After an impressive win last week against App State, the Georgia Southern football team will square off against the New Mexico State Aggies for the chance to stay on top of the Sun Belt.
New Mexico State pulled off a late Sun Belt win in week two against Georgia State to improve their record to 2-0. Since then, the Aggies have been on a three-game slide with losses to UTEP, New Mexico, and a blowout at the hand of LSU last week.
QB Tyler Rogers
Despite recent performance, the Aggies are definitely a team that could upset the Eagles. Sophomore quarterback Tyler Rogers currently ranks third in the Sun Belt in passing yards and is averaging 10.4 yards per completion. He does struggle with accuracy; he has thrown eight interceptions compared to his nine touchdowns with a 58.7% completion percentage.
WR Teidrick Morgan
Aggie redshirt sophomore receiver Teldrick Morgan will be a headache for the Eagle defense. Morgan leads the conference with over 500 receiving yards and four touchdowns. More troublesome is his average of 14.2 yards per catch, which falls in the mid-range pass level the Eagles have struggled defending against all season.
Aggie Run Game
The Aggie run game has been shuffled between three runners, each having at least 40 carries this season. Freshman Larry Rose III has carried the ball 60 times this season for 269 yards and one touchdown. Sophomore Xavier Hall has 50 carries for only 179 yards but three touchdowns. None of the running backs exceed 185 lbs and while they don’t shy away from contact they are not hard, down-hill runners.
New Mexico State’s defense has had trouble dealing with the run. They allow an average of 6.2 yards per rush against them and over 300 yards per game. Sophomore linebacker Rodney Butler has been one of their standouts, totaling 52 tackles this season and one of the team’s six interceptions that he returned 40 yards for a touchdown. Freshman linebacker Derek Ibekwe also has 52 total tackles including 2 tackles for loss. Both of the starters lack size and strength but are quick, which could limit the Eagle spread option attack.
The Eagle offense will be expected to retain their top spot in the FBS for rushing yards on the legs of sophomore quarterback Kevin Ellison and running back Matt Brieda. The duo has combined for nearly 1100 yards rushing on the season and Brieda is tied for fourth in the FBS for rushing touchdowns with eight. The Eagle rushing attack will again be prominent against a weak rush defense at New Mexico State but the passing game will still be present.
Both quarterbacks will likely see time this week as sophomore Favian Upshaw stepped into the App State game for a hurt Ellison. Upshaw has played a 61% completion percentage and has rushed for 133 yards on 16 carries.
To combat the mid-range passing attack the Eagles will look for sophomore defensive lineman Jay Ellison and redshirt freshman Ryan George to keep the Aggie quarterback hurried. George currently leads the Sun Belt with 3.5 sacks but Ellison is not far behind with two of his own.
The defensive secondary for Georgia Southern will have to improve upon last week’s performance to keep Rogers from connecting on his ten yard passes. Senior cornerback Nick Wright had a crucial interception on the goal line against the Mountaineers and has totaled four pass deflections this season. Wright and junior safety Antonio Glover will see a lot of action and will have plenty of opportunities to make big plays.
Junior linebacker Antwione Williams and senior linebacker Edwin Jackson will be expected to keep flying around and making tackles in the run and pass game. Both linebackers lead the team with 31 total tackles.
It will be a long flight as the Eagles travel over 1600 miles to Las Cruces, NM. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3 and begin at 6 p.m. in New Mexico and 8 p.m. local time.