Returning Starters – Offense: 5 Defense: 7
Preview: The Eagles made an incredible transition into the FBS going 9-3 overall and 8-0 in the Sun Belt to win the conference title in their first season as members. Georgia Southern wasn’t eligible for postseason play last year because it was their first season as an FBS program. The team will be out to prove themselves in 2015 and get into a bowl game which they deserved to be in at the end of 2014.
Georgia Southern is well known for running the triple-option offense and they ran it to success in 2014 averaging a remarkable 381 yards per game on the ground. Head coach Willie Fritz was able to implement some elements of his spread offense last season and he’s looking to have his offense throw the ball more in 2015. The QB and RB position remains strong with returning players Ellison, Upshaw, and Breida ready to put up big yards on the ground again this season. The O-line is in rebuild mode with 5 senior moving on, but the unit still has confidence they can build around all-conference guard Foreman and they added transfer Byrd from UAB.
The Eagles were strong on defense last season and with 7 starters returning along with a number of guys who put in time as backups this unit can take another step forward in 2015. The defense wants to force more turnovers this season as this was the one weakness of the defense last year. The front of the defense will be strong with 9 contributors returning along the line and this unit is headlined by Dawson and Ellison. The LB corps will also be amongst the best in the conference with Gallon and Williams leading the way. The secondary was adequate last year, but this unit is hoping to be better with an influx of signees coming aboard to compete for time.
Prediction: Georgia Southern couldn’t have asked to have a better transition into the FBS and this squad is hoping to repeat the success they had last season so they can make it to their first bowl game. It wasn’t fair that the Eagles were held out of a bowl game last season and this group will likely use that as motivation this year. If the Eagles get similar production out of their defense mixed with an offense that’s expected to continue to put up big numbers this team could repeat as conference champs.
Projected Record: 8-4 (7-1)