NCAA Thursday Night Football: Georgia Southern/South Alabama Preview

by Big Al Staff

The Thursday night game on ESPN features another clash of Sun Belt Conference rivals this week.

South Alabama has won two games in a row after their 38-14 win at home over UL-Monroe last Saturday as a 14-point favorite. The victory raised the Jaguars record to 3-2 with a 2-0 mark in conference play, which puts them alone in first place in the Sun Belt Conference West Division.

This group is most likely the best team head coach Steve Campbell has had at South Alabama in his three years with the program. Fifteen starters returned from last year’s 2-10 team that endured a handful of frustrating losses. Campbell bolstered the depth of his roster with eight junior college transfers. The Jaguars have a win at Southern Miss in non-conference play, with their two losses being to Tulane and UAB.

South Alabama averages 26.8 points per game along with 412.0 yards per game under quarterback Desmond Trotter. The sophomore is not 100%, with a shoulder injury that kept him out of one game. He is completing 66.7% of his passes for 744 yards with six touchdown passes and two interceptions. He is averaging 10.8 yards per attempt, which are fifth-best in the nation. Former junior college All-American Chance Loveritch has played in all five of the Jaguars games, where he has passed for 607 yards while completing 56.4% of his passes. Wide receiver Kawaan Baker has 27 receptions for 443 yards, which are fourth-most in the Sun Belt Conference. Jalen Tolbert has 26 catches for 486 yards, with his 18.7 yards per catch average ranking second in the conference. Running back Carlos Davis has added 443 rushing yards on 97 carries.

Georgia Southern saw their record drop to a 3-2 mark after their 28-14 loss at Coastal Carolina last Saturday. The defeat dropped the Eagles to a 1-2 record in conference play, which ties them with Georgia State for the basement in the East Division. Both of Georgia Southern’s losses were against UL-Lafayette and the Chanticleers, who were nationally-ranked at the time of the game.

The Eagles returned 14 starters from the team last year that was 7-6 after a 23-16 loss to Liberty in their bowl game. Quarterback Shai Werts is a four-year starting quarterback who has rushed has rushed for 333 yards with two touchdowns in leading the option rushing attack of Georgia Southern. The Eagles rank 13th in the nation by averaging 248.8 rushing yards per game with their 5.46 yards-per-carry average, also ranking 13th. J.D. King has 490 rushing yards on 87 carries, and Wesley Kennedy III has rushed the ball 31 times for 206 yards. Kennedy’s 6.7 yards-per-carry average is third-best in the conference.

Warts has 3273 passing yards in his career, but he is completing only 52.6% of his passes this season. The Eagles are holding their opponents to 20.8 points per game along with 361.2 yards per game. Yet keep in mind that in Georgia Southern’s shutout victory over a UMass team that might be the worst in the FBS, they held the Mountaineers to just 191 total yards and only 3.6 yards per play.

Georgia Southern is a 4-point favorite at BetAnySports with the total set at 51. The ESPN broadcast begins at 7:30 PM ET.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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