The annual Blue-White spring game was the first opportunity for fans to come out an watch the
Special teams, or special forces as the team refers to it, started off the day. Junior punter Ryan Norwicki blasted several 55-yard punts from both ends of the field with decent hang-time.
Session one began with a two-minute drill, a situation placing the ball on the thirty-yard line and assuming they are down by a touchdown with less than two minutes in the game. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Kevin Ellison lined his team up in the spread formation to start the afternoon.
The opening drives showed the team knocking off some rust. Ellison started the first drive with a fumble on an exchange up the middle. Sophomore quarterback Favian Upshaw took the field and completed a 30-yard pass to sophomore receiver Montay Crockett.
Through four sessions of offensive work the team totaled for over 300 rushing yards and 100 passing yards. Upshaw finished the day with four completions including a four-yard touchdown pass to junior running back James Dean. Dean returned to action after missing the 2013 season due to injury.
“Coming off on an injury the only thing you want to do is get back on the field and to do that in the spring game and in the new stadium is just great,” Dean said.
Sophomore quarterback Vegas Harley had a successful afternoon completing three of four passes including a 30-yard pass to senior receiver Zach Walker. The running backs put on an impressive performance with a two-yard dive into the end zone from senior running back Kenny Foster.
The defense showed few signs of weakness all day. Eight players recorded more than five tackles. Sophomore safety William Bussey led the team with eight tackles, giving him some excellent exposure.
“I’m glad to get my name out there for next season, but I am playing for this school, Statesboro, and this team,” Bussey said.
Upshaw was calm and collected in the pocket, tucking and running at the right times. His performance showed that the starting quarterback spot may be up for grabs.
“I lined up and ran all the plays coach wanted us to run. I just tried to keep everyone in high spirits. We executed and looked pretty good towards the end,” Upshaw said.
The Eagles seemed to grasp the new changes on the field, especially on offense. Other than a few miscommunications at the beginning of the session the team committed only one false start. Fritz commented on his team’s ability to adapt to the new offensive changes.
“I think they’ve been doing a great job. They’ve really done a good job embracing our staff and our philosophies, it’s been excellent,” Fritz said.
Starting a season with a new head coach and host of other new faces on the staff can be difficult for some teams. The Eagles are inspired by their new coaches and look forward to competing with Fritz at the helm.
Dean said, “We all bought in to his message. He is a player’s coach and he genuinely cares about everybody. He (coaches) in a way that makes the players feel involved.”