Four Takeaways From the Georgia Southern Win Over Savannah State

STATESBORO, GA - SEPTEMBER 3: Players from the Georgia Southern Eagles sing the alma mater after deating the Savannah State Tigers 54-0 on September 3, 2016 at Paulson Stadium in Statesboro, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Bennett/Getty Images)

Given the history between Georgia Southern and Savannah State, and the quality coming out of the Eagles’ organization in recent times, the 54-0 scoreline wasn’t entirley shocking.

But with a new head coach in Statesboro, Tyson Summers, and it being the season opener when anything can happen, it was a still a game many fans had on their radar. Would Georgia Stouthern still run the ball efficiently? What will the passing game look like? How tough is this defense?

Four Takeaways From the Georgia Southern Win Over Savannah State

1. The running game isn’t going anywhere except forward

We all know fans love to watch the Eagles’ running game, so a 420-yard and six-touchdown performance must have pleased. Demarcus Godfrey led the effort with 124 yards—it was the biggest worklaod he’s faced in his time at Georgia Southern.

Also chipping in on the lopsidded win were Wesley Fields, who added 88 yards with one touchdown; Matt Breida had 68 yards with one touchdown; Favian Upshaw had 60 yards with two touchdowns; and Kevin Ellison had 57 yards with one touchdown.

2. Ellison and Upshaw have improved as passers

Last season, Ellison an Upshaw were both unreliable when they had to throw the ball while trailing. In fact, their struggles kept the team from coming back in two big losses last year. Clearly the passing game was a point of emphasis for improvement in the offseason.

With new offensive coordinators Rance Gillespie and David Dean we knew the passing game would improve, but it wasn’t quite clear how much. Ellison and Upshaw made good on their end on Saturday night. Upshaw went 7-of-10 for 115 yards, two touchdowns to one interception. Ellison was a perfect 5-of-5 for 70 yards.

While 12-of-15 for 185 yards with two touchdowns may seem only a shade better than pedestrian to many teams, add Georgia Southern’s running game to the mix and it’s easy to see that perhaps that is all they’ll need out of their passing game. If they can put up similar stats against more formidable competition, we may see Georgia Southern run away with the conference title.

3. The defense can still dominate

The Eagles have six returning starters in the front-seven. Plus, former Florida State linebacker Ukeme Eligwe is now eligible to play after sitting out last year because of NCAA transfer rules and 2014 with an injury.

Eligwe had one sack and 1.5 tackles for a loss, for a combined 21 yards. Tre Griffin, Nardo Govan and Darius Sapp each had one sack.

The defense held Savannah State to only 114 total yards, 80 passing and 34 rushing.

4. Tyson Summers will suspend players

Ken Butler Jr., Bernard Dawson, Ryan George, Jessie Liprot, Christian Matthew, L.A. Ramsby and Chaz Thornton were all suspended against Savannah State for violations of team rules.

A mass suspension of seven players before the first game of the season should send a clear message to players—especially considering Dawson, George and Ramsby were three of the players suspended. They each have significant experience.

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