Start Time: 6 p.m. EST, Sept. 3
Location: Paulson Stadium, Statesboro, Ga.
Weather: 78 degrees and cloudy, 24% chance of rain
Betting Line: N/A
Georgia Southern Preview
It’s been a long wait since the end of a poor season in 2021, and Georgia Southern football is looking to turn the page on a 3-9 campaign last year. With that, lots of changes have been made both from a coaching and personnel perspective that should give fans some hope in the year ahead.
Gone is a seemingly overwhelmed Chad Lunsford, and in steps former USC Trojans coach Clay Helton to lead the Eagles into a new era of football. One has to automatically assume that the spread-gun option of the previous 7 seasons is totally gone when looking at both the recruiting Helton and company has done and the transfers that have been brought in.
Buffalo transfer Kyle Vantrease steps in to fill the void at quarterback left by the departure of Justin Tomlin, with Vanrease bringing a different skillset to the table than that of Tomlin or predecessor Shai Werts. The new quarterback completed 61.5% of his passes last season, with 8 touchdowns to 6 interceptions and projects as more of a pro-style passer, which Georgia Southern may need with the new scheme.
The running game should still be effective, even with the medical retirement of J.D. King due to a knee injury. Both Jalen White and Gerald Green project to receive much of the backfield work, and the team will need to run through the two while it nails down the passing game.
Defensively, the secondary last season for GS was simply atrocious, ranking nearly dead-last in the country in yards per game surrendered. In steps new defensive coordinator Will Harris from Washington, whose specialty did come in the secondary for the Huskies. The Eagles get all-conference caliber cornerback Derrick Canteen back from injury, which will be huge, but the defensive backfield simply needs to know where to be on any given play. That was one of the largest issues facing Southern in 2021.
Morgan State Preview
Luckily for the Eagles, Morgan State was anything but a bear for opponents last season. The team also limped along in 2021, finishing the year 2-9 with an average margin of defeat of 22 points per game.
To combat its awful showing last season, the Bears brought in Damon Wilson to fill its head coaching vacancy, following 13 years for Wilson at Bowie State University in Maryland. I am assuming that grad transfer Carson Baker starts for Morgan State at quarterback following stops at Western Kentucky and San Diego State, but little information is available overall when researching the team.
One thing is for sure, both Helton and Wilson each have their own hills to climb when it comes to restoring their respective teams back to prominence.
For all their faults last season, Georgia Southern was able to string together a few good performances last season against Arkansas State and Texas State. If Vantrease can simply hold on to the ball better than Tomlin did last year, the Eagles could be an okay team in 2022.
However, I do expect them to soundly beat the Bears on Saturday. Long gone is Lunsford and his propensity to underwhelm against FCS opponents, so let’s hope Helton does not try to give Eagle fans any more heart palpitations on Saturday.
Final Score: Georgia Southern 45, Morgan State 21