One Goal in Mind for These Offensive Stars

Hayden Boudreaux

After shocking the college football world last season, the Eagle backfield is ready break records, win awards, and most importantly: take home a second consecutive Sun Belt Championship.

It is a different season and full of different pressures for Head coach Willie Fritz, his staff, and players as they prepare for the start of the season against West Virginia. Last season, no one knew what to expect: The Eagles were playing in a new conference, with a new coach, and a new offensive strategy. This season, the team is coming off an undefeated Sun Belt championship season with the best rushing attack in the country. The stakes couldn’t be higher for the offensive stars that will attempt to lead their team back to the Sun Belt Championship.

Junior quarterback Kevin Ellison is back to take the reins of the Georgia Southern offensive whirlwind. He stole the hearts of Eagle Nation last season as he ran and threw his way to the top of the conference but he is still finding things to work on this offseason. He used the offseason as a chance to improve his passing game while maintaining the integrity of the lethal rushing attack. As practices heat up Ellison is cool as ever and understands how to deal with the mounting pressure to win.

“You have to just take it one day at a time, you can’t come out here thinking ‘we’ll win this or win that’. It all starts out here on the practice field, building team chemistry, that is where you when games,” Ellison said.

Last season, Ellison was the confident and athletic leader his team needed. He rushed for 1187 yards and 12 touchdowns and raised eyebrows all over the conference. He was also a threat in the air as he passed for 1001 yards and 5 touchdowns while completing 55.47% of his passes. His effort last year allowed him to be named to the Second Team All-Sun Belt Team. Ellison has his personal and team goals set, and they are one in the same.

“As a whole, we want to run the ball better. It’s always good when you can rush for 300 yards a game, and drop back and throw for 200-300 yards. Our main focus has been to better our running game and our passing game,” Ellison said.

One of the most notable returning starters on the national radar is junior running back Matt Breida. He made fissures last year as he rushed for 1495 yards and 17 touchdowns and was considered for the Doak Walker award, presented to the top running back in the FBS. His success has led to early hype for his junior year as he has been selected to Preseason First Team All-Sun Belt and is listed on the Doak Walker award watch list.

Throughout last season the offensive line would set goals for the running backs, specifically Breida. This season, nothing has changed as there are some pretty hefty requirements the O-line has placed on one of their star running backs.

“(Darian Foreman) wants me to get 2,000 yards. My goal is 200 yards per game so I have to do whatever I can this year, whether it be changing my running style or getting extra yards at the end of each run, to help the offensive line out,” Brieda said.

Not all of the key starters for the Eagles played on last year’s team. A prime example of this is senior offensive lineman Roscoe Byrd. After transferring from UAB after their program was shut down, the 6”3 319lb senior is stepping into a key leadership role on a relatively young and fresh offensive line.

“(Being a leader) is the type of personality I have. If I need to be a leader of a squad, I’m willing to do that. If I need to sit back and follow the leader, I’ll do that too,” Byrd said.

With a mixture of new and old players, one thing is certain: the stars are certainly shining bright in Statesboro. The team is facing another uphill climb and they will have a huge target on their back in the Sun Belt conference, getting the best shot from every opponent. However, before they can break into conference play they have to prepare for the first game of the season against West Virginia. The team plans to have one more scrimmage this Saturday before heading to Morgantown, West Virginia on September 5th.