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Change and routine working together in Eagles camp

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Change and routine working together in Eagles camp


Every new football season brings about change of some sort.
    Whether it’s a truckload of departing seniors or wholesale restructuring of the coaching staff, no two fall camps are ever identical.
    Georgia Southern is going through a bit of both of those scenarios as it prepares for the 2017 campaign. Gone are two established quarterbacks, a couple more offensive weapons and most of the defensive front. And along with that has come the arrival of an almost entirely new offensive coaching staff.
    With a couple of weeks still remaining until the regular season begins, there are plenty of items still to be checked off, but there is also a confidence in the Eagles’ camp.
    “We’re excited for what’s coming,” GS coach Tyson Summers said. “Right now, we’re looking for some balance in our preparation. We’re working on our own things to get better, but there are also parts where we’re working on looks that we’ll see from other teams as we get into the season.”
    While there are question marks all over the field, the main offseason talking point for the Eagles has been the new offensive coaching and an anticipated return to a dominating option scheme. It remains to be seen exactly how new offensive coordinator Bryan Cook will attack opposing defenses, but position changes are already plain to see.
    Two of those position changes come in the form of players who originally came to Statesboro as quarterbacks. A current four-way race is underway to determine who will start for the Eagles this season, but a program that has turned many a running back or receiver prospect into great quarterbacks is now hoping to work that magic in reverse.
    Monteo Garrett and Ellis Richardson both came to town as quarterbacks, but - after adjusting to new positions — look to contribute in different ways this season.
    Garrett redshirted in his first season and was buried on the depth chart in 2015 before switching to running back and again sitting on the sidelines in 2016.
    Wesley Fields and L.A. Ramsby are already established as running backs in the GS backfield, but Garrett has worked his way into contention for carries and has broken loose on a number of spotlight-grabbing dives and pitches during fall scrimmages.
    “I sort of played this position in high school, so it’s not totally new,” Garrett said. “As a quarterback, you need to know what everyone is doing on each play. In this triple-option scheme, a running back still needs to know what the blockers are doing to anticipate where you’re going to run.”
    The transition for Richardson has been even more drastic.
    Richardson played junior college ball in 2014 before racking up over 1,200 yards and 14 total touchdowns as a quarterback at Alabama State in 2015. He sat out last year after transferring to Georgia Southern and is now earning reps as a tight end — and occasionally a running back — in the Eagles’ revamped offense.
    Officially listed as both an H-back and tight end, Richardson has shown a much-needed ability to block off the edge for ball carriers while also taking nicely to pass patterns that have seen him run up seams and break off routes at the first down marker.
    “Honestly, the (position change) has been pretty easy for me,” Richardson said. “I don’t think I was ever playing slow as a quarterback, but as a tight end, I know that there are just one or two assignments for me on each play and I can just play fast and attack that assignment on each snap.
    “Growing up, I played a lot of different positions. So I feel like a little kid again, getting to run and do everything.”
    The option offense — no matter what specific wrinkles Cook utilizes in it — is often clever and deceiving without assuming the amount of risk involved in trick plays. Two preseason scrimmages haven’t shown much in regards to any circus plays in the works, but it’s something to consider if two former quarterbacks are able to line up alongside this year’s starter behind center.
    “We’ll see what might happen,” Richardson said. “You can never tell what coach Cook might draw up.”
    Georgia Southern will practice again today before heading to Savannah for a fan fest on the campus of Armstrong State University on Friday. The Eagles kick off the 2017 regular season on Sept. 2 as they travel to Auburn.

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