By MIKE ANTHONY
As with any new season, even teams with 2-0 records have plenty of issues that could stand to be ironed out.
Georgia Southern’s 24-9 victory over South Alabama Saturday night looked comfortable enough on the scoreboard, but some missed opportunities show that there is still room for the team to grow as the season continues.
There were also plenty of positives to draw from and - if nothing else - the Eagles are at least the first team to assume its place in the Sun Belt Conference driver’s seat
PICKING UP A ‘W’
The Eagles played like a team who fully expected to see the same South Alabama squad that stunned Mississippi State last week.
The Jaguars were able to rack up 352 total yards, but the Eagle defense put the clamps on every time USA approached the goalline.
Stretching back to last season’s bowl victory, Georgia Southern has now gone 10 consecutive quarters without giving up a touchdown.
Heading into the season, all eyes were on the Eagles’ defensive secondary. With nearly all of last year’s solid unit gone, the task of stopping the pass has been passed on to a very young and inexperienced group.
Jaguar quarterback Dallas Davis was able to throw for 279 yards, but earned much of that with Georgia Southern holding a three-score lead in the fourth quarter. Even better for the Eagles, Davis completed just 48.8 percent of his throws.
“We knew we were going to get tested,” Eagle safety Joshua Moon said. “I thought we played hard all night. They have a good quarterback and good receivers, but we wanted to prove that we could stay with them.”
The secondary made a lasting statement in the waning seconds of the game. With the victory already in hand for the Eagles, USA drove inside the Georgia Southern 10 yard line. Davis looked to finally find the end zone, but Jessie Liptrot stepped in front of a pass to end the threat.
The look of the gold accents on the Eagles’ home uniforms last week are up for discussion, but eveyone can agree that they are tired of seeing yellow on the field.
Georgia Southern was heavily penalized once again Saturday, surrendering 65 yards on 10 penalties.
“That’s an issue we continue to have,” GS coach Tyson Summers said. “We’re continually shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties. Those are the sorts of things that can’t keep happening.”
Flags threw a wrench in two first-half drives for the Eagles’ offense, likely costing them a handful of points.