2014 Georgia Southern: What You Must Know

Posted May 20, 2014

Preview 2014 - What You Need To Know About Georgia Southern (Photo: Georgia Southern)

2014 Georgia Southern Preview

What You Need To Know...

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2014 Depth Chart & Unit Rankings To Come This Summer

What You Need To Know About The Offense: The offense that boasted the most dangerous and productive ground attack in college football – averaging 360 yards per game – will undergo a bit of a tweak under the new coaching staff. The zone-read/option will still be the main mode of transportation, only with more of a pistol alignment to allow the magnificent Kevin Ellison to be used a bit more of a passer as well as a runner. Replacing Minnesota Viking Jerick McKinnon in the backfield is going to be a problem, but there's speed and flash to help out the dangerous Ellison. Led by center Manrey Saint-Amour and LT Garrett Frye, the line should be among the most effective in the Sun Belt, and the receivers are there to make the passing game go with B.J. Johnson and Tray Butler ready to do far more with the ball coming their way.

What You Need To Know About The Defense: The defense was okay, but it didn't come up with enough takeaways and it needs to do far more to get to the quarterback and be disruptive with just two recovered fumbles and 12 sacks. Defensive coordinator Jack Curtis is still around from the old coaching staff, and his 4-3 alignment has a good linebacking corps led by big-hitter Edwin Jackson in the middle. More often than not, though, the Eagles utilize a 4-2-5 and keeps a nickel defender on the field while allowing the safeties to roam. The problem and concern when three true linebackers aren't in is a front four that has to replace three starters and needs more explosiveness from the ends. Fortunately, the secondary is where the experience is.

Players You Need To Know

1. QB Kevin Ellison, Soph.
Used more so far as an option runner, he's going to get a chance to open things up a bit and work more as an all-around quarterback. Not that he's not already terrific with the ball in his hands on the move, finishing second on the team with 886 yards and eight touchdowns averaging seven yards a pop. He's only 6-0 and 181 pounds, but he's able to take a shot and keep on rolling, running 43 times in a two game stretch in the middle of last season, culminating in a 15-carry, 118-yard, two score day in the win over Florida. It's not that he can't throw, he just hasn't done much of it, completing just 41-of-79 passes on the year for 756 yards and two scores with three picks. He's not going to be Tom Brady out of the pocket, but he has to take advantage of the one-on-one matchups to create the big play. Extremely quick, he can cut on a dime and get up the field in a hiccup, but his best attribute is his decision-making ability. As the season wore on, he got more and more comfortable running the attack, and it showed.

2. C Manrey Saint-Amour, Sr.
Built to be a center, the 6-1, 282-pound veteran is the leader and main man for a good line that's great at getting on the move. The quarterback up front, he has as much to do with the option offense rolling as anyone in the backfield, making the line calls and then blasting away as one of the team's most physical players. Kevin Ellison might be the team's star, but the line is Saint-Amour's. With 23 starts in the last two years, he's ready for the move to the Sun Belt.

3. LB Edwin Jackson, Sr.
Very smart and very tough, he has the right make-up to be the middle linebacker and the leader of the defense. At 5-11 and 226 pounds, he's not huge, but he's tough and provides a major pop when he gets around the ball, leading the team with 92 tackles with two sacks and five quarterback hurries. While he comes up with the plays funneled his way, he's quick enough to chase things down and get in on everything. He doesn't miss an open stop.

4. OT Garrett Frye, Sr.
A mainstay on the line, the left tackles has started every game over the last two seasons and could get a chance to shine even more as a pass protector. At 6-5 and 286 pounds he has good size and a nice frame to go along with the feet to get on the move. Very smart and very steady, he'll be in the mix for all-star honors as a technician of a run blocker who'll be very, very frustrating for the average defensive ends.

5. DT Johnathan Battle, Jr.
The main man in the middle, he's a 4-3 tackle and 3-technique who can get into the backfield from time to time, leading the team with three sacks to go along with 34 tackles despite being a spot starter. At 6-1 and 277 pounds he's a short, squatty defender, but it's tough to get leverage to shove him around. A great get for the program, he's turning into a do-it-all defender who should be more of a disruptive force.

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