Eagle Nation couldn’t be more excited to put last season’s uncharacteristic 5-7 record behind it, but one of the the biggest tests in school history awaits the Eagles in the first game of this 2017 season.
History repeats itself
For non-Georgia Southern fans, the Eagles are known for one thing: the triple option offense. Established by legendary coach Erk Russell in his dynasty days of the late 80s and early 90s, the triple option was fresh, effective and took a lot of time off the clock.
Run correctly, the option is a beautiful thing to watch, but in recent years, Georgia Southern has strayed from their roots. Fans and analysts alike have criticized the coaching staff for trying to run a weird spread-style offense.
But have no fear – its back. Throughout offseason practices and scrimmages, Shai Werts, Wesley Fields and LA Ramsby have been running the option the way it is supposed to be run.
Adding Bryan Cook as the Eagles’ offensive coordinator was another strong sign that the Eagles are returning to option play for Cook was the quarterbacks coach for Georgia Tech the past 4 years, working with one of the men who knows the option best – former GS head coach Paul Johnson.
Whether or not it works to fruition Saturday against Auburn’s stingy front line will be a good showing of how well it will be run against inferior opponents throughout the season.
Young but ready on defense
There are only three players on the defensive starting 11 that have more than 8 career starts. As a team, GSU actually has the fewest seniors in the FBS.
The most experienced player on the secondary is redshirt junior RJ Murray who had the game winning field goal block in last season’s battle against ULM.
It’s a daunting task knowing that this young Georgia Southern defense’s first game will be against a team that had the 5th best offense in the SEC last season.
Auburn’s big threat is the running game. Having senior Kamryn Pettaway as the leading back will be a driving force for the Tigers.
For the first time since Cam Newton’s Heisman season, Auburn is going to have a proven dual-threat quarterback with Jarrett Stidham.
If front-seven leaders like senior linebacker Chris DeLaRosa and freshman end Raymond Johnson III can contain the running game of Auburn, it will keep the game close.
The loudest plains in all the land
A night game in front of a sold-out Jordan-Hare is a daunting task, but the Eagles have fared pretty well in nighttime road games in recent years.
Most recently in a comparable game, the Eagles lost in overtime on the road at UGA in a game they should’ve won back in 2015. Even last year against at the time one of the best Ole Miss teams in years, GS stuck around for most of the game and beat the 28 point spread easily, losing 37-27.
Another promising stat for the Eagles is Auburn’s head coach Gus Malzahn is 3-3 in opening games. In the same time span (2011-now), GSU is 4-2 in opening games.