ON THE BEAT: Georgia Southern

Beat writer Mike Brown spoke with Pack Pride about the Wolfpack's opening opponent, Georgia Southern. Brown talked about the team's strengths, weaknesses, and much more in this exclusive interview.

Beat writer Mike Brown spoke with Pack Pride about the Wolfpack's opening opponent, Georgia Southern. Brown talked about the team's strengths, weaknesses, and much more in this exclusive interview.

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What are some of the noticeable changes you have seen going from the last staff to now?
The biggest thing is under Jeff Monken they ran a true triple option similar to what Paul Johnson is running at Tech. Of course Monken was on Johnson’s staff at Southern, Navy and Georgia Tech. Willie Fritz came in from Sam Houston and he is running everything out of a shotgun. The quarterback will not be under center while running the option. That is the biggest change. To see the guys adapt to this process has been pretty interesting. Last year at Southern, they averaged nine passes a game. Fritz’ teams have averaged around 26 per game. When they beat Florida (in 2013) they actually did not complete a pass. It is going to be a different look, no question about it.

Have you noticed during their practices that they have adapted completely? Has it been a difficult transition?
They are still going to run the football. I went back and looked at Sam Houston State and Central Missouri’s stats for the last 10 years under Fritz. They have averaged 26.7 passes per game but from a yardage-standpoint they were pretty balanced. It was close to a 50/50 ratio on yards rushing and yards passing per game. The interesting thing is they threw 32 hundred passes and very few [interceptions]. It was a controlled passing game. I wouldn’t say a West Coast passing game, but they did not go out and throw it for grabs.

Who do feel could stand out for Georgia Southern, offensively, on Saturday?
Obviously you are going to start with the quarterback, Kevin Ellison. He is a redshirt-sophomore and played in all 11 games last year. He started six, including the game at Florida. He is really a hard-nosed kid. He has pretty good quickness. He doesn’t throw the ball well; they have not had to throw it.

The thing that could make him a good passer is they have some really good receivers. Those guys, in the option, their primary responsibility was to be blockers. I talked to Ellison the other day and he said the new offense will give the receivers more space. Willie Fritz talked about the receivers and said that was one of the more pleasant surprises for him. He said he has seven or eight kids he would have loved to have at Sam Houston, so they have some kids that can catch the football. At right tackle they start an AP All-American the last couple of years. The offensive line will be four seniors and one junior. The difference will be they will do more pass-blocking.

This team will not be intimidated by playing at N.C. State. These kids played at Florida and won. They play at Alabama and that game was 17-10 at the half. Nick Saban had his starters in to score his last touchdown with three minutes in the game. He kept his starters in to make the score look a little more respectively.

Willie Fritz is a pretty impressive guy. He has been in coaching for 22 years and he is a pretty hands-on guy.

How do you feel about Georgia Southern confidence-wise coming into Raleigh?
Obviously, if they win it is an upset. A lot of things have to go right but I will say this; they will not go in there intimidated. They are not cocky kids but they are confident in themselves and that comes from the fact that this is a winning football program.

When they have stepped up and played FBS teams they have played hard and played well. I am thinking this could be a 28-14, 35-17-type game.

What do you think will be the biggest concern for Georgia Southern versus State?
The depth. The depth will be a big concern, especially if it is a hot day. Another question will be can Ellison throw the football. In a couple of scrimmages, they have not looked like they will have a really polished passing game.


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