Georgia Southern Football: 2015 Season Preview


The Georgia Southern Eagles look to repeat as champions of the Sun Belt Conference in 2015 after going undefeated in the league last year.

Georgia Southern didn’t show any signs of trouble in their first season in the Sun Belt last year as they finished their two-year transition from the FCS to the FBS with a perfect 8-0 record in league play.

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The Eagles became the third team to win the conference in their first year, joining Nevada’s 1992 Big West team and Marshall’s 1997 MAC team, and they became the first team to go undefeated in conference play in their first year in the FBS. Despite the team’s dominance on the field, they were ineligible to play in a bowl game per the NCAA’s transition rules.

But with a host of players returning on both sides of the ball, including the nation’s most productive rushing attack, the Eagles will look to make it back-to-back Sun Belt titles and play in a bowl game this year.

Offensive Outlook

The Eagles led the nation with an average of 381.1 yards per game as the triple option attack stymied opposing defenses all season. Junior running back Matt Breida returns after leading the team in rushing with 1,485 yards and 17 touchdowns. He had seven, 100-yard games, including two games with 200 yards and should built on those numbers this year with quarterback Kevin Ellison also returning.

Ellison had one more carry than Breida did last year and finished second on the team in yards with 1,096 and scored 12 touchdowns. The passing from Ellison left a lot to be desired, but when the triple option attack is as dominant as it was there wasn’t much need to air it out in most weeks. Ellison threw five touchdowns on the year, but only one of them came in the final seven weeks of the year and he had one more interception than touchdown in the last nine weeks (3:2) so if you get a big lead on the Eagles they can be vulnerable when they have to throw the ball.

Losing four offensive line starters will challenge the newcomers to provide the same amount of running room as they did for Breida and Ellison last year, but the scheme should work and they’ll be able to plug in new bodies around guard Darien Foreman, the lone returning starter.

Head coach Willie Fritz knows the option as well as anyone in the country short of Paul Johnson so I don’t expect the rushing attack slowing down, but you would like to see the ability to throw the ball beyond the line of scrimmage now and then just to give opposing defenses something else to worry about. B.J. Johnson returns after leading the team in receiving with 23 catches for 312 yards, but Zach Walker and Kentrellis Showers open the No. 2 and No. 3 jobs for newcomers.

Defensive Outlook

Georgia Southern had the nation’s No. 30 scoring defense, allowing an average of 23.4 yards per game to lead the Sun Belt and were third in total defense. But because of the offensive’s dominance, the defense is perceived as a weakness, but there’s room for improvement.

The Eagles improved in sacks and tackles for loss from the year before and a similar leap can occur this year even though linebacker Edwin Jackson and his 100 tackles is gone as is four-year starter in the secondary Deon Stanley. 16 contributors return, including senior linebacker Antwione Williams and junior defensive end Bernard Dawson who combined for 14 tackles for loss last year.

Biggest area of weakness is in the secondary where they struggled last year and this year’s unit will be even younger and less experienced. Georgia Southern allowed more than 250 passing yards per game seven times, which is both a sign that they were often leading late and teams had to throw to catch up, but also their inability to make plays on opposing quarterbacks or generate much disruption.


Teams may have taken Georgia Southern lightly last year in their first year in the Sun Belt as they finished their transition to the FBS, but that won’t be the case this year after going undefeated in the league last year. The rushing attack will be every bit as dominant as it was last year and will be the driving force behind the team’s success. The lack of a passing attack doesn’t really matter much when you rush for 380 yards per game, but if the defense puts them in holes early where they have to throw more than they’d like, the Eagles could be in some trouble.

The defense has the chance to be even better than the league-leading unit they showed last year if they can play with more efficiency and as long as the secondary isn’t a disaster, the Eagles should once again be in contention to win the Sun Belt with Louisiana-Lafayette and Appalachian State in the mix as well.

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