The THERSday After – Georgia Southern

Free for all readers this week, here is our in-depth look at what happened when Georgia State went down to Statesboro and defeated Georgia Southern at Allen E Paulson Stadium on Saturday evening. 

GS’s Justin Tomlin gets taken down in the final seconds of Saturday’s 21-14 rivalry win over Georgia Southern. Photo: Jordan Crawford for

1st Quarter Observations

  • The Eagles’ plan of attack for the afternoon was to find weaknesses in the Panthers secondary and get Georgia State to overcommit on play action. 
  • Georgia State ran a combination of their normal screen game with option looks using Sam Pinckney as the pitch man and the receiver of the screen pass. Sam Pinckney finished the first quarter with 3 catches for 23 yards and added a 12-yard rush as well. 
  • This wrinkle kept Southern off-balance and forced them to spread their defense out more than they would have liked to. 
  • Soft coverage on Amare Jones led to a big 2nd-down conversion for the Eagles. QB Justin Tomlin was untouched for most of the quarter and had time to let plays develop. 
  • A crossing route later in the quarter also led to a big catch for Jones. Tomlin running option plays on 1st and 2nd down led to the Panthers biting hard on the play action. 
  • On the Blake Carroll interception, Tomlin holds the ball too long into the RB and stares down Khaleb Hood, allowing safety Ant Lane to stick a hand in there and pop the ball up to Carroll.
  • Missed communication from Georgia State would cause them to waste the extra possession, but the Eagles did a good job of not letting the Panthers OL get the same level of push they normally do. 
  • Southern took advantage of the Panthers’ inability to stay back on play action. A 39-yard gain to Logan Wright set up the Eagles 1st-and-goal. Jaylon Jones went to set the edge with three Panthers in front of him and Wright slipped right behind him. Jones’ closing speed ended up saving a TD and would also save another touchdown later on the drive. 
  • On the Eagles’ 4th-and-goal play from the 1-yard-line, the Panthers just blew up the matchup of 1 v 1s. 

  • The Eagles did not gain an advantage as nine Panthers are over six blockers. Tomlin has nowhere to go as the pitch man (#4) is covered well and Javon Denis beats his assignment to secure the TFL. 

2nd Quarter Observations

  • The Panthers moved the ball to start the quarter, but a coverage sack kept them behind the sticks and the Panthers couldn’t recover on the drive.
  • Georgia State had seven missed tackles in the frame – three on the same play – and  they were very costly. 
  • The Eagles were content taking their usual slow and steady tempo, rarely snapping with more than 13 seconds on the play clock. By halftime, Georgia Southern held the football for 18:48 to the Panthers’ 11:12, and there wasn’t a large discrepancy in the number of plays ran – Georgia Southern only ran eight more plays than Georgia State. 
  • The Southern OL did a good job of protecting Tomlin. The 40-yard pass to Hood was just a case of great execution. State covered most of it well. Jones got beat by Hood but prevented a touchdown.
  • Beau Johnson’s touchdown on the next play was a great route concept. Eagles bluff the option left and pull the right guard. Johnson from the left side runs a shallow cross on the vacated field. 7-0 Eagles. 
  • The Panthers’ next possession had them try the screen game, but the Eagles were either on it or Grainger would overthrow his man.
  • Jamyest Williams’ rush up the middle helped get the Panthers into better field position, but on 3rd-and-2, Williams was used in the option and the Eagles timed their rush perfectly for a TFL. 
  • Poor clock management from GS led them to getting just past the 50 but doing nothing and running out the half.

3rd Quarter Observations

  • Three-and-out to start the second half. The Panthers were deliberate in spreading the ball around, but Grainger missed some throws. 
  • Logan Wright became impossible to tackle, breaking three tackles on a 37-yard rush. Panthers are normally very good at tackling, so the size of the Eagles’ RBs clearly was a problem. 
  • State’s defense bends but doesn’t break, getting their second interception of the day. Chris Moore puts his body where Tomlin tries to highpoint his receiver. Moore gets the turnover as Jacorey Crawford doesn’t allow the receiver to sync up the timing of the route. Panthers caught a break, as the Eagles had been driving.
  • Panthers would capitalize on this turnover. Grainger found holes in the defense and open receivers. The Eagles almost stopped the Panthers, but after a lengthy injury timeout to tend to Tyler Bride, the Panthers converted on 3rd down and kept the drive going. 
  • Grainger would pitch it to Robert Lewis for a 1st down and would a few plays later throw it to Roger Carter for a 29-yard gain that put the Panthers on the 2. Carter slipped out on a wheel route and Grainger put the ball right between Carter and the sideline. 
  • Gregg runs it in on the next play and the game is tied. 7-7.
  • Tomlin was still finding receivers and having success stepping up in the pocket. Eagles almost converted a 2nd-and-13, but the Panthers defense held strong despite the completions. 
  • The ensuing 4th-down pass attempt was broken up by Ant Lane, a second straight perfect read by the safety to prevent a completion. 
  • Grainger did not run much in the first half but attempted to create more space in the second. He didn’t have the best day on the ground, but it did change how the Eagles had to defend Georgia State.
  • Georgia State again can’t capitalize on good field position and a turnover. They scored once on three extra possessions up until this point. 

4th Quarter Observations

  • Bryquice Brown with a big hit to stop the Eagles’ momentum. 
  • Jam busts through the A-gap right up the middle and uses his speed to gain 29. 
  • Grainger hits Carter again going the other direction on a similar play out of a trips right set. Panthers normally run screens out of this, so the pump fake and wheel route caught the Eagles napping. 
  • A steady rushing diet between Grainger, Williams and Gregg gets Georgia State into goal-to-go distance and the Panthers punch it in. 14-7 GSU. 
  • Passing plays help the Panthers run the ball, and the running plays help the Panthers pass the ball. 
  • Panthers forced Tomlin to pass the ball and he couldn’t do it. 
  • Beck’s punt starts the Panthers on their own 9-yard line with an opportunity to salt the game away with 4:35 remaining. 
  • Panthers ensuing drive stalls after some dives and a blown-up screen. Southern covered the situation perfectly and forced the Panthers to punt. 
  • Michael Hayes’ punt out of his own end zone keeps the Eagles in Georgia State territory. Eagles have two timeouts and 42 yards to tie the game. 
  • Amare Jones gains 10 on a pass to the flat. Panthers playing the run and prevent on the back end and it costs them. 
  • Tomlin then rushes for 15 against the blitz. Tomlin’s cutback helps put the Eagles in the red zone. Panthers’ defense had been great all half and the Eagles were preying on a tired defense. 
  • Logan Wright breaks a few tackles and finds the end zone. Blake Carroll’s missed tackle was the Panthers 21st on the evening, and it was a costly one. 14-14 with 1:32 Remaining. 
  • In a rarity, Qua White returned a kickoff 24 yards to the Panthers’ 27. 
  • Williams and Grainger would find a way to get the go-ahead score. Southern got good pressure on drop backs, but Grainger was too fast and would get 34 yards on the drive on his legs. The Eagles vacated the middle of the field to prevent the deep sideline pass but forgot Grainger’s mobility. 
  • Williams with another untouched 20+ yard touchdown that would give the Panthers the lead again. 21-14.
  • Eagles needed to go 75 yards with 26 seconds remaining and couldn’t. Two 27-yard catches got the Eagles down to the Georgia State 21-yard line with two seconds left. 
  • Not known for a heavy blitzing defense, the Panthers brought eight and a host of Panthers brought Tomlin down. Ballgame.

Before and After

And finally, here’s a look at how Georgia State’s stats stacked up in the Sun Belt before and after the Georgia Southern win:

  • Scoring offense: 24.3 (8th in Sun Belt) > 23.9 (7th)
  • Rushing offense: 218.3 ypg (3rd) > 220.63 ypg (3rd) – up to 16th-best in FBS
  • Passing offense: 166.7 ypg (9th) > 163.5 ypg (9th)
  • Total offense: 386.4 ypg (6th) > 384.1 ypg (6th)
  • Scoring defense: 32.4 ppg (6th) > 30.1 ppg (6th)
  • Total defense: 413.6 ppg (6th) > 422.6 ppg (6th)
  • Rushing defense: 163.4 ypg (7th) > 169.5 ypg (7th)
  • Passing defense: 250.1 ypg (7th in Sun Belt) > 253.1 ypg (7th)
  • 3rd down conversion rate: 41% (3rd in Sun Belt) > 40% (3rd)
  • Opponents’ 3rd down conversion rate: 42% (8th in Sun Belt) > 42.98% (7th)
  • Sacks: 13 (8th in Sun Belt) > 15 (8th)
  • Sacks allowed: 13 (4th in Sun Belt) > 15 (4th)
  • Turnover margin: -2 (6th in Sun Belt) > 0 (T-6th)

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