What are realistic expectations for this season’s Georgia Southern football team?
Would less than six wins and no bowl appearance suffice and keep second-year head coach Tyson Summers employed with the Eagles in 2018?
These are questions that I’ve been floating to friends and fans of the program, and I have received a mixed bag of answers. Some claim that with the mass exodus of talent at the end of last season, expectations should remain low.
Others think that anything less than six or seven wins and a trip to a bowl game is unforgivable, and Summers should be looking for a new job if that happens.
I’m willing to give the entire team some slack heading into this season. The Eagles are breaking in new talent all over the offense, led by new coordinator Bryan Cook.
Cook comes highly recommended from Georgia Tech, and should reinvigorate an offense that was completely stagnant last season.
The quarterback job, by all accounts, is redshirt freshman Shai Werts’ to lose. The schedule lays out tough to start off with, as trips to Auburn and Indiana are sandwiched between a pair of home games against New Hampshire and Arkansas State.
Werts won’t have time to slowly meld with the offense, but reviews about the kid have been glowing, so if the new quarterback is as good as advertised fans should be able to see the team improve, even if it stumbles out of the gate at 2-2 or 1-3.
Improvement will be the name of the game in 2017, and will be the only way fans don’t riot on social media this year. If the fanbase sees improvement but the wins aren’t immediately there, I think we can live with it.
Running backs L.A. Ramsby and Wesley Fields return to help make Werts’ transition to the collegiate level a bit easier, so look to these two to be leaned on early and often. There has been speculation that other backs like Matt LaRoche might see the field despite the unit being young across the board.
One aspect that will be interesting to see is how wide receivers are utilized in Cook’s new offensive scheme.
Wideout Myles Campbell showed flashes of explosiveness last season, and should be fed the ball in open space if the Eagles elect to throw. Former four-star recruit Darion Anderson slots in as another talented player, so if Southern wants to throw, it has the athletes to make it happen.
The offensive line comes in with a good mix of experience and youth, so look for rotations at those five spots as the guys up front work to open up holes in the run game early and often.
The real strength of the defense should lie in the secondary.
Southern recruited safety and cornerback spots heavily over the last few years, and it’s time those spots start to bear fruit as a shutdown unit.
Players like Joshua Moon, Christian Matthew, and Kindle Vildor should make this team a powerhouse on the back end with another year of seasoning.
The defensive line will need much improvement after only earning 11 sacks as a group last year and finishing the year tied at 124th in the country.
To combat the pass rushing woes, the end and tackle positions have also been a point of focus in recruiting, and the heavily touted players like Traver Vliem and Brian Miller should see time in rotation.
The linebacking core will be led by lone senior Chris DeLaRosa in the middle, with 13 other players listed as backers on Georgia Southern’s website.
As I mentioned before, the schedule is tough, but if everything breaks right, I could see anywhere from 6-8 wins and a bowl bid for Southern.
Georgia Southern 2017 Schedule
|Sept. 2||at Auburn|
|Sept. 9||vs. New Hampshire|
|Sept. 23||at Indiana|
|Oct. 4||vs. Arkansas State|
|Oct. 14||vs. New Mexico State|
|Oct. 21||at University of Massachusetts|
|Oct. 28||at Troy|
|Nov. 4||vs. Georgia State|
|Nov. 9||at Appalachian State|
|Nov. 18||vs. South Alabama|
|Nov. 25||at UL-Lafayette|
|Dec. 2||at Coastal Carolina|
After having high hopes for Southern last year, I will be a lot more conservative this time around.
I think the Eagles win six games with victories over New Hampshire, New Mexico State, UMass, Georgia State, South Alabama, and Coastal Carolina. Should GS gel right away, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Eagles defeat Indiana or UL-Lafayette this season.
Personally, I think anything less than six wins this season should be considered a failure, barring major injuries to key pieces. If Summers and company want to keep the fanbase happy leading into 2018, this will be the season to show what caliber of head coach he truly is.