A split-squad Georgia Southern Eagles squad faced off against itself Saturday afternoon in Statesboro as we got our first look at the team under new head coach Tyson Summers.
It's hard to judge what you're watching in such a scenario, as every play is a double-edged sword: Was it a great defensive stop or a bad running play? Was that pick-six a nice look for the defense or a reason to doubt your quarterback? There's really no way to tell, but here are a few observations from this afternoon's peek at the program:
1. It's the gun option.
Summers said the team would run the gun option, and that's exactly what we saw Saturday afternoon. I'd say the run to pass ratio was about 60-40, and Summers indicated afterward the team would likely run more in game situations as it was using the spring contest to practice passing.
Generally speaking, the defense seemed a little ahead of the offense, scoring its own touchdown and forcing a lot of three and outs. Aside from Favian Upshaw and Kevin Ellison, we also saw Monteo Garrett, Hampton McConnell and LaBaron Anthony line up out of the shotgun at quarterback.
2. Favian Upshaw Looked Sharp.
The blue and white teams were set up to be as evenly matched as possible, so much so that the quarterbacks and offensive lineman switched teams throughout the game. Upshaw seemed to pick up where he left off at the GoDaddy Bowl, looking confident both running and passing the ball.
He led a touchdown drive early that was capped off by a Chaz Thornton two-yard touchdown run, and added a passing score to BJ Johnson in the fourth quarter. The only blemish was a pick-six thrown to Ironhead Gallon on a defensive blitz. Ellison looked pretty good, but not quite as sharp as he was caught in the backfield a few times. They're expected to continue rotating this fall.
3. We could see four running backs in the rotation in 2016.
Thornton scored not once but twice, tacking on a 40-yard score in the fourth quarter. Matt Breida was out with an injury and will surely be a star again this fall, but last season's three-headed attack of Breida, LA Ramsby and Wesley Fields could become a four-man rotation this fall. Can you say deadly run game?
And the rest
Senior Younghoe Koo was one for two on field goals, and redshirt freshman Tyler Bass looked great adding three points of his own. All extra points were good.
Summers looked to be making a fashion statement by eschewing sneakers for brown wingtips during the game, but said afterword he simply forgot his tennis shoes.
The team got a little motivation for next season, getting their 2015 GoDaddy Bowl championship rings once the game was over.
Bowl Champs pic.twitter.com/5lTdFHjlje— Haisten Willis (@HaistenWillis) April 16, 2016
We'll see you in the fall.