Morgan State @ Georgia Southern Preview
On September 3, 2022 with kickoff scheduled for 6:02 PM, the Bears of Morgan State University will take on the Eagles of Georgia Southern University. The game will take place at Allen E. Paulson Stadium in Statesboro, Georgia. It will be the first game for each head coach at their new institutions.
City: Baltimore, Maryland
Coach: Damon Wilson (0-0, 1st Year)
Stadium: Hughes Stadium
Coach Damon Wilson comes to Morgan State after serving as the head coach at Bowie State since 2009. He compiled an overall record of 89-45 (62-21 CIAA) during his tenure. Under Wilson, the Bulldogs made the NCAA Division II Playoffs five times including a quarterfinal appearance in 2021.
In 2021, the Morgan State Bears finished with an overall record of 2-9 (1-4 MEAC). The Bears offense was anemic in 2021, but last years leading rusher, Alfonzo Graham, who compiled 506 yards and 5 TDs on only 54 attempts is returning for his senior season. The most likely starting quarterback for the Bears is 6'1", 180 pound sophomore Duce Taylor who completed 21 out of 47 passes as a freshman last year.
The defense for the Bears gave up over 435 yards per game to their opponents including 262 through the air and 175 on the ground. The leading tackler, Lawrence Richardson, who finished the 2021 campaign with 68 total tackles will return at linebacker for the Bears. With Coach Wilson's track record, look for the Bears to be much improved and dynamic on the field this season.
The specialist group at Morgan State will feature some new faces as QB Neil Boudreau, who served as the punter in 2021, has maxed out his eligibility. The kicker from last season, Kluivert Akubuo, is not on the 2022 roster. Special teams was not the strong suit of the Bears in 2021, so I am sure the coaching staff has spent plenty of time improving this group over the offseason.
City: Statesboro, Georgia
Coach: Clay Helton (0-0, 1st Year)
Conference: Sun Belt
Stadium: Allen E. Paulson Stadium
Coach Clay Helton comes to Georgia Southern after serving as the head coach at the University of Southern California (USC) since 2015. Helton compiled a 46-24 (36-13 Pac-12) record and won three Pac-12 South titles and one Pac-12 Championship in 2017. He has been the head coach for five bowl game appearances including a Rose Bowl Championship in 2016.
Georgia Southern finished 2021 with a 3-9 (2-6 SBC) record while averaging less than 21 points per game. The Eagles averaged only 340 yards of total offense per game including just over 193 yards on the ground and 147 yards through the air. The offense will return plenty of experience on the line as well as three of their four leading rushers - Gerald Green, Jalen White, and Amare Jones. Eagle faithful are putting a lot of their hopes on the shoulders of transfer QB Kyle Vantrease (Buffalo) and transfer WR Jeremy Singleton (Houston). The new look offense will likely throw the ball around the field a lot more than fans are used to, but it will make for an exciting time for Eagle Nation as the team continues transitioning into more modern football.
In 2021, the Eagles defense surrendered over 31 points per game. With new defensive coordinator Will Harris at the helm, look for that to change. Todd Bradley-Glenn and Derrick Canteen are returning to the lineup after season ending injuries last season. Those two will provide plenty of leadership and skill on the defensive side of the ball. The leading tackler from 2021, Anthony Wilson, is back in 2022 and looks to continue being a star for the Eagles. In addition to returning players, the coaching staff took advantage of a crowded transfer portal and brought in some great players including DL Kristian Varner (UNC), DB Jalen Denton (Ole Miss), DB Wylan Free (Fresno State), and DB Mari Wingard (Elon). Look for the Eagles to be much improved this season on the defensive side of the ball - especially if they can stay healthy.
For the specialist group, the Eagles return all of their starters including P Anthony Beck II, K Alex Raynor, K Britton Williams, and return man WR Khaleb Hood. Last season, Anthony Beck punted the ball 64 times with an average of 45 yards per punt. The kicking duties were split with Raynor serving primarily as the field goal kicker and Williams as the kickoff specialist. Raynor was 9-14 last season on field goals and Williams was 4-4. The Eagles did bring in Minnesota transfer Michael Lantz, so look for him to push for the starting kicker position. Hood will likely serve as the punt and kickoff return man again this season and he is electric with the ball in his hands.
The Georgia Southern Eagles will overwhelm the Morgan State Bears with size, speed, and physicality. The game will be within a couple scores at halftime, but will get out of hand late. Look for Kyle Vantrease to spread the ball around to plenty of receivers and running backs and let them do the work.
Bears - 13
Eagles - 48
Written by: Logan Colburn