Russell Varner writes and vlogs about Southern Conference football for Southern Pigskin and is the sports editor of the Camp LeJeune Globe. Follow him on Twitter here.
It has been a long time coming, but the triple option has finally returned to Statesboro. After years of trying numerous other offensive variations, Georgia Southern has finally decided to return to what gave them success in the first place. In my opinion, the triple option shouldn’t have ever left, but that’s another story entirely.
New head coach Jeff Monken takes over for Chris Hatcher, whose pass-happy "Hatch Attack" offense never seemed to fully catch on with the Eagles. Monken coached under former GSU head coach Paul Johnson at Georgia Tech last year. And Monken isn’t the only new addition from Georgia Tech.
He also brought with him quarterback Jaybo Shaw to run the triple option. Shaw is a very talented quarterback who was stuck behind Joshua Nesbitt and saw very limited playing time.
The Eagles did lose their leading rusher from last season (Adam Urbano), but ask any Eagles fan and they’ll say he wasn’t even the best RB on the roster. Zeke Rozier returns from injury and Aaron Fisher and Robert Brown are both freshman who should get good playing time this year. Keep an eye out for Brown, who has had a lot of hype surrounding him since he first set foot on campus.
Defensively, the Eagles have some very talented players. Their best player on D has to be sophomore DT Brent Russell. He had a breakout freshman year that saw him finish among the conference leaders in tackles for loss, sacks, and forced fumbles. The defense is very solid and was one of the better SoCon teams when it came to turnovers. The defense has the potential to be very good again this year. The question is can they live up to those expectations?
Overall, this will be a tough first season for new head coach Jeff Monken. They will most likely finish in the middle of the conference as players try to adjust to the new offense. But the Eagles do host Elon, Samford, Wofford, and Appalachian State this year and they should upset at least one of those teams. Give the Eagles a couple seasons and they will be back at the top of the conference and on to national prominence.