The last time the Georgia Southern football team took the field it was a 41-14 Thursday night thrashing almost two weeks ago at South Alabama. After the game interim head coach Kevin Whitley was frustrated and said he was going to find 22 players who wanted to play football. Monday at the Eagles weekly press conference he commented on how that process was going.
“Being involved in sports as long as I have, I've found you have guys who are interested in football, and you have guys who love football, said Whitley. “Guys who are interested will do just the minimum to get by just so they don’t get yelled at. Then you have guys who love it and they will put extra time in and watch film and do what it takes to be a great player.”
Whitley went on to say for those players who want to be great there can come a cost.
“Sometimes your family can suffer a little and sometimes your social life can suffer,” said Whitley. “The question you have to ask is what are you willing to do to become great? I want guys out there who love football. I want those guys who are going to put the extra work to be successful. I think over the past two weeks in practice we have hit more than we have ever hit and conditioned more than we have ever conditioned. We aren’t trying to run guys off, just trying to see who wants to play at the highest level.”
Separating those who love football from those who like football may result in the starting lineup being a lot different when the Eagles take the field this Saturday at Paulson Stadium against Georgia State according to Whitley.
“We still have three days of practice that will determine playing time, but I can say every position is currently open,” said Whitley. “I'm sure they will be a few changes. Right now, I can’t tell you what those are because we still have three practices and that could change things.”
The quarterback position is one of the positions Whitley said is still up for grabs. Whitley mentioned Justin Tomlin is still nursing a shoulder injury and while neither Tomlin nor freshman Cam Ransom have been particularly impressive at quarterback from a statistical standpoint Whitley said many factors go into who he will start Saturday.
“I can’t say whether or not Justin will start, but if he comes out this week and doesn’t perform well, he won’t start,” said Whitley. “I don’t know how else to say it but we are going to play the guys who are doing what we ask them to do. A lot of times there are things that happen off the field that people don’t know about that hurt a guy’s chances at playing. They may have not gone to class, or missed study hall so a lot of times we make decisions on information not everybody has.”
Whitley also commented on the potential expansion of the Sun Belt Conference. Last week Southern Miss finalized its agreement to join the conference as early as 2023. Other Conference USA schools that could be making the move include James Madison, Old Dominion and Marshall.
“I think people who are college football fans are excited about expansion and going into new markets,” said Whitley. “I think it could only be good for the Sun Belt. College football is always changing, who knows we could be in the SEC next week.”
The Eagles host Georgia State Saturday at 6:00 at Paulson Stadium.