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Eagles Host Herd with Bowl Eligibility in Sights

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

Marshall (-3.5) @ Georgia Southern O/U 53 (per SportsChatPlace)

Founded: 1837

City: Huntington, West Virginia

Enrollment: 11,926

Coach: Charles Huff (10-8, 2nd Year)

Mascot: Thundering Herd

Stadium: Joan C. Edwards Stadium

Capacity: 38,227

Marshall, a Sun Belt Conference newcomer, got off to a hot start wins over FCS Norfolk State and a huge upset win over Notre Dame in South Bend Indiana. After that, it has not been all sunshine and rainbows. The team has been up and down with losses to Bowling Green, Troy, Louisiana, JMU, and Coastal Carolina and wins over Gardner-Webb, Old Dominion, and Appalachian to go along with the two wins to start the season. The Thundering Herd comes to Statesboro, Georgia with bowl eligibility locked up.

Offensively, the Thundering Herd rank 11th in the Sun Belt Conference with just 23.9 points per game. Against a Georgia Southern defense that is ranked dead last in the conference, look for Marshall to put up more points than that. The offense is run-heavy and led by RB Khalan Laborn who has 1,253 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns on the season. Georgia Southern's rush defense has been nearly nonexistent, so look for Laborn to get the ball early and often. The passing game has not been a strong point for Marshall. They have played two quarterbacks: Cam Fancher and Henry Colomib who have combined for under 2,000 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions. Expect the Georgia Southern Eagles to load the box and sell out on stopping the run to force the quarterbacks to make plays.

Defensively, Marshall is the number one defense in the Sun Belt Conference and one of the best units in the country as far as scoring is concerned. The Herd give up just 16.1 points per game. LB Eli Neal leads the team with just under 70 tackles. DL Owen Porter has 7.5 sacks on the season and the teams has combined for 28 sacks, so the offensive line will need to be at the top of their game to protect QB Kyle Vantrease. DB Micah Abrahams leads the way with 5 of the Herd's 14 interceptions on the year. Vantrease has made some questionable decisions with pressure in his face, so getting to him will be of paramount importance to this unit.

In the special teams realm of the game, K Rece Verhoff is 12--17 with a long FG of just 40 yards on the season. P John McConnell has punted 54 times for an average of under 40 yards. The Herd's returners typically fair catch punts and rarely return kickoffs, but Georgia Southern has struggled in coverage the last couple games so that may be a change the staff looks to make.

Founded: 1906

City: Statesboro, Georgia

Enrollment: 27,000

Coach: Clay Helton (5-5, 1st Year)

Conference: Sun Belt

Mascot: Eagles

Stadium: Allen E. Paulson Stadium

Capacity: 25,000

Georgia Southern hosts Marshall for its first of two opportunities to gain eligibility at home in Clay Helton's first season at the helm. The season has been an absolute roller coast as far as performance goes. Offensively, the Eagles have been solid in most games. Defensively... Whew. The matchup with Marshall is an interesting one. Their offense is not very good, but their defense is great. The Eagles offense is great, but the defense is not good. Expect this game to be all over the map!

Offensively, the Eagles continue to throw the ball well and mix in runs when needed. The Thundering Herd have one of the best pass rushes in the conference, so Coach Richard Owens offensive line group will need to be at the top of their game to give QB Kyle Vantrease the ability to make plays. Unfortunately, the receiver core continues to get thinner and thinner due to injuries. Some of the young guys on the roster like WR Marcus Sanders Jr., WR Calen Dobb, and WR Joshua Thompson will play a vital role over these next two games. In the run game, the Eagles continue to pound the rock with RB Jalen White and WR Gerald Green who have combined for nearly 1,300 yards and 16 touchdowns on the season. Look for the offense to use some quick hitters to and draw plays to keep the pass rush honest and then take some over the top shots early in drives.

On the defensive side, this season has been a struggle. This week will present a large task as the offense for Marshall is extremely run heavy and the defensive unit is one of the worst in the country at stopping the run. LB Marques Watson-Trent and LB Khadry Jackson will need to make some huge plays to keep the Eagles in this thing. The defensive backfield will likely be used to load the box to stop the run and force the Marshall offense into making plays through the air. The key to winning this game for the Eagles is to stop the run and hold Marshall under 28 points.

In the special teams game, K Alex Raynor is 14-16 with a long of 45 yards on the season. P Anthony Beck II continues to impress as he makes his final push towards the NFL. He has punted 36 times with an average of nearly 45 yards with a total of 9 punts over 50 yards. Do not expect much in the return game for the Eagles as they fair catch most punts and make short returns in the kickoff return game. Georgia Southern has the better kicker and punter, but Marshall has the better return game. Consider it a wash.


Georgia Southern beats the visiting Thundering Herd to gain bowl eligibility in Clay Helton's first season at the helm.

Thundering Herd - 27

Eagles - 34

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@SSN_GASouthern | 11/17/2022

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