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Eagles top nation in special teams efficiency
GS Football
With the college football season now over and the Eagles just 235 days away from their 2020 kickoff (but who's counting?), let's take a look at a few year-ending notes and nuggets.

According to ESPN.com, Georgia Southern's special teams finished No. 1 in the FBS in efficiency, edging out Memphis by .2.

The Eagles have made a steady move up the rankings of late, going from No. 83 in 2014 to three top-11 finishes in the past three seasons. The Eagles finished fifth last year and now ascend to the top spot in 2019.

According to the web site, "team efficiencies are based on the point contributions of each unit to the team's scoring margin, on a per-play basis. The values are adjusted for strength of schedule and down-weighted for "garbage time" (based on win probability). The scale goes from 0 to 100; higher numbers are better and the average is roughly 50 for all categories. Efficiencies update daily during the season."

Between Tyler Bass' precision with PATs and field goals, as well as booming kickoffs, plus Anthony Beck II's punting prowess a (he set a school record the most punts downed inside the 20-yard line with 24 and only had three punts go in the end zone) and players like NaJee Thompson flying down the field to make open-field tackles and recover muffed punts, the Eagles put up the best Swag Team numbers for 2019.

The Streak Comes To an End
Shai Werts' interception streak is over, but it may never be broken. He went 230 passes between interceptions, dating back to the 2017 season finale and it was Georgia Southern's first interception in 26 games, ending by far the longest streak in modern NCAA history. Last year, the Eagles became the first known team in FBS history to not throw an interception all season. Several teams only had one but no one had put up a goose egg until last season.

Even with the interception in the bowl game, Georgia Southern has by far the fewest interceptions thrown since the start of the 2018 season:
Georgia Southern - 1
Navy - 9
Army West Point - 10
Air Force - 11
Arizona State - 11
Auburn - 11
Ohio State - 11

Prior to Werts' impressive streak, the GS record for passes without an interception was 116, set by Travis Clark in 2006.

Back to Back Top 10s
The Eagle rushing offense finished ranked seventh in the country in rushing yards per game with an average of 253.2. That marks the second straight years the Eagles have finished in the top 10 in the country as they finished seventh last year as well.

Want a Trophy? Schedule the Eagles ... or Aggies
With LSU winning the national championship last night, that now makes two straight years Georgia Southern has played the national champion after taking on Clemson in 2018. Georgia Southern and Texas A&M are the only two schools in the country that have played the eventual national champion in the past two regular seasons (Alabama played Clemson in last year's championship game and LSU this year in the regular season).

Tough Schedule
Georgia Southern's 2019 opponents combined to win 98 games in 2019, among the top total in the country. The Eagles played four 10-win teams, beating one and coming darn close on another. Three of those four finished ranked in the final AP Top 20 (LSU - #1; Minnesota - #10; Appalachian State - #19) and Louisiana received votes. Georgia Southern also played seven bowl teams in 2019.

2020 Season Tickets
2020 Eagle Football Season Ticket Renewals and Pre-Orders are expected to go live before the end of January. The renewal deadline for 2019 season ticket holders to renew for the 2020 season will be Tuesday, March 31. Any tickets and/or parking not renewed by the March 31 renewal deadline will be released. For any questions, please email the Athletics Ticket Office at Tickets@GeorgiaSouthern.edu.

Start Streak
Randy Wade Jr. will enter the 2020 season leading the team in consecutive starts with 26 as he's started every game the past two seasons at outside linebacker. Quarterback Shai Werts will enter the season with the most career starts at 35. Raymond Johnson III had his streak of 33 games broken when he missed the Georgia State game with an elbow injury but started a new one in the bowl game and enters 2020 with 34 career starts, second most on the team.

Six position players who started all 13 games last season are scheduled to return: Drew Wilson at right tackle on offense; outside linebacker Randy Wade Jr., inside linebacker Rashad Byrd, safety Kenderick Duncan Jr., inside linebacker Reynard Ellis and defensive end Traver Vliem on defense. Punter Anthony Beck II and long snapper Ryan Langan also got every start on special teams and are slated to return to the Swag Teams.

Did You Know?
GS has won 19 straight games when leading at halftime, a streak that began on Nov. 18, 2017 … Georgia Southern has had a 100-yard rusher in 21 of its past 29 games … GS has out-rushed its opponent in 56 of the past 75 games dating back to the start of the 2014 season … Georgia Southern has forced at least one turnover in 25 of its past 29 games … Dating back to 2017, the Eagles have won 13 of their past 17 games when not committing a turnover … Dating back to 2014, the Eagles have won 26 of their past 37 games when winning the turnover battle … GS has won 17 of the past 20 games when winning the rushing battle … Eagle kickers have made 96 consecutive PATs dating back to 2017 … The Eagles have won 38 of the past 40 games when they've rushed for 300 yards or more … Georgia Southern has won its last 15 of its past 16 games when having a 100-yard rusher … The Eagles have won 62 consecutive games when rushing for at least 400 yards.

Close Games
Georgia Southern was one of 15 schools in the FBS to have over half their games this season decided by one score (8 points) or less. North Carolina (3-6) and Pitt (6-3) both had nine one-score games while Arizona State (5-3), Eastern Michigan (4-4) and Miami (3-5) all had eight. The Eagles played seven one-score games this year, going 4-3 in them.

The Power of Paulson
Georgia Southern went 5-1 at Allen E. Paulson Stadium to run its all-time record to 197-41. That .828 winning percentage is the third-best of all current FBS football stadiums, trailing just Alabama's Bryant-Denny Stadium (272-54-3; .831) and Boise State's Albertsons Stadium (272-56; .829). The Eagles open up at Boise State on Sept. 5.

The Eagles will host Sun Belt Conference foes Appalachian State, Texas State, Troy and South Alabama in 2020, as well as defending Conference USA champion Florida Atlantic and Campbell in non-conference action.

In all, the Eagles will face five teams that played in the NCAA postseason this past season with three of those games at home: at Boise State (MWC champs; Las Vegas Bowl); Florida Atlantic (C-USA champs; Boca Raton Bowl champs); Appalachian State (SBC champs; New Orleans Bowl champs); Louisiana (SBC runner-up; LendingTree Bowl champs); and at Georgia State (Arizona Bowl). App finished the 2019 season ranked 19th in the AP poll, Boise finished 23rd and both Florida Atlantic and Louisiana received votes.

The Eagles are slated to begin the spring session on Tuesday, March 3 and practice seven times before adjourning for the school's Spring Break. The team will return for its final eight practices starting on March 24. The Spring Game is scheduled for Friday, April 3 at 7:30 p.m. inside Allen E. Paulson Stadium.

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