That didn’t go as planned.
With Chad Lunsford making his debut as full-time Georgia Southern Eagles head coach, the boys from Statesboro turned in an inconsistent, sloppy loss to the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in Conway, ending 2017 with the program’s lowest win total of the modern era at 2-10.
GS fell to CCU 28-17, falling behind early before mounting a comeback and taking the lead, then coming completely apart after Coastal converted a fake punt in the third quarter. Here are three takeaways.
This is why Lunsford was hired last week
Deciding they wanted Chad Lunsford for the job, the powers that be decided to go ahead and hire him after the UL win instead of risking a really awkward introductory press conference after a season-ending loss. In hindsight, that was a great move!
Long-term this is game is absolutely meaningless anyway. That’s the good news.
The bad news is this was Lunsford’s first game as a full-time head coach, and it did not go well. The team looked out of sorts in all three phases of the game, giving up too many penalties, too many yards and breaking down after the fake punt conversion.
Coastal Carolina with a well-timed fake punt, then hits a bomb for a touchdown, CCU back up 21-17 when everything seemed to be going Georgia Southern's way— Nathan Deen (@NathanDeenSMN) December 2, 2017
That proved to be a turning point from which GS could not recover. Coastal scored 14 points afterward; Southern scored zero.
Offensively, quarterback Shai Werts played well but was too often scrambling and having to throw up optimistic pass attempts under pressure.
I called for Lunsford to be hired last week, and I still think he’s the best man for the job. Hopefully, I’m right.
But the fire and focus Lunsford seemed to ignite over the last six weeks went missing Saturday afternoon. It just didn’t look good.
Shai Werts is ready to be a standout quarterback in 2018
If he gets any opportunity at all, Shai Werts is a great quarterback. He looks so dangerous in space when running the ball. He can hurt you through the air too, delivering a pretty and accurate pass despite the less-than-perfect delivery you might expect of an option quarterback.
Werts ended the game 6 of 15 passing for 57 yards, including multiple dropped would-be touchdowns, with one score and one interception. On the ground, Werts led the team in rushing with 108 yards on 28 carries. Hell, he even led the team in receiving with one catch for 30 yards.
Unfortunately many of those 28 “carries” looked like the result of broken plays and missed assignments rather than designed runs. No other ball carrier got more than 11 touches.
If there are four opposing players in the backfield or receivers dropping easy passes or general chaos on the field it’s not going to go well no matter who you put behind center. Clean that up and you’ll have a star QB next fall who will be just a redshirt sophomore.
Georgia Southern needs a new defensive coordinator
Lorenzo Costantini was probably gone no matter what, but there was no doubt left with this game.
There is way too much talent in Georgia Southern’s secondary for them to get burned as often as they did in 2017. The defense had too much trouble getting off the field against Coastal and too much trouble picking up blocking assignments.
ESPN3’s commentators (everybody’s favorites, I know) were noting late in the game how slow Southern’s defensive players were getting up after a play. Why is that happening?
Coastal quarterback Kilton Anderson turned in a career day with 180 yards passing for two touchdowns and one interception, and running back Osharmar Abercrombie stole the show with 133 rushing yards on 19 tries, good for seven per carry, and two scores on the ground.
GS is almost certain to get a new D-Coordinator next season. It’ll get a fresh set of 12 games too and a clean slate for the 2018 season. We’ve got nine months to wait until that happens, and this result won’t put many Southern fans at ease during the interim.