It’s a new era for the Sun Belt Conference with first-year members Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Idaho and New Mexico State, and it’s a new world for the Mountaineers and Eagles, who are playing in the Football Bowl Subdivision for the first time this week.
But some things never change when it comes to season openers. Texas State coach Dennis Franchione probably said it best on Monday on the Sun Belt coaches teleconference.
“First games are always unique creatures of their own,” Franchione said. “You meet the enemy sometimes on the first day and it’s more you than anything else.”
First-year Georgia Southern coach Willie Fritz agrees. He’ll lead the Eagles into Carter-Finley Stadium on Saturday in Raleigh, N.C., to take on the N.C. State Wolfpack at 12:30 p.m.
“You’ve got to do a great job with sideline adjustments in the first game,” Fritz said, probably more so than you have to do the rest of the year.”
For Fritz, coaching an FBS team for the first time, size is unsurprisingly the biggest concern, though it’s not the only one.
“They’ve got outstanding size and we’re not a real big team,” Fritz said. “Probably every team we play this year is going to be a little bigger than what we are. But we think we match up well with them as far as the speed aspect is concerned. In the first game of the season, there’s always a lot of what-ifs or uncertainties of what they’re going to be doing. We heard they’re going to be changing defenses. They’re probably going to be running a 4-2-5. They’ve got a new quarterback they’re very high on and they’ll probably change their offense to fit his strengths.”