Eagles to meet stiff competition

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  • Cheney is a senior journalism major from Augusta. He is the current football reporter

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Will Cheney

The Georgia Southern University football team’s Southern Conference opener against Wofford College will be GSU’s toughest test of the 2013 season to date.

Wofford’s most effective offensive weapon of 2012, Eric Breitenstein, has graduated. He rushed for 2,035 yards and recorded 19 rushing touchdowns in the 2012 season. Losses of this caliber would leave many teams’ offenses in shambles. However, Wofford has the experience of senior running back Donovan Johnson leading its offense in 2013.

Johnson ran for 473 yards and four total touchdowns in 2012, and would have posted bigger numbers if Breitenstein did not handle 290 of their combined 363 carries. As the feature back in 2013, Johnson has amassed 231 rushing yards and a touchdown.

Johnson gained 77 yards in the 69-3 thrashing at the hands of Baylor University in Wofford’s 2013 season opener and accounted for 149 of Wofford’s 280 rushing yards and a touchdown last week in Wofford’s 21-10 win over The Citadel.

GSU’s defense has the potential to be great. This is a defense with 10 out of the 11 starters being juniors or seniors, but missed assignments and tackles in the first two games against sub-par competition leaves me questioning if it can contain Wofford’s rushing attack – at least to where it scores less points than GSU.

Frankly, allowing 230 yards on the ground to Saint Francis University is not going to cut it when it comes to conference play against a dangerous option team.

As for the Eagles’ offensive attack, I have little concern. Even though GSU opened its season with two sub-par matchups, I believe the return of junior running back Dominique Swope to the lineup will add a spark to an already-hot offense. Senior quarterback Jerick McKinnon will lead the offense to another successful outing on Saturday.

Despite my concerns on the defensive side of the football, I believe GSU will leave Spartanburg on Saturday night with a victory. I do not see 77 points or 59 points happening, but they will perform well enough to win. This will be a tight game and a great win to propel the Eagles into the bye week before preparing for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga at home in two weeks.