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My Take: Georgia Southern's two-deep, and questions it raises
GSU FOOTBALL 073114 0830
Georgia Southern coach Willie Fritz has some choices to make before the Eagles open their first season in the Football Bowl Subdivision on Saturday at N.C. State. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/file

GSU Opening-Day Two-Deep
*As of Tuesday, August 26

4—Kevin Ellison, So.
13—Favian Upshaw, So.

36—Matt Brieda, So.
1—Alfred "LA" Ramsby, R-Fr.

42—Nardo Govan, Jr.
84—Dylan Turner, Sr.

12—B.J. Johnson, Jr.
31—Ryan Longoria, Jr.

9—Zach Walker, Sr.
85—Montay Crockett, So.

80—Kentrellis Showers, Sr.
23—Derek Keaton, Jr.

58—Garrett Frye, Sr.
64—Hunter Lamar, Sr.

63—Darien Foreman, Jr.
53—Jeff Ward, Jr.

75—M. Saint-Amour, Sr.
60—Andy Kwon, So.

74—Logan Daves, Sr.
76—Trevor McBurnette, Sr.

70—Raymond Klugey, Sr.
73—Maurice Hunt, Jr.

30—Valdon Cooper, Sr.
19—Caleb Williams, Jr.

7—Matt Dobson, Jr.
2—Steve Williams, Jr.

16—Antonio Glover, Jr.
25—Robert Brice, So.

5—Darius Jones, So.
21—Nick Wright, So.

2—Steve Williams, Jr.
37—Antwione Williams, Jr.

40—Edwin Jackson, Sr.
24—Laderrick Roberts, Jr.

37—Antwione Williams, Sr.
27—Deshawntee Gallon, Jr.

54—Lenniue Richardson, Jr.
93—Rashad Williams, Sr.

92—Johnathan Battle, Jr.
90—Darrius Sapp, Fr.

99—Jay Ellison, So.
91—Justice Ejike, Sr.

56—Bernard Dawson, So.
44—Quaun Daniels, Jr.

Special Teams

36—Matt Breida, So.
82—Kameron Maye, Fr.

17—Brandon Thomas, Sr.
26—Tray Butler, Sr.

47—Alex Hanks, Jr.
9—Younghoe Koo, So.

49—Ryan Nowicki, Jr.

97—Jake Banta, Jr.

Now that Georgia Southern has released its starting two-deep for the season opener against N.C. State on Saturday, what questions are left that need to be answered?

Question: Is there a marquee running back?
Answer: No.
    Not yet, anyway. Alfred “LA” Ramsby looks to be the most well-rounded athlete at running back for the Eagles, but Matt Brieda’s speed, Ean Days’ power and Devin Scott’s experience and change-of-pace style likely won’t be overlooked, at least initially.
    And if Ramsby does become the marquee back, you'll get to know him well. LA stands for “Little Al.” Just FYI.

Question: Is Kevin Ellison ‘the guy’ at quarterback?
Short answer: Yes with an ‘if.’
Long answer: No with a ‘but.’
    First off, thanks to Rev. Lovejoy for the quote. Second off, yes, Ellison needs to be the leader of the offense. Next to Ezayi Youyoute, who hasn’t seemed to have shaken the rust off of a flurry of position changes and an injury that sidelined him during 2013, Ellison is the most experienced signal caller on the team.
    Plus, he was nearly flawless running Jeff Monken’s version of the option against Florida last year, so that doesn’t hurt.
    But Favian Upshaw can literally fly (“literally” means “metaphorically” these days, right?), so don’t be surprised at all if he gives Ellison a breather or two on Saturday.

Question: Who is the biggest offensive weapon?
Answer: That’s a tough one, but the answer is Ellison.
    Ellison is a competent runner, a decent passer and he’s tough.
    But what really makes him dangerous is his decision-making ability. It was remarkable watching him evolve during 2013 —his freshman campaign.
    Contrary to popular belief, the Eagles still run the option — first-year head coach Willie Fritz and offensive coordinator Doug Ruse’s version — and when you run the option, the right decision often results in a big play regardless of athletic ability.
    Ellison’s not the fastest guy on the team, not even the fastest quarterback, but good option reads lead to good choices, and good choices lead to bad angles of pursuit for the Wolfpack.
    Ask Florida.

Question: Who needs to have a breakout game on defense?
Answer: One of the transfer cornerbacks.
    Valdon Cooper has one of the cornerback spots locked up. In fact, he’s even got a little bit of NFL buzz around him. Nick Wright and Tay Hicklin can contribute without question.
    But if junior-college transfer Caleb Williams or Darrius White can get out there and lock down his man, it’s going to make it tough on just about any quarterback, including N.C. State’s Jacoby Brissett.
    My money’s on White.
    With that said, however, somebody — anybody — on the defensive line needs to step up and become an elite pass rusher.
    I suspect GSU’s run defense will be fine, but without adequate pressure on the quarterback, the Eagles are in danger of a Samford repeat, regardless of how good the secondary can be.

    Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.