Preview 2017: Georgia Southern Eagles

Preview 2017: Georgia Southern Eagles


Preview 2017: Georgia Southern Eagles


Preview 2017: Georgia Southern Eagles

Previewing and looking ahead at the Georgia Southern Eagles season – and what you need to know.

Contact @PeteFiutak

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2017 Georgia Southern Preview: The O Will Roll Again
2017 Georgia Southern Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
– Georgia Southern Previews: 2016 | 2015

What You Need To Know About The Georgia Southern Offense

Get ready for the triple-option to go to warp speed.

New offensive coordinator Bryan Cook comes in after helping coach Georgia Tech’s fantastic attack, and now the goal is to take Georgia Southern’s running game back to the way it worked two years ago when it led the nation in rushing. But it’ll have to do it without several key parts.

There’s a three-man quarterback battle that’ll go into the fall, with all the options very quick and very able to run the attack, but top back Matt Breida is gone. Wesley Fields and L.A. Ramsby, though, should provide an excellent 1-2 punch behind a solid line that gets three starters back.

The passing game hasn’t worked over the last few years – it’s never going to throw for big yards, but it has to hit on a few big plays here and there. Now, though, only one wide receiver who caught more than two passes is back.

Biggest Key To The Georgia Southern Offense

The receivers have to show up. The quarterback situation will be fine – there are three good options who can run the attack – and the bread will be buttered with the ground game.

But there has to be a deep shot down the field once in a while to take advantage of defenses sending everyone up to stop the option. Myles Campbell is back after catching 31 passes for 384 yards and a team-high four scores, but that’s it. More options have to emerge in a hurry.

What You Need To Know About The Georgia Southern Defense

In a lot of ways, it did its part. It was outstanding at clamping down on third downs, and was good at holding up time and again – but not quite enough. The defense allowed just under 400 yards and 27 points per game.

Losing top pass rusher and defensive playmaker Ukeme Eligwe early hurts a front seven that gets back two starters. There’s not enough size around 330-pound DT Darrius Sapp – the line will have to get by on quickness.

The entire starting linebacking corps has to be replaced – depth is going to be a big issue early on – but the secondary should be terrific with three starters back, led by a great safety tandem of Joshua Moon and Jay Bowdry. But now …

Biggest Key To The Georgia Southern Defense

There has to be a pass rush. There wasn’t one last year with just 11 sacks after coming up with 22 the year before. There weren’t enough plays behind the line overall, and now that has to change in a hurry.

Last season, the Eagles came up with four sacks in the opener against punching bag Savannah State, and seven sacks in the first three games. There were just four sacks the rest of the way, and two came in the win over New Mexico State.

Georgia Southern Will Be Far Better If …

The running game goes back to being dominant. The Georgia Southern passing game hasn’t been efficient and opportunistic like Navy’s and Georgia Tech’s, but the O made up for it with a ground attack that overcame everything else.

Two years ago, the Eagles had the second-worst passing game in the country, but they led the nation with 363 rushing yards. Last year, Georgia Southern still had no passing attack, but it averaged 224 rushing yards per game. 

And that’s the difference. Run amok, win big. Be a bit down, and even if it’s still great, it’s still not enough. Run wild, and everything else will be fine.

Best Georgia Southern Offensive Player

RB Wesley Fields, Jr. – One of the few guys left from the group of backs that were so good for so long, he’s a home run hitter who finished with 492 yards and three scores last year, while catching 11 passes for 177 yards and three scores. He didn’t do anything late in the season – he was banged up – but now he needs to be the explosive element in the triple-option. He certainly knows what he’s doing.

2. OT Jeremiah Culbreth, Jr.
3. RB L.A. Ramsby, Sr.
4. OG Ryan Northrup, Jr.
5. QB Seth Shuman, Soph.

Best Georgia Southern Defensive Player

S Joshua Moon, Jr. – A part of the puzzle to the main man in the secondary, the 6-0, 190-pounder came on over the second half of last season with 21 tackles in a two game stretch, finishing with 72 stops with two picks. Terrific in the open field, he has elite speed and good pop – he’ll be the leader in the defensive backfield.

2. CB Jessie Liptrot, Soph.
3. DE Logan Hunt, Jr.
4. LB Chris DeLaRosa, Sr.
5. S Jay Bowdry, Soph.

Key Player To A Successful Season

QB Seth Shuman, Soph. Or junior LaBaron Anthony, or redshirt freshman Shai Werts. The quarterback battle is on after years of Kevin Ellison and Favian Upshaw held down the position. With the triple-option attack, it might take a few players to handle the work, and all three options are quick, but it was Werts who rose up this offseason and dominated the spring game.

Can Shuman step up and use his experience to take the gig? He completed 34-of-72 passes for 357 yards and a score with three picks, and he ran for 39 yards. It’s a statistical superstar spot, and the spotlight will be on in August.

The Georgia Southern Season Will Be A Success If …

There’s a bowl appearance. Really, really close to being decent last year, the Eagles blew it with the ugly stretch of seven losses in eight games. However, they showed just how good they could be with a win over Troy, and with good performance in close loss after close loss. With a relatively favorable schedule, there’s no reason not to come up with at least six wins.

Key Game To The Georgia Southern Season

Oct. 4 vs. Arkansas State – How much better is Georgia Southern this season? It’ll get a chance to show it off in the Sun Belt opener on a nationally-televised Wednesday night game. Arkansas State should be among the Sun Belt’s stars again, and this time around, Georgia Southern needs to pull off the win after losing 27-26 last year.

2016 Georgia Southern Fun Stats

– Penalties: Georgia Southern 91 for 778 yards – Opponents 61 for 603 yards
– Time of Possession: Georgia Southern 32:39 – Opponents 27:21
– Field Goals: Georgia Southern 19-of-20 – Opponents 15-of-21

2017 Georgia Southern Preview: The O Will Roll Again
2017 Georgia Southern Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
– Georgia Southern Previews: 2016 | 2015


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