Red Wolves come to Statesboro looking for first conference win

Ryan Pye

Sitting at 2-1 on the year, the Georgia Southern football team’s next match-up marks their first conference game of 2018, and it comes against Arkansas State from Paulson Stadium on Saturday.

When the two teams met last year, the Red Wolves left Statesboro with a convincing 43-25 win, despite the Eagles forcing four turnovers.

“[Arkansas State] is a very athletic, good football team,” GS head coach Chad Lunsford said. “Obviously favorited in the conference. So starting off conference play, we have to go against the top team.”

ASU comes into the weekend with a 3-1 record, with their only loss coming at the hands of the No. 1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.

Arkansas State Offense

The Eagles will have a tough task at hand on Saturday, trying to contain an ASU offense that is averaging nearly 28 points per game.

Senior quarterback Justice Hansen has led the way offensively for the Red Wolves, throwing for 953 yards, and rushing for just shy of 150, through the first four games of the year. Hansen has completed over 60 percent of his throws, tossed 10 touchdowns and only two picks on the season.

ASU’s rushing attack features three different running backs, Marcel Murray, Warren Wand and Armond Weh-Weh, all of which have carried the ball more than 30 times on the year.

As a team the Red Wolves have combined to rush for 760 yards thus far, which equates to 190 yards on the ground per game.

Murray slightly edges out the other feature backs to be the team’s leading rusher, racking up 219 yards and two touchdowns.

Though most of their yardage comes through the air, the Red Wolves have depth in their backfield to keep their offense balanced, and defenses on their toes.

Arkansas State Defense

Just looking at the numbers, the ASU defense is allowing almost 30 points a game, but that stat may be a little misleading, considering the underpowered program took on the defending national champs earlier this season, where Tua Tagovailoa and the Tide hung 57 points on the Red Wolves.

Regardless of their uneven contest earlier this season, it’s not secret ASU’s defense has struggled to contain opposing offenses in 2018, where teams are averaging over 380 yards a game against them.

One area of concern for the Red Wolves, and to the delight of GS, is their inability to stop the run. Opposing teams have put up 874 rushing yards on the ASU defense, which comes out to an average of just shy of 220 yards per game.

With the vast majority of the GS offense being run-focused, the Red Wolves will look to make some very quick and crucial defensive adjustments, or the Eagles’ explosive offensive play makers could exploit the defense even more.

Kickoff from Paulson Stadium is set for Saturday at 6 p.m.

Ryan Pye, The George-Anne Sports Reporter,