Working off of a three game winning streak, the Eagles are on the road again down to the bayou to take on the University of Louisiana-Monroe. The Warhawks and the Eagles faced off at the end of last season to secure Georgia Southern their Sun Belt Championship.
The Warhawks have yet to have a game with someone their own size, in both directions. Their two losses came at the hands of UGA 51-14, and Alabama 34-0 last week. The only win of the season came from a Nicholls State beatdown, 47-0. The Eagles aren’t only their first conference opponent, but their first real test and a meter for the rest of their conference season. It is most likely a plus for the Eagles that they are able to take on one of their tougher opponents now, as they seem to be in mid-season form and the Warhawks are really just getting started.
Unfortunately, analyzing a team that has had a season like ULM has had is difficult. The statistics are pretty hard to follow. The Warhawk defense has averaged about 179 rushing yards and 153 yards per game. Obviously, their big games against the SEC powerhouses greatly skew the negative results, with the whipping they but on Nicholls muddied the waters further. The best thing to do is look at the players on an individual basis, mostly off of returning starters from last season and the few who stood out in the big games this season.
The anchor for their defense is the 6’1″ 230lb graduate student at linebacker, Michael Johnson. He has been a dominating force for the Warharks as last season he led the team in tackles for loss (16) and sacks (8) and finished fourth on the team with 84 tackles. This season, he leads the team with 19 tackles. He is supported by his strong defensive line and ferocious defensive backfield.
Another graduate student leader for the Warhawks is defensive lineman Gerrand Johnson, He was selected to two consecutive All-Sun Belt teams, including first team All-Sun Belt last season. Johnson had a monstrous season last year with 93 total tackles including 12 tackles for loss and six sacks. The former Missouri transfer has started the season 15 tackles this season along with two tackles for loss.
The Warhawks sport another All-Sun Belt player in the form of their safety Mitch Lane. The junior started every game last season and picked off a team high three interceptions and is second on the team with 91 tackles. He isn’t a stranger to the spotlight either as he picked off a pass and took it to the end zone against Wake Forest on a play that finished #3 on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays. The safety will have to be vital in slowing down the passing game and keeping junior running back Matt Breida from ripping off stupendous runs up the middle.
The Eagles still have a solid chance of moving the ball on the ground but they will need to get it done through the air as well to open up running lanes. This could be a problem as redshirt junior receiver B.J. Johnson underwent surgery for his injured clavicle and will miss the rest of the season. Other receivers like Derek Keaton and Ryan Longoria will be heavily targeted this weekend and ULM is game planning for it.
The second conference game of the season for the Eagles will kick off on October 3rd, at 7pm in Monroe, Louisiana. Follow us on twitter @GeorgeAnneSport for live updates throughout the game.