The decision by the NCAA to give everyone an extra year of eligibility gave Werts a new lease on life as a college football player. It is not like he hasn’t produced at Georgia Southern. In fact, prior to announcing on Twitter that he had entered the transfer portal (eventually committed to Louisville), the now former Eagle finished off his career with an MVP performance in the 2020 New Orleans Bowl. In that contest, he sliced up the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs with a 65-yard touchdown strike that traveled 52 yards in the air. He finished with 126 yards passing and one touchdown, while rushing for 71 yards and three more scores.
Due to the Eagles spread option attack, some felt Werts would look to throw the ball more at another school. However, he has been working at the wide receiver spot in possible hopes of a transition to that spot potentially in the ACC. In four seasons as the team’s starting quarterback, Werts finished with 3,778 yards passing (57%), 34 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Perhaps just as impressively, he rushed for 3,072 yards (4.4 YPC) and 34 more scores.
Werts has a bevy of highlights, but his two-point conversion spin cycle throw to put the Eagles up by one point against Louisiana in 2020 serves as a true gauge of his multi-purpose capability.
Appalachian State (5-2, 3-1)and Georgia Southern (7-1, 4-0) met on Thursday night in a battle to decide supremacy in the Sun Belt conference. Georgia Southern used its triple option offense and suffocating defense to defeat the Mountaineers, 34-14. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:
44 Anthony Flory (6’1 230) Appalachian State LB- Senior
Flory is a sideline-to-sideline linebacker who flows to the football and has the ability to form tackle. He finished with 10 tackles against the Eagles. The senior linebacker trusted his eyes on numerous occasions and was usually the first to the football despite Georgia Southern cloaking a lot of their runs with misdirection. During a first quarter run by Eagles sophomore quarterback Shai Werts (5’11, 190), Flory not only set the edge and forced Werts to cut back, but he shed his blocker and made the tackle. Flory should be able to also contribute as an outside linebacker at the next level despite playing as an inside linebacker in college because of his speed, strength and position IQ. Look for Flory, who was named to the preseason All-Sun Belt first team, to continue to make plays at all sides of the field.
Georgia Southern triple option offense
The Eagles haven’t lost a game in the conference midway through the season and that’s because opposing defenses haven’t been able to solve their option attack. Georgia Southern ranks fifth in the nation in rushing yards per game, averaging 275 yards. Werts is the straw that stirs the drink and even if he isn’t running, his ability forces defenses to key in on him. The sophomore quarterback finished with 129 rushing yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. What makes the Eagles attack even more potent is that every once in a while, Werts can make a defense pay through the air. He completed a 57-yard touchdown pass to sophomore receiver Darion Anderson (6’0, 185). It was Werts’ only completion of the night, but on the season, he has completed 57 percent of his passes and hasn’t thrown an interception. Senior running back Wesley Fields (6’0, 205) adds another punch to the backfield alongside Werts. He rushed for 98 yards and two touchdowns on Thursday. One thing for the team to monitor centers around ball security. Georgia Southern recovered all three of its fumbles against the Mountaineers, but a team that runs as much as they do could be susceptible to fumbles. The Eagles only loss this season came to the second-ranked Clemson Tigers. If this offense keeps playing this well, they could make a run into the nation’s Top 25.
Georgia Southern defense
The Eagles defense was fast and played as a unit against Appalachian State. It’s hard to point out one player, who stood out because so many different players made plays. 14 different players finished with at least two tackles. The Mountaineers scored 38 points and nearly upset Penn State earlier this season but against the Eagles, they couldn’t get anything going after their starting quarterback, sophomore Zac Thomas (6’1, 205), left with a concussion in the first quarter.Georgia Southern forced four turnovers and didn’t turn the ball over themselves and right now they have a +19 turnover ratio. With a sound defense and a ball-controlling offense, Georgia Southern will be hard to take down in the Sun Belt.