Sure wish you had Justin Thomas in that game last night, huh Twitter trolls?
Sorry for those of you not on Twitter, I had to take a jab at everyone who killed me for saying Kevin Ellison and Favian Upshaw aren’t as good as Justin Thomas, the Georgia Tech quarterback.
If you want to see exactly what was said, go look for @theTEXAStanley on Twitter.com and take a peek in my mentions. Nothing ugly or inappropriate, just a whole lot of gas bag, bad takes.
Anyway, I digress and will just cut to the chase.
Georgia Southern got punched in the mouth last night. They got pantsed in Kalamazoo by a team the Eagles had beaten 43-17 a season ago. For GS fans, this may be confusing, frustrating and worrisome all at the same time. Trust me, I understand the feeling.
Growing up an Auburn fan and going to South Carolina, I’ve seen my fair share of heartbreaking blowouts. Especially the ones you never saw coming, much like this one to Western Michigan I can imagine.
Let me be the first one to say this: it’s going to be okay.
I know this must not happen to GS fans very often, especially from your days at the FCS level — but you just got beat by a better team. Straight up, Western Michigan is a better team than yours and that is perfectly fine.
By the way, if you didn’t know Western Michigan was the better team before this game you either haven’t been paying attention to the Broncos or are downright delusional. Let me paint the picture for you.
First and foremost — Western Michigan head coach PJ Fleck can recruit like a madman, because he is a mad man. Like, a legitimately crazy person. He ran around his team’s meeting room in nothing but spandex shorts karate-kicking the air to get his team pumped up before the 2015 season. Look it up, it’s on the internet. Don’t mess with this guy.
But back to Fleck’s recruiting acumen — the guy has assembled one hell of a football team. When Fleck took over WMU in 2013, he salvaged the team’s recruiting up to 7th in the MAC in his first season. His six, 3-star prospects were tied for third most in the MAC that year.
Since then, WMU has had the best recruiting class in the MAC every year. They’ve climbed from 1-11 in 2013, to 8-5 in 2014 and 8-5 again in 2015 with the program’s first ever bowl win. Fleck’s been clinical in building his program and it appears he’s moved into the final phase this year.
Just look around the field, WMU was huge all over the place. Their starting offensive line averaged 309 pounds across the board — that’s massive for a Group of Five school. With offensive tackles weighing 333 and 328 pounds, it’s no wonder GS couldn’t put any pressure on quarterback Zach Terrell — who went off on a GS defense that looked overmatched all night.
Another big part of that mismatch came with WMU’s team speed. I don’t have numbers to prove speed, but I do have numbers that can show explosiveness. WMU averaged 6.4 yards per play to GS’s 5.6 — a margin that may seem slim on paper but made for huge dividends on the field.
Whether it was the kickoff return, the pick-six or the many big catch-and-runs WMU had — their skill players were flat out faster than anyone or thing GS had on the field. It simply wasn’t fair.
Don’t forget this was a team that, if it was in the Big 10 — would be the seventh best team in the conference. WMU has beaten Northwestern and Illinois in their own houses this year — and sure, those schools are no power houses by any stretch of the word — but they both have significant recruiting and financial advantages over WMU and the Broncos still won both games.
WMU may not lose another game this year either. They are seriously that good. Fleck could very well by Notre Dame’s head coach in 2017 if Brian Kelly and good ole’ Brian Vangorder can’t get things straight in South Bend. WMU is trending upword in a hurry, while it seems the opposite is happening for Georgia Southern,
It’s still hard to isolate conclusions with a four game sample size, but the problems for GS are becoming more and more clear. The big, game-breaking plays from 2015 have disappeared with little to no turnover on the offense. The loss of the entire secondary form last season appears to be a bigger deal than many would think so, because WMU’s trio of senior receivers tore open GS’s defense for 15 yards a catch.
Many fans will look towards head coach Tyson Summers and his staff to blame for these deficiencies. While the secondary issues aren’t his fault, whatever is happening on offense might be. Not so much Summers, but David Dean and Rance Gillespie’s playcalling and overall scheme may not be working.
There’s a massive rabbit hole we could dive down to peel back the layers of what all is wrong with Georgia Southern, but the theme of this game was that the Eagles were beat down by a better team.
It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and as someone who’s alma mater just got beat by a lesser-Stoops brother for the third straight year — I think it’s just best we take the bye week off and regroup for better football ahead.