Eagle Extra

Nathan Deen is a sports writer for Savannah Morning News covering Georgia Southern athletics. His blog, Eagle Extra, will include news and analysis on Georgia Southern athletics.

 
Posted October 3, 2017 12:33 pm

What to watch for: Arkansas State at Georgia Southern

STATESBORO – Georgia Southern’s first three games of the 2017 season have hardly been decided in the fourth quarter.

In the Eagles’ last two contests, against Indiana and New Hampshire, the game had already been decided at halftime.

New Hampshire, an FCS program, jumped ahead 22-0 against GS on Sept. 9 in Birmingham, Alabama but the Eagles were never really in what finished as a 22-12 loss. Indiana used a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown to race to a 31-0 advantage and eventually a 52-17 rout.

Georgia Southern head coach Tyson Summers pointed to early mistakes in both games, which set the tone the rest of the way.

Against the Wildcats, the Eagles were knocking on the door of New Hampshire’s red zone before Shai Werts lost a fumble on a bad pitch. The Wildcats went the other way and scored the game’s opening touchdown.

Against the Hoosiers, the Eagles started with three straight three-and-outs before Indiana’s punt return put it up 14-0.

During his weekly session on the Sun Belt media teleconference, Summers said that trend has to change Wednesday, when the Eagles host Arkansas State in their conference opener.

“We’re making mistakes, particularly early on in ball games that are hurting us and not giving us the opportunity to have some success out of the gate. We’ve always stressed winning the second half, winning the fourth quarter, those things, but for us right now, it’s a big emphasis on winning the first quarter.”

Red Wolves quarterback battling injury

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Monday that Arkansas State (1-2) starting quarterback Justice Hansen is battling a lower-back strain he suffered Sept. 23 in a 44-21 loss to Southern Methodist.

But Red Wolves head coach Blake Anderson said during Monday’s Sun Belt media teleconference he’s been pleased with Hansen’s progress, and the few extra days off afforded by the Wednesday game has given Hansen a chance of starting against the Eagles.

“He went through the entire practice yesterday and felt pretty good,” Anderson said. “I only held him out of a few throws, but honestly, he threw most of the practice and moved around. Not that he felt great, there’s still some soreness, but he did manage to practice and not make it any worse. We’re prepared to play with him, we’re prepared to play without him. Assuming there are no setbacks, I would say he’s ready to go.”

The redshirt senior, who helmed last year’s come-from-behind 27-26 win against the Eagles in Jonesboro, Arkansas, has been the key cog in the Red Wolves’ offense, throwing for 985 yards and 10 touchdowns and completing almost 69 percent of his passes through three games.”

Screen time

If Hansen plays Wednesday, Summers said he expects to see Arkansas State utilize it’s screen game. The Red Wolves are averaging 7.3 yards per pass completion and have five receivers with 13 or more receptions this season. Much of that is a result of how the Red Wolves distribute the ball through their screen game, Summers said.

“It’s not as much about as many catches as they have, in my opinion, as how many yards they’ve got with those catches,” he said.

“That’s kind of their version to be able to run inside zone, the gap schemes up front with what they have in being able to run bubble screens on the exterior and throw vertical routes off that at the same time. A lot of perimeter screens, a lot of screens-and-goes. They make you tackle in space, which has to be a focal point for us this week.”

Bradley’s return

Georgia Southern linebacker Todd Bradley suffered ACL tear against the Red Wolves in 2016, ending his freshman season. Bradley has come back as a sophomore as the Eagles’ starting middle linebacker. So far this season, he’s register 17 tackles, including 3.5 tackles for a loss and a sack.