I’m a guy for statistics and data, which means sample size is everything and conversely means two weeks is nothing.
I hate drawing conclusions for teams after just two games, or three or four etc. There’s just not enough there to draw any valid conclusions about anyone — I don’t care how well/bad you played. Just look all over the place in week two.
One would have thought Southern Cal’s season was doomed after they were molly-whopped by Alabama, yet they turned around and beat what many believe to be a decent Utah State team 45-7. Georgia convincingly beat a then presumed top-25 team in UNC, then nearly loses to Nicholls, an FCS team that was 3-8 in 2015. Did anyone see Northwestern losing to FCS Illinois State after narrowly losing to Western Michigan last week? I didn’t think so.
The point is, we have no idea what we’re looking at right now. We have no idea who is genuinely bad or good or somewhere inbetween. Two games simply doesn’t tell us enough.
So where does this bring us with Georgia Southern? I have no idea, because in my mind the Eagles have only played one game.
Yeah, I’ll say it. Savannah State’s football team is hot, smelly garbage. They didn’t deserve to be with Georgia Southern on that field last week let alone anyone the Tigers play at the FCS level. Savannah State hasn’t won more than two games since 2008 and were only in Statesboro because the poor fans of Georgia Southern needed another home game.
I’m not counting that game. It was a preseason scrimmage as far as I’m concerned. It was never a real game on the field. I think Savannah State had one drive that went over seven plays, but I don’t care enough to check. I do know for a fact it told you and I nothing about whether or not Georgia Southern was any good.
And to be perfectly honest, neither did this week. Is South Alabama any good? I really don’t know. I realize they beat Mississippi State last week and it’s one quality win, but it was a bit flukey. Had MSU made that field goal we wouldn’t even be questioning whether or not the Bulldogs were good.
The bottom line in that game was: should MSU have won? Yes, they’re the more talented team. But it was a weird, close game where South Alabama got the breaks they needed. Is that a real indictment on either team? No.
Now knowing all of that, what can we draw from this game? Georgia Southern won definatively, that’s for sure. But I’ll focus on the one thing I really liked from the Eagles, and that’s the defense.
This I do know. Mississippi State brought back a loaded front seven from last year and is at the least very talented. This is not an easy defense to score on and I believe that will hold up for the rest of the year. South Alabama scored 21 points on that defense last week, averaging 5.9 yards per play and a 38% success rate.
This week, the same team that averaged 8.4 yards a pass attempt against an SEC team only managed 6.5 against Georgia Southern. The Eagles also capped the Jags at 5.0 yards per play and held USA to the same success rate as they had against Mississippi State.
But the most impressive stat to come out of this game was that South Alabama went inside the Georgia Southern 40 yardline seven out of their 10 drives. If we just stopped here, that’d be pretty impressive — until you found out USA only scored nine points. That’s only 1.3 points per trip, well below the 4.2 mark the Jags had last week against MSU.
In a perfect world, if USA had successfully converted all their trips they would have scored 49 points — seven trips, seven touchdowns. But the Georgia Southern defense played a classic bend-don’t-break style that worked — and can work for the rest of the season.
Will Georgia Southern play defense like that the rest of the year? I don’t know — it’s just one game. But if they do, I can tell you they’ll be very tough to beat.