We breakdown the matchup between TXST and Ga. Southern

On a short week, Texas State travels to Georgia Southern for a Thursday night game to face the Eagles high-powered option rushing attack.

The Bobcats have a short week where they will be traveling to Georgia Southern for a Thursday evening game. Currently, the Eagles hold a 5-2 record overall and a 3-1 conference record. In conference play, they have scored 164 points (most in conference) while giving up 108 to the opposition.

Georgia Southern sports the top rushing attack in all of the FBS. They have accumulated over 2,500 yards and 31 touchdowns on the ground to this point on the season, averaging 368 yards on the ground per game and nearly seven yards per rush attempt. On the defensive side of the football, the Eagles are in the middle of the pack of the FBS in both total and scoring defense.

The Last Matchup

The game between Georgia Southern and Texas State in 2014 was a close one, with the Eagles leaving San Marcos with a 28-25 victory. The Bobcats finished strong by scoring 15 points in the fourth quarter, but it just wasn’t enough to get the win. Last year, running back Matt Breida and quarterback Kevin Ellison, both who return in 2015, combined for 182 yards rushing and two touchdowns. The Texas State offense was pass heavy in this loss, with Tyler Jones going 30 of 51 with 302 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.

Georgia Southern Head Coach – Willie Fritz

In 2014, Fritz was named Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year in his first year as the head man for the Eagles, and the program’s first season in FBS level competition. He led them to a perfect 8-0 conference record which won the Sun Belt. The team was unable to play in a bowl game because of the FBS transition despite their 9-3 record overall. For his career, Fritz has accumulated a record of 185-70-1.

Key Players

Junior Running back Matt Breida: This season, Breida has run for 953 yards on 99 total attempts and 11 touchdowns. He averages almost 10 yards per carry. In five of his seven games he has run for over 130 yards and scored at least one touchdown in each of those games. His best game came against Western Michigan in the second week of the season where he ran for 176 yards and four touchdowns. Last year, he ran for 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns. He is the lead man in the Eagles offense.

Junior Quarterback Kevin Ellison: Ellison missed the first two games of the season. As the conductor of the Eagle’s option offense, he has only thrown the ball 56 times in five games. He holds a 46.4% completion percentage with one touchdown to three interceptions through the air. On the ground, Ellison has run for 376 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 7.8 yards per carry.

Keys to the Game

The easy thing to say would be to stop the run, but I don’t believe this rushing attack can be stopped, so the key will be for the Bobcat defense to slow them down. To do this, they need to keep the Eagles behind the chains, making stops on first and second down to put them in to third and long situations. Putting the Eagles in these long situations might force them to attempt more passing attempts, which is where the pass rushers will have to take advantage and disrupt their timing and try to force a turnover. As Coach Franchione mentioned, this team is due for a turnover. If the defense can force a turnover or two, that would go a long way for the teams’ confidence and give the offense more opportunities to put points on the board. For the Bobcats to win, Tyler Jones will need a Southern Mississippi type performance, and the run game to be effective like the second half of last game. 

Game Information:

Thursday, October 29, 6:30 p.m. on ESPNU

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