Less than 48 hours removed from a disappointing loss to Troy that severely damaged the Georgia Southern football team’s chances at making the Sun Belt championship game, Eagle head coach Chad Lunsford was pretty concise with his assessment.
“It’s embarrassing,” Lunsford said. “In all four phases of the game - offense, defense, special teams and our sideline - we just didn’t have the right vibe. I give credit to a good Troy team for playing well, but that’s not the kind of game we expect out of our guys.”
Georgia Southern brought a four-game winning streak and control of its own destiny in the Sun Belt race into Troy. That went downhill in a hurry as the Trojans jumped out to a 14-0 lead. Georgia Southern closed to within 27-21 midway through the second half, but Troy ripped off three unanswered touchdowns to put the game out of reach.
It didn’t take long for the comments to roll in about a repeat of last season.
Last fall, the Eagles upset a ranked Appalachian State team, only to get ambushed early in a road game the next week and lose by a similarly lopsided score to UL Monroe. To make matters worse, the slump continued into a second straight loss for the 2018 Eagles - something that can be controlled this time around even if they can’t get the Troy game back.
“Overall, I thought we had a good week of practice and were prepared,” Lunsford said. “We’re going to take a look at everything we did leading up to the game to see if there’s anything we need to change.
“But the biggest thing is to reset and get ready for this weekend against a good UL Monroe team. We can’t dwell on things and let this Troy loss beat us for a second team.”
MORE OF THE SAME
The Eagles’ defense continued to have a wealth of issues against fast-paced passing attacks.
Many fans were willing to write off the team’s struggles against LSU’s lightning-fast spread passing in the season opener seeing as how the Tigers now look like the best team in the country. But Troy utilized plenty of similar concepts last weekend and the result was ugly once again for the GS defense.
Troy quarterback Kaleb Barker completed 27 of his 41 attempts for 330 yards and three touchdowns. Much of the damage came via short passes that were followed by a rush up to the line and another play being run just seconds later. The nonstop action forced the Eagles to keep tired players on the field and run more conservative schemes with less blitzing, allowing for more easy short passing to create a vicious circle of offense for Troy.
“We know we can do better,” GS safety Donald Rutledge said. “It’s all about trust. Even when we have bad plays and a bad game, we all pick each other up and we know we can do better the next time.”
HIT AND MISS FOR WERTS
Georgia Southern enjoyed its most productive day of the season through the air. Junior quarterback Shai Werts threw a career high three touchdowns and totaled 181 yards.
But Werts completed just 50 percent of his passes. To make matters worse, Werts was sacked nine times. A makeshift GS offensive line that has been ravaged by injury has been doing its best to keep the Eagles’ option game on track, but a big deficit that forced them into far more pass protection than usual proved to be a bit too much.
Despite the obvious similarities from last season to this season, Lunsford was adamant that the loss immediately following an emotional win didn’t follow the same path.
“We weren’t ready to go out and win and I put that squarely on myself,” Lunsford said. “I need to figure out how to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. That said, I don’t think that we had a team that was complacent. They weren’t buying into their own hype or drinking the Kool-Aid. We know that we have to be prepared for every game.”