Dorian Byrd is only a sophomore, but in many ways he’s as mature as the most experienced senior on the Georgia Southern football team.
The world of Georgia Southern football, Byrd said, did not come to an end with Saturday’s 24-17 loss at Appalachian State.
“We’re doing well,” Byrd said. “It was a minor setback. It’s not a good thing to lose. It didn’t help us, but it didn’t hurt us, either. Morally it did, but it also helps us understand we’ve got to work harder.
“Our goals are still in front of us. We can still achieve them … winning a conference championship, getting into the playoffs.”
The 6-foot-1, 265-pound left tackle from Macon, and his teammates, were in an upbeat mood earlier this week as they began preparing for Saturday’s 2 p.m. game with The Citadel at Paulson Stadium.
It will be Homecoming for No. 5 Georgia Southern (7-1, 5-1) in its final home game of the regular season.
The Eagles need one more FCS to become eligible for the playoffs which means, with road games remaining at Wofford and Alabama, a loss to The Citadel would be borderline disastrous.
A win over both the Bulldogs and the Terriers, on the other hand, would clinch a playoff spot and assure GSU of a tie for the Southern Conference championship, something it last accomplished in 2002.
Byrd said the Eagles were not looking that far ahead. Their only concern, he said, is the Bulldogs, who like GSU, beat Chattanooga by one point, 28-27, and lost to Appalachian State by a touchdown, 49-42.
“It was frustrating,” Byrd said of the loss to the Mountaineers. “But, like Coach (Jeff) Monken tells us, we can’t look at the last play. We have to look at the next play and, in this case, at our next game.
“Our focus this week has to be on The Citadel,” Byrd said. “We have to refocus and work harder to correct our mistakes.”
Byrd has started every game of his career, a string of 23 straight contests, and all but two have been at left tackle. He started the first two games of this season at left guard before moving back to tackle.
Last year, as a true freshman, Byrd played at 241 pounds. He was the smallest offensive lineman in the SoCon, but was named to the league’s all-freshman team.
Against Appalachian State, the Eagles had their worst day of the season running the football. They had only 135 yards, 62 in the first half, after entering the game averaging 369.7 yards per game.
GSU had 205 yards of total offense, its lowest output since gaining 109 at Navy in the second game of the season last year.
GSU made four trips into the red zone and came away with a touchdown and a field goal.
The Eagles settled for a 22-yard field goal by Adrian Mora in the second quarter after Laron Scott returned a kickoff 78 yards to the 10-yard line, and then suffered the height of frustration late in the fourth quarter.
Trailing, 24-17, GSU found itself in position to tie the game, again thanks to Scott who picked off a pass at the Mountaineers' 35-yard line and ran it to the 9-yard line.
A running play gained nothing, and it was followed by three incomplete passes. Of the Eagles’ 34 second-half plays, 22 were run on the Appalachian State side of the 50-yard line.
“We just didn’t get the movement we usually do,” Byrd said. “The Citadel has a very good defense … we’re going to have to have movement and establish the B-Back.
“We want to get the loss at App out of our mind,” Byrd said, “but we don’t want to forget it, either. We’ve got to keep up the intensity.”