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Eagles brace for battle with Warhawks


September 12, 2016

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    I have to admit, when I saw Georgia Southern as a 13-point favorite in last week’s game at South Alabama, I was a bit surprised. After all, USA would be carrying the momentum of beating an SEC team on the road into its home opener to face a team it has surely had circled on the calendar since last year’s blowout in Statesboro.
    The Eagles had handled Savannah State in their season opener like they should have, but it was a pretty methodical, vanilla game. So we still didn’t know a whole lot about Southern.
    I can’t say we know too much more this week, but we do know the Eagle defense is pretty salty. Georgia Southern has not allowed a touchdown in 10 quarters now — a streak that dates back to the first half of the GoDaddy Bowl — and knocked off South Alabama 24-9 in what was both teams’ conference opener.
    The Eagles allowed 352 yards of offense, but held the Jaguars to 4-of-15 on third down conversions to keep its opponent out of the endzone for the second straight week to open the 2016 season.
    Southern’s offense was once again methodical as it used sustained drives rather than breaking the big plays Eagle fans have become used to seeing. But as long as the team in blue and white outscores the opponent each week, I’m not really that picky about how they go about doing it. But it is fun to see Matt Breida or Favian Upshaw leaving defenders in the dust en route to a long touchdown. I feel like we are just a few shoestring tackles away from having seen some of those plays. They will come.
    The most important thing is Georgia Southern is 2-0 on the young season and opened conference play with a win Saturday night in Mobile.
    Tattler Game Ball: The game ball goes to the defense. This unit looks really good so far. Saturday’s game was a true team effort as no individual recorded more than seven tackles (Ukeme Eligwe and Ironhead Gallon led the team with seven each). Nine different players logged at least a half tackle for loss, Eligwe and Jonathan Battle each forced fumbles, freshman Jessie Liptrot reeled in his first career interception, and Ryan George and Bernard Dawson combined to record the Eagles’ only sack of USA quarterback Dallas Davis.
    The Eagles host conference foe UL Monroe this Saturday night at Paulson Stadium. Georgia Southern beat the Warhawks 51-31 on the road last season. ULM finished 2-11 last season and fired its coaching staff. The new head coach is Matt Viator who spent the last ten seasons as head coach at McNeese State where he was 78-33, so he knows how to win ballgames. But he has an uphill climb to make with a Warhawks program that has won just five total games against FBS competition in the last two years.
    Monroe is coming off a 59-17 loss at Oklahoma last weekend. The Warhawks won their opener 38-21 against Southern University.
    Tattler Prediction: Georgia Southern will likely be heavy favorites once again and will be playing in front of what should be a huge home crowd because it’s family weekend in Statesboro. Plus, the Eagles don’t have another Saturday home game until December, so folks coming in from out of town will be trying to make the most of this one. But Monroe just got back from Oklahoma, so the atmosphere shouldn’t be anything terribly new to them.
    With that said, Warhawks’ opponents are averaging 40 points and 508 yards per game. You may say the numbers are skewed because they played the Sooners, but their first game against an FCS opponent should balance things out. Southern scored 21 and had 376 yards of offense — not exactly the blowout it probably should have been. With those numbers in mind, I think this is the week the Eagle offense finally hits a couple of big plays.
    Eagles 41, Warhawks 10


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