FROM Georgia Southern Sports Information
STATESBORO, Ga. – A lot of work got done by the Georgia Southern Football team in a short amount of time Saturday in the Blue-White Spring scrimmage at Paulson Stadium. Defined by four situational series after field goal and punt units got some action, both the offense and defense showed the 4,137 in attendance their progress.
New Head Coach Willie Fritz has used spring ball as a period for the Eagles to learn, and Saturday, even with some early jitters, had a chance to show Eagle Nation how much they have absorbed in the last three weeks.
All four quarterbacks saw action with Favian Upshaw connecting on four passes and Vegas Harley going 2-3, each with a touchdown pass. James Dean made a shoestring catch on Upshaw’s four-yard pass while Harley found Zach Walker for a 30-yard reception. Running back Kenny Foster also scored a touchdown with Dennis Pritchard and Antonio Williams rushing for more than 30 yards.
Coach Fritz remained on the field, observing from behind the offense, while the Eagle assistant coaches were on their respective sidelines. Coordinators Jack Curtis (defense) and Doug Ruse (offense) called plays from the coaches’ box. The scrimmage was broken into multiple parts – with field goal and punt units out early, a session of two-minute drills, and then situations from various points on the field with the 1s vs. 1s, 2s vs. 2s and 3s vs. 3s.
The Eagle offense, in the four sessions totaled nearly 300 yards of rushing and more than 100 passing yards while the defense had eight players with five or more total tackles. Rising sophomore William Bussey had seven and Deshawntee Gallon recorded two “sacks” to go along with six tackles.
“Until you go back and look at things, it is hard to say,” said Georgia Southern Head Coach Willie Fritz. “Early I thought we did a really poor job of managing the 25/40 second clock, but the guys settled down and I thought we did a nice job of that the second time the guys were in.”
A number of players had the opportunity to touch the ball. Fritz and the Eagle coaching staff will use today’s scrimmage to assist in the evaluation process as they determine starters, players on the second team and those who will come in for the preseason and make the travel squad. Hard decisions will have to be made to get the roster to 125 prior to the season.
Ninety-nine players dressed out for today’s scrimmage, all auditioning for a chance to for a starting spot, playing time or a place on the team. “I want to give everyone a good, honest evaluation and where they are at, and see what they could do,” Fritz said.
Fewer changes have been made on the defensive side of the ball and as expected, the blue squad, especially early in the sessions, appeared to be ahead of the offense.
“The defense was getting a little bit of a bead on what we are doing offensively,” Fritz said. “They might know the calls as well as the offense does. We’ll have to do a good job of mixing that up.”
Running the 4-3 defense the last four years and for three seasons under Defensive Coordinator Jack Curtis, the Eagle defense showed some new wrinkles.
“I thought Coach Curtis is like all defensive coordinators, he’s going to throw the kitchen sink at you in scrimmage-type situations,” Fritz said. “We did a good job of rotating four man fronts and three-man fronts, lot of zone blitz and movement. It’s just hard to block all that stuff.”
Georgia Southern will have two more practices this upcoming week with the final of 15 practices on Thursday afternoon at 4:15 p.m. on the banks of “Beautiful Eagle Creek.”
Georgia Southern plays its first season in FBS and the Sun Belt this year, opening its 2014 slate at N.C. State on August 30th.
CANNED FOOD DRIVE EXCEEDS GOAL:
Fourteen hundred canned food items were donated at the gate prior to today’s Blue-White Scrimmage and with previous donations from the Georgia Southern Football coaches wives and Eagle Cheerleaders, that number totaled 1,657 items. The items will be transferred to the Statesboro Food Bank to help offset its monthly distribution needs.
SEEING PAULSON EXPANSION IN PERSON
Major changes have taken place at Paulson Stadium since the final home game of the 2013 season. Installation of the mid-deck sections began in February and while images posted over the last several weeks show the progress, fans who saw it in person today got the full impact of the expansion and construction of the Football Operations Center near the east endzone.
“This is just awesome, it gives us the opportunity to recruit and top anyone in the Sun Belt or Conference USA,” Fritz said. “We’ve got as good or better facilities than anyone else now.”
ADIDAS ITEMS NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE:
Fans can purchase all the latest Georgia Southern Eagles merchandise, including official team sideline gear later this summer, by visiting fanzone.gseagles.com. The site launched Saturday morning.
Georgia Southern Athletics provides up-to-date information on all its sports through its official website, GSEagles.com, through social media channels facebook.com/GSAthletics and twitter.com/GSAthletics, and “EaglesGATA” mobile app for Android and iOS. Tickets to Georgia Southern athletics events can be purchased by calling 1-800-GSU-WINS or by visiting GSEagles.com and clicking on tickets in the top menu.
Georgia Southern Athletics provides up-to-date information on all its sports through its official website, GSEagles.com, through social media channels facebook.com/GSAthletics, twitter.com/GSAthletics, iOS app Georgia Southern Eagles and Android app Eagles GATA.
Season tickets for the Eagles' first campaign in FBS are available by calling 1-800-GSU-WINS. The renewal period for current season ticket holders extends through Friday, April 18th.