Game Preview: GS beginning new era in season opener

DJ Cadden, Sports Editor

For the first time since 2019, the Georgia Southern Eagles will take the field in front of a crowd with no capacity limitations as they host the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs to begin the 2021 season.

The Eagles will take the field with a slew of unknowns on both sides of the ball, but a game against a lower-division opponent should serve as a measuring point for GS.

Offensively, the Eagles are entering a new era. Since 2016, Shai Werts has led the GS offense, but after graduating the former quarterback transferred to Louisville. In addition, Justin Tomlin–who has started four games for Chad Lunsford’s team–is suspended for the first two games of the season.

The suspension of Tomlin coupled with an injury to Connor Cigelske, leaves GS with Cam Ransom, Sam Kenerson and running back Amare Jones as the potential starters at the quarterback position.

While all three have never started a game for GS, Lunsford has made positive statements regarding each quarterback.

The Bulldogs had a stout defense in an abbreviated 2020 spring football season, ranking No. 43 in the FCS in total defense. GW struggled against the passing game, which should allow the Eagles to explore the biggest unknown of the 2021 offense.

The Eagles return nearly all of their skill position players, which should help whoever the starting quarterback is ease into a rhythm offensively.

Defensively, the Eagles return more than half of their starters from the 2020 season. Even in places where GS lost defensive stars, the Eagles replaced them with experienced players who have a grip of the defense.

CJ Wright will headline the defensive line while surrounded by two new starters in Justin Ellis and Dillon Springer. On the backend, All-American cornerback Derrick Canteen stars in an extremely experienced secondary.

While Saturday’s contest should not be a close one, the Eagles have played down to their opponents level in previous seasons. But with the Bulldogs breaking in a new coach, GS will cruise to an opening victory and ease the concerns of many Eagle fans.

Prediction: Eagles take down the Bulldogs, 38-6