Georgia Southern survived a scare from Louisiana Monroe Saturday night. The Warhawks took an early 14-0 lead over the Eagles in the first quarter.
But from there, Georgia Southern scored 23 unanswered points to escape with a 23-21 victory. However, they needed a blocked field goal from R.J. Murray with 1:16 left to end Monroe’s chances of winning.
The passing offense and defense struggled much of the night. Favian Upshaw and Kevin Ellison both completed under 50 percent of their passes for only 71 yards. The defense allowed Garrett Smith to pass for 283 yards with two touchdowns.
The running game did pick up the slack. Both teams had six players record at least one carry. The Eagles six pilled up 345 yards, while the Warhawks six only had 67.
Here are the rankings for Georgia Southern’s performance against Louisiana Monroe.
Running Game: A+
While no individual rushed for 100 yards against the Warhawks, the option game was in full effect. The group combined for 345 yards on 71 carries.
L.A. Ramsby led the team with 14 carries for 86 yards, and Wesley Fields was right behind him with 13 carries for 84 yards; he also had one touchdown. Matt Breida added 73 yards and Upshaw had 55. Ellison had the other touchdown.
As ineffective as the passing game was this week, the Eagles needed every bit of their running game, and the stable of capable running backs did not let them down.
Passing Game: C-
After two weeks of the passing game being mildly effective, it completely dropped off against Louisiana Monroe.
Upshaw once again had the most attempts with 14, but he only completed four of them for 64 yards. Kevin Ellison went 1-of-3 with only seven yards. Overall, the duo went an unimpressive 5-of-17 with an equally unimpressive 71 yards.
At least neither quarterback threw any interceptions, which keeps the grade from being any worse.
Run Defense: A+
This Georgia Southern front seven is playing fantastic right now. They only allowed 73 yards last week, and this week they held six Louisiana Monroe rushers to only 67 yards.
The Warhawks are not a run first team, but if you force an offense to remain one dimensional, it becomes a lot easier to win ball games.
Pass Defense: B-
On their two scoring drives in the the first quarter, Smith had 105 passing yards with a touchdown to put the underdog Warhawks ahead 14-0. Their final scoring drive featured a 57-yard pass and 67 passing yards overall.
When Louisiana Monroe was scoring, Smith totaled 172 yards with two touchdowns. The rest of the time the Eagles defense stepped up and only allowed 109 passing yards with an interception.
The pass defense is the glaring issue right now, as they’ve allowed over 600 passing yards in the last two weeks. The Eagles secondary has a lot to work on before they begin playing more talented and formidable passing attacks.
The pass offense also needs to go back to the drawing board. Despite modest numbers in the first two weeks, Upshaw’s, and to an extent Ellison’s, arms were effective. Against Louisiana Monroe they were not; they will need more reliability from the passing game later this year.
When it comes to the run game, the Eagles are near perfect. They are gaining yardage while not allowing many on defense. But the run defense hasn’t been challenged by a balanced or run-first team yet.
That challenge this week will be when Georgia Southern travels to Kalamazoo to play Western Michigan.
The Broncos are 3-0, they are led by quarter back Zack Terrell, who is 50-of-71 passing with 623 yards and five touchdowns. Jamauri Bogan leads the rushing attack 63 carries for 423 yards, including 189 against Illinois last Saturday.
They have the balanced attack and the run defense to be the Eagles first major test of the 2016 season.