August 03, 2016
My favorite time of the year is quickly approaching.
Starting this coming weekend, football will be played every weekend between now and mid-February. Sure, this Sunday night is just the first NFL preseason game of the season. But it’s football.
And this week, most college football programs report to practice in preparation for the 2016 season — and that includes the Georgia Southern Eagles.
The banks of Beautiful Eagle Creek will come alive once again this week with the sounds of whistles blowing and pads cracking while the boys in blue and white begin the quest for another conference title and bowl berth. Football season is here.
Over the next several weeks, we’ll preview the upcoming season by breaking down each opponent, giving thoughts on position strengths and weaknesses and maybe even throwing in some predictions for the 2016 season.
Let’s start our season preview with the coaching staff.
The 2016 season will open the Tyson Summers era at Georgia Southern. Summers was named head coach of the Eagles following the 2015 season and departure of Willie Fritz, who took the head job at Tulane.
Summers comes to Georgia Southern by way of Colorado State, where he served as the Defensive Coordinator in 2015 after spending three years on the staff at Central Florida. In 2013, he helped guide UCF to a 12-1 record, a No. 10 ranking in the final Associated Press poll and capped the season with a victory over Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl.
Summers has also spent time at UAB, Troy, Georgia, Presbyterian and Georgia Southern in his career. He was the safeties coach under Brian Van Gorden in 2006 in Statesboro. I know that’s a year Georgia Southern fans don’t like talking about too much, but Summers is a Tifton native and has spent time in Statesboro, so moving back here is a homecoming of sorts.
Having been here before, he knows what Georgia Southern is all about. The fact that he is back makes me believe he wants to be here and, if he has success, he may not immediately jump at the first larger paycheck that he gets offered.
Summers brought in defensive coordinator Lorenzo Constantini. He worked with Zo at UCF and UAB, so they will be very familiar with each other and, given the success their defenses have had, I feel pretty confident about that side of the ball. Add to that a front seven that could end up being one of the best Eagle fans have seen in a while, and that unit could be pretty stingy this season.
The offensive side of the ball seems to bring up the most question marks primarily because Tyson Summers has only coached defense. That’s not a knock on him. He’s the first to tell you his strength will be on the defensive side of the ball and that he will give the offensive coaches the freedom to do their thing. So he hired co-offensive coordinators to oversee the offense. And personally, I love the move.
Rance Gillespie is another Statesboro returnee as he comes back to coach quarterbacks and serve as co-offensive coordinator. He was the Eagles’ offensive coordinator from 2007-2009 under head coach Chris Hatcher. Quite honestly, the offense didn’t exactly set the world on fire during those years, but Hatcher was an offensive coach and had a lot of control over the offense and play calling.
David Dean is the other half of the tandem of offensive coordinators and will coach the wide receivers. Dean comes to Statesboro from Valdosta State where he has been on staff since 2000 and served as head coach since 2007. During his time in Valdosta, he won three Division II national championships. And the Blazers put up some pretty gaudy offensive numbers over the last 15 years — hopefully Dean can bring some of that firepower with him to Statesboro.
So far, I like what I have seen from this coaching staff. They seem like good guys who the players seem to want to play for — but they also have very high expectations. These guys want to win and they want to win here. You have to love that they take pride in this university and this football program and want to build on the tradition of excellence.
But as much as I like them so far, we really won’t know for sure what we have until September. And I’m ready to find out.