Coach Fritz’s take on the Blue-White spring game

Layne Saliba

Spring practice for the Georgia Southern football team is almost over, and that means that the Eagles will be suiting up for the annual Blue and White Spring football game. Allen E. Paulson Stadium has not seen much action since the Eagles beat UL Monroe 22-16 to claim the Sun Belt title back on Nov. 11 of last year.

But on Saturday, that is all going to change. As fans fill the stands at Paulson Stadium, they will see much of the same team that they saw last season – a run-heavy offense and a defense that can get the job done.

But, head coach Willie Fritz is looking for even more this season. And because of this, he has been focusing on all three aspects of the game throughout spring practice – passing, rushing and special teams.


Spring practice is a time of working on things that need improvement, and perfecting things that the team already does well. But In order to get the results he wants, Fritz says that the team has to get better at a lot of things.

“We’ve identified a few different areas that we need to improve in – throwing the ball, creating more takeaways, being more accurate kickers and doing a better job in the return game. So we’re working on a lot of those areas every day,” Fritz said. “It’s not just one aspect that’s going to make us better. The quarterback has to be more accurate, the pass protection has to be much better and we have to run crisper routes. I mean, it’s everything that has to improve.”

Compared to last year, spring practice has gone much smoother this time around. Last season, most of the coaches were in their first year with the team. There was a lot of unfamiliarity between the coaches and players which created problems when it came to explaining things. The players had to learn a completely new system and the coaches had to get to know a team of completely new players.


This season, however, the players know what the coaches expect of them. They know the drills they need to run and they know what they need to do to get their job done. This has made spring practice a much more productive time.

“It’s totally different. The kids know what I’m talking about when I talk to them. I don’t have to give a dissertation, I can give a short statement and they can go and do it out there on the field. And my coaches know what I’m talking about too. We’ve all been together for a year, so it’s just been a lot simpler doing things than it was last year,” Fritz said.

Although spring practice has been running better than last year, any coach will say it’s frustrating when they lose athletes. And graduation is the largest culprit of creating that problem. With seniors leaving the team, a lot of leadership leaves with them. But for the Eagles, that has easily been replaced.

The offensive line almost completely disappeared at the conclusion of last season. The coaches have had to completely rebuild and restructure. But the fact that there are fewer seniors on the offensive line does not mean there is a lack of leadership.

“Darien Foreman on the offensive line has done a great job. He played with a bunch of seniors last season and now he is a senior. So he’s really taken that leadership role seriously,” Fritz said.


As far as offense goes, the Eagles rushed for 4,573 total yards last season which came out to just over 381 yards per game, giving them the most yards per game of any other team in the nation – a pretty impressive feat for a team in its first season in a new conference.

In addition to the No. 1 offense, the Eagles were one of four teams in the nation to record a 100-yard interception return. So, it is safe to say that Fritz was happy with the way the season ended.

“We’re proud of our accomplishments last year, but we’re certainly not resting on that. We’ve got a long way to go if we’re going to accomplish what we want to this season,” Fritz said.


Before he began last season, Fritz knew that he wanted to shake things up. Not enough to get chased out of town, but just enough to bring life to the program.

Because of that, Eagle Nation saw more pass attempts than in the past. This was something that left fans a little unsettled and worried, but it ended up working in the Eagles’ favor. However, Fritz expects more this season.

“We did a great job running the ball last year offensively. But we need to pass for another 40, 50 or 60 yards a game. So that’s what we’re looking for,” Fritz said.

The spring game will be a good way to showcase the emphasis that Fritz is putting on passing this season. It will provide the team with an environment where they will be able to run live plays in front of a crowd. This will help them see how they have improved over the last three weeks.

“We just want to be crisp and sharp. We are going to do some live scrimmaging, so it will be a good end to spring practice to go through some live plays and see what our guys can do,” Fritz said.


On the defensive side of the ball, Fritz is looking for improvement as well. The team finished with 747 tackles, 24 sacks, 13 interceptions and seven fumble recoveries last season. Although he was happy with those numbers, Fritz is hoping that spring practice creates more opportunities for new players to show what they have. He wants every player on the team to contribute.

If the players are able to contribute like Fritz wants them to, they will be in a spot to help the defense increase its productivity and increase all of those statistical numbers.

“I mean, we had a good defense last year, but we’re always trying to get better and improve. I tell the guys that if everybody can get five percent better, we will have a much better team. And that will translate into more victories,” Fritz said.

This spring game will be a good indicator of how the team will compete in its second year of Sun Belt competition. There are a lot of things that the coaches are looking to improve upon, and Saturday will be the time that Eagle Nation gets to see how far the team has come.