PREVIEW: Eagle offense looking to improve against Coastal Carolina

Kaitlin Sells

The Georgia Southern football team is set to take on Coastal Carolina at home Saturday, and the Eagle offense is looking to clean their play up.

Georgia Southern  (2-3, 1-1)

Overall, this season so far the Eagle offense has been a point of weakness for the team as we’ve seen a struggle when it comes to scoring almost every game so far. 

On paper the Eagles don’t look too bad, averaging 223.4 rushing yards per game and 4.5 yards per attempt, but that’s not where the problem lies for the offense.

The Eagle offense has shown they struggle when it comes to scoring in the red-zone. As a team, GS has rushed for eight touchdowns and thrown for none, while redshirt-senior kicker Tyler Bass has gone 12-for-15 on field goals. Most points from games have been due to Bass’ kicking abilities, but field goals alone will not be enough for the Eagles as they start to take on tougher opponents.

“I think the biggest thing that is important for our offense that we’re getting into a rhythm,” Head Coach Chad Lunsford said concerning GS’ offensive performance. “That is something we haven’t done. Now that Shai is back full time, Wesley Kennedy’s back full time, that allows us to do more things. Obviously, we do continue to grow the package as we go.”

Redshirt-junior quarterback Shai Werts is projected to start against CCU after returning from injury, and the captain has yet to really get back into his groove. He’s been back for two full games now, and has notched a total of 188 rushing yards, and 115 passing yards- both of those statistics being less than the backup quarterback, redshirt-freshman Justin Tomlin, who played in place of Werts while he was injured.

In his two full games he’s been back Werts has still yet to score a touchdown- rushing or passing, but has fallen victim to five sacks. This game against Coastal is Werts’ chance to prove he’s back and ready to play the way he did last season.

Rushing-wise it has been confirmed that leading rusher Logan Wright will be out for 4-6 weeks due to neck injuries sustained against South Alabama. The redshirt-sophomore will be missed on the field for the offense as he was averaging 58 rushing yards per game as well as rushing for 294 yards overall. Junior running back Wesley Kennedy III is predicted to step up and take Wright’s place on the gridiron as Kennedy recently returned after serving out his academic suspension.

Kennedy saw action for the first time this season against USA where he rushed for 52 yards, averaging 6.5 yards per carry. The junior also scored a key touchdown against the Jaguars, which put the Eagles in position to take the game into overtime and eventually seal the win for GS.

Continuing the discussion of injuries on the offense, redshirt-senior center Jakob Cooper has been medically disqualified from the team due to too many concussions and will serve the rest of the season as a student coach for GS.

Coastal Carolina (3-3, 0-2)

While their record gives the impression that the Chanticleers won’t be a threat, their statistics speak otherwise. 

So far this season, CCU is averaging 206.5 rushing yards per game and 217 passing yards per game. Their strength with the passing offense could pose a problem for the GS defense, who has struggled against passing offenses in the past. 

As a team, the Chanticleers have scored 26 touchdowns with 14 rushing and 12 passing. Unlike the Eagles, they’ve shown no problems converting touchdowns from the red-zone as they’re 22-for-33 on attempts. 

The CCU offense utilizes two quarterbacks, those being sophomore quarterback Fred Payton and sophomore quarterback Bryce Carpenter. Payton shows to be strong with his passing game, throwing for 1,009 yards on the season, while averaging 168.17 yards per game. Payton has also thrown for six touchdowns, but has also thrown six interceptions. Payton has also rushed 34 times for 131 yards on the season as well as two rushing touchdowns. 

Carpenter has shown to be a stronger quarterback when it comes to the rushing game as the sophomore has rushed 36 times for 208 yards on the season, averaging 5.8 yards per carry. While being a strong rusher, Carpenter still knows his way around the passing game, throwing for five touchdowns and 262 total yards on the season.

“They play two quarterbacks,” Lunsford said. “You’ve got to be dialed in on which quarterbacks is in there and try to figure out what he does best and what the other one does best.”

Eagle defense also needs to look out for leading rushing CJ Marable, as the junior running back has rushed for 508 yards on the season, averaging 84.67 yards per game. The junior has scored five rushing touchdowns and has caught three, totaling out to eight touchdowns for Marable. 

Both offenses have their work cut out for them, as both defenses are strong points for the team. Kickoff is slated for 3:00 Saturday at Paulson Stadium.

Kaitlin Sells, The George-Anne Managing Sports Editor, [email protected]