If the Georgia Southern Eagles wanted to, they could start a senior at each position on the offensive line.
The problem might have been that first-year head coach Willie Fritz is installing new things on offense, and the biggest fundamental changes occur on the offensive line, which has shifted focus from man- to zone-blocking schemes. Turns out, the previous staff under Jeff Monken had some of the same schemes in the shotgun and pistol, and it wasn’t nearly the adjustment the current coaches thought it would be.
“Looking back after spring ball, we could have done a lot more with those guys and put more on them than we did,” said offensive coordinator Doug Ruse, who came to GSU with Fritz from Sam Houston State. “We thought it was going to be a slow transition to the zone scheme, but they really picked up on it fast.”
The line is top-heavy with upperclassmen. Of the 18 O-linemen on the roster, there are six seniors — Logan Daves, Garrett Frye, Raymond Klugey, Hunter Lamar, Trevor McBurnett and Manrey Saint-Amour — and four juniors — Darien Foreman, Maurice Hunt, Cole Peeples and Jeff Ward.
So much experience has made the transition go smoothly.
“We have a lot of guys who have played in a lot of games, and most of them have started,” McBurnett said. “Frye was an All-American last year. We’ve all lived together for years, we communicate and all that stuff plays in. Having veterans up front is really helpful.”
Known for having smaller, quicker offensive linemen in its triple-option scheme, Georgia Southern isn’t without some bulk. Eight tip the scales at 300-plus pounds, and four of them are freshmen who likely will have the luxury of a redshirt season
“We’ve got some good size and some mass in the guard positions,” Fritz said. “When you’re running a zone scheme, you’ve got to have mass in there at guard and center, and I think it can be a position of strength.”
Georgia Southern linemen also have long been known for their aggression. While much of the fundamental attacking will become reacting in Fritz’s scheme, the mentality hasn’t changed.
“We’re not taking anything away from, you know, get up and try to whip somebody,” McBurnett said. “It’s still the same mentality. That’s how you play as an offensive lineman. Just because we’re not coming off the ball as fast as we can doesn’t mean we don’t have the same tenacity.”
“It’s more of a controlled aggression,” Saint-Amour added. “It’s a little bit of a change, but not too bad.”
Bus trips for
away games planned
Bus trips for five of Georgia Southern’s away games are being offered to GSU fans through the Georgia Southern Athletic Foundation.
An overnight trip to the Eagles’ season opener at North Carolina State will depart Paulson Stadium at noon Friday, Aug. 29, and return following the game in Raleigh, N.C. Each seat is $126.58, with hotel-room price contingent upon accommodations depending on the number of guests sharing the room.
A pregame tailgate, which includes food and beverages, is available for an additional $20 for all bus trips. Game ticket and other meals are not included in the price for a seat on the bus.
Reservations can be made through Aug. 14 for the N.C. State game by calling 912-478-5520 or emailing Justin Callaway at email@example.com.
The Georgia Tech trip is a one-day trip that will depart at 6:30 a.m. Sept. 13 and return following the game. For $86.75, fans can ride the bus to Atlanta for the game against the Yellow Jackets with an additional $20 for the game-day tailgate spread. The deadline for a reservation for this trip is Aug. 29.
Additional information on the South Alabama, Georgia State and Navy trips is available at GSEagles.com/getonthebus.