The wait is nearly over.
On Saturday the Georgia Southern football team will kick off its first FBS season. North Carolina State will allow the Eagles to show they will be competitive this season.
Each team is entering the season with questions to be answered. For the Eagles, these questions revolve around the new wide-open offense, and will depend on which quarterback will get the nod to start Saturday and how the defense will adapt to the speed and size of the FBS.
Looking at the Wolfpack, they have many similar questions. Throughout last season NC State struggled to establish a solid offense built around a solid player. Fortunately for them, they will look to last year’s Scout Team Player of the Year to take the helm at quarterback.
Redshirt junior Jacoby Brissett will take the field at quarterback for the Wolfpack. Brissett transferred from the University of Florida to NC State last year, and under NCAA eligibility rules he was not allowed to take a snap last season. Despite that, Brissett will likely be the toughest competition the Eagles will see all season.
An All-American in high school, he was ranked the third best quarterback in his class. He chose to play for Florida, where the No. 1-ranked quarterback chose to attend as well. Against No. 1 LSU, Brissett became the first freshman in Gator history whose first snap was as a starter. As a sophomore, he came off the bench and led the Gators to a victory against LSU. Throughout his career for them he played in twelve games, starting in three.
As per NCAA rules, Brissett had to sit out all of last season. This season he will team up with redshirt senior receiver Bryan Underwood. He is tied for tenth in school history for touchdown receptions but broke his collarbone, missing the last five games of the season.
Another player with potential to light up the scoreboard is sophomore receiver Jumichael Ramos who was named the most valuable freshman last season. Ramos averaged 14.7 yards per catch and started in two contests last season.
The Wolfpack has tremendous size up front. The anchor for the offensive line is junior center Quinton Schooley. He played in every offensive snap for NC State and started every game at center last season. On the opposite side sits 6’7”, 285 pound Rob Crisp was granted an additional year of eligibility by the NCAA after a head injury in the second game last season. The line is big and strong but they can be slow getting to run block around the edge of the line.
The defense for the Wolfpack is built around senior linebacker Brandon Pittman. Pittman is 6’2″ and tips the scales at 240 pounds. Pittman has good size but struggles getting to plays out wide. He is excellent in covering the run but lacks in pass coverage.
As for the Eagles answers to off season , there is only speculation. Fans got a glimpse of the vast improvement of the new offense from the spring game to the scrimmage last weekend. The team seems to have a grasp and showed only a few mental errors
Many are wondering who will be taking the field at quarterback for the Eagles this Saturday. The most likely choice will be returning starter sophomore Kevin Ellison. Ellison played in 11 games last season and threw for 756 yards in the triple option offense. While he may get the start, fans should watch out for sophomore quarterback Favion Upshaw to get a few snaps in the spread offense. Upshaw split time in the scrimmage last weekend and threw two touchdown passes.
Senior linebacker Edwin Jackson will lead the defense onto the field Saturday looking to take advantage of his final season as an Eagle. Jackson totaled for a team-high 92 tackles last season and 2 sacks. The senior will be tasked with shutting down the run from a dual running back offense from the Wolfpack that likes to line up in the Wildcat to change the pace of the game.
NC State does have talent on their side. They have recruited in the FBS for a while now and have been building a solid team over the last few years. The Eagles are entering this game as a clear underdog but that doesn’t mean the Wolfpack is going to take it easy on them. Both teams will come out swinging and with a few mental busts and turnovers going in the Eagle direction Georgia Southern could walk away from this weekend with their first win of the season and as a FBS program.