Georgia Southern Eagles Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Georgia Southern season with what you need to know and keys to the season.
Georgia Southern Eagles Preview
Head Coach: Clay Helton, 1st year at Georgia Southern,
6th year overall, 46-24. 2021 Preview
2021 Record: Overall: 3-9, Conference: 2-6
Keys To The Season | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Georgia Southern Top 10 Players | Schedule
Georgia Southern Eagles Preview 2022
Clay Helton was hardly awful at USC.
A good guy who everyone liked – you don’t survive a 5-7 season at that place if you rub people the wrong way – he won a Pac-12 title, won a Rose Bowl, and it wasn’t nearly enough for a program that demands College Football Playoff consideration.
He knows how to get an offense going, and now he gets to tweak a Georgia Southern program that also rightly expects success – albeit on a different scale.
The Eagles came into 2021 with three straight winning seasons and bowl appearances, but the O couldn’t get going, the losses kept rolling, and in comes Helton to change all of that.
With eight starters back on offense, six back on D, and with what should be one of the Sun Belt’s better kicking games, things should bounce back fast.
Georgia Southern Eagles Preview 2022: Offense
The offense has been in a pivot from the triple option style for a while, but now the new coaching staff really will adjust a bit more with a spread style that incorporates even more of a balance. Whatever it’s going to be, it has to work a whole lot better than the version of last year that struggled to average 20 points and 340 yards per game.
The running game wasn’t good enough, the passing game wasn’t efficient, and now it all has to be better with eight starters back.
The hope is for Buffalo transfer Kyle Vantrease to add a steady veteran presence. The sixth-year quarterback can run, but he’s more of a passer who can do a little of everything. The Eagle quarterbacks combined to throw for five touchdown passes and 12 picks – Justin Tomlin is gone, but Cam Ransom isn’t a bad No. 2 option to work around.
The receivers are in place to help. The emphasis wasn’t on the passing game so the numbers weren’t amazing, but Khaleb Hood led the way with 35 catches and 442 yards, and there’s just enough speed around to hit more deep plays. Three of the five touchdown catches went to TE Beau Johnson, a 6-1, 225-pound junior who needs to be a featured target.
The running backs need more room to move. The Eagles have high-powered runners who should average over five yards per carry. Leading rusher Logan Wright is gone, but juniors Gerald Green and Jalen White combined for over 800 yards, nine touchdowns, and 5.6 yards per pop.
The offensive front that couldn’t generate a push and allowed way too many plays behind the line gets back just about everyone around all-star guard Khalil Crowder.
Georgia Southern Eagles Preview 2022: Defense
The defense tried to help the cause, but it wasn’t great against the run and finished 110th in the nation overall. It’s not as experienced as the offensive side, but six starters are back with just enough upside to be a whole lot stronger under the new coaching staff.
The line should be the early strength. Sixth year senior Justin Ellis returns after tying for the team lead with five sacks. Combined with veteran Dillon Springer, the Eagles have the ends.
Now they need the tackles to form a solid rotation with good interior pass rusher CJ Wright gone off the nose.Size and bulk will be an early issue, but 300-pound former North Carolina transfer Kristian Varner should help.
The linebacking corps went young last season, and now it should pay off. Eldrick Robinson is gone to Wake Forest, and Michael Edwards is off to East Carolina. There was next to nothing happening in the backfield from the outside linebackers – that’s about to change under the new staff – but the inside guys have to emerge.
The secondary has to be far, far better. It will be thanks to the return of star CB Derrick Canteen, one of the best defensive players in the Sun Belt who missed most of last year with a torn pectoral muscle.
Leading tackler Anthony Wilson is back at one safety spot after making 78 tackles, and versatile Justin Birdsong returns for a fifth year after finishing fourth on the team with 49 stops.