Freshmen prepare veterans during spring practice

Layne Saliba

The Georgia Southern football team is well on its way to a successful spring. They have been trying to work as many different things into this short three week period of practices in hopes of preparing themselves for the regular season.

As far as injuries go, the team is fairly healthy. The season is a long ways away, so any injuries that currently exist should be cleared up by the start of the season.

Despite the injuries, there are many improvements that have taken place over the past two weeks of practice, and the coaches are looking to continue that trend during the entire off-season.

A lot of the improvement can be attributed to some of the players that typically are looked over – freshmen.

Being a freshman during spring practice is a trying time. These are the guys that do not see a lot of actual playing time. Most of their time is spent imitating offenses and defenses that the veterans will see throughout the season. However, these back-ups play a key role in spring practice.

Without them, the starting players would have a difficult time getting the real experience they need to improve throughout the spring. With the help of second and third string players, the first team is able to get an idea of what they will be facing when the regular season arrives.

“We kind of threw them in the fire here, and they haven’t really done a whole lot of Georgia Southern stuff. They’ve been emulating all these other teams we’re going to be playing. But they’re coming along, and a bunch of them are actually going to have to play for us,” head coach Willie Fritz said.

There are a total of 20 freshmen on the team, most of which fall on the offensive side of the ball. There are 13 total offensive freshmen – six linemen, four wide receivers, two running backs, one quarterback and one tight end. These players are used on the scout team most of the time, but the linemen are the players that will be seeing most of the playing time during the season.

After the majority of the line graduated last season, offensive line coach Alex Atkins was left with just two seniors. Luckily he acquired one more through the demise of the UAB football program. However, that still left a few spots to fill.

“We’ve got a good group of young offensive linemen. And three or four of those guys are going to have to play for us. So they’re going to have do a good job and step up, plain and simple,” Fritz said.

On the other side of the ball, the team gained three defensive ends, one lineman, one defensive back and one safety. These players, although they will not see much game time since the Eagles did not lose much, will be key roles in running defensive plays that the offense can practice against.

That is what they have been doing throughout practice so far, and the results of their work will be seen in the spring game on Saturday.

Not only will their work be showcased through the veteran’s performance on Saturday, but the younger players will actually get some time of their own in the game as well. Fritz plans to run at least 30 plays with them going up against the more experienced players.