The Georgia Southern football team will be taking on New Mexico State for their homecoming game on Saturday. Ahead of the match, James Martin, the sports editor of The Round Up, gave his thoughts on the upcoming showdown.
So it’s obvious the Aggies have struggled this season when it comes to getting a W. What do you contribute to this streak, and what do you think needs to be fixed to get back on track?
It almost feels like the team is snakebitten at this point, but not much can be going right across the board for any team that starts a season 0-7. This can be summed up in NM State not being able to put a complete game together. There have been flashes on both sides of the ball this season, but when one group performs, there seems to be a letdown everywhere else. Their inability to play complimentary football through the opening months of the season has taken the Aggies out of games that they should be competitive in and led to costly mistakes in the ones that come down to a couple of plays.
There’s room for improvement in all phases of the game, but I think the bye week was a necessary break for the team to clear their heads as they approach a more favorable schedule down the stretch of the season.
While NMSU’s record reflects a struggle, their statistics don’t seem to line up with the losses. The Aggies’ quarterback, Josh Adkins, seems to be doing well as he’s rushed for four touchdowns and thrown for nine despite being winless. Why do you think the Aggies haven’t come into a win yet with the numbers they are putting up?
Head coach Doug Martin has harped on it all season, and with good reason; NM State just hasn't gotten out of their own way with turning the ball over. The Aggies have five three-plus turnover outings and 19 total turnovers on the season — trailing only Hawaii in the FBS — practically derailing any production that’s put the team in a position to win. Until they do start taking care of the ball, it’s hard to imagine a turnaround in the back half of the season.
With the current record, what are the expectations of the Aggies for the rest of the season?
NM State needs a hard reset, but that's what bye weeks are for right? It’s unlikely the team pulls a complete 180 and runs the table to a near .500 season, but they have a couple of their best opportunities to win games coming up in November, so the Aggies aren't absolutely doomed to their first winless season since 2005. Ensuring that and showing signs of life as they build toward the future should be the primary focus.
What is one specific weakness you’re worried about on the field while encountering the Eagles?
With Georgia Southern’s potent ground game, run defense is definitely a cause for concern heading into Saturday's matchup. NM State allows over 243 rushing yards per game, the third worst mark in the nation, and if the Aggie offense doesn't take care of the ball and sustain drives to give the defense a break, it could be a potential field day for the Eagles rushing attack.
What is your final game prediction?
I think better football is ahead for NM State after their first bye of the season, but it’s hard to envision an immediate flip of the switch severe enough to result in the team’s first win. GS looks to be getting back in the Sun Belt race, and this should be a good game to propel them forward in that quest.
Georgia Southern 34, New Mexico State 17.
Kickoff for the match up is slated for 3 p.m. in Paulson Stadium.
Kaitlin Sells, The George-Anne Managing Sports Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org