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Western Michigan Broncos vs Georgia Southern Eagles Preview: A Q&A With Underdog Dynasty

The Western Michigan Broncos are taking on the Georgia Southern Eagles this week, so Haisten Willis from Underdog Dynstasy drops some knowledge on the up-and-coming Eagles

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

It can be hard to preivew other mid-majors, especially those just making the jump to the FBS level.  So with the Western Michigan Broncos heading to Statesboro, Geogria to take on the upstart Georgia Southern Eagles this week, we reached out to the wonderful folks at Underdog Dynasty to get some insight on the Eagles, and they sent us the wonderful Haisten Willis (who is on vacation to escape the expected mess coming on Saturday).  Here's what he had to say to our questions.

Us: Georgia Southern came into the year with huge expectations after blowing by the Sun Belt in their first year in the FBS.  What's behind the quick rise in Statesboro?

Haisten Willis: Georgia Southern football is a story long in the making. Last year, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution summed it up perfectly with the headline "Georgia Southern took the long road to instant success." We played FCS football for almost 30 years and rang up 6 national titles during that time, meaning we were ready for the transition. That's not to say we expected 8-0 in conference, but Willie Fritz did a hell of a job in year one. 

Us:  Obviously, last week did NOT go as planned in West Virginia.  Other than poor QB play (we'll get to that in a minute), what happened?

HW: To me last week was combination of poor QB play and poor O-line play. Upshaw certainly had a rough night but he never had time to do much with the ball because West Virginia was all over him in the backfield. It's not exciting to talk about but offensive line play is just as if not more important than quarterback play.

Us:  With Kevin Ellison out for this game due to suspension, how are GSU's back-ups handling the starting duties?  Do you think a change needs to be made after Favian Upshaw bombed on Saturday?

HW: Hard to say. The backup quarterback (in this case Vegas Harley, the overall third stringer) is always the most popular player on the team. That said, if the coaching staff thought he'd play better than Upshaw then he would have started. You don't want to read too much into just one game but four interceptions is what it is. Hopefully we can establish the run in week 2. 

Us:  Last year, the triple option + air attack doomed the Broncos in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl against Air Force.  Do you expect this game to go like that, or more like the Army/Navy option offenses with a back-up quarterback?

HW: If you'd asked me last week I would have said option plus air attack ala Air Force. This week I'm not so sure. Again, last week our quarterback threw twice as many passes to the other team as he did to our team. We don't exactly run the triple option anymore, it's more of an Auburn-style hybrid, but I see us focusing more on the rushing attack against WMU.

Us:  Let's talk about defenses.  What's the Eagles' strengths and weaknesses on that side of the ball since West Virginia tends to run an odd spread.

HW: We tend to play pretty well against the run and historicaly struggle against the pass. Last week West Virginia threw several long-bombs right at the beginning of the game that really hurt us. I honestly thought the defense played pretty well against the Mountaineers. Yes 44 points is a lot but WVU got five free possessions and the defense kept us hypothetically in the game until the middle of the third quarter in spite of the doughnut put up by our offense.

Us:  This game could come down to special teams play.  J Schroder is usually solid, but Andrew Haldeman still appears to be struggling after missing a 41-yarder against MSU.  It looks like the Eagles have solid punting as well, but we didn't get to see the kicking game.  Does that position worry you at all?

HW: Solid punting, sure. Our kicking game hasn't been as solid though. We had two missed PATs in the last game of the 2014 season and a lot of the fan base worries about that part of the team. We brought in a highly regarded kicker through recruiting but my philosophy is score a lot of points and you won't have to worry about kicking :)

BONUS:  What's your favorite Bell's beer (or other Michigan made craft brew)?  There is no wrong answer

HW: I'm glad there's no wrong answer because I have never heard of that brewery and don't think I can name one from Michigan. Unfortunately, I've been to every state surrounding Michigan and have been to Canada but, alas, not Michigan itself. I do love craft beer though and highly recommend both the big Atlanta brewery Sweetwater 420 and Stateboro's own Eagle Creek beer. Um, Michigan seems like a really cool place though and Vernors ginger ale is good...

(Author's note:  His answer is a very wrong answer, and we're working on sending him some Two-Hearted to fix this mistake.  We apologize to everyone offended by Haisten's answer)

Feel free to follow Haisten at @HaistenWillis.  To see what we had to say to his questions, feel free to check out the post over at Underdog Dynasty.