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Georgia Southern 37 South Carolina State 6: Three things we learned from the Eagles’ opening win

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GS is 1-0, but it wasn’t always pretty.

Georgia State v Georgia Southern Photo by Todd Bennett/Getty Images

It wasn’t quite as easy as it looked for the Georgia Southern Eagles as they burned out a 37-6 win over the South Carolina State Bulldogs Saturday night at Paulson Stadium.

For the most part the contest was as advertised. GS comfortably turned in a season-opening win against an overmatched opponent and hopefully worked out the kinks as we move closer to conference football. A crowd of 15,260 showed up and showed out, then headed home for the evening as attention turns to week two.

The score line looks right, but it was far from convincing at times. South Carolina State hung around even as its offense stalled and wasn’t completely out of it until Shai Werts ran in his second rushing score to make it 29-6 at 10:30 of the fourth quarter.

We’ll see how things go from here on out. In the mean time, three thoughts from game one:

So Far So Good for Chad Lunsford

GS didn’t do much on its opening drive, then bulldozed down the field for a seven-play, 42-yard touchdown on its second. That’s how tonight’s game went. Every good sign was soon followed by bad and vice versa.

Wesley Kennedy looked dangerous on punt returns, Shai Werts looked comfortable at quarterback and the defense kept SCSU in check for most of the night. Next week we’ll learn a little more against UMass, and then the Orange Tigers of Clemson await with a much, much tougher test.

On defense, nose tackle Ty Phillips had a memorable night with a 17-yard fumble recovery that led to the Eagles’ second touchdown, as did linebacker Tomarcio Reese on an early interception. On offense...

The Option is Back (I Think)

We keep saying this and hoping it’s true. Werts was dangerous in any kind of open space, evoking memories of every quick Georgia Southern backfield star you can name.

He had an especially sick move on the Eagles’ second touchdown, buying time via a fake pitch to get into the end zone. In total, Werts went 5-7 for 29 yards passing, and turned in a career high on the ground with 163 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

It all came via the shotgun-based, updated option run by many teams in 2018, but that’s close enough for me.

There were a few aspects of the option that went sorely missed. For one, GS went for it on fourth down just once, mostly choosing to play it safe even in short-yardage situations. Call me old school but a true option team goes for it. On the other hand, ball control was above average as the Eagles finished with exactly zero turnovers.

2-0 is in View

Who’s ready to match last year’s win total on Sept. 8?

That could be the case as UMass rolls into Statesboro next weekend. The Minutemen sit 1-1 with a win over Duquesne and loss to Boston College, and are coming off a 2017 season in which they went just 4-8 (though one of those four wins came against Georgia Southern in Tyson Summers’ final game as head coach).

It might be time to start looking up if Georgia Southern can get past a peer mid-major squad next week.

Elsewhere:

Fans were treated to a rendition of Waka Flocka Flame’s 2010 hit “Hard in Da Paint” each time South Carolina State’s offense faced a third down. Chad Lunsford’s “more fun” approach could be felt even through the PA speakers.

This, apparently, is a thing.