For this week’s opponent preview, I chatted with Haisten Willis of Underdog Dynasty. You can check out my responses to his questions here.
1. Ga Southern is in the unenviable position of being one of those schools that when they find success, their head coach is probably going to be hired away pretty quick. How does the fanbase feel about Tyson Summers so far? Is he more defensive or offensive minded?
Well, that may be true, but Summers leaving isn't likely to be a problem based on how this season has played out so far. We're 3-2, but many already have their hands on the panic button. It took a blocked field goal to beat a 1-3 ULM, then Western Michigan handled us pretty easily, and we followed that up by losing to an 0-4 Arkansas State team despite being +5 in the turnover margin.
I'm not even sure how that's possible.
Summers is a defensive-minded coach who had been defensive coordinator at UCF and Colorado State. He seems to be a great defensive mind. But he hired two pass-first co-offensive coordinators after saying he would keep the option, and so far what we are seeing is not the option. At least, it's not the option we know and love at Georgia Southern. We can't seem to run the ball to save our lives, with a somewhat effective passing game bailing us out. It's not a good combination.
2. Despite the 2 losses, it still seems like Southern will finish near the top of their conference. What’s the expectation this year under a new head coach? Is he under or over achieving so far?
Maybe. We are 2-1 in conference, yes, but the team is looking worse week after week, and the better teams in the conference appear on the schedule later in the year. The expectation for the new coach was to more or less keep things rolling. We won nine games in 2014 and 2015, and basically all of our skill position players returned on offense. Losing to Western Michigan is no big deal, they're ranked and undefeated, but that Ark State game was baaaaaaad.
3. I’ve gotta be honest with you, I haven’t seen Ga Southern play yet this season, which will obviously change on Saturday – did the new coach keep the option principles that his predecessors used and found success with? Or has the offense drastically changed under him?
Again, I'm not an X's and O's guy by any means, but the offense this season does not look like the previous two editions, which were deadly. The formations look the same, they just don't seem to work. Tech should watch out for play-action passes, which we've had some success with. Overall though, I wouldn't be overly worried as a Jackets fan.
4. Tech’s offensive line and perimeter blocking are improved this season, but still looking shaky at times. What players should we be keeping an eye on Saturday on the Ga Southern defense?
Our front four and linebackers are our best units on defense. Watch out for Ironhead Gallon, Ukeme Eligwe, Darius Sapp and Jay Ellison. They're fast, physical and may perform better against the option than most. Our secondary is young but very talented with a lot of three-star underclassmen learning the game.
5. What offensive or defensive matchup of this game gives you the most concern for Georgia Southern in facing Georgia Tech?
I'm more worried about our offense finding any success than I am our defense. Tech will put up some points, it's just a matter of whether or not we can keep up. Finishing drives seems to be an especially big problem. We drove into the redzone five times last week and came away with four field goals. That's not going to win many football games.
6. And finally, how do you see this game playing out? What’s your final score prediction?
The line opened with Tech as an eight-point favorite. Since then the line has climbed to 10.5, which does not surprise me. Maybe the Southern offense figures out its blocking schemes this week or surprises Tech and things get interesting. If not, GT fans are gonna say "helluva" about three million times Saturday afternoon.
Thanks again to Haisten and Underdog Dynasty for speaking to us. We’re all looking forward to hosting Georgia Southern on Saturday. Go Jackets!