The battle of GSUs

Hayden Boudreaux

After having a week to rest their legs, the Georgia Southern football team will take a short road trip to Atlanta to battle it out with the last place Georgia State Panthers in the Georgia Dome.

The Panthers started off the year with a win over FCS opponent Abilene Christian followed by a six game nosedive, most recently against South Alabama in a 30-27 thriller. Despite their unimpressive record, Georgia State has a passing game that has the potential to put points on the board against the Eagle defense.

At the heart of the Panther offense lies junior quarterback Nick Arbuckle. At the midseason mark he is the second leading passer in the conference with just over 2000 passing yards and 12 touchdowns with a 60.7 completion percentage. More concerning to the Eagles is his average of 15.9 yards per completion which falls right in the danger zone for the defense.

Another intimidating factor in the passing attack is the versatile Panther receivers. Four different players have over 300 yards receiving including three with over 400 yards and three touchdowns. Senior tight end Joel Ruiz could find a week spot in the middle of the field, and at 6’4″ and 240lbs he will be a big target for Arbuckle.

The weak spot for Georgia State has undoubtedly been their defense. Their opponents are averaging 40 points and 475 total yards per game. Junior linebacker Joseph Peterson has put together the most impressive resume on defense with 79 total tackles, including three sacks for one forced fumble and an interception. Leading the team by 30 tackles he has been the standout for the defense and will be their hope for slowing down the Eagle offense.

After the bye week sophomores Matt Brieda and Kevin Ellison still sit at the top two spots in rushing for the conference. The duo has combined for 1500 yards 15 touchdowns for number one rushing offense in the country. Redshirt freshman L.A. Ramsby has had two big games and five touchdowns to hang his hat on. Senior running back Ean Days has also been getting the mix with 200 total rushing yards and four touchdowns.

On defense the Eagles will have to face yet another strong passing team. They have struggled all year against the mid range passing attack and have had to rely on their pass rush to hurry opposing quarterbacks. Junior defensive end Antwione Williams and sophomore Jay Ellison each have two sacks to their name this season and will have plenty of opportunities to rack up more on Saturday.

In the defensive backfield the Eagles are missing a few wings due to suspensions but the secondary largely will remain the same as last week. Junior safety Matt Dobson is expected to play a huge role in covering the Panther tight end Ruiz on his deeper routes. Dobson had a huge interception two weeks ago against Idaho that helped drive the final nail in the coffin.

Heavily favored, the Eagles will still have to put together a solid effort to show the Sun Belt they are serious contenders. Georgia State has the potential to put a lot of points on the field but they also have a run defense that the Georgia Southern backfield could have a lot of fun running around.

The fifth Sun Belt contest for the Eagles is set to take place in Atlanta in the Georgia Dome at 2 p.m. on Saturday.