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Georgia Southern's Ellison eyes Wolfpack
Georgia Southern Flor Werm 24 WEB
Georgia Southern quarterback Kevin Ellison, right, looks for an opening past Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis, left, and Dante Fowler Jr. (6) as he gets a block from Irving Huggins (22) during the first half in Gainesville, Fla., in this Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, file photo. - photo by Associated Press

                            GSU         NCSU
Record                             7-4         3-9
Scoring Average                    33.5         22.8
First Downs                             234         249
Total Offense Average             496.6         403.5
Rushing Yards Average             360.4         162.7
Passing Yards Average            91.1         204.8
Kickoff Return Average             15.9         19.0
Punt Return Average            8.4         13.1
Net Punting                             36.6         37.9
Time of Possession                 31:34         31:53
Third-Down Conversions         71/140 (51%)     82/214 (38%)
Fourth-Down Conversions         11/19 (58%)     14/31 (45%)
Points Allowed Average            23.2         30.2
Total Yards Allowed Average     360.5         399.4
Rushing Yards Allowed             160.4         180.2
Passing Yards Allowed            200.1         219.2

    The Eagles have won five straight season-opening games.
    Coach Willie Fritz is 18-3 in season openers and has an 11-1 record in the month of August.
    Shawnee Mission, Kansas, is the hometown for both Fritz and N.C. State coach Dave Doeren.
    The last time Fritz was involved in a football game in North Carolina was in 1981 when he played on the Pittsburgh State team that played for the NAIA national championship at Elon.
    The Eagles are 3-4 in the month of August, but won last year’s Aug. 31 game against Savannah State 77-9.

    The last time Kevin Ellison lined up at quarterback for Georgia Southern he had a day to produce a lifetime of memories.
    That day, of course, was last Nov. 23 in The Swamp when as a redshirt freshman Ellison helped lead the then-FCS Eagles to a 26-20 season ending win over Florida which ranked as one of the biggest upsets of the season in college football.
    He finished the day with 118 yards rushing and two touchdowns as Georgia Southern ran for 429 yards. For the season, he played in 11 games, starting six, and rushed for 886 and was 41-for-79 passing for 756 yards.
    At 12:30 p.m., on Saturday in Raleigh, N.C., the sophomore quarterback will be looking to start a new memory book when he takes the field as Georgia Southern’s starting quarterback against North Carolina State.
    It will be the Eagles’ first game as an FBS team, and as a member of the Sun Belt Conference.  Ellison, like the rest of his teammates is looking forward to this new beginning for Georgia Southern football.
    And, the fact the odds makers have made Georgia Southern a 20.5-point underdog to a Wolfpack team which finished last season with eight-straight losses doesn’t faze him.
    “We take that as a challenge,” Ellison said. “It’s motivation.”
    The win over the Gators also will serve as a form of motivation, Ellison said, and provide a shot of confidence.
    “Florida was a big win, and while it was last year it showed up what we’re capable of doing,” Ellison said. “It gives us some added confidence in that we beat a big school, and now we’re playing another big school. What we accomplished in the Florida game we just have to keep it going.”
    The game will also mark the debut of coach Willie Fritz and the spread-option offense he brought with him from Sam Houston State, where he took the Bearkats to back-to-back FCS championship games.
    “There’s no correlation to the triple option we ran under coach (Jeff) Monken,” Ellison said. “In the triple option we were under center. In the shotgun you’ve got more space to work with. You can be more patient back there, and you see more of the field. That’s been the best part about it. It’s a big transition, a lot different, but it’s part of the game. All of the quarterbacks are getting more comfortable with it. We’re getting used to it.”
    There’s no questioning Ellison’s ability to run with the football. It’s throwing the football that casts a shadow of a doubt over Ellison and those behind him. In the win over Florida, for example, Georgia Southern did not complete a pass.
    Fritz, however, has confidence in Ellison who he has found to be a better passer than he thought.
    “Ellison throws the ball much better than I thought,” Fritz said. “I knew he would pitch it well, and he runs it well. How often we throw it will depend on how the defense plays us. It could be 10 times or 30.”