Seeing South Alabama march down the field on the opening drive of the game was a bit disconcerting for Eagles fans. You never want an opponent who is fighting for post-season eligibility to get a hot start and gain momentum. Going on a four minute, 75 yard drive and then holding the vaunted Georgia Southern attack to a three-and-out was the absolute worst thing that could happen for Georgia Southern.
Thankfully, that drive was an aberration. After allowed 75 yards in the game's opening four minutes, the Georgia Southern defense only allowed 61 yards over the remaining fifty-six. That is quite an impressive feat of defensive prowess.
Sure, South Alabama is 9th in the Sun Belt in Total Offense. They average 360 yards per game, which is good for 102nd in the nation. The Jaguars were averaging 204 yards passing and 156 yards rushing this season, though. The Eagles held them to 62 and 74 respectively for a total of 136 yards.
I'll be honest, I wasn't sold on Jack Curtis as the DC when we moved up. I'm singing a different tune, now. Georgia Southern is 13th in the nation in total defense. They're one spot behind App State for the top defense in the conference. My hat's off to this team and their coaches. They're a big part of Georgia Southern's success, right now.
The offense, meanwhile, continued to do what it does best. The team combined for 489 yards on the ground to take the average on the season back up to 375.6 yards per game. There was even, I'm not kidding, a passing touchdown. One of only three on the season, as Derek Keaton somehow managed to snag a 23 yards pass for the score.
This game was exactly what the Eagles needed following that Georgia game. They got things back on track in what could have been a "trap" game, and now they're ready to finish off the season against "rival" Georgia State and prepare for the bowl game.
#JustBreidaThings. Matt Breida ran for yet another touchdown that was over 60 yards. I'm beginning to get very curious about what the NCAA record for most TD runs in the 50-60+ yard range is. He still looks a bit slower to me right now than he looked earlier in the season. Either that or #31 for South Alabama has blazing speed to track him down from behind like he did and almost save the touchdown.
LA Ramsby. My, what a burst of speed by Ramsby on his touchdown run. I talk about his vision, his patience, and his ability to churn away for yards when it matters most; however, you can easily forget that if he gets in the clear, he's not without some jets, himself. The Eagles really do have a abundance of riches when it comes to people who can carry the football.
The Defense. I referenced them above, but what a stellar job this defense has done this year. That's particularly true when it comes to creating turnovers and snagging interceptions. That pass defense is going to be tested this weekend, but I feel like they're in a very good spot to take care of business.
Allowing fumbles returned for touchdowns. This is the second straight conference game where this has happened to Georgia Southern. They didn't exactly put either game in doubt, but it's still frustrating and something that can bite this team against tougher opponents. The Eagles were themselves on the plus side of one of these last weekend against Georgia that just proves the point. There are fumble risks involved with the option offense, but ball security is always priority number one.
Allowing that first drive. Yeah, I'm pickin' nits, here, but it would still be much nicer to not give the opponent some hope right at the beginning. Georgia State's offense is actually very impressive when it comes to throwing the football, and giving them confidence in a "rivalry" game is not something the Eagles want to do this Saturday.
Turn the mic off! This one is just me being funny more than anything else. However, if you go back and watch Breida's touchdown run again, you'll hear the public address announcer left the microphone on for juuuust a bit too long and exclaim "Ohhhhh my goodness."
So we've come to this. The last week of the regular season is somehow already upon us, and we're facing a Panthers team that needs a victory to become bowl eligible. I'll have more on this game and the series in general a bit later this week. Probably Wednesday if all goes well. Hail Southern!