Saturday’s contest between the Georgia Southern Eagles and the Troy Trojans went just about as expected as the home team Trojans cruised to a 38-16 win in the driving rain.
It was the debut for GS interim coach Chad Lunsford, and at least early on the team did show some signs of new life. Perhaps inspired by Mr. “Show up, cuz we’re gonna show out,” Southern’s Monteo Garrett scored an early touchdown and kicker Tyler Bass later added a 46-yard field goal, the longest of his career to date.
But that was about it.
Troy did what it does under head coach Neal Brown: churned out a consistent and impressive win. Here are three things we learned.
Southern needs to clean things up on offense
The Eagles’ offense looked impressive — when it wasn’t busy hurting its own cause. Georgia Southern opened the game with a 12-play touchdown drive, converted twice on fourth down early on and even threw in some under-center option plays with good results.
Offensive players also fumbled, made ill-advised pitches, snapped the ball over the quarterback’s head, threw an interception and at times looked to be skating on the wet turf.
While you could see glimpses of a solid option offense, color commentator Watson Brown noted several times throughout the game how inconsistent the O looked (and he knows a thing or two about losing games).
We’ll call it progress. Hopefully things will continue to improve as the young team moves toward 2018.
The Eagles’ defense is kind of a mess
Where to start. First off, big props to Troy, senior quarterback Brandon Silvers and coach Brown, who has likely earned the right to coach in a bigger stadium next year.
In the first half, Troy turned out touchdown drives lasting 37 seconds, seven seconds and 45 seconds. The latter two ended with long touchdown runs through holes big enough to run a yellow school bus through.
Jamarius Henderson ... gone. pic.twitter.com/fjGjz60pVU— Troy FB ⚔️⚔️⚔️⚔️⚔️ (@TroyTrojansFB) October 28, 2017
For much of the first half, Troy was averaging more than one point per play.
The GS secondary, most of whom came in as highly touted high school recruits, just could not get on the same page all day. That’s a coaching issue and of course the powers that be will be looking to fix it next year.
Both of these teams might have new head coaches next year
There’s no doubting Neal Brown has proved himself during his three years in southeast Alabama. Inheriting a mess of a 3-9 team, he’s got a great shot at a conference title in 2017 and already pulled off a milestone victory over LSU.
Troy became bowl eligible with the win, and a soft schedule from here on out makes 10-2 or 9-3 a likely outcome. I think either of those is enough to get him a major raise and a new logo on his hat next fall.
On the Georgia Southern side, it honestly wasn’t that bad of a start under Lunsford. I for one was relieved just to watch a game without wondering about the coach’s future for a change. It had reached the point where part of me wanted the team to lose just to ensured we’d get a new coach. That’s pretty much as low as it gets for a fan.
Lunsford brings a ton of energy and swagger to the role and his loyalty to Georgia Southern is undoubtable, but getting the top gig on a full-time basis will be tough. Maybe winning four of the last five will be enough, or taking the last three in a row in resounding fashion.
Hey, it gives us an excuse to watch the rest of the season.