(Opinion) Eagles Midseason Analysis

Coming down the season’s home stretch, in reality, the Eagles have little to no shot of winning the Sun Belt.

Being 1-2 in the eastern division with detrimental losses to rival ga state and Coastal Carolina has all but not knocked the eagles out of contention.

Although true Eagles fans know that there is a different scent in the air after an upbeat 4-3 start.

The Eagles made a great choice in hiring Clay Helton.

Helton was hired to turn around a program that had been suffering for a number of years. Coming to Southern, Helton brought with him the veteran experience that the Eagles desperately needed.

He also added six new youthful coaches with fresh ideas. The biggest is the complete 180 on the offensive side of the ball. Coming from USC, Helton has seen the spread offense and has used it.

Through 7 games, it sure has been effective in its sunbelt appearance. Although it takes time to install new schemes on offense and get familiar with the program while having a mix of returning and new players, Helton has already tied the number of wins predicted at the beginning of the season by the end of September.

From the outside looking in, the Eagles seem to play like they have a chip on their shoulder this year. However, the majority of the team are returning players. This sure isn’t the same 3-9 team from last season.

An air you out type of offense

The triple option is a thing of the past for the Eagles. In their latest game’s upset victory, Kyle Vantrease led the nation in passing yards while simultaneously breaking the school record with an astounding 578 yards.

In this same game, the Eagles also tied the record for having the least rushing yards while coming away victorious with 12 yards in 60 minutes of action.

Georgia Southern leads the Sun Belt Conference in total offense at a mighty 504.83 yards per game, in total yards at 3,356, total passing yards at 2,433, rushing touchdowns at 16, yards per rush at 4.3, and total points at 267. Vantrease has spread the rock to 13 different receivers this season. If someone appears open, you know Vantrease isn’t shy in slinging one down the field.
Losing close games on the road

I pounded about 1,500 words out of my keyboard on October 8th, immediately after GSU’s second consecutive loss. But I learned early in my Inkwell career that I usually do my best work when I write a draft at night, then revisit it with edits in the morning.

Sometimes, you go on the road. Players make bad decisions. Coaches focus on the wrong thing. Refs make a bad call. Suddenly, you’ve lost to a .500 team that’s probably an inferior opponent. They’re called upsets for a reason.

This season is unconventional, as the Eagles are undefeated at home while acquiring all losses on the road.

A total of 26 points has decided the three losses the Eagles have suffered.

Where is the defense?

The Eagles have been vulnerable to the run. Even in the opener, a 59-7 rout of Morgan State when the GS defense didn’t yield a point, the visiting Bears could find life, rushing for 172 yards on 32 carries (compared to just 78 passing yards).

​​Yet Georgia Southern ranks last in the 14-team Sun Belt in total defense at 487 yards allowed per game with a staggering 250 yards a game.

“At this point, we’re basically asking the offense to score 40 or more points every game just for us to have a chance at winning it,” Eagles fifth-year defense back Justin Birdsong said Monday in a press conference.

Stopping the run is a must at any level of football, but the Eagles have been exploited in that area. They rank 127th out of 131 FBS teams in allowing rushing yards.

They have been banged up all year with injuries to the defense’s credit. The latest injury is standout cornerback Derrick Canteen, playmaking defensive end/linebacker Quin Williams, and team co-captain and linebacker Todd Bradley-Glenn.