For the final time on Saturday, Nov. 9, Elon University will take the field at Rhodes Stadium seeing a SoCon logo painted on the 25-yard lines. The last Southern Conference home game in Elon history matches the 2-8 Phoenix against the 5-4 Georgia Southern University Eagles.
Saturday also marks Senior Day for a group of nine seniors who will hang up the shoulder pads after next week against Samford University. Wide receiver Rasaun Rorie, offensive linemen Clay Johnson and Dennis Wagner, defensive linemen Tony Thompson, Jordan Jones and Jay Brown, and defensive backs David Wood, Ed Burns and Chandler Wrightenberry will be honored pregame.
A week ago against The Citadel, Elon was defeated 35-10 in “a low point for Elon football” according to head coach Jason Swepson. What will Elon need to do to bounce back and leave the Rhodes Stadium SoCon era with a win? Read on.
Elon Offensive X-factor: Keep the ball and finish the drive
In games against Wofford College, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and The Citadel, Elon was plagued by an inability to push the ball into the end zone, even when the Phoenix had multiple goal-to-go situations. In order to beat Georgia Southern, Elon will need to finish these drives and not have to send freshman kicker John Gallagher out for a field goal try.
Additionally, junior quarterback Mike Quinn threw three interceptions a week ago against The Citadel, including one on the goal line of the Bulldogs. Elon cannot afford turnovers if they hope to win this week against a ball-controlling Georgia Southern Eagles team.
Georgia Southern Offensive X-factor: Jerick McKinnon, QB
Senior quarterback Jerick McKinnon is not even the Eagles’ leading passer, but he is their leading rusher. He needs only 92 yards to eclipse 1,000 on the ground, but is only 8 of 17 through the air. A week ago, senior quarterback Ben Dupree of The Citadel went off, throwing for 166 yards on only four completions and rushing for 66 more. McKinnon needs to simply mimic Dupree to succeed against the Phoenix.
Elon Defensive X-factor: Secondary
The secondary? Against the triple option? Yes, the secondary against the triple option. Each of The Citadel’s four completions were for an average of 41.5 yards each and a 61-yard touchdown run helped put the nail in the coffin. The secondary must adjust for this week to be able to handle the big play, and give Elon an opportunity to send the seniors out in style. After all, three of the four starting defensive backs are seniors, so this group should be the most motivated.
Georgia Southern Defensive X-factor: Forcing turnovers
Quinn set a Southern Conference record earlier this season with 210 pass attempts between interceptions, and Elon either won or was competitive in each of those games. Games against Georgia Tech and The Citadel, where Quinn threw three interceptions each, were arguably Elon’s worst games of the season. If the Eagles, another triple option team, want to win, their defense needs to force turnovers and let the offense dominate ball control.
This team was flattened a week ago in the homecoming matchup in front of a full stadium. The starting quarterback said that the offense was “all over the place.” Sure, Georgia Southern is having a down year, but The Citadel was 3-6 heading into the matchup with Elon. Barring a major turnaround, Saturday will be more of the same.
Georgia Southern 42, Elon 13