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Quarterbacks leading the way

Bus trip to West Virginia game is sold out
The Georgia Southern University Athletic Foundation announced Tuesday that the fan-bus trip to West Virginia is sold out.

The game, set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 5, in Morgantown, West Virginia, is the first game of the season for both the Eagles and Mountaineers.

“We are pleased the bus trip to Morgantown has received such a positive response from the Eagle Nation. In just one week, each seat on the bus was reserved,” said Justin Callaway, director of donor relations for the Athletic Foundation.

While the fan bus is sold out, tickets for the West Virginia game are still available and can be purchased online or by calling 1-800-GSU-WINS.

Eagle fans who are unable to travel can listen to the game live on Georgia Southern All Access or watch it with one of the viewing parties hosted by the Georgia Southern University Alumni Association. Go to for more details.

Just about everyone can agree that a team’s ability to be solid and deep at quarterback is an essential part of success.

If Georgia Southern fans needed a refresher course in that lesson, they got it in the 2014 season finale against Louisiana-Monroe in Statesboro, as two Eagle quarterbacks were forced to the bench with injuries with GSU trailing in the fourth quarter.

Where most teams would have been in a world of trouble, the Eagles took one step down the depth chart and produced Ezayi Youyoute. Despite playing just a handful of snaps in his four-year career in Statesboro, Youyoute commanded the offense like a seasoned starter, leading the Eagles to the win and the Sun Belt Conference championship.

Quarterbacks are again a huge strength for Georgia Southern. Five of them are in camp this fall, including junior Kevin Ellison — who has held the starting job since his freshman season — and senior Favian Upshaw.

“It’s huge for us (to have both back),” GSU coach Willie Fritz said. “They’re both great leaders that enjoy practice and film study. It’s a great comfort to know that we have those two guys.”

Rounding out the quarterbacks on the roster are redshirt freshman Monteo Garrett, true freshman Hampton McConnell and junior Vegas Harley, who served as a backup quarterback in 2013, switched to defense last season, and is now back at the quarterback position.

The duo of Ellison and Upshaw took nearly every snap for the Eagles last season. Ellison eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark both on the ground and through the air, while Upshaw — who was strategically inserted into the game for specific series — generated 670 yards of offense and totaled two touchdowns each running and passing.

Plenty of programs have struggled with a two-quarterback system, but since it worked for the Eagles last season, they see no reason not to do it again.

“It’s going to be the same schedule,” Upshaw said. “Maybe I get worked in a little more as we continue to get into some new schemes, but I’m just looking forward to giving what I’ve got.”

Last year’s impressive performance was enough to land Ellison on the second team of the All-Sun Belt squad, but he doesn’t mind sharing snaps with Upshaw.

“Me and Favian are two different types of players, but we’re the same guy,” Ellison said. “He’s a great guy who works hard and gives us a boost. When I’m in the game, he’s coaching me up. And when he’s in, I’m coaching him. It’s a great relationship that keeps us positive.”

No matter who is calling the plays, any Eagle quarterback on the field will need to fit the dual-threat profile that has made Ellison and Upshaw so successful. That said, even the top two tiers of the depth chart figure to have a bit more on their plates this season, as Fritz has consistently stated that more balance is a key for the 2015 squad.

“You get into the offseason and you start looking at some things,” Fritz said. “We were having so much success running the football and maybe we didn’t develop some other areas as much as we needed to.”

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