Before Jack Curtis came to Georgia Southern in the offseason to take over as defensive coordinator, he was no stranger to the Eagles — or what they were doing on defense.
Curtis and his GSU predecessor, Brent Pry, share similar philosophies. In fact, their paths crossed at Memphis in 2009.
When Pry left Memphis for Georgia Southern, Curtis left Memphis to become the defensive coordinator at Division II Central Missouri during the 2010 season.
While Pry and the Eagles were on their trip through the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, Curtis was experiencing similar success at UCM, as the Mules finished with a playoff run of their own and a program-best 11-3 record.
“Me and coach Pry, we’d call each other every week or two and talk about how much fun we were having,” said Curtis. “Winning and being a part of a great program makes it a lot of fun.”
Curtis and Pry first became friends when they opposed each other in the Sun Belt Conference — Pry at Louisiana-Lafayette and Curtis at Arkansas State.
“We run very similar defenses,” said Curtis, “and we used to like watching each other play.”
Curtis inherits a Georgia Southern defense that held opponents to 18.5 points per game, 286.9 yards per game and boasts four first-team, All-Southern Conference players.
“What a wonderful job [Pry] did putting in a whole new defense that was the total opposite of what they ran [in 2009], getting them bought into the program and playing hard,” Curtis said. “It’s exciting to see good players and we hope to build on what they did last year.”
Pry’s scheme changed the position of nearly everyone on defense in 2010, electing to place smaller, faster players at nearly every position, and he was perhaps most noticed for his playcalling.
Curtis approaches defense in a similar way to Pry.
“We’re going to do what it takes to win the football game,” said Curits. “If we can get after the quarterback, blitz and make him throw the ball, that’s something we’ll do. But we don’t want to take too many chances and give up the big play. I’d say we’ll be opportunistic – take what the offense gives us.”
His expectations of the players are also similar to those of the rest of the coaching staff.
“If we get something wrong, he’s out there showing us what to do — and expecting us to get it right next time,” said senior Laron Scott, a preseason first-team, All-SoCon cornerback and kick returner. “We’ve got a lot of veterans out there.
“He really wants to get the job done. If we’re lollygagging around, he’s got the excitement we need to get it going. He’s not tolerating a lot of walking or pitty-patting around.”
“When you’re out here coaching football in a wide-open space, you’ve got to holler a little bit to get attention,” added Curtis. “I’m not necessarily a ‘rah-rah’ guy, but I just try to get after guys, get them playing hard and try to keep that high-energy. All the coaches try to pick them up. I think players feed off coaches. If they see you running around with high energy, they’re going to do the same thing.”
The Eagles practiced in shells after a lightening delay for the first time Saturday evening. After another day in shells today, they will dress in full pads on Monday.
GSU Practice Update
Due to thunderstorms in the area, Georgia Southern's Saturday practice, originally scheduled for 2:45 p.m., was moved to 7 p.m. The Eagles practiced in shells until dark.
Quotable: 'Coming into camp last year, we had a new coach and a new thing going. We really didn’t look at the polls a lot. Then we had a good run, but we didn’t win anything. It’s still the same experience [at fall camp]. It’s a new team, and we’re out here practicing like nothing happened last year.'
— Senior cornerback Laron Scott, on topping the preseason SoCon media poll after being voted 7th in 2010
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.