Countdown to Kickoff: Georgia Southern heading back to triple-option roots
Georgia Southern is going back to its roots.
The Eagles have built a strong reputation as a triple-option team. But under head coach Tyson Summers, who led Georgia Southern during the 2016 season until he was fired after an 0-6 start in 2017, got away from the option.
Now Chad Lunsford, who served as the interim head coach after Summers’ firing and led the team to a 2-4 record, will try to guide the Eagles back to their well-known reputation.
Lunsford hired Bob DeBesse to be the Eagles offensive coordinator - Georgia Southern’s fourth offensive coordinator in four years. DeBesse helped create a good option attack for New Mexico from 2012-17.
The Eagles were young last year but that will help this season’s depth chart. Georgia Southern has its starting quarterback return: sophomore Shai Werts, who ran for 722 yards and three touchdowns, while throwing for 929 yards and seven touchdowns.
Georgia Southern will look for senior running back Wesley Fields to lead the running game. Fields ran for 811 yards and five touchdowns in 2017. The Eagles also have senior running back Monteo Garrett to turn to in the backfield. Garrett rushed for 243 yards and two touchdowns last season.
Senior Curtis Rainey and sophomore Jawaski Webb showed to be important pieces of Georgia Southern’s offensive line during the spring, according to Athlon Sports.
Georgia Southern’s rushing offense led the Sun Belt in 2017 and finished No. 24 in FBS by averaging 222.3 yards per game. With the Eagles going back to the triple-option full time, their running game could be even more potent in 2018.
Defensively, the Eagles are making the switch from a 4-3 scheme to a 3-4. The move to the 3-4 scheme will be a test for Georgia Southern’s front seven.
But the Eagles should remain stout in the secondary. Junior cornerbacks Monquavion Brinson and Kindle Vildor will be key players for Georgia Southern, Brinson notched 34 total tackles and racked up five interceptions and 12 pass breakups in 2017. Vildor tallied 21 tackles, seven pass breakups and three interceptions last year.
Redshirt senior RJ Murray and senior Joshua Moon anchor the safety position. Murray led the Eagles in total tackles last season with 60. He added two pass breakups and a forced fumble to his stat total. Moon amassed 47 total tackles, two interceptions and two pass breakups.
While the 3-4 might take some time to adjust to, Georgia Southern is in a position to have a solid defense in 2018.
After a 2-10 season in 2017, ESPN’s Football Power Index predicts the Eagles to have a bounce back season in 2018 with a 7-5 projected record.
Georgia Southern begins the season with South Carolina State on Sept. 1 and UMass on Sept. 8. The Eagles take on Clemson on Sept. 15. Georgia Southern begins Sun Belt play with Arkansas State on Sept. 29 and then takes South Alabama on Oct. 6 before playing Texas State.
The Eagles travel to San Marcos for a Thursday night contest against the Bobcats on Oct. 11 at 6:30 p.m. inside Bobcat Stadium.