With nine days remaining until Georgia Southern kicks off its first season in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the team feels ready — as ready as it can be.
“There’s always opportunities out there and get better,” quarterback Kevin Ellison said Tuesday.
Preseason second-team All-Sun Belt linebacker Edwin Jackson agreed.
“You won’t be completely ready until you’re there in the moment,” he said. “Each day, I can tell you we’re getting more confident as a unit, and I feel like we’re getting better.”
The Eagles (7-4, 4-4 in the Southern Conference in 2013) are in a situation unlike anything they’ve experienced in recent memory. Even in a somewhat-down year like last season, Georgia Southern was picked in the preseason to win the SoCon. Perennial favorites to win the conference and Football Championship Subdivision titles aren’t used to being an afterthought. This year, the Eagles won’t be favorites in too many games.
They’ll also be underdogs against the season-opening opponent North Carolina State, an Atlantic Coast Conference school that won only three games a year ago.
“I know who Georgia Southern is, and a lot of people are finding out who Georgia Southern is,” Jackson said. “As we continue to get better every day, more people are going to find out. We’re not always going to be that underdog. That’s what we’re aiming for.”
When asked for one word to sum up what GSU needs this season, Jackson was quick to answer.
“Tenacity,” he said. “In order to do what we have to do to beat N.C. State, and win every game after that — that’s our goal, to be the best in the Sun Belt — you’ve got to have tenacity. You have to go out there in every movement, play like you want it.”
The Eagles were ineligible for the postseason last year. Now, all eyes are on the Sun Belt title.
“We just feel like we need to take advantage of this opportunity,” Jackson said. “The guys who left last year, they didn’t have this opportunity.”
“Last year, we played for each other and the fans,” Ellison said, “and this year we’re playing for more.”