Life just got a little harder if you're a Georgia Southern quarterback.
The Eagles have been adding some new wrinkles to their triple option offense in the form of no-huddle pacing and a four-wide, one-back shotgun set.
"It got harder mentally, that's for sure," GSU offensive coordinator Brent Davis said. "Maybe the reads have gotten a little easier once the ball is actually snapped, maybe it takes pressure off of them execution-wise, being back off the ball and having a little more room for error. You don't have much room for error when you've got the ball a yard and a half from the line. But as far as managing the team and the offense, there's a lot more on their plate from a mental standpoint."
As for the pace of the offense, think Oregon. Georgia Southern quarterbacks will have to make more quick adjustments at the line while reading a defense before the snap.
"You see all these teams that are so productive on offense, and they're going at a pretty fast pace," head coach Jeff Monken said. "It's because they're running a lot of plays. They gain more yards and score more points. I guess it stands to reason that if you run 80 plays, you'll have more yards and score more points than a team that runs 65 or 70 plays a game. We're just trying to maximize the number of plays we can run in a football game."
The Eagles have also spent a lot of time working on the passing game from the new look, though Davis doesn't expect that frequency to continue into the 2013 season.
"If we can be 50-50 run-pass in the spring," he said, "than maybe we can go 80-20 in the fall and that would be ideal."
Davis feels like the Eagles, who have advanced to the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals in each of the past three years and have a record of 31-12 in the span, may have done even better with more of a passing threat.
"We're trying to work on some ways to throw the ball better. We feel like in the last few years, the games we've been unable to win, we've hurt ourselves by not being able to throw the ball as well as we should have," Davis said. "When you take those two slots and move them out away from the tackles, they're more of a threat to go vertical."
The Eagles still run the triple option out of the new sets. The pitch man will motion from one of the slot-receiver positions.
"It's not a wholesale change. It's not even really a change," Davis said. "It's more of an addition to the philosophy we've always had — find the best way to run the football and throw the best play-action passes off of it."
"It really plays right along with the things we've been doing the last couple years in the shotgun," Monken added. "That's the good thing about spring ball. You can experiment with anything. There's nobody that you've got to get ready to play this week."
The Eagles have built a lot on top of their two-slot, one-fullback, under-center version of the option offense since 2010. They've added the offset I-formation and wishbone (2010), shotgun (2011) and pistol (2012).
More additions doesn't mean the traditional offense is going anywhere.
"That's our offense," Monken said. "It's what we want to be good at."
The new looks also have nothing to do with the change in scenery when the Eagles join the Football Bowl Subdivision Sun Belt Conference in 2014, either.
"No, no. That's ridiculous," Davis said. "We're just trying to stay ahead of whoever we're playing."
The Eagles will return to practice Friday at 3:45 p.m., and scrimmage Saturday morning at Paulson Stadium.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.