PREVIEW: Eagles preparing for homecoming

Kaitlin Sells

After last Saturday’s poncho party in Paulson, the Georgia Southern football team will be back in action at home to play New Mexico State for homecoming on Saturday.

The Eagles are now sporting a two-game winning streak on top of an overall record of 3-3 after defeating Coastal Carolina. The win over CCU was not an easy one as the game went into triple overtime, but the Eagles were still able to come out on top.

The Eagle offense is beginning to find their rhythm as the Eagles have put up 1610 rushing yards on the season, averaging 236 per game. Leading the Eagles in rushing is junior running back J.D. King, who’s notched 214 rushing yards, averaging 3.6 yards per carry. 

Junior running back Wesley Kennedy III is another offensive player who is swiftly adding to his stats this season after getting a late start. Kennedy has only been able to play these last two games for the Eagles as he had to serve a four-game academic suspension, and has already scored three touchdowns for GS. The junior has logged 169 rushing yards on the season so far, averaging 84.5 yards per game.

“Wesley’s a huge lift,” Head Coach Chad Lunsford said. “He took a negative and turned it into a positive. You can tell he’s playing with a chip on his shoulder. He’s playing like a Georgia Southern football player should play. He plays to win every play, and is very loud and focused. Very proud of that.”

Quarterback Shai Werts is another player that’s recently gotten back into the game after recovering from injury against LSU. The redshirt-junior stepped up against CCU, where he passed for 81 yards as was as connecting two passes over 20 yards with Mark Michaud to complete for two touchdowns. 

The Eagle defense has been a strong point for GS all season, and they haven’t let up so far this season.

As a team, the defense has logged 387 tackles, as well as forcing four fumbles while recovering six. The defense has also been quick on their feet, notching 10 sacks and 23 pass breakups. Junior captain Rashad Byrd continues to lead the Eagles with 46 tackles on the season, with five of them being tackles for a loss of 14 yards.

While the Eagles have seemed to find a rhythm and have been successful enough to find a two-game winning streak, it’s still a work in progress for GS. Both of the past wins have gone into overtime, and have been fighting tooth-and-nail to get the win.

“We haven’t played a great game yet,” Lunsford said. “We’re playing better, but we’re not to the level that we need to be at… It’s all about us being 0-0 and trying to go 1-0 this week.”

NMSU has struggled this season, being on a seven-game losing streak as they have yet to win a game so far.

On the offense, the Aggies average 105.4 rushing yards per game while averaging 3.7 yards per carry. Leading the Aggies rushing offense is senior running back Jason Huntlel who’s racked up a net 442 rushing yards this season, averaging 63.14 yards per game. Their passing offense looks better, averaging 205.57 passing yards per game. Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Josh Adkins leads the Aggies on the passing, notching 1738 yards in the seven games he has played on the season, averaging 248 yards per game. Adkins has also thrown for nine touchdowns as well as rushing for four.

In their last game against Central Michigan the Aggies rushed for 121 yards and threw for 263, showing no struggle to convert in the red zone as they scored both times they found themselves in the red zone.

“Just because they’re winless football team does not mean that we’re going to take them lightly,” Lunsford said. “It’s going to be tough to get pressure on the quarterback, but we need to make sure that we are making it difficult for him… They can be explosive on offense, and they can be dangerous defensively.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the Aggies have logged 533 total tackles as a team, lead by Javahn Ferguson with 76 total tackles on the season. The redshirt-senior has logged five pass breakups and two tackles for a loss of five yards.

The matchup is set for Saturday in Paulson at 3 p.m. and will be Georgia Southern’s homecoming game. 

Kaitlin Sells, The George-Anne Managing Sports Editor,