Senior’s last stand vs The Trojans

Photo credit to Mick Miller

Chris Smith

This Saturday, the Georgia Southern football team will play its final game of the 2016 season. They will play Troy University, and kickoff is scheduled for noon.

Troy is in second place in the Sun Belt and trail Appalachian State by a half game. For GS, the season is all but over. At this point, they are playing for the seniors.

This group of seniors have made history for GS and its football program. The seniors on this team went through the transition of moving from the FCS to the FBS. They had the experience of winning the Sun Belt conference with an 8-0 record. These seniors went to the swamp in Gainesville, FL and beat the University of Florida. No one can forget about them winning the GoDaddy Bowl in their first year of bowl eligibility, either.

These accomplishments seem like distant memories due to the Eagles’ 4-7 record. Aside from the disappointing season, the game on Saturday will be a “thank you” to the seniors for all they have done for the school. These players have played through the injuries and poured their hearts on the field every time they went out to perform.

GS is coming off a bye week after losing to Georgia State 30-24 two weeks ago. This season is one to forget for the Eagles. It has been a series of unfortunate events and the Eagles have not been able to string enough wins together to be competitive in the Sun Belt.

The Eagles have been riddled with injuries all season long and it continues going into this final game. Senior quarterback Kevin Ellison is questionable for the game on Saturday, after being knocked out of the game against GSU. This season is a prime example of what life without an effective running game can be like for GS. The run game for GS has been down this year, only averaging 224 yards per game. Last year, this team led the FBS with 363 yards per game along with 54 rushing touchdowns.

The defense has not lived up to its billing either. It has been very average all season allowing 401.4 yards per game and giving up 26 points per game. Aside from outstanding play from Linebacker Ukeme Eligwe, the rest of the defense has been inconsistent. Some of this is due to the fact the offense can’t keep them off the field, but nonetheless, their performance has been underwhelming. They are allowing 229 yards passing per game and 172 yards on the ground per game.

A bright side for the Eagles this season has been special teams play. Kicker Younghoe Koo is a finalist to win the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award. Koo set the Georgia Southern record making 14 consecutive field goals. The only miss by Koo this season was on a 54-yard attempt against Ole Miss. This season, the Eagles have blocked seven kicks and three punts. Any shine of brightness is needed in an otherwise gloomy season.