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GSU faces tough postseason path
Whats the difference between making 7 of 17 field goal attempts and 10 of 17? For the 2012 Georgia Southern Eagles, it means an awful lot. Had Georgia Southern (8-3, 6-2 Southern Conference) made one of its two missed kicks against The Citadel, and two of three against Appalachian State, things would look like this: No. 1 overall seed in the 2012 Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. Undefeated, untied, sole Southern Conference champion. A 10-1 regular-season record with a 10-0 mark against FCS competition. A home game during each round of the playoffs. Instead, the Eagles split the SoCon title with Appalachian State and Wofford, face a pretty good Central Arkansas team at home in the first playoff matchup, and assuming the higher seeds take care of business and so do the Eagles road games at Old Dominion and North Dakota State. ODU happens to pass for a cool 382 yards per game under All-Everything quarterback Taylor Heinicke. Remember him? And North Dakota State is the defending national champ, and we all remember what the Bison did to the Eagles a year ago. In the words of sports writer Mike Brown, Oh, but for three more field goals. But, it is what it is. If the Eagles can beat Central Arkansas on Dec. 1, at 2 p.m. in Paulson Stadium, it looks like a reboot of 2011, only GSU would see ODU on the road this time and Heinicke isnt a freshman any more. To be fair, you cant blame it all on the kickers. Turnovers have been a huge problem for GSU this season. Theyve averaged nearly two per game and finished the season minus five in that department. You could also address holes in the passing defense and the offenses often all-or-nothing approach. It seems like, without big plays, three-and-outs are way too common. But the offense has done enough to win every week except last Saturday against Georgia and the rushing defense has been stellar, forcing everybody with a decent passing game to become one dimensional and everyone without one especially Wofford and The Citadel to completely shut down. The real problem with the 2012 playoff bracket is actually the seeding. The Eagles were awarded the No. 5 seed in the playoffs. Whats the point in giving out a No. 5 seed if that team is guaranteed only one home game and will likely go on the road twice to play the No. 4 seed and No. 1 seed in consecutive weeks? There are unseeded teams without that hard of a road. Of course, at the end of the day, as they say, youve got to beat the best to be the best, so for the fifth-seeded Eagles, its fair. Its just a bit pointless. Besides, regardless of the opponent, it is extremely hard to beat anybody if you constantly have to go for it on fourth down in field-goal range and cant keep the ball off the turf. That means, its still all about the Eagles. They were able to out-athlete every FCS team on their schedule during the regular season. They didnt beat all of them, but, as mentioned, the losses had absolutely nothing to do with talent. It was all about execution. So its still fair to say that, so far in 2012, the only FCS team that has been able to beat the Eagles, has been the Eagles. They wont be able to out-athlete teams like ODU and NDSU, and maybe not even Central Arkansas, but they have the players to compete with all of them. That means that during the next two weeks of practice, GSU needs to work on execution. Period. All the other pieces are there, and most of the banged-up players will heal. Everything points to the Eagles, regardless of who theyre playing, being able to make another playoff run. Well, everything except the kicking game. Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.