CSJ 2020 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl Preview: Louisiana Tech vs. Georgia Southern
December 22, 2020
Louisiana Tech vs. Georgia Southern When: Wednesday, December 23rd, 3:00 PM EST Where: Mercedes-Benes Superdome, New Orleans, La. TV/Streaming: ESPN, WatchESPN
Louisiana Tech and Georgia Southern meet for the first time in their histories when the two schools face each other in New Orleans.
Louisiana Tech started its season well with a pair of wins over Southern Miss and Houston Baptist before losing 45-14 at BYU. After going 2-2 in the remainder of October — including a 37-34 double-overtime win over eventual Conference USA champion UAB. The Bulldogs then had to pause its season for more than a month due to COVID-related cancellations. Louisiana Tech returned from the delay with a win at North Texas but lost its season finale (which was a make-up game from September) at the Big 12’s TCU.
Georgia Southern also got off to a fast start in winning three of its first four contests. The Eagles had some tense moments as two of the wins and the lone loss came on the last minute at Louisiana. Georgia Southern had almost all of its games decided by single digits in both wins and losses. Aside from a 28-14 loss to Coastal Carolina, all four other losses came by single-digit margins while five of the Eagles’ seven wins have been by a touchdown or less.
This will be Georgia Southern’s fourth bowl game since moving up to the FBS and becoming bowl eligible in 2015. The Eagles are won two of the three with the loss coming last year in the Cure Bowl versus Liberty.
This is the 13th bowl game for Louisiana Tech in its history and this is the seventh year in a row that the Bulldogs will be playing in the postseason–all under Coach Skip Holtz. Overall, the Bulldogs have a 8-3-1 record all-time and under Holtz, La Tech has a perfect 6-0 record, including a win last year over Miami (FL) in the Independence Bowl.
Louisiana Tech is a perfect 9-0 all-time against the Sun Belt squads — with its last win back in 2018, a season-opening victory against South Alabama The Bulldogs also came away victorious in its only previous New Orleans Bowl appearance, a 47-28 win over Arkansas State in 2015.
Georgia Southern, meanwhile, will be making its first appearance in the New Orleans Bowl. The Eagles are 16-9 all-time against current members of Conference USA with all 25 games coming against C-USA East teams (Louisiana Tech is the C-USA West Division). The last game against a C-USA team was earlier this year versus Florida Atlantic–a 20-3 Eagles win.
The Eagles’ triple-option patented offense of course starts with their quarterback. Coming into this game though, we do not know who that will be. Starter Shai Werts, who leads the team with 649 rushing yards with eight rushing touchdowns, has missed the past two games with a shoulder injury.
Backup QB Justin Tomlin is not an option in this game as he has already undergone ankle surgery– injured in the Eagles’ last game against Appalachian State. Third-string quarterback Miller Mosley has been getting most of the reps in practice, but their is hope that Werts will be able to return as he has seen limited time in practice this past week.
The Eagles are fifth in the nation with 262.5 rushing yards per game and with some coming from the quarterback position but do rotate their running backs often behind the option signal caller. That rotation is a bit thin with J.D. King and Wesley Kennedy III out because of injury. The heavy load likely will go to second leading back, Logan Wright who has 565 yards and four touchdowns this season.
While the offense may be questionable with injuries, the Eagles defense has performed very well this season. Georgia Southern especially has done well in getting turnovers. The Eagles are tied for second in FBS with 22 takeaways and have Sun Belt-highs of eight fumbles recovered and 14 interceptions. With the turnovers and good play at stopping teams from scoring, the Eagles had the second best scoring defense in the SBC with its 22.2 points allowed per game.
Key Player: QB Miller Mosely
As mentioned above, the triple option offense starts with the quarterback play. We know how Werts has done for the Eagles but Mosely has had limited time with the Eagles. Mosley was a grad transfer from FCS Wofford and saw his first action in the Eagles last game against App State. He did play the entire second half of that game. He ran for 49 yards and threw for 122 yards and a touchdown in the game. To note, Wofford also runs the triple option game so it is not completely new to him but playing in an NFL stadium will be a new thing and will need to lean on the running backs behind him.
The Bulldogs bring an almost polar opposite offensive attack in comparison to Georgia Southern in liking to throw it more than running. But one thing common with the Eagles, the Bulldogs are also dealing with an injury to its top signal caller.
QB Luke Anthony, who led C-USA in touchdown passes with 16 suffered a compound fracture of right tibia and fibula in the late in the loss to TCU and of course, will not be able to go in this game. Aaron Allen will be the starter for the Bulldogs in his place after he shared time with Anthony this year but was inconsistent.
Also, Allen will be without the Bulldogs leading WR Adrian Hardy, who decided to forgo this game and starting preparing for the 2021 NFL draft. But second leading WR Smoke Harris (35 rec., 285 yds., 4 TDs) should still make for a formidable target for Allen.
RB Israel Tucker may be asked to handle the ball more this game due to the quarterback situation. He is coming off a rather poor game against TCU with just 28 yard on the ground but in the game before that, he had a career day against North Texas with 161 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bulldogs defense has been susceptible to the running game this year and will need to be better with the option attack of Georgia Southern being their test in this game. Louisiana Tech ranks ninth in C-USA in giving up 184.6 rushing yards per game and 22 touchdowns. Overall, Louisiana Tech has allowed 30 or more points in three straight games and in seven of nine overall.
Key Player: QB Aaron Allen
Anthony will need to improve from what has been seen so for the Bulldogs to have a chance in this game. He threw for 561 yards with four touchdowns but had five interceptions this season. He did, however, have the ball in his hands in the UAB win for the Bulldogs on the game winning drive in overtime. He also started two games last year so he is not completely new to the Bulldog attack. If he can eliminate the turnovers, he should be able to keep Louisiana Tech in this game.
In a battle of backup signal callers in this game, I think the game will come down to the defenses creating turnovers. Georgia Southern has the history this year in doing that so I think the Eagles will hand Coach Holtz his first ever bowl game loss in a rather low scoring game. Georgia Southern 26 Louisiana Tech 21
Originally from LaMoure, North Dakota, Kent is a 1996 graduate of North Dakota State University. His prior writing experience is over 15 years having previously worked with D2football.com, I-AA.org, and College Sporting News before coming to College Sports Journal in 2016. His main focus is college football in the western half of the United States– the Big Sky Conference and Missouri Valley Football Conference within the Division I FCS. And in 2017, he began also to look at the FBS Group of Five conferences of the American Athletic, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, and Sun Belt.
Originally from LaMoure, North Dakota, Kent is a 1996 graduate of North Dakota State University. His prior writing experience is over 15 years having previously worked with D2football.com, I-AA.org, and College Sporting News before coming to College Sports Journal in 2016. His main focus is college football in the western half of the United States-- the Big Sky Conference and Missouri Valley Football Conference within the Division I FCS. And in 2017, he began also to look at the FBS Group of Five conferences of the American Athletic, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, and Sun Belt.