Plays That Mattered: Georgia Southern

  • University of Massachusetts senior wide receiver Andy Isabella is pursued by Duquesne defensive lineman Roman Macek in the first quarter of the Minutemen's 63-15 win over the Dukes in their home opener at Warren McGuirk Stadium in Amherst on Saturday, August 25, 2018. UMass senior lineman Lukas Kolter is at right.

Staff Writer
Published: 9/10/2018 6:25:08 PM

This blog was difficult to put together this week because Georgia Southern doesn’t really do big, explosive plays. With the Eagles, it’s death by a thousand paper cuts, so it’s hard to single out exact plays that made an impact.

However, that did not deter me from sifting through and finding the sequences that made the biggest difference in the game. None of this week’s trio of plays directly resulted in points, which I’m guessing will be an oddity this season, but there is no doubt they changed the course of the game in a big way. 

1. 25-yard pass from Shai Werts to Wesley Kennedy III

Situation: 3rd-and-10 from Georgia Southern 44. 56 seconds left in second quarter.

Formation: UMass lines up with four down lineman, Bryton Barr and six defensive backs against Georgia Southern, which has one tight end, a running back and three wide receivers on the left side.

The Play: There seems to have been some confusion for Martin Mangram almost immediately after the snap. He lines up across from Colby Ransom, the middle of the Eagles’ trio of receivers, and within the first few seconds bites on the pump fake toward Ransom. That gives Wesley Kennedy III the time to sneak past Mangram in the zone scheme but stay in front of Joseph Norwood, who was playing deeper in the zone. The catch was a big conversion for the Eagles late in the first half that ultimately led to Georgia Southern taking the lead right before halftime two plays later.

2. 40-yard pass from Shai Werts to Malik Murray

Situation: 1st-and-10 from Georgia Southern 30. 7:23 left in third quarter.

Formation: UMass lines up in its base nickel package against Georgia Southern, which has two running backs in the backfield on either side of Werts with one receiver on the left side and two on the right side.

The Play: It’s a standard play-action fake from Werts, but this one didn’t seem to fool UMass that badly. Chinedu Ogbonna comes flying at Werts unblocked and forces Werts to make a decision with the football. UMass is playing zone in the secondary as Tyler Hayes passes off Malik Murray to Brice McAllister almost immediately while he keeps his eyes in the backfield. Murray had a step or two on McAllister and Isaiah Rodgers, who was about five yards away guarding the outside receiver, can’t get over in time to break up the long play to Murray. That throw flipped the field with UMass down just a single score and put Georgia Southern into scoring position, which it eventually did capitalize upon.

3. Personal foul on Ray Thomas-Ishman

Situation: 2nd-and-5 on Georgia Southern 35. 8:44 left in fourth quarter.

Formation: UMass is in its Wildcat package with Marquis Young receiving the snap out of the shotgun while Andrew Ford is lined up to the far right out of harms way.

The Play: Young was hit at the line of scrimmage and taken down for no gain, which isn’t the end of the world given the fact UMass is facing 3rd-and-5 in four-down territory. However, Ray Thomas-Ishman is still engaged in a tussle with Tomarcio Reese and finishes his block by placing Reese on top of the pile. I’m not completely buying that as a penalty considering both players were engaged with each other and I didn’t think the force was too excessive. However, it still was after the whistles blew and those are the types of penalties that kill drives. In this case, the flag backed up UMass to 2nd-and-20 at midfield and the Minutemen were placed in a precarious position needing points.

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