If there’s one thing the Georgia Southern football team currently has going for it during a 1-3 start to the season, it’s that most of the team has been through this sort of adversity before.
The Eagles have plenty of current upperclassmen who lived through the team’s disastrous 2-10 campaign in 2017, as well as the team’s resurgent 10-3 mark last fall. In fact, many of them were pressed into action in 2017 as freshmen and sophomores as youth and inexperience was a big factor in the rough year.
And the head coach has been there as well.
Chad Lunsford was an assistant in 2017 before being promoted to interim - and then permanent - head coach after the firing of Tyson Summers. A lot of credit for the quick rebound last season was due to Lunsford as he was a stoic and confident figure that players seemed to latch onto in 2017 before emerging as an energetic force that built up momentum in 2018 en route to a bowl victory.
Now it’s time to circle the wagons once again.
The current problems for Georgia Southern are myriad. And while none of them seem as devastating as the punchless offense and notable dip in morale that manifested in 2017, there are also so many different areas of concern that it’s tough to imagine all of them getting fixed in short order.
To list a few of those issues:
— The offensive line hasn’t been healthy as a unit at any point. A couple of concussions and a season-ending injury all hit before fall camp camp to a close. And while most have made their way back, center Jakob Cooper missed most of the Maine game, all of the Louisiana contest, and will be out again against South Alabama.
— There are still questions about Shai Werts’ health. Werts returned against ULL and played every snap, but details of his arm injury were never made clear and he didn’t attempt any sort of downfield pass until GS was in desperation mode.
— Penalties continue to plague the Eagles. Georgia Southern has cut down on the infractions over the last couple of games, but the laundry has a habit of coming out at the worst possible time, taking points off the board and stonewalling drives.
All isn’t lost and — to read the room — the Eagles appear to be in a better position to turn things around than two years ago when a bad first month led to things getting far worse before they got any better.
But the clock is also ticking. Georgia Southern didn’t enter 2019 as favorites to win the Sun Belt, but they were definite contenders with expectations of making and winning another bowl. But the back end of the schedule is loaded with presumed tough games and the Eagles are still five wins away from earning a postseason for themselves.
It’s not so much time to hit the ‘Panic’ button as it is time to hit the ‘GO’ button.