Summers and team wrap up spring ball

Photo by Mick Miller

Jerell Rushin

Georgia Southern football wrapped up its 14th and final practice of the spring on Friday. There will be no more practices with pads until July 31.

After finishing last season 5-7, head coach Tyson Summers relieved co-offensive coordinators Rance Gillespie and David Dean of their duties. Shortly after, Bryan Cook accepted the offensive coordinator offer.

Cook was Georgia Tech’s quarterback and B-backs coach and was a member of the staff since 2013. With Cook on staff, Georgia Teach finished in the top 10 in rushing yards every year except 2015.

Cook will try to return the Eagles to one of the best rushing teams in the nation. Georgia Southern’s mainstay of a dominant rushing attack was missing the entire 2016 season.

The Eagles averaged just 224.2 yards per game, and 4.4 per carry in 2016. That is a far cry from leading the nation in 2015 with 363 yards per game, and 6.5 yards per attempt.

Leading rushers from 2016, Matt Brieda and Kevin Ellison are out of eligibility. Junior Wesley Fields, returns as the team’s leading rusher, and will be the primary back.

Fields had the highest average per carry of all players with more than 50 attempts last season, with 5.2 ypc. However, he knows where he needs to improve to lead the attack with so many upperclassmen departing.

“Being more efficient on runs and being more patient with the zone blocking,” Fields said.

Not only did the offense lose plenty of playmakers, but so did the defense and special teams. Lou Groza award finalist for best kicker in the country, Younghoe Koo graduated.

Leading tackler Ironhead Gallon (102), and projected NFL draftee Ukeme Eligwe (97) graduated as well. Safety Joshua Moon returns as the leading tackler and leader of the secondary.

It’s unrealistic to expect for two players to replace the great production of Gallon and Eligwe. The defense will have to work in sync as a unit, and make up for the departures in other areas.

Moon noticed the strides that the defense has made from spring practice #1, specifically flying to the ball.

“When we first started, we were running, but we weren’t running how we were supposed to. The coaches really stressed us getting to the ball, and our technique is way better than it was before,” Moon said.

Georgia Southern opens the season Sept. 2 at Auburn. The Eagles last meeting with an SEC team was their 23-17 overtime loss at Georgia in 2015.

Paulson Stadium will see its’ first game Sept. 9, when the Eagles face the New Hampshire Wildcats.