Sun Belt Showdown: Georgia Southern Eagles vs. 12 Auburn Tigers
There was something off about the Eagles last year. Matt Brieda, formerly a human/alien hybrid running back, was merely mortal. QB tandem Kevin Ellison and Favian Upshaw were seen throwing the ball rather than scrambling for yards. It just wasn’t the Eagles game, okay? Can Georgia Southern rediscover itself in time to upset Auburn?
Second year head coach Tyson Summers realized he made a grave mistake. When the 2016 season ended with a un-Eagle like record, co-offensive coordinators Rance Gillespie and David Dean were jettisoned in favor of Triple Option maestro Bryan Cook out of Georgia Tech.
The Triple O™ is back in Statesboro, and with it hope of glory’s triumphant return. But many of the legendary Eagles that rattled the Sun Belt in 2014 and 2015 are gone. Is there enough magic left to befuddle Gus Malzahn and the Auburn Tigers?
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 2ND, 6:30 PM ON SEC NETWORK @ Auburn, AL
How the Eagles wind up winning this thing
return to a pure triple option
The Triple Option drives SEC guys crazy. They don’t practice against it. They’d rather not believe it exists. If Summers (who is a defensive-minded general) allows Cook to cook-up some mind-boggling plays that keeps the Tiger defense off balance, the Eagles have a prayer.
Shai Werts leverages his mystery
Werts (5-11 190), a freshman, is the kind of slippery QB needed to run the Tri-Option™. Also, he’s a complete unknown to Auburn and Malzahn. Apart from Werts’ high school reel, Malzahn has zero film to dissect. He’s just gonna have to wing it!
Find chip, put it on shoulder
Not a single Eagle appears on the preseason Sun Belt All Conference Teams. This is a young team, too. The only senior starting on defense is LB Chris DeLaRosa. (In fact, there are only 8 seniors on the entire roster.) L.A. Ramsby and Wesley Fields return at running back, but who knows if they can match Brieda’s brilliance.
These guys have to find whatever disrespect is available and weaponize it. Gus doesn’t mind showboating at the expense of small programs. If the Tigers open the game with a score, you bet he’ll run a fake PAT to score two. Use that slight as fuel, Eagles!
Of course, Auburn probably got the Triple O figured out
Gus Malzahn is a pretty savvy coach who knows how to defend unorthodox offenses because he creates unorthodox offenses. The Eagles won’t show King Bubble Screen anything he hasn’t dreamed of before. Add that to SEC resources and physicality, and it’s going to be a painful L for Summers to eat.
Walking in Jordan-Hare is a intimidating experience, though Georgia Southern will likely feel at home once the Tigers launch that pet eagle from the rafters. Maybe that’s all the inspiration the Eagles will need?
56-28, Auburn Tigers
A former notary public, Jeremy Harper is a professional writer and Chief Instigator for Storm the Castle Creative. He spends much of his free time staring blankly into space.