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Georgia Southern vs Louisiana-Monroe Review

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Georgia Southern played what is likely its last game of the season on Saturday night. How did it go?

Former walk-on Edwin Jackson, starting linebacker. Great kid and great story.
Former walk-on Edwin Jackson, starting linebacker. Great kid and great story.
Todd Bennett/Getty Images

Saturday night was a lot of fun for me. I didn't do any covering or worrying about the game, because Haisten Willis is awesome and had that covered. Instead, I got to enjoy the game with my father - a '74 Georgia Southern College graduate. This was my father's first trip back to Statesboro in at least two years and his first time getting to see Paulson Stadium in its new form.

We were able to tailgate with one of his college roommates before the game, which is always fun. I grew up tailgating in the Paulson Stadium parking lot. Back in the days of Priority Parking, long before the track was put in in the back. We used to tailgate before hand, and then wait for enough cars to clear out of the grass after the games so we could play two-hand touch football. The Paulson Parking Lot will always hold a special place for me. Any chance I get to visit it, I'll take it.

The game was a thriller, even though it felt like it shouldn't have been. Georgia Southern seemed able to move the ball down field with relative ease, but then constantly stalled. It didn't help that the kicking woes returned full-scale. Meanwhile, the defense played a pretty great game, with the exception of two big pass plays. That really seems to be the story of the year for this defense. It has been great in the redzone, but has allowed way too many big pass plays for touchdowns.

I'll do a big "season-ender" review in the next day or so. Then I'm working on a special in-depth project on Georgia Southern football that should hopefully see light during bowl season if I can get a few more interviews locked down by then. For now, let's look at our final (unless the NCAA comes through and grants the appeal on the waiver denial) game review:

THE GOOD:

Depth at QB. Favian Upshaw was in for his usual third series in this game, and went out with an injury. Kevin Ellison took an absolute beating all game long and was forced to leave early in the fourth quarter. He was replaced by Junior Ezayi (Izzy) Youyoute, who finished off that drive for the Eagles' go ahead touchdown. Then on the next drive he busted loose for a 48 yard gain to set up the Eagles' final points. It sure is nice to know the offense is in good hands no matter what happens.

Overall Defense. The defense allowed two big pass plays (more on that in a bit), but for the most part they were able to shut down ULM where it mattered. The Warhawks still gained yards, but only scored 16 points. The defense needed a good game after the amount of yards Navy put up on them two weeks ago. It helped that this was a passing offense rather than a run-heavy offense.

THE BAD:

Big Pass Plays. This really speaks for itself. ULM's two touchdowns were 63 and 36 yards. Georgia Southern's pass defense has done a pretty good job of keeping things in front of them and making open field tackles this season, but they have allowed way too many of these big plays. The Warhawks almost capitalized on another 20+ yard pass with seconds to go that would have won the game for them, but junior safety Matt Dobson came up with the gigantic pass breakup as the receiver was falling into the endzone.

Not Finishing Drives. Georgia Southern moved the football, but could not finish drives. A missed field goal and multiple stops on 4th and short. Credit ULM's defense as well, though. We knew they had a tough defense and it showed on those short yardage plays.

THE AWESOME:

Sun Belt Champions. In the first season of FBS football, Georgia Southern went undefeated through its conference schedule. The Eagles very nearly went 11-1. It was an amazing feat by a brand new team under a coach in his first year at the school.

The Administration Support. President Brooks Keel and Athletic Director Tom "TK" Kleinlein have been a breath of very fresh air over the preview President and AD. Dr Keel's enthusiasm as he screamed "We belong! We belong! We belong!" to the crowd gathered on Glenn Bryant Field to celebrate the outright Sun Belt Championship was a sight to see.

CONCLUSION:

I don't want it to be the case, but the odds are that this is the final game of the season for Georgia Southern. There is a lot of support out there for the Eagles for a bowl big, though. For instance:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>This week, we bask in the radiance of Amari Cooper, Scooby Wright, David Dean, and Georgia Southern:&#10;<a href="http://t.co/ySgqkARQIE">http://t.co/ySgqkARQIE</a></p>&mdash; Holly Anderson (@HollyAnderson) <a href="https://twitter.com/HollyAnderson/status/539450230639710209">December 1, 2014</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Georgia Southern belongs in a bowl. 9-3 and 8-0 in conference. They deserve a postseason waiver from NCAA.</p>&mdash; Greg McElroy (@GVMcElroy) <a href="https://twitter.com/GVMcElroy/status/539439370168582144">December 1, 2014</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Georgia Southern will petition the NCAA for that waiver and I think it should be granted. We need a feel good story in our sport.</p>&mdash; Tony Barnhart (@MrCFB) <a href="https://twitter.com/MrCFB/status/539282143646859264">December 1, 2014</a></blockquote>

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Will it help? I don't know. No matter what happens, it's been a fun ride. But that's a story for another day. Possibly later this week. More likely first of next week. We'll see. For now, though...

Hail Southern.

And No Place Else.