Georgia Southern in familiar position ahead of Sun Belt opener with Coastal Carolina

Head Coach Clay Helton

For a third time in four years, Georgia Southern football has started its season with a tidy 3-1 record. The Eagles began 3-1 last year and wound up with a 6-7 record in Clay Helton’s first season as head coach. They started 3-1 under Chad Lunsford in 2020 before finishing at 8-5 overall. Just like in 2020 and in 2022, the opponent standing between GS and a 4-1 start is Coastal Carolina.

Helton doesn’t want the pattern continuing beyond that, however. Coastal knocked off the Eagles in Conway, SC both times to prevent good starts from becoming great ones for GS. This weekend’s game at Paulson Stadium (Saturday, 7pm, NFL Network) is the Sun Belt Conference opener for the Eagles, who will be coming off a 40-3 blowout road victory over MAC opponent Ball State on Saturday in Muncie, Indiana. They seem to have things lined up if they can take care of business this Saturday night under the lights. The Chanticleers (2-2, 0-1 SBC) were humbled by undefeated Georgia State (4-0, 1-0) at home last Thursday, falling 30-17 in the SBC opener for the Eastern Division clubs. GS will have an off week following CCU, and then the Eagles hit the road for a division date with James Madison (4-0, 1-0) on October 14.

Grayson McCall is the veteran CCU quarterback to worry about if you’re a Southern supporter. He surpassed the 9,000 yard passing yard mark last week in the loss to Georgia State.

The GS Athletics Marketing department has certainly done its part in the build up to CCU game week. Across all social media platforms, the school is pushing the team’s record at Paulson Stadium when the attendance numbers are high in an effort to pack Paulson. Since 2010, GS is 17-4 at home when attendance is 20,000 or more. It’s Military Appreciation Night on Saturday as well. Tickets can be bought online at

As of Monday morning, Georgia Southern (-7) was a one-touchdown favorite versus Coastal Carolina (+7) in the 10th edition of the growing rivalry. The Eagles lead the series, 5-4.

click to enlarge Georgia Southern in familiar position ahead of Sun Belt opener with Coastal Carolina
QB Davis Brin


A few more notes on Georgia Southern while we’re here … 

Senior running back Jalen White missed the Ball State game due to an injury which caused him to leave the Wisconsin game early the week prio. His status for the CCU game wasn’t clear as this week began, but it’s certainly a topic that Helton will be asked about during his media rounds on Monday … 

Tight end Beau Johnson sustained what looked to be a major leg injury at Ball State, and while the Eagles are incredibly deep at the position, Johnson was perhaps the best blocker of the bunch and he’ll likely miss an extended amount of time after the injury … 

After playing in eight games decided by eight points or less in 2022 (4-4 record in those games), the closest margin in the first four contests of 2023 has been 14 points (49-35 win vs. UAB on Sept. 9). GS has outscored opponents 42-0 in the first quarter and 82-29 in the first half. Overall, the Eagles are scoring 34.25 points per game while allowing just 18.25 on average. That second number should stick out as a nice change from recent history. In 2021, GS allowed 31.4 points per game before allowing 31.62 in 2022 … 

Finally, a look at what the polls, computer predictors and statistical rankings think of the Eagles through four games … The ESPN Football Power Index (FPI) vaulted GS up 19 spots this week, to No. 69 in the formula driven rankings of all 133 FBS teams (CCU is No. 70). FPI also projects GS for a record of 7.9-4.3 with a 94.1% chance of making a bowl game, 19.7% to win the SBC East and 12.8% to win the conference. Before the season, GS had FPI percentages (to accomplish those things) of 71.8%, 13.5% and 6.1% … Bill Connelly is the ESPN CFB Writer known for his SP+ efficiency rankings, which are always a source trusted by coaches around the country. His SP+ ratings column this week notes that no other team in the country improved its SP+ rating more in Week 4 than Georgia Southern. The Eagles enter Week 5 having improved their rating by 5.3 points, moving their ranking in the category up to No. 78 overall, one spot ahead of where Deion Sanders’ No. 79 Colorado team comes-in after Coach Prime’s team fell flat in a blowout loss at Oregon … College Football News moved Georgia Southern from No. 96 to No. 76 in its FBS 133 rankings for Week 5.


About The Author

Travis Jaudon

Travis Jaudon has been writing in Savannah since 2016 and is host of Hot Grits Podcast. Follow Travis on Twitter/Instagram @JaudonSports. Email him at

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