Eagles play Savannah State in home opener

Hayden Boudreaux

After a 77-9 blowout win last season, the Georgia Southern football team will show off their new offense to the Statesboro faithful against the Savannah State Tigers on Saturday.

The Eagles are set to dominate on both sides of the ball, and after their showing against NC State, the fans should get a glimpse of the new spread option offense that put up 436 yards last week.

After putting up a total of 300 yards on the ground and through the air, sophomore Eagle quarterback Kevin Ellison will be looking to sharpen his tools and get additional live experience with the new offense. While he will likely take the field first on Saturday, it is important to watch out for sophomore quarterback Favian Upshaw who saw limited time last week against the Wolfpack.

Another key player to look out for from the Eagles is senior linebacker Edwin Jackson. Last week he recorded a career high 13 tackles and he will try to continue to pad those stats against a weak Savannah State offense. Jackson played all over the field on Saturday, seemingly being in two places at once but had to leave the game twice due to cramping issues.

Savannah State comes into the game after being trounced by Mid Tennessee State on Saturday 61-7. Throughout the entire game the Tigers only put up 229 yards of total offense.

At quarterback, the Tigers are starting junior college transfer Ker-Sean Wilson. With plenty of experience at the junior college level, Wilson has potential to air the ball out. His favorite passes are short routes and flares out of the backfield to give his running backs room to make plays on their own. His offensive line can hold their own, they only allowed one sack last week.

The last threat on offense for the Tigers is running back Anthony Criswell, who rushed for 46 yards and one touchdown. Criswell saw time last year, and has definitely gained speed through the offseason, but lacks burst and big play ability.

The Tiger defense has its own defensive standout: junior safety Alfred Ansley. Against Mid Tennessee, Ansley compiled 11 tackles, recovered a fumble, and caught an interception. He is the anchor for an otherwise undersized defense. The linebackers and corners tend to react to plays once it is too late, moving to receivers after the ball has been caught. It is important to note they are solid tacklers once they get near the ball carrier.

It was released on Wednesday that Georgia Southern signed a new deal to play Savannah State stretching into the 2016 season. The deal will net the Tigers $125,000 for traveling to Paulson Stadium. Head Coach for the Tigers, Earnest Wilson, talked about the opportunity and likelihood of competing with the Eagles.

“We feel in the near future we will be able to compete. We may not have the facilities. We may not have the weight room, the locker room. We may not have the 10 million dollar building. But our kids are coming here because they want to play,” Wilson said in a news release.

Students are to bring their Eagle IDs to the game for admission. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Saturday.

History tends to repeat itself

As the Savannah State Tigers board the bus on Saturday they will be hoping to improve upon past performances against a Georgia Southern football team that has beat up on them twice in the last five years.

The Tigers came to Paulson Stadium in 2010 for the first game of the season for the Eagles. The triple option offense succeeded in running the ball through their defense, totally for 434 rushing yards. Additionally, the Eagles passed for over a hundred yards and put 48 points on the board and allowed only three.

Last season was an even more impressive performance. The team rushed for over 600 yards and passed for nearly 100. Five Eagles rushed for at least 50 yards and the defense grabbed three interceptions. When the final whistle blew, the Eagles were on top 77-9.

Though this game might be a cake walk, there are many things to watch. Head Coach Willie Fritz will be able to try new looks and schemes against the Tigers to test them in a live game. This could set the Eagles up for success further down the line.