Forty-two minutes, fifty-five seconds. That's how long the Georgia Southern offense was on the field Saturday afternoon in Troy, Alabama.
Did you know the NCAA official record book doesn't have stats on Time of Possession? At least not for a game. There is a record of longest time of possession in a single quarter (15 minutes, a drive for a TD, onside kick, another drive that ended with 1st play of 4th quarter), but not for a full game. I didn't know that until I went looking to see just how that number stood up against others. I thought - along with Haisten in his recap - that number had to be some kind of record.
The best thing that I could find was an Answers.com page. According to that, the record is 45:01 by BYU in 2010. Georgia Southern's 42:55 would place it second. That's pure domination.
The Good (aside from that Time of Possession)
Spreading the Love. If I told you Georgia Southern wouldn't have a 100 yard rusher before this game, what would you think? Given Troy has been fairly successful against the run, you'd probably think that means they shut the Eagles down. They did do an excellent job of keeping individual Eagles below their average yards/carry, but when three players have around 80 yards, you're still giving up pretty big chunks. Seven different Eagles combined for 326 total yards. Still below the average on the season of 379 yards/game, though, so good job for that, Troy.
LA Ramsby. Having a short-yardage threat like Ramsby is such a true luxury. To have someone you're almost certain will get 1-2 yards no matter the situation makes short-yardage plays considerably less stressful. Ramsby is capable of breaking big runs, but where he excels is finding yards. I've said it all season long (this year and last), but his patience and vision in that regard are top notch. Which is why...
4th Down Conversions. Georgia Southern has converted every 4th down attempt (I think 11) since the ULM game. That happens because you have someone like Ramsby. That time of possession? It's as big as it was because the Eagles were able to go for 4th and 1 or 4th and 2 no matter where they were on the field and be confident that Ramsby would get them the yards.
A Wild Passing Game Appears! Don't expect this to work too well against UGA, but it's nice to know it's there. For the first time in a long while, we ran a few old fashioned triple option pass plays where the QB rolls, then steps back and throws it deep. The touchdown pass was even better, because it was a variant of the Tebow Jump Pass. We faked the power draw (which is something Ellison excels at) and then dropped back and lobbed it over the top. It's late in the season, but this is the kind of thing that could ensure Georgia Southern's success in its last 3-4 games (counting the bowl game).
A New Old Wrinkle. The ESPN3 announcers couldn't get over the "new wrinkle" added on the pitch play to the wide receiver. Granted, it hasn't been used much (if at all) this season, but that's hardly something new. The Eagles used it last year (with particularly devastating effect against Georgia State), and it's really the same thing as running the triple option with an A-back in motion. It was nice to see it, though. It also just makes it that much more amazing to think how much success Georgia Southern has had running the football this season on relatively few different running plays.
Interceptions. I was most worried about the defensive backs going into this season. Boy have they proven me wrong. The Eagles are hauling in interceptions left and right, and that final one going to the house for six makes it even better.
The Fumble. That's pretty much the only bad thing I can point to in this game. Without that fumble, Troy's only real drive (aside from theirs that also ended in a fumble), was the first one that stalled for a field goal. Their touchdown on the fumble recovery made this game look better than it really was.
Fumbles have been an issue with the option game forever, though. Against really great teams, falling down 10-0 very quickly can end the game before it begins. Thankfully, the Eagles offense came back strong and the defense did the same.
Ever heard of The Joe Moore Award? It's new for this season and is supposed to go to the best offensive line - as a unit - in the nation. Their semifinalist list was announced, today, and Georgia Southern was nowhere to be found. I don't know how you can't at least put the Eagles' Big Heavies on a Top 20 when they're leading the nation in rushing yards per game by a hefty (no pun intended) margin.
The Georgia Game
Next up for Georgia Southern are the Georgia Bulldogs. With the DWAGS offense not exactly performing well over the last few weeks, this may be the Eagles' best chance to beat the Bulldogs in the history of the series. It's going to be extremely tough to do, though. Georgia's defense is still just as strong as ever. The Eagles will have to find a way to get some yards through the air to open up the ground game, but it's not like UGA is unfamiliar with the option and option passing games, since they play Georgia Tech every season, now.
Hopefully the Eagles come into that game healthy. Kevin Ellison didn't play for much of the 2nd half, but hopefully that was to avoid any injury going into this week. Matt Breida left the field shaken up a few times, as well. Having a healthy Ellison and Breida are keys to the Eagles having any kind of a shot in Athens this weekend.