looking stupid Saturday night than I've seen all season. LA Ramsby is really beginning to turn into a fantastic back in his own right to complement Matt Breida.
BJ Johnson. I mentioned him during the Georgia Tech recap, but the Junior wide receiver is having a fantastic season. He has made some excellent catches and some even better moves to get open deep down the field for touchdowns.
The Academic Logo on the Helmet. I love Georgia Southern's simple uniforms and I don't want them to change. However, I LOVED seeing the old logo on the helmet. That is by far my favorite Georgia Southern emblem and I wish it was the primary logo for all things Georgia Southern.
THE IN BETWEEN: A special category this week
Meaningful Reps for Favian Upshaw. It was pointed out on a GSU forum that Upshaw seems to get the third series in every game, regardless of what's going on. I am all for Upshaw getting meaningful reps, since Ellison takes a beating with how much he runs the football and Upshaw could be the starting QB at any time if Ellison goes down. Upshaw didn't miss a beat on Saturday and led the team down the field for another touchdown to make the score 20-3. However, it seems strange to risk messing with Ellison's rhythm by pulling him at that point when the Eagles scored on their first two drives.
Rush Defense. When this game was over, I looked up the stats thinking that Idaho had rushed for a ton of yards against us. I was shocked when I saw that it was only 94. It seemed at times that they were gashing the Eagle defense up the middle for big pick ups, and I was sure they had run for 150+. I think the perception came from the fact that the Vandals rushed for over half of their total yards on the ground in the first quarter. After they fell behind by 17 points they resorted to throwing the football more to catch up. I can't help but wonder what their totals would have ended up being if they had stuck with running the football.
Pass Defense. The Eagle pass defense gave up 271 yards through the air and allowed Idaho to come back and make the game interesting late in the 3rd quarter. They locked back down in the 4th quarter, however.
The other interesting stat is the lack of passing touchdowns allowed this season by the defense. That's why they're in the "in between" section. They gave up a ton of yards, but not much in the way of points. Idaho's three touchdowns were all on the ground inside the redzone. So while Georgia Southern's passing defense may allow a lot of yards, it's typically short passes and the DBs are doing a good job of keeping the play in front of them and then shutting down the opposing passing attack near the endzone.
THE NOT SO GOOD:
Place Kicking. Apparently I jinxed us after saying how well Alex Hanks has been performing this season. Hanks missed on two extra points and one short field goal.
NCAA Rules. So the NCAA wouldn't allow the undershirts with "GATA" and "Eagles" on them? Weak.
Public Address System. This is the second game I've been to this season, and in both games the sound system was blaring at times, recorded announcements and live address were played on top of each other, and things were just all around mixed up. It's only the third game with a completely new system, so I'm sure it will get worked out, but it has definitely been annoying.