Jacks to face GSU Eagles

Travis Kriens

Travis Kriens

SDSU will try and get to the .500 mark this Saturday as they travel down to Statesboro, Ga., to play six-time FCS (formally Division I-AA) national champion Georgia Southern Eagles (3-1).

The Jacks have played the Eagles two previous times, in 2004 and 2005. In 2004, GSU won 63-7 and in 2005 the Eagles pulled out a 55-42 victory at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.

Georgia Southern is one of the most storied programs in FCS history. GSU’s run of six consecutive Southern Conference titles, from 1997 to 2002, was one of the greatest such streaks in NCAA FCS history. In fact, only Northern Iowa had more success, winning the Gateway Conference seven straight times from 1990-1996.

Since 1999, Georgia Southern is second to Montana for FCS wins with 76. They are also 145-23 at Allen E. Paulson Stadium, dating back to 1984.

The Eagles had a disappointing season last year, finishing 3-8, their worst record since 1941. Chris Hatcher was hired as the new head coach in January. Hatcher was 76-12 at Valdosta State, winning the Division II national championship in 2004. Hatcher served one year as quarterbacks and tight ends coach at Central Florida, where he worked with Dante Culpepper. He then was an assistant at Kentucky for three years and helped quarterback Tim Couch become the number one overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft.

To say that Georgia Southern’s offense focuses on the run is an understatement. The Eagles have out-rushed their opponents in 126 of the last 136 games over the past 10 seasons and have led all Division I teams in rushing five of the last six years. Their 390 rushing yards per game leads all D-I schools with the closest team, Navy, 50 yards behind.

GSU is led by multi-talented senior quarterback Jayson Foster. Foster leads the nation with 197.5 rushing yards per game and is responsible for 61 percent of the team’s total offense. Last season, Foster was the Eagles leading receiver with 33 catches for 368 yards and a school record 85-yard touchdown reception.

There is more to the rushing attack then just Foster. Senior running back Lamar Lewis, a former Florida State transfer, is averaging over 10 yards a carry and has tallied 354 rushing yards in just three starts. The GSU offense has yet to be held under 245 yards rushing, 395 yards of total offense or 38 points this season.

The Eagles’ defense has struggled a bit this season, allowing 30 points and 350 yards per game. However, they have been able to force 10 turnovers in their first four games.

Special teams is an area that GSU excelled in. Junior wide receiver Raja Andrews has only four punt returns this season but is averaging 28 yards a return with one touchdown.

Even though they have struggled the last couple of years, they are still tough to beat, especially at home. GSU can score quickly even though they are a running team, yet they can control the time of possession by grinding it out and keeping the SDSU offense on the bench.

For the Jacks to be successful, their offense has to keep up with the high scoring Eagles and find some way to contain Foster. Foster will get his yards, but SDSU has to try and limit the number of opportunities that he gets by. Controlling the ball is a must to try and keep Foster on the sidelines as much as possible.

SDSU has had trouble bouncing back after the Hobo Day in the past, going only 3-7 in the game following homecoming the last 10 years. The Eagles have looked like they have turned it around so far this season, so this is expected to be a tough game for SDSU.