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Time to relax, Eagles: It's in good hands


January 03, 2018

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With a new year here, it is a time to look forward to the next 365 days and get off to the right start. But to look forward, it is nice to look back. This past month I had the awesome opportunity to attend the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia. That’s right, America’s game. As the only FBS game all week, the national spotlight was turned to the City of Brotherly Love, and I was right in the middle of it. However, indirectly I was not the only thing Georgia Southern mixed into the atmosphere.

Between the two rival academies, eight of the combined 28 coaches had direct ties to Georgia Southern: six from Army and two from Navy. But more than the personnel connections were present; the offensive philosophies on both sides of the ball stemmed from Paul Johnson’s offense that was made prominent in Statesboro. Granted it was a slushy day on the field thanks to the snow all day long, but I was in heaven watching the option being run effectively. One thing I noticed, along with most football fans, is that the two offenses had their own individual tweaks. Keeping in mind that both head coaches were disciples under Paul Johnson, you could determine the differences in the offenses. In the first two drives of the Army-Navy game, there were about seven distinct different formations of the offenses, only one of which was the under-center flexbone lineup us Eagles are all accustomed to seeing. However the results of these two drives? Twenty-two plays (11 each), 137 yards (Army 73, Navy 64), 14:05 time of possession combined.

Tying this to the current state of Georgia Southern, I think it is funny how over the past two months people all across the social media groups, message boards, and other outlets all are up in arms over what the type of offense will be. Every day I see posts claiming “Georgia Southern needs to go full flexbone offense” or “We need the Willie Fritz/Doug Ruse offense back.” While everyone has their opinion, I can assure you that the only way you will see the true version of the Paul Johnson flexbone is by hiring Paul Johnson himself. The only way you will see the exact replica of the Doug Ruse offense is to hire, you guessed it, Doug Ruse. Basically, when an offensive coordinator comes in to a new place, it is an opportunity for him to build his own individual offense.

The point that I am moving towards is this: No offensive scheme is exactly the same. I can assure you that Coach Bob DeBesse’s offense will have its own intricacies to it that differ from Willie Fritz’s offense. For those unaware, DeBesse was Fritz’s Offensive Coordinator at Sam Houston State in 2011 and 2012. If you watch the New Mexico offense side by side to Georgia Southern’s 2014-15 offense you can begin to determine some differences. If my memory serves me correct, Fritz ran one play from under center, which was the fumble at the goal line against NC State. Everything outside of that was out of the shotgun or pistol formations. With DeBesse, I am seeing a few more plays from under center. This won’t be enough to garner the title of a flexbone offense by any means, but it will certainly be a presence that is greater than what we have seen in the past year. The other fold in the DeBesse offense that is different is one that is not visible to the casual football fan. While watching approximately four hours of New Mexico game film, I finally was able to put my thumb on it. The majority of Georgia Southern’s big plays in 2014-15 were runs that were right up the middle of the field. However, New Mexico’s blocking schemes set up where their big plays are directed off the tackles. The difference that this will lead to is that the plays might take a half-second longer to develop, but will allow the quarterback and halfback to pick up a better read on the holes, allowing runs to spring for big gains quicker. In the end, be happy we have the option back in Statesboro, and regardless of the style of option, it will work and it will win.

Overall, I am thoroughly excited to have DeBesse and the rest of the new staff that Coach Chad Lunsford has brought in for the Eagles. In fact, I speak on behalf of most of Eagle Nation when I say that we are excited! It may be nine months before the football season begins, but it would be hard to find a fan base more enthusiastic than the one in Statesboro. There will always be naysayers, but that is to be expected with any coaching hire. I think that Lunsford has done a great job in his tenure as both interim and full time head coach. What I saw was a coach who genuinely understands what Georgia Southern football means to the players, students and community, something that I had not seen from a head coach since Fritz. Coach Lunsford wasted no time at all turning the attitude around, and though he may have only scored two wins on the field, the momentum gained around the entire atmosphere was a tremendous boost.

Time is about to move fast for Georgia Southern football with National Signing Day quickly approaching in February. The entire Eagle coaching staff has a lot working for them this recruiting season, as Georgia Southern’s campus, athletic facilities and traditions will help attract recruits as it always has. On top of this, the new staff is filled with great recruiters, as Lunsford, Coach Scot Sloan and Coach Vic Cabral are widely known as some of the top recruiters in the Southeast, and will definitely bring some firepower in this spring. That being said, sit back, relax, and be excited to know that the future of Georgia Southern football is in great hands with the new coaching staff.


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