There is one thing, and only one thing, Georgia Southern’s football team needs to worry about between now and kickoff against N.C. State on Aug. 30, 2014 — running an offense with a quarterback making option reads, a fullback lined up with his hand in the dirt, and a pair of slotbacks.
Jeff Monken is gone. The Eagles, right now, need to be worrying about offensive continuity and nothing else.
Recruits are getting nervous. Fans of GSU remember the last time an option coach left and another system was ushered in, even though they’ve spent eight seasons trying to forget.
I’m not the sentimental type who thinks that the only way Georgia Southern will ever win football games is by running the option. I also think that, in college football, the end justifies the means when it comes to winning. But I also think — and for good reason — the only way Georgia Southern will have a shot at winning next year in the Sun Belt is by doing just that.
And winning next year should be at the top of the “To Do” list for GSU football.
The Eagles beat the Florida Gators on Nov. 23, and that win was enough to salvage a season which, up until that point, had been spectacularly mediocre.
That win gave the program momentum. It gave potential donors a reason to take notice. It gave people a reason to want to go see the Eagles play next year.
Winning Sun Belt games and maybe even a non-conference game or two is the best way to make sure that the momentum continues at a crucial turning point in GSU's legacy.
Winning two or three games next season is a good way to make sure the momentum hits a dead end. And it would take the reincarnation of Erk Russell to install a brand new system at GSU and pull off a winning season.
The only way this GSU team is built to win games right now is by running the option. The wide receivers have talent, but the quarterbacks haven’t proven they can deliver the ball consistently and when the undersized offensive line isn’t cutting and run blocking, things tend to break down in a hurry.
That’s a recipe for a lot of losses in the high-scoring, pass-happy Sun Belt.
Running the spread option gives the Eagles, at the very least — though it still doesn't guarantee — a chance to compete right away.
GSU athletics director Tom Kleinlein still has some viable candidates in the system and at other option programs in the FBS and lower divisions.
There’s no reason Georgia Southern can’t rebuild itself into a competitive FBS program with another offensive system. But it would take time. The problem, at this point in time for Georgia Southern, is that rebuilding isn’t an option.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-4908.