Opposition Danger Men: Georgia Southern

The opposition danger men preview enters its final three game stretch with the visit of Georgia Southern to Annapolis. One of the two new members of the Sun Belt Conference this year, Georgia Southern did the unthinkable in 2013 when they marched into Gainesville and knocked off the mighty Florida Gators. Here are the guys to watch on both sides of the ball for the Eagles.

Georgia Southern

Offense: QB – Kevin Ellison

Georgia Southern is a team in transition both in terms of the level of play and the offensive style with which they will attack their opponents in 2014. After running a hugely successful triple option attack for years, a coaching change has brought in a shift to a more modern, spread system. This change in scheme is going to be felt by all, but none more so than incumbent quarterback Kevin Ellison.

Ellison attempted 79 total passes last fall. The change in system will see him attempting somewhere between 15 and 25 per game this season. Taking the middle of that range as the base, Ellison would throw three times as many passes, which is obviously a huge adjustment. The ability of Ellison, who was recruited as a running style quarterback in the Keenan Reynolds mold, to adapt to this change in scheme will define how well this season goes for the Eagles.

Ellison, though, can definitely still make plays no matter the system. Last fall the fleet footed runner rushed for 886 yards and eight touchdowns on 127 carries. He is very adept at reading defenses and quick to make a decision when to attack and when to hand the ball of in the option game. If this move to the pass results in plays where Ellison can perhaps move the pocket and escape contain, then there could be some long touchdown runs in his immediate future. To counter this Navy will obviously have to keep Ellison in the pocket and try to force him to use his arm to beat them from the traditional quarterback position.

Defense: LB – Edwin Jackson

The offense is not the only unit getting an overhaul in 2014 as the Eagles will be slowly transitioning from a 4-3 base to a 4-2-5. For most of this season it would seem safe to assume a mix of defenses will be used, but as the team is heavy on the back end and thin at linebacker the decision makes sense. The only problem is that if ran badly the 4-2-5 can be gashed in the run game and torn apart by the pass, thus senior linebacker Edwin Jackson needs to have a stellar final season.

Jackson was recently named to the preseason Sun Belt All-Conference second team and was the Eagles leading tackler last year with 92 stops. The former walk-on only enhanced his reputation in the biggest game last fall as he posted a game-high 10 tackles in the upstart victory over the Gators in The Swamp. At 5-feet-11 and 225-pounds Jackson is both shorter and heavier than you would like for the rangy linebacker type needed in that 4-2-5. He does, however, have an incredible work ethic and a desire to make both himself, and those around him, better by his play on the field. It is this leadership ability as much as anything which makes him the player to watch on the Georgia Southern defense.

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