Jags Look To Keep Momentum At Georgia Southern

November 17, 2017 · By · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference 

South Alabama looks to take the momentum they earned from defeating then Sunbelt Conference leading Arkansas State on the road to Georgia Southern in order to keep their bowl hopes alive.

The Jags (4-6, 3-3 SBC) can’t overlook the Eagles (0-9, 0-5 SBC) because of their record. The Jags proved that last weekend against Arkansas State. Fueled by the defense and six turnovers, including the game-saving goal-line fumble forced by Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the week Bull Barge, the Jags may have won 23-18 but rushed for -3 yards in the game and totaled 340 yards of offense thanks to Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Week Cole Garvin throwing for 343 yards.

While South Alabama has struggled with injuries and (recently) suspensions (also lets not forget the terrible officiating in the Idaho game either), Georgia Southern is on the tail end of what is arguably their worst season in recent school history. The six-time FCS national champion Eagles won nine games each season after making their jump to FBS in 2014. Then head coach Willie Fritz accepted the head coaching position at Tulane and the Eagles hired Tyson Summers. Summers went 5-7 in his first season in 2016, then falling to FCS New Hampshire 22-12 in the second week of the season and was fired after falling to UMass 55-20 in week 8.

The Eagles average 16.3 points per game and allow an average of 37.1 points per game. Their power rushing game is averaging 191.8 yards per game combined with 103.4 yards per game passing has them averaging 295.2 yards per game so far in the 2017 season.

GSU is only converting 30.3% of their 3rd down attempts on the season. But they do convert 69.6% of their red zone trips into points, but only 39.1% of them are for touchdowns. Additionally they have fumbled 31 times and lost the ball 12 times and quarterbacks have thrown six interceptions on the season.

Defensively the eagles are allowing 200.1 yards rushing, 242.8 yards passing per game for an average of 443.9 yards per game of total offense. Opponents are converting 43.4% of 3rd down attempts. However opponents are converting 82.4% of their red zone trips into points, and 70.6% of the time they convert those red zone trips into touchdowns.

Additionally, the Eagle defense have forced only 9 fumbles and recovered only 5 of them, but they have managed to intercept eight opponent’s passes.

The Jags are scoring 22.1 points per game as opposed to 24.4 points per game for their opponents. They average 346.4 yards of total offense per game, which breaks down to 111.6 yards rushing and 234.8 yards passing per game.

Though the Jags are only converting 31% of their 3rd down attempts, that is actually up from the average the Offense had prior to offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent’s resignation. Additionally the Jags are converting 76% of their red zone trips into points, and 45% of the time they are scoring touchdowns. They have only fumbled 10 times and lost the ball twice on the season, but they do have 10 interceptions.

Defensively the Jaguars are allowing 393.3 yards per game of total offense, which breaks down to 142.6 yards per game rushing and 251.3 yards per game passing. Opponents are converting 71% of their red zone trips into points, and 42% of their red zone trips are touchdowns. The Jags have forced 19 fumbles on the season and recovered 12 of them, while also collecting seven interceptions from opposing quarterbacks, with four of them coming last week from Arkansas State’s Justice Hansen.

Georgia Southern is hurting, that much is obvious. The players and coaches want to avoid going down as the first team in school history to start the season 0-10. They also would like to keep their unbeaten streak intact against the Jaguars.

You might say the Jaguars are limping along themselves. After losing a few players in the secondary, a position they were already thin at entering the season, the Jaguar secondary has continued to play strong.

Lately the Jaguars have been hurting at the running back position. With the loss of five players in recent weeks, the Jags have turned to freshman wide receiver Jalen Wayne to add depth in the backfield. Wayne made a similar move to running back in high school at Spanish Fort. Which may give an added pass-catching dimension to the backfield for the Jags.

Another nagging problem has been dropped passes by receivers.

The Jags just need to go out and handle business without concern about how good or how bad the opponent is playing. Just like last week, each player has to play their assignment and fight to win each and every play. Forget the previous play and just fight to win the play in front of you.

Key to victory:

The Jags have to come out with energy from the opening kickoff. Last week the defense started hot by forcing three turnovers in the opening quarter. The offense started slow but behind the energy on defense, the offense finally got in gear and started moving the ball and putting up points.

The offense has to move the ball and score points. This is a point to stress each and every week, even though it’s pretty obvious. This unit has struggled pretty much all season long. It hasn’t helped that both Cole Garvin and Dallas Davis have been nicked up all season long and now the running back position was down to only two active players last week.

The Jags defense needs to keep the energy up. The offense feeds off of the defense and big plays help. Georgia Southern has a tendency to fumble the ball and the defense are ball hawks with those 19 forced fumbles and 12 fumble recoveries, the Jags should have some opportunities to force turnovers.

Again, it’s a do-or-die week for the Jags. If they lose, their bowl aspirations evaporate. But the Jags respond well with their backs against the wall. The Eagles will play more inspired as it will be Senior Day in Statesboro. Just like the Jags last week, the seniors will not want to lose the final home game of their career.

South Alabama and Georgia Southern are scheduled to kick off at 2pm in Statesboro, Georgia with USA being a 5-point favorite. The game can be seen on ESPN3. Radio coverage can be heard on the Jags flagship station 96.1FM and 99.5FM The Jags in the Mobile area with pregame coverage starting at noon.

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