The Eagles offense ready to stick it to West Virginaia

Hayden Boudreaux

The wait is finally over, in just two days the junior quarterback Favian Upshaw and the Eagles will take on the West Virginia Mountaineers in Morgantown to see which team will pick up their first win of the season.

On offense, the Eagles will certainly have their hands full with the Mountaineer defense that returns nine starters, including eight seniors and two juniors. Last season, they allowed an average 27.6 points and 168 yards rushing per game which led them to a 7-6 record including a win over #4 Baylor. A lot of offseason work has been focused around improving upon their established defense, they believe that last year was their rebuilding year and now all the pieces are in place to make a successful run at their schedule.

One of the games reviewed for this upcoming matchup was a game last year between the Mountaineers and TCU. While it does have its differences, TCU does line up similarly to the Eagles and does take advantage of the spread offense. Reviewing game footage from last year will give hints on what the Mountaineers may do this year to combat Georgia Southern.

For example, we know that they will line up in their 3-3-5 defense but we can also observe that they like to stand up their defensive linemen when the opposing offense switches into the spread. Standing up at the line of scrimmage can give them the ability to see into the backfield better and be able to read where the ball is going. However, this makes it easier for a skilled offensive lineman to get under their pads and drive them off of the line of scrimmage. 

The defensive line is more likely to clog up holes than make tackles. Their jobs rely more on slowing down the running backs and allowing for the athletic linebackers to come in and make the tackles. The defensive line will see two of its three starters return in this opening contest. Senior nose guard #93 Kyle Rose will be the anchor as the only senior on the line. Rose totaled for 35 tackles last season after starting every game for West Virginia.

Once sophomore running back Matt Breida clears the defensive line, his next concern will be the linebackers. With the way their defense is arranged, the linebackers are meant to be the powerhouses of the defense and make big plays. Most notable among these linebackers is redshirt senior #35 Nick Kwiatkoski, who led the team last season with 103 tackles and 11.5 tackles for loss. Kwiatkoski, who started every game last season, will be assisted by two other seniors at linebacker who combined for 45 tackles.

In order to free up the ground game, Upshaw will have to take to the air and spread out the West Virginia defense. However, this may be a tall order against their secondary. The entire West Virginia defensive backfield consists of last season’s starters and they are the stronger side of the defense. Two of the best players on the defense are senior safety Karl Joseph and junior cornerback Daryl Worley. Joseph was a hard hitting safety that was second on the team with 92 tackles and led the team with three forced fumbles. Worley is a very athletic corner who make great open field tackles and still defend the pass. Worley compiled 52 tackles last season, including 4.5 tackles for loss and three interceptions.

The Mountaineers undoubtedly plan to start their season with a win over a team they know little about. However, I do believe the Eagles have them worried after their rushing performance last season and their Sun Belt record. West Virginia is a traditional FBS program that does not expect to lose to a newer FBS school and a win would be a devastating blow to their psyche. Moreover, a win for the Eagles could be one of the biggest wins in Georgia Southern history.

While the Eagles have played in numerous national championships, several nail-biting playoff games, and most recently a win over the University of Florida this win would be big in cementing their status in college football. The Gators offered up several reasons why they were not at their best or giving full effort in the 2013 matchup and they entirely overlooked the Eagles. This weekend will be different. West Virginia knows what they are heading into, and we will get their best shot. A win over West Virginia would show the college football world that the Georgia Southern Eagles are back for more in 2015.