There were so many storylines over the weekend in the Eagle Nation, it’s pretty hard not to bury the headlines.
At least some of them, anyway — there were plenty.
In an attempt at avoiding just that, here are two of the big talking points, in no particular order.
— Special teams lost GSU a trip to the national championship game.
Just to be clear, soccer-defender-turned-kicker Drew Ruggles is absolutely not to blame for Georgia Southern’s 23-20 loss at North Dakota State in the semifinals of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. There are plenty of well-seasoned kickers playing the game who wouldn’t have gotten the ball up over NDSU’s head on a 50-yard attempt under that much pressure, either.
The reason special teams was to blame is because the Eagles didn’t have a kicker ready for the season.
Had they made their kicks when they played Appalachian State, they would have been playing North Dakota State at home in the semifinals. And they would have won. By more than a touchdown. The Fargodome was the difference — plain and simple.
Had they made their kicks when they played The Citadel, the same would probably be true.
So, is it the kickers’ fault? No.
None of them were battle tested. Luke Cherry played second-fiddle to Charlie Edwards, Adrian Mora and Billy Greer in 2011.
Ryan Nowicki transferred from Ole Miss never having kicked in a college game.
Alex Hanks came from high school with, obviously, no college experience.
And as for Ruggles, well, his experience has been well documented.
The Eagles came into the season with three guys apparently ready to take the placekicking reins from Adrian Mora. None panned out. Finding a kicker is always a calculated risk. This time, the numbers were against GSU. Hopefully next season, the odds will be in the Eagles’ favor.
— CY got his win.
This one is definitely worth making sure it doesn’t get buried in all the football talk.
Charlton Young has been talking, for a while, about how the basketball Eagles need one big win to propel them to the next level. "It just takes one," he likes to say.
He got it. Big time.
The Eagles beat Virginia Tech, 78-73, Saturday on the road. It was the first Georgia Southern win over an ACC opponent. Ever.
More importantly, it was the win that Young has been talking about.
Now, that doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed to turn the corner.
As a matter of fact, they stumbled Monday against Bradley.
Confidence is so important, especially in basketball where individual efforts are so important and there’s only five guys in the game at a given time.
If the Eagles are going to go out there and hope the other team is going to miss 21 3-pointers, like Virginia Tech did, they won’t be turning any corners.
But if the two new guards, C.J. Reed and Cleon Roberts, are going to continue to be simultaneous, multi-dimensional scoring threats (like they were against Virginia Tech), Eric Ferguson keeps on getting double-doubles (like he did against Virginia Tech) and guys like Tre Bussey and Cameron Baskerville continue playing like the upper classmen they are, then the confidence GSU got out of the VT game will, absolutely, get the Eagles around the corner and help them "break the door down" (another thing Young likes to say) of the Southern Conference as the calendar flips over to 2013.
That was a really long sentence.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.