Time and Date: 6 PM ET - September 2
Broadcast Network: ESPN+
Location: Paulson Stadium - Statesboro, GA
All-Time Series: Georgia Southern leads the all-time series 13-3. The Eagles last won in Statesboro 48-13 in 2015.
Georgia Southern Outlook
The Eagles will kick off its 2023 football campaign with a new signal caller under center, and hopefully a new defensive philosophy when it welcomes in The Citadel on Saturday, adding another chapter to the old Southern Conference series between the two squads.
Tulsa transfer Davis Brin has stepped in as the quarterback for the departed Kyle VanTrease, in an offense that was incredibly explosive last year under first year coach Clay Helton.
Brin brings some serious passing pedigree with him too, having been one of the nation’s leaders in yardage after the first three games last year, tallying up 1,206 yards to open the 2022 season before struggling with injuries that ultimately derailed his year.
Behind an experienced offensive line, and a solid group of pass catchers led by Khaleb Hood, who had 925 yards and three touchdowns last year, Brin and the offense should have enough firepower to pick up where it left off, as a top-20 unit in the country.
However, as good as the offense should be this year, the defense is a huge question mark. They were historically bad last season by Georgia Southern standards, finishing as the third-worst in the country in total yardage and fourth-worst in rushing yardage.
Linebacker Marques Watson-Trent was a bright spot, but up front the defensive line just didn’t do much to help out an offense that needed to not have to score 45 points to win every week.
Hopefully new defensive coordinator Brandon Bailey brings in an improved scheme and new faces on the defensive side of the ball give this group a facelift heading into 2023, or there’s going to be a lot of nailbiter games in the future, much as there were in 2022.
For a more in-depth look at the team, check out my Sun Belt podcast where we dive deep on personnel and expectations headed into the season.
The Citadel Outlook
This isn’t your father’s Citadel team.
The Bulldogs have finally moved away from the triple option offense that fans had become accustomed to seeing, sporting a new spread offense under incoming head coach Maurice Drayton.
Ironically, The Citadel may have been able to find some success on the ground against what was a porous front seven for the Eagles last season, but attempting to go score-for-score in a spread attack against one of the most productive offenses from last year simply isn’t going to work.
As of three days ago, Drayton had yet to name a starting quarterback, but Northern Illinois transfer Dustin Fletcher appears to be the leader in the clubhouse from the team’s beat reporters.
No matter who starts for the Bulldogs, it most likely will not matter, as Georgia Southern has too much firepower for this team to keep pace.
I think Georgia Southern’s offense scores early and often, and despite some of their defensive woes from a year ago, I don’t think The Citadel has the personnel to keep it very close.
Final Score: Georgia Southern 49, The Citadel 17