In the battle of the states instead of for the states like Hillary and the Donald, this one wasn’t about Blue and Red though GA State wore black trimmed in royal blue. No political jabs instead hard hits, deep passes, and a little trickery. Wait a minute; trickery is part of politics at least this year it is, in that race for the White House. If nothing else all would agree this is indeed the most entertaining presidential race in history.
The game started out like to heavy weight boxer feeling each other out neither team could do much about nothing in the first quarter. The first score came on a 38 yard field goal by GSU at the 12:36 mark in the second quarter. Arkansas returned the favor of a 30 yard field goal two minutes later. It was shaping up like a defensive struggle with see sawing up and down the field no big plays or major offensive entertainment.
Then just before half time a GSU 50 yard field goal attempt was blocked by Cody Brown and scooped up like a loaf of bread by Chris Humes who trotted 57 yards for a touchdown to give top ranked Arkansas State the lead and the momentum going into the dressing room with the lead 10-3. That was the beginning to the free fall of self-inflicted wounds. “On that one they whiffed on the block, they went out when they were supposed to punch in, and then go out the same one that everybody runs said Coach Miles.”
Starting QB Connor Manning returned but was beat up. He was as tough as nails played with all-out effort. He left it all on the field. After taking a couple of big hits he hugged the ground but found the guts and determination to get up. He threw the ball 46 times connected on 22 passes for 237 yards and one touchdown.
“I think our defense again rose to the occasion and played well allowing only 93 yards rushing but when you give up a blocked field goal to take the lead at the half for a touchdown, a bad snap on a punt that lead to a touchdown in our their territory. A blocked extra point we didn’t give ourselves a chance to win the football game because of our own miscues in the special teams.”
They had 5 sacks and allowed a total of 305 yards for the game. A solid performance considering they were playing the first place team Arkansas State. GSU leads the Sunbelt with 5 yards allowed per play. In the last six games they have reduced that to 4.7 yards. Currently they are ranked eighth in FBS pass efficiency for a defense and 13th in yards allowed (177.8) they also continued the steak of not allowing a first half touchdown in six of the last seven games. The outstanding defense has only allowed one touchdown in five of the last six games going into this one. And they have allowed any early touchdowns in five of the last six games that streak continued today.
ASU had their hands full with the GSU defense on drives throughout the game they could only muster 5 plays for 6 yards, 3 plays for minus 3 yards, 3 plays for 1 yard, 3 plays for 4 yards, 5 plays for 5 yards, and 5 plays for 9 yards. By all standards that’s lights out defense. But when you special teams give them the ball on the 19 yard line due to an errant snap and 5 plays later they score a touchdown to make the score 17-10 its heart breaking. It’s like pushing the car up hill. Shawanye Lawerence the 6’4 275 Lbs. senior defensive end from Eagle’s Landing High School from nearby McDonough, GA had 7 tackles along with his running mate Jerome Smith who had 7 solo tackles. This was one of those games as they say ‘the score 31-16 is not indicative of the quality of play.”
Robert Davis continues to close in on Albert Wilson’s GSU record of 3,190 yards today he caught 9 passes for 87 yards. His counterpart Todd Boyd came up with 7 catches for 87 yard to compliment. This was really a game of special teams doing well or doing bad. Blaise Taylor of Arkansas state to a punt back to the house for 68 yards the Tra Barnett returned the favor for the Panthers but his was a bit more spectacular going 90 yards to pay dirt.
GSU did some great things but the killer was special team’s breakdowns. Most of the time as a fan special teams are taken for granted just kick the ball off, punt it, for a change of possession but when they go wrong it all falls apart. You end up with bad field position, no extra points or field goals, blocked kicks and quick scores for the opponent. Simply put special teams are an underappreciated commodity. It’s like the kicker “who thinks of him until it’s for the game winner.”
Surely this week a there will be an emphasis on special teams as GSU prepares for Louisiana Lafayette next week at home, but when you are missing both of your long snappers what are your realistic expectations you can’t have end of year tryouts.