I was afraid of that.
We all knew that if the Georgia Southern Eagles could start off the 2009 season at 2-0, they’d be in pretty good shape.
I actually did come up with a somewhat positive twist on what happened to GSU up in Brookings, S.D. Saturday, but before you roll your eyes, let me make one thing clear – South Dakota State’s upperclassmen out, well, classed the young Eaglets in pretty much every aspect of the game.
From the opening whistle of the second half on, GSU didn’t have a chance.
Just so we’re clear.
Here’s the thing – on the trip up there, I was thinking to myself that the worst thing that could happen to the Eagles was a close game with the Jackrabbits, win or lose. Win a close one and they would’ve had some more un-due confidence heading into Southern Conference play. Lose a close one and it’s business as usual.
No, I figured something big had to happen either way. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the less palatable of the two scenarios.
Now, at least Georgia Southern had all of its weaknesses exposed. Rather than going week to week thinking a tweak here and a tweak there was all it needed to get the job done, it’s seen the worst-case scenario. The o-line was outmatched by the SDSU d-line, the running backs were basically a non-factor in the playcalling (and pass blocking), the one down-field pass attempt by quarterback Lee Chapple soared over the receiver’s head and the rest of the passes were lacking those all-important yards after catch. Those are even more important when a majority of the passes are screens or in the flats.
Here’s the good news – we know the talent is there. The offensive playcalling has been uber-conservative because of the lack of experience out there, and with no running game to speak of, it makes things pretty easy on an opposing defense, even when there’s some raw skill on the field.
Here’s what I think needs to happen in the SoCon opener Saturday when Western Carolina comes to town – GSU needs to take chances.
Chapple needs to throw the ball down the field and the passing game needs to get creative. That will put the outcome of the game solely in the hands of the inexperienced receivers, but if the Eagles can develop some sort of a running game early on, it should help take the pressure off. They’ve got the backs to do it – just my two cents.
Chris Hatcher said after the game Saturday that a loss is a loss whether by one point or 100, and he’s right. The Eagles have a chance to make things look a heck of a lot better if they can move to 2-1 and 1-0 in the SoCon on Saturday. Now they know where they’re at as a team – and the first step is admitting there’s a problem.
On a less morbid note, at least Appalachian State is 0-2.
SHS gut check
Statesboro had a similar situation in Friday’s loss to Burke County. The bread and butter (in this case, the running game) wasn’t quite getting the job done, and the Blue Devil D didn’t have an answer to a mobile quarterback on a spread-out field.
I think it’s similar to the Eagles in the sense that you can’t fix your issues until you know what they are. There’s no doubt Statesboro is tough to beat for anybody in Region 2-AAAA, and now that they’ve whittled down their defensive weaknesses, the Blue Devils have a point of reference.
It’ll be fun to see where they go from there.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.