Start Time: 8 p.m. ET, Saturday, Oct. 22
Location: Aggie Memorial Stadium, Las Cruces, New Mexico
Records: Georgia Southern (3-3, 2-1 Sun Belt), New Mexico State (2-4, 1-2 Sun Belt)
Weather: 69 degrees at kickoff. 33 percent humidity. 5 mph winds.
Betting Line: Georgia Southern -14. Over/Under of 66.
Georgia Southern Outlook
Thank god the inevitable loss to Georgia Tech is behind us. The Eagles will head to Las Cruces and try to improve its Sun Belt record to 3-1 when it takes on the Aggies.
This will be yet another test for Tyson Summers and the coaching staff, and he will have to show the fans if he can adjust to what hasn’t been working offensively in the three game losing streak.
LRT: Some people are married to option, I'm not. I don't care if they throw it 70 times a game as long as they win. But they aren't, so...— Brian (@WatchTheStone) October 18, 2016
The team started incorporating short, quick throws in the game against Tech, which should have been the game plan all season. You don’t just go from running the ball 50 times per game to chucking it downfield every other play without serious setbacks.
Summers claims he is not out to change the culture of Georgia Southern football, but the team has been more pass-happy (and less successful on offense) than it has been over the past two seasons.
“It’s a fair question,” Summers told the media on Monday. “From Day 1, really, since I got hired, that’s what we’ve wanted to do was run the ball. We tried to keep it as similar as we could.”
“What’s happened is we looked up and we haven’t had very good boxes to run it in into, whether we have seven and they have nine or in some cases where they had 10 and we had eight,” he said. “The only way to be able to do that is to give ourselves a chance to open the box up better is to be able to throw it. “
“For us right now to be successful, I do think we have to be able to throw it,” he said Monday. “It doesn’t mean we’re trying to be something we’re not.
“I don’t want to disappoint people. We want to be able to sit there and run the ball. I apologize if I’ve misled anyone.”
When reading the comments from the coach, I understand what his logic here is. But does he not think teams were loading the box during a 2014 season in which the team was first in the nation in rushing yardage?
What does he think other teams were watching on film throughout that season?
Granted, the team was more talented during that season than it is now, especially on the offensive line and in the secondary.
The Eagles have not had a rusher go over 100 yards yet this season, but hopefully the coach and the team can get back on track against a reeling Aggies team. If Southern comes out sluggish on offense once again, it will be long season from here on out, with some (myself included) already questioning if he was a good hire.
New Mexico State Outlook
The Aggies have been a mixed bag as of late, defeating Lafayette 37-31 on Oct. 1 before being smoked by Idaho 55-23 in Moscow last week.
Idaho controlled every aspect of the game in the win over NMSU, throwing for a whopping 482 yards and rushing for another 169.
If the Eagles want to work on the passing game in game situations, this may be the week to do it.
Although the Aggies lost, quarterback Tyler Rogers completed 19 of his 29 passes for 302 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
It appears that Southern’s corners will need to do some quick growing up over the next couple of weeks, and stop allowing teams to complete short passes at the first down markers like it did to Tech and Justin Thomas. The coverage for the most part was very soft, and when it wasn’t, the Eagles were committing pass interference penalties.
I was wrong when I said Southern wouldn’t cover the spread against South Alabama earlier this season, but with the way the Eagles have played, I think favoring them by 2 touchdowns is much too high.
Until this team shows the ability to score as consistently as it has in the past, any line over 5 points seems like a serious reach.
Final score: Georgia Southern 30, New Mexico State 21.