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Georgia Southern at UL Monroe: Preview and Prediction

Each team will look to pick up its first conference win of the season when the Eagles and Warhawks square off.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 23 Georgia Southern at Arkansas State Photo by John Bunch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Start Time: 7 p.m. EST, Oct. 3

Location: Malone Stadium; Monroe, LA

Weather: 70 degrees at kickoff

Records: Georgia Southern (1-1, 0-1 Sun Belt); UL Monroe (0-3; 0-1 Sun Belt)

Betting Line: Georgia Southern -20; O/U 49.5

TV: ESPN+


Georgia Southern Outlook

Last week saw Georgia Southern come up just short against #18 Louisiana in a nationally televised game that looked as if the Eagles had it in the bag.

GS will hope to rebound this week against a much weaker opponent in UL Monroe, as the Warhawks have yet to win a game or even top 17 points on offense in a game this year.

The Eagles showed last Saturday that the team plays at its absolute best when it runs through the arm and legs of quarterback Shai Werts. Werts threw for 255 yards in the loss to the Cajuns, and although the team was not able to pick up the win, the last person who should take the blame is the signal-caller especially after the amazing two-point conversion play to take the 18-17 lead late.

A big part of Georgia Southern’s offense troubles came from leaning a bit too much on the magic that Werts can conjure up in key spots instead of mixing up the playcalling. There haven’t been any reports from last week’s game that running back Wesley Kennedy III was on a touch restriction, but WK3 was able to rack up 134 total yards on just 9 touches. Now imagine what he could do with more opportunities.

J.D. King is the team’s second leading rusher behind Werts having run for 174 yards and two touchdowns through a pair of contests. King has shown the ability to get the tough yards inside and that will open up more space on the outside for guys like Werts, Kennedy and Matt LaRoche.

Defensively, the team had some solid plays at times last week but the fact of the matter is the unit allowed Louisiana to drive to within field goal range within the final 54 seconds of regulation. The Eagles secondary has been an exploitable group this year through two games, allowing teams to throw for an average of 264 yards per game through the air.

UL Monroe Outlook

It’s been a rough season thus far in Monroe, and things don’t look to get any easier as the season moves along. Gone are the days of Caleb Evans running around behind the line of scrimmage and making plays. Also gone are the days when teams like Texas State or South Alabama would make easy wins for the Warhawks.

As it currently stands with its in conference schedule and out of conference opponents like Army, Liberty and Louisiana Tech, UL Monroe will be lucky to win a game this season unless things start changing quickly.

The lack of a threat in the running game is what is hurting their offense the most, as Josh Johnson is leading the team in that category, but only averaging 36 yards per game on the ground through three contests.

NCAA Football: UL Monroe at Army
The lack of a threat in the running game is putting a lot of pressure on new quarterback Colby Suits.
John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

With sophomore quarterback Colby Suits under center for ULM, the stats have been there in the passing game, but the points and wins have not been. Suits has shown the ability to sling the rock, completing 67 percent of his passes for 236 yards per game but just 4 touchdowns to two interceptions.

Receiver Jahquan Bloomfield has proven to be a big play threat, and is leading the team with 148 yards receiving but only has six catches. Tight end Josh Pederson leads the team in receptions with 13, but only 40 yards per game through the trio of contests.

Defensively, ULM has not been good containing teams through either the air or the ground. The Warhawks are surrendering an eye-popping 5.27 yards per carry to opposing offenses, and have already given up 11 rushing touchdowns this season.

Prediction

I think the lack of rush defense by the Warhawks combined with their inability to put the ball in the end zone makes for an ideal matchup for Southern in this one. If the Eagles do not win this game by two scores or more, it may be time to get concerned about Georgia Southern’s outlook for the rest of the year.

Georgia Southern 41, UL Monroe 20