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GSU vs GSU Q&A

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A series of questions and answers for Georgia Southern and Georgia State fans by Walt Austin and Karl Strength about this Saturday's game.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports


Georgia Southern Questions and Georgia State Answers

1) Georgia State has taken almost every opponent to the wire, and yet their only win is over FCS Abilene Christian. What do the Panthers need to do to get over that hump and get their first victory?

State has lead at half in 5 of their 7 games this year (only Air Force and Arkansas State were winning), but have been unable to hold those leads. They are a couple of plays away from being 3-4 or even 4-3, but 4th quarter comebacks have devastated them. Slightly better play in the 4th quarter, or a more consistent running game will be needed to finally get a win against an FBS program.

2) Who are the big playmakers on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball that Georgia Southern fans need to be watching out for? Is there a sleeper we may not know about?

Nick Arbuckle is a very dangerous QB. He has a bigger arm that can- when given time- lead to huge plays down field. Injuries have taken out many of the other weapons on the team, but Joseph Peterson (LB) is the person to watch for on the defensive side of the ball.

3) Georgia State is giving up a lot of points (124th in the nation) and Georgia Southern is scoring a lot of points (11th in the nation). What does Georgia State need to do to contain the Eagles? Will their defense be able to slow the rushing attack? Is the offense capable of keeping up with the scoring?

Georgia State is not just giving up a lot of points, they are 120+ in the nation in rushing yards per game allowed. So, I wouldn't expect them to be able to slow the Eagles too much. The Panther offense should be able to score though. If they can avoid turnovers, then this could be a very high scoring game.

4) What are your thoughts on the attendance for this game? Georgia Southern people are expecting to outnumber Georgia State fans at least 2:1. Do you think that's a fair assessment?

I expect this to be the best attended game of the season for the Panthers, but wouldn't expect the final attendance to be much higher than 20,000. I do expect there to by more Eagle fans, but probably closer than a 2:1 margin.

5) Any thoughts on a "rivalry trophy/name" for this one?

I have heard "Modern Hate" used, but think these programs should try to come up with something that doesn't reference GT/UGA. I am all for random trophies, perhaps we could play for a bronzed road cone- since I-16 and all of Atlanta are always under construction.

6) Final score prediction?

I think the injuries on both sides of the ball have hurt the Panther too much to keep up with Southern in the second half. GSU 28-38 Southern

Georgia State Questions and Georgia Southern Answers

1) Georgia Southern appeared to have a down year- at least by their normal standards- last season in FCS. Did Eagles fans expect the level of success that they have found so far in the Sun Belt?

I think most Eagles fans understood last season to be an anomaly. The team had absolutely nothing to play for until the Florida game, and they were hit hard by injuries. The number of scholarship players playing in that Florida game were more the equivalent of an FCS team playing a DII school than FBS vs FCS.

With that, we knew there was talent on the team. I don't think anyone expected THIS level of success, though. For one thing we just weren't sure what the offense would look like under Willie Fritz. For another there were questions at the RB slot that needed answering. I think most expected to break even this season rather than to be in the picture to claim the Sun Belt.

2) Who are the big playmakers on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball that Georgia State fans need to be watching out for? Is there a sleeper we may not know about?

On the offensive side of the ball I could list just about every skill position player. Kevin Ellison runs this offense like a well oiled machine. The three main receivers - Zack Walker, Kentrellis Showers, and BJ Johnson have all made great plays in the passing game.

Then there are two fantastic running backs in Matt Breida (who averages at least one 50+ yard run a game) and LA Ramsby. Both are home run threats from the RB position. I had a lot of questions about just who was going to play that position when the season started. Matt Breida has really stepped up in a big way from the start of the season. He announced himself to the world with a 60+ yard touchdown run against NCSU. He has track speed and great moves. LA Ramsby took a bit longer, but he is really starting to come into his own as a good power back. He's got more size than Breida, but makes great cuts and is good at finding holes and hitting them hard. For a position I was worried about early on, those two have been a bright shining light. Those are the biggest names.

On defense, look for Jay Ellison on the line. If he's healthy, he's a beast. As is Jonathon Battle. Deshawntee Gallon is a head hunter at linebacker, and Deon Stanley and Valdon Cooper have played well in the secondary. The Eagle defense has been very bend-don't-break at times. The passing defense in the redzone has been pretty good and that could play a very important part in the game on Saturday.

As for surprise/sleepers, I don't really know. Ean Days is a bowling ball at RB when he gets in, but you won't likely see him unless the game is out of hand, so he won't have a big affect on the overall outcome. I'd say all of those above are fairly well known enough to not really be considered sleepers. If anything I would say the passing game is a sleeper to watch out for. Georgia Southern is the nation's leading rushing team, but if you fall asleep on the receivers, Ellison & Company can kill you with the deep ball

3) Georgia Southern has looked impressive this year, but has looked mortal on the when outside of Statesboro- any concern that this will continue with the trip to Atlanta?

I'm not too concerned about the atmosphere of being away from Statesboro hindering the Eagles in this game. I don't know what the attendance ratio will be, but there will be a ton of Georgia Southern fans there to excite this team and get them going. I suspect the Eagles will come ready to play for this one. They've been waiting on it just as the fans have and will want to make a statement.

4) Will Georgia State be your "rival" in the Sun Belt, or do Southern fans care more about the Appalachian State game?

Georgia State may become one of the big rivals in the Sun Belt, but Georgia Southern has a lot of history with a number of other Sun Belt teams. App State is the obvious one, but Georgia Southern has a history with Troy and Arkansas State, as well. This one will become a rivalry among the fans even more so than the teams, probably. Who knows what will happen over time, but right now I suspect the App State game will stay much bigger. Of course, Georgia State could change that with an upset victory.

5) Final score prediction?

I think this game will go a lot like many of Georgia Southern's previous games, this season. The Eagles will jump out and be fairly in control for the entire game, but the Panthers will hang around until late in the third quarter. In the end the Eagles will pull away and win it 41-24.