Our long, cold, bitter, terrible, horrible, no good very bad offseason is over and this weekend you will get to see real life pigskin with the Georgia Southern Eagles facing off against the Savannah State Tigers.
Will it be a great game? No. But it will be a chance for the Eagle faithful to renew old ties, tailgate, see friends, watch the band and cheerleaders and get amped up for the season to come.
Let the party begin.
Start Time: 6 p.m. EST
Location: Paulson Stadium, Statesboro, Ga.
Records: GS (0-0), SSU (0-0)
Weather: 84 degrees at kickoff. 58 percent humidity, 4 mph winds.
Betting Line: Off (Although Odds Shark lists Southern as a 56.5-point favorite)
Georgia Southern Outlook
Steve Spurrier called these the preseason games, and this is one of the best examples you’ll find. Savannah State is overmatched in just about every game it plays, but that’s especially true when the two Coastal Empire teams line up against each other.
Last time GS played SSU the final score was 83-9. The time before that it ended 77-9. You can expect a similar outcome this time, with the starters lasting maybe halfway through the second quarter. Many fans think Southern should stop playing this matchup in spite of the regional Kumbaya, and it’s hard to argue based on recent final scores.
That said, this is going to be our first look at the official gun option Tyson Summers says the team will run, and it will be fun to watch our football stars score some touchdowns.
How this plays out offensively will be very interesting. For one, the team won’t want to show too much ahead of next week’s Sun Belt opener with South Alabama. At the same time, this will be a good chance to do any experimenting with extra passes or whatever else the Eagles’ offensive minds want to try.
For three, unfortunately the quarterback-running back team of Kevin Ellison, Favian Upshaw, Matt Breida and LA Ramsby won’t be around forever. Garbage time will give us a good look at who may be the next face of the team at quarterback, with freshman Seth Shuman and sophomore LaBaron Anthony impressing in practice.
So anything can happen.
Similarly, fresh faces in the secondary will get some playing time, including players like Joshua Moon, Jessie Liptrot, Jay Bowdry and Monquavion Brinson. All are highly regarded recruits who will need to adjust to the college game early. At linebacker, we’ll get our first shot at Florida State transfer Ukeme Eligwe.
We’ll also get our first look at whatever this turns out to be.
Here are the helmets #GSFB will wear Sat. To see the rest of the uniforms, you have to show up at Paulson Stadium! pic.twitter.com/fMtNlTxjSr— GS Football (@GSAthletics_FB) September 1, 2016
Savannah State Outlook
The Tigers coaching job is turnover heavy (10 coaches in 17 seasons), although you’ve got to give the school credit for being aggressive in scheduling games against teams like Florida State, Oklahoma State and Georgia Southern. Those checks definitely mean a lot to the school.
Erik Raeburn is in his first year and reportedly likes to walk around the Garden of Good and Evil sporting Tigers gear. He’ll need as much voodoo as he can get at Paulson.
According to the Savannah Morning News, the first question asked when people learn he’s the head coach is often “What were you thinking?” But he’s optimistic for the program’s potential.
SSU went 1-9 last year but that 1 was crucial: It broke a 24-game losing streak. The team has won two games over the last three seasons and has lost 64 of 69. You get the idea.
Raeburn went 12-1 last season coaching in Division III so something’s got to give. Unfortunately for the Tigers, it’s probably going to be them.
This one is more of a “welcome back” party and a celebration of Eagle football than a competitive contest. The turnout should be good, although the storm may thin out the student section, and the stadium will be mostly full until halftime. All bets are off after that.
Speaking of bets, again there is no official line but if you like the Odds Shark number of Georgia Southern minus 56.5, take the Eagles.