The Georgia Southern Eagles needed a win in the worst possible way, and they finally got one in the form of an 81-76 victory over visiting Western Carolina.
Until that point, the Catamounts had only lost to Texas and Clemson, and they now sit at 13-3, and 2-1 in the Southern Conference.
They had already gone on the road and knocked off Louisville 91-83 in a game the Cardinals were never really even in, so yeah, it was a good win for the Eagles.
Of course knocking off an NAIA school with a hyphen in its name would have been a good win for GSU at this point.
I’m not going to sit here and say that beating the team at the top of the SoCon is the spark Georgia Southern needed to begin a run to the top of the league, but what I will say is that it was definitely a huge step in the process of building the program into what it once was.
The Eagles didn’t show how good they are, per se, but they certainly showed how good they can be. It’s a step forward they needed to take.
It all started with Antonio Hanson raining down 3-pointers in the first few minutes, accounting for 12 of the first 14 GSU points. That opened up everything else, because WCU wasn’t going to let Hanson shoot again after he hit his sixth long ball in the first half.
Of course, we already knew Hanson could shoot.
That opened the floodgates for Rory Spencer, who attacked the offensive rim all night on his way to 18 points. It seems as if he finally figured out that if he goes up strong, he’ll either score or go to the line.
Of course, we already knew that, too.
Then, there’s the point guard. Willie Powers quietly went about his business in the first half, before exploding for 19 points in the final 20 minutes to seal the win.
If we knew one thing, it was that Willie can score on anybody.
Those three things are the keys to the season, because when those are working, it opens the door for Ben Drayton, Colby Wholleb, Cameron Baskerville, Antoine Johnson, Tyler Troupe and Krzysztof Janiszewski to get the points the opposing defense won’t let the other guys have. Throw Sandy Perry onto that list if he’s back in the game next time.
Figure in Johntavious Rucker’s defense and the fact that the Eagles have a knack for causing turnovers, and what you’re looking at is a team with a formula for success.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that we know these kids are good if they can bring it all together. That just hasn’t happened too often this season.
And that part’s up to them.
The feedback I’ve gotten from some Georgia Tech fans the past week has been funny.
It seems like they think that, because of what happened against Georgia and Iowa at the end of the season, Paul Johnson and his triple-option system are overrated.
It’s funny, because in his second year as the Jackets’ head coach, Johnson led them to an ACC championship and a BCS bowl game, and, for some reason a lot of folks seemed to forget about that.
It’s that sense of entitlement that Georgia Southern fans know all too well.
And it’s P.J.’s curse.
When things are going well and you’re rushing for 350 yards per game and beating everybody, well, that’s what’s supposed to happen. But when you lose, it’s because of the flawed, one-dimensional system. Forget the fact that it’s what got you there in the first place.
I find it funny because – based on the folks I’ve talked to – it hasn’t crossed anybody’s mind that, in the second year of the system, with a bunch of kids P.J. and his staff didn’t even recruit, that Iowa was just, well, a better team than Georgia Tech.
Nah, that couldn’t have been it.
The only flaw in the system itself is that it’s going to be hard to win a BCS Bowl game against one of the top teams in America after they have a month to get ready for it.
On the flip side, if you offered Georgia Tech fans the season they just had three years ago, they’d have taken it in a heartbeat.
Well, here in the world of FCS football and playoff systems, Jeff Monken won’t, at the very least, have to worry about that part.
As long as people don’t get surprised and angry next season when the Georgia Southern Eagles lose to a team that’s better than them, this thing will get a heck of a lot better in a hurry.
Colt? Where’s Colt?
Let me get this out of the way first. I firmly believe that Texas would have won the BCS national championship game if Colt McCoy didn’t get hurt in the first quarter.
Glad I got that out of the way.
I bring it up, because I got a little bit angry while I was watching that game.
For the record, McCoy was legitimately hurt and simply couldn’t play. He couldn’t throw a football, so I’m not bashing him here. It just brought up a thought.
To hear the play-by-play guys tell it, he could’ve came back in, but he has an NFL career to worry about, so it was a precautionary thing.
And that was just fine with them.
I’m glad they were wrong about Colt’s situation, but I call bull.
When you sign on the dotted line and you agree to play for a school that in exchange offers you a free education, you’re in the national title game, and you have the ability to play, you dang sure better play. Worry about future commitments after you fulfill your current ones.
That’s about all I have to say about that.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.