Old rivalry, new stakes

Hayden Boudreaux

Coming off of its first Sun Belt win, the Georgia Southern football team will take on hated rival Appalachian State tonight at Paulson Stadium on ESPNU for the top spot in the Sun Belt.

No Film

The Mountaineers are in town after a close game with Southern Miss, not unlike the Eagles against Georgia Tech. Down at halftime, App State battled back and scored a touchdown with six seconds left in the game to make the score 21-20. The extra point was blocked and Southern Miss handed them their second loss of the season.

Southern Miss was the first good chance for the coaching staff and team to get a look at Appalachian State. In their first game, they were blown out by Michigan 52-14. A Savannah State-esque route of Campbell University, 66-0, followed the loss in Ann Arbor.

With only about five quarters of quality game tape to examine, the Eagles will have to be prepared to deal with App State’s rushing attack led by sophomore running back Marcus Cox and freshman Terrence Upshaw. The duo has combined for 463 yards and five touchdowns. In their match up with the Eagles last season, Cox went for 103 yards and one score on the ground in the 38-14 victory.

QB Taylor Lamb

Freshman quarterback Taylor Lamb has been taking the bulk of the snaps for the Mountaineers. The young gun started against Southern Miss, and has thrown for 427 yards with a 65.6 completion percentage and three touchdowns. He likes to throw medium range passes around 8-12 yards downfield and give his receivers a chance to make someone miss and pick up more yards after the catch.

While Lamb is the expected starter he won the job over returning starting quarterback junior Kameron Bryant just last week. A report said that Lamb had been working harder in practice and performed well in the first two games of the season to surpass the veteran. Bryant will likely see time tonight especially after throwing for 381 yards and two touchdowns last season against the Eagles.

DB Doug Middleton

Thus far, App State has relied on the play from junior defensive back Doug Middleton, who leads the team with 21 tackles, to eliminate the passing game. Tonight the Mountaineers will turn to sophomore middle linebacker John Law to slow down the Eagle running attack.The 235-pound linebacker has 18 total tackles on the season with one sack. The defense as a whole is comparable to the Georgia Southern defense, with their biggest weakness lying in the mid range passing game.

RB Matthew Brieda

The Eagles will look for sophomore running back Matthew Brieda to have another huge game after rushing for 184 yards last week. He has also scored a 60+ yard touchdown in the first quarter of three games this season and is averaging 8.9 yards per carry. Aside from leading the Sun Belt in yards rushing (445) and touchdowns (7) he also ranks 13th in all of the FBS in yards and 3rd in touchdowns.

While Brieda’s rushing attack will stabalize the offense tonight the key player to watch on the offense for the Eagles is sophomore quarterback Kevin Ellison. Ellison ranks third in the Sun Belt for rushing yards (327) and has passed for 500 yards on the season and three touchdowns. At the helm of the spread option offense Ellison will need to keep the Mountaineer defense off balance to give Brieda room to run.

Eagle defense

Many attributed the win last week to the Eagle defense. Without a doubt the fourth quarter showed how well our defense can play under pressure. After the scrutiny following the 99-yard drive against N.C. State and allowing Georgia Tech the comeback late in the fourth quarter, holding South Alabama to one score was a big confidence boost for the team. Senior linebacker Edwin Jackson will have to be prepared to help hold the defense against the versatile Mountaineer attack.

The struggle for the defense will remain defending the medium range passes. The Mountaineers torched the Eagles through the air last season, and will attempt to do the same tonight. Pressure from sophomore defensive lineman Jay Ellison will be required to put the freshman quarterback out of his comfort zone. Ellison piled up six tackles last week including a sack, and nearly blocked a punt against the Jaguars.

One game at a time

The Eagles are currently ranked number one in the FBS for rushing offense, and they will likely stick to that same game plan. Ellison and Brieda will see most of the action at quarterback and running back tonight, but keep an eye out for redshirt freshman running back L.A. Ramsby and sophomore quarterback Favian Upshaw to stir the pot on offense.

App State will be hunting for a win not only for bragging rights, but to give them confidence heading into the season. A win for the Eagles would move them to 2-0 in the Sun Belt, and one step closer to the conference championship crown, not to mention the win would give them a winning record. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Paulson Stadium and also on ESPNU.