Start Time: 4 p.m. EST, Oct. 2
Location: Paulson Stadium, Statesboro, Ga.
Weather: 81 degrees, 5 mph winds
Records: Georgia Southern 1-3 (0-1 Sun Belt), Arkansas State 1-3 (0-0)
Betting Line: Georgia Southern -1.5; O/U 66
Georgia Southern Outlook
Well, it’s certainly been an eventful week in Statesboro, hasn’t it?
Following an 8-point loss to Louisiana at home on Saturday, Georgia Southern dropped to 1-3 on the season. By Sunday, a video had made the rounds showing an Eagles player on top of a moving bus drinking a beer before the game.
A few hours after that, Chad Lunsford was out of a job.
Looking ahead, the team will try and rally around interim coach Kevin Whitley as athletic director Jared Benko and company begin the search for the next Southern head coach.
Besides the off the field stuff, GS has been putrid on the field this season. A 1-3 record while scoring 16.5 points per game and the team’s only victory coming by 5 against an FCS team were never going to please the contingent in Statesboro.
Lunsford’s firing was inevitable by the way this season had begun, it was just a matter of when, not if.
The most important thing Whitley can do as the interim is to start the player at quarterback that best fits the offense that coordinator Doug Ruse wants to run. If the team wants to attempt 24 passes in a game separated by one score like last week’s contest was, just let freshman Cam Ransom take the wheel from here on out and see what he has.
Statistically, he won’t face a jucier matchup on paper than this week against ASU.
If you believe in Justin Tomlin’s talent that much, let him rotate snaps at the B-back position with surprise standout Gerald Green. But under no circumstances should he be throwing the ball 24 times at the QB position. He simply doesn’t have the accuracy to do so.
This Eagles team can only go 1 of 2 directions this week: Either they fight hard for their new interim coach and come out pissed off that the coach they loved and believed in was fired, or they can come out deflated and just coast through the rest of the year, being a box that other Sun Belt teams check off throughout the season as they limp towards 2022.
I truly do not know what the expect this week. The team in 2017 was clearly happy that Tyson Summers was rightfully canned halfway through that season, but I have seen much more anger that Lunsford was fired from players, even though it made sense taking into account everything that had happened this year.
Arkansas State Outlook
After one-and-a-half seasons of a quarterback battle, it seems the Red Wolves finally have their guy in FSU transfer James Blackman. It’s not who I personally would have chosen, but at least they aren’t rotating him out every series.
Blackman was solid last week in the 7-point loss to Tulsa, throwing for 321 with two touchdowns and an interception while scoring 34 points. The main downside for ASU this season comes from the fact that their defense is a sieve.
Through 4 games thus far, Arkansas State is dead last in the FBS in total defense, allowing 569.8 yards per game to opposing teams. Granted, they have played some solid offenses in Memphis and Washington to open the year, but to be ranked 130 out of 130 is horrid.
On the ground, the Red Wolves are surrendering an average of 203.3 yards per game this season and 42.3 points per game, and now they face a Georgia Southern team ranked 123rd in points per game.
What happens when the easily stoppable force meets the incredibly movable object?
We’ll find out on Saturday.
I choose to believe that this game will go over the total of 66. Neither of these teams have been lighting the world on fire defensively, and I think ASU’s lack of run defense will play as a nice counter to Georgia Southern’s secondary acting on a weekly like the forward pass should be illegal.
I think the Eagles settle in behind their interim coach and do just enough to get the win, but points should come in bunches if the first four games of this season for each of these teams are to be believed.
Final Score: Georgia Southern 38, Arkansas State 35