Start Time: 6 p.m. EST, Sept. 4
Location: Paulson Stadium, Statesboro, Ga.
Weather: 86 degrees, 4 mph winds
Betting Line: Georgia Southern -28.5; O/U 52.5
Georgia Southern Outlook
It’s football time again in Statesboro, as the Eagles look to tune up against FCS opponent Gardner-Webb on Saturday.
While the Eagles seem to be keeping the name of a starting quarterback under a “Colonel’s Secret Herbs and Spices” level of secrecy for some strange reason, we can surmise it will be a freshman, either Sam Kenerson or Cam Ransom per the team’s official game notes.
While we don’t know who will actually be taking snaps under center, we do know the Bulldogs will have to contend with the power back tandem of J.D. King and Logan Wright out of the backfield.
King and Wright combined for over 1,200 yards rushing and nine touchdowns on the ground last season. Look for that success to keep up under new offensive coordinator Doug Ruse, who is back at the helm for the second time in his coaching career.
Also per the team’s official notes, be on the lookout for Tulane transfer Amare Jones, Khaleb Hood and Gerald Green to get significant snaps out of the backfield for the Eagles, as the team attempts to replace the now-departed Wesley Kennedy III’s rushing production.
Defensively, the team’s strength lies in the secondary as Derrick Canteen, Darrell Baker Jr., Justin Birdsong and Anthony Wilson make up a talented group on the back end. GS also sports a very experienced defensive line, with C.J. Wright, Justin Ellis and Dillon Springer listed as starters in the 3-4 scheme.
The one question mark will come in the linebacking corps, as Randy Wade Jr. looks to lead a new group of starters at that level of the defense.
In their team notes, the Bulldogs are purported as playing an Air Raid style of offense, and will do so with new transfer quarterback Bailey Fisher at the helm. Fisher comes over from fellow FCS school Tennessee Tech, where he didn’t start at all last year after the TTU moved their season to this past spring.
Fisher however had a very good 2019 campaign, throwing for 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing 61 percent of his passes. Southern’s secondary will be key in this one, as GW looks to air it out early and often.
The new QB for the Bulldogs will need to hook up with a trio of new pass catchers if the visiting team wants any chance to pull the upset. Wofford transfer T.J. Luther and Stetson transfer Justin Jordan make up the outside receivers, while true freshman Justin Franklin mans the slot position.
Running back Narii Gaither saw very little action in the Bulldogs’ spring campaign, notching just 4 carries in as many games. The one area the visiting school may have a solid unit is up front. The average weight of a Gardner-Webb offensive lineman is 292.4 pounds per their team notes, and the Eagles had a very tough time defensively with a large offensive line against Campbell in the opener last season.
Defensively, the Bulldogs struggled to keep opposing teams off of the scoreboard this past Spring, which may bode well for a Georgia Southern offense trying to get its feet under themselves. In four games, GW gave up an average of 28 points per game to opposing offenses. This may very well hurt them if their own offense is not clicking on all cylinders.
The line is high for a reason in this game, but I think Georgia Southern may have an issue covering it with a new quarterback at the helm this season. I like the over in this one, because I do not see these two teams playing a 17-13 defensive slugfest. I think either Georgia Southern runs away with this one leading GW to play catch-up, or the two teams trade scores throughout the game.
Final Score: Georgia Southern 38, Gardner-Webb 17