The Georgia Southern football team concluded their spring drills with the annual Blue-White game Friday night at Paulson Stadium. Eagle head coach Chad Lunsford accomplished much of what he had set out to do, but there is still plenty for the Eagles to work on between now and the season opener against Gardner Webb on Sept. 4.
“On defense we had a lot of continuity coming back but there are a lot of new coaches and some players as well on offense,” said Lunsford. “I feel good about where we are and especially being healthy. We have gone a long way in implementing our offensive scheme, and we still have a way to go, but we have made progress.”
Last year’s spring drills and preseason practice were cut short due to the COVID pandemic. Lunsford feels there is a big difference in what they were able to accomplish this spring.
“We were able to work on the small details that we had to rush through last spring and in the fall,” said Lunsford. “We have really tried to work on those fine details this spring. I feel like being able to do that on offense, defense and special teams will really show this fall.”
This marks the first time in four years the Eagles have gone into spring trying to find a new quarterback. With the departure of Shai Werts Lunsford feels junior Justin Tomlin has secured the top spot coming out of the spring.
“I think Justin Tomlin has really separated himself,” said Lunsford. “He has really earned the trust of our team, and I believe a lot of that was already happening at the end of last year when he stepped in against FAU and the beginning of the Appalachian State game. Unfortunately, he was injured after that but has really come on this spring as a quarterback who can not only run the option but throw the ball as well.”
The battle this spring was predicted to be between Tomlin and Georgia Tech transfer James Graham. Graham left the team for personal reasons a few weeks ago and has not returned. Lunsford said he was pleased with the work by Conner Cigelske and Sam Kennerson but admitted the Eagles may go into the transfer portal to pick up another quarterback.
”We have looked at some more transfer quarterbacks,” said Lunsford. “There is definitely a possibility for that as well as possibly another offensive lineman and maybe a receiver. On defense we may use the transfer portal for a linebacker.”
“If we get a quarterback, I feel game experience under their belt is the most important quality we will be looking for,” said Lunsford. “You’d love to bring a guy in who could be the starter as you always want that kind of competition, but I feel strongly about Justin Tomlin. With that being said an older guy would probably be the way to go in the transfer portal.”
As for Tomlin he feels the spring was important for him to try and get as many reps as he could in order to feel comfortable entering the summer.
“With trying to learn the new offense getting plenty of snaps was really key for me,” said Tomlin. “Whenever I got in the game in the past two years, I felt like I was the guy so it’s really not that much of a new situation. I feel like we got a lot of things in place this spring and it was really productive. We saw what the new offense is going to look like a little in the last couple games. I feel like what we installed has us in good shape and moving in the right direction.”
The Eagles open the 2021 season Sept. 4 at Paulson Stadium against Gardner Webb.