PREVIEW: Eagle offense looking to bounce back and start conference slate strong

Ryan Kostensky

The Georgia Southern football team has struggled offensively so far this season, but they have a chance to start conference play with a win as they take on Louisiana Saturday.

Georgia Southern: 1-2 (0-0 conference)

A week after losing in disappointing fashion against Minnesota, the Georgia Southern football team sets their eyes on conference play, welcoming in the reigning Sun Belt West division champions, the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns.

The offense didn’t play particularly well at times against the Golden Gophers but were able to eclipse the 100-yard mark with 123 yards on 33 attempts. 

The Eagles saw success at the running back position with redshirt sophomore Logan Wright finding the endzone against Minnesota, but if GS is going to win, they will need more production overall in the backfield. Junior J.D. King ran for 35 yards on seven attempts while redshirt-sophomore Matt LaRoche ran for just three yards on five attempts. 

It was the redshirt-freshman Justin Tomlin again under center with the absence of starting quarterback Shai Werts, who is still nursing the shoulder injury he suffered in the season opener at LSU. Tomlin found the endzone for the second time in his career against Minnesota and rushed for another 57 yards, while passing for a career-high 75 yards. Tomlin could continue to see playing time with the question of Shai’s availability still up in the air.

Freshman slotback Khaleb Hood and senior receiver Mark Michaud led the way catching the ball, with 39 yards and 27 yards, respectively. It appeared that the passing game was more in play against the Golden Gophers, and just might be a sign of things to come against the Ragin’ Cajuns.

Louisiana: 3-1 (0-0 conference)

Louisiana comes into Paulson Stadium for both teams’ conference opener with an already impressive resume that features a close loss to Mississippi State and beatdowns of FBS-independents Liberty and MAC foe, Ohio University.

The Ragin’ Cajuns are impressive at every skill position offensively but make their money toting the rock. UL has three running backs with over 231 rushing yards, being led by redshirt junior Trey Ragas who has 425 yards on the season. Junior running back Elijah Mitchell leads the team with seven rushing touchdowns and is coming off his best game of the season, a three-rushing-touchdown performance in the win against Ohio.

Under center for Head Coach Billy Napier’s squad is the junior quarterback Levi Lewis, who has seven touchdowns and only two interceptions, while throwing for 815 yards. With a 65% completion percentage, Lewis will pose a threat to the GS secondary that has struggled with pass defense at times.

On the perimeter, UL has a duo of receivers that could potentially wreak havoc on the GS secondary. Redshirt-senior wide reciever Ja’Marcus Bradley is by far the team’s leading receiver. The six-foot-one Mississippi native has hauled in 20 receptions, good for 330 yards and three touchdowns. Not to be overshadowed, however, is the junior receiver Jamal Bell who has been quite productive for the team in his first four games as well. Bell has 206 yards on 18 receptions with no touchdowns.

The Eagles and Ragin’ Cajuns square off in Paulson Stadium for Saturday’s conference opener. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.

Ryan Kostensky, The George-Ann Sports Reporter, [email protected]