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New Eagle offense taking shape
GS Football
Georgia Southern wide receiver Jeremy Singleton snags a pass in the end zone as the Eagles hit the field in full pads for the first time during practice on Tuesday, Aug. 9. - photo by By SCOTT BRYANT/staff

The Georgia Southern Eagles held their first scrimmage of the preseason Saturday evening at Paulson Stadium. The Eagles put up over 500 yards of offense led by quarterback Kyle Vantrease with 197 yards passing and one touchdown. The Eagle defense came up with one turnover and four sacks along with four pass breakups. Coach Clay Helton feels the Eagles continue to progress and was pleased with what he saw Saturday. 

“Through nine practices there was a lot of good with what I saw Saturday but there is still plenty of work we need to do before our scrimmage this Saturday,” said Helton. “The thing that stood out to me on defense was we played assignment football. They did a good job of making the offense go the long way, and did a good job in coverage. I knew we had some veterans and guys we could count on up front and at linebacker, but we have some new guys at defensive back and they are really doing a good job.” 

On offense Helton praised the ball security and was happy with the play of all six quarterbacks who played Saturday. 

“We ran about 100 plays and to only have one turnover puts you in the top 10 in the nation if you do that for a season,” said Helton. “I thought the quarterbacks did a very good job at decision making. They didn’t force the ball and took what the defense was giving them. When they got the man-to-man situations, they hit some big plays.” 

Helton is expecting big plays with what he feels is some talent at the skill positions this year. Among those is quarterback Kyle Vantrease, and wide outs Amare Jones and Jeremy Singleton. All three came to Georgia Southern through the transfer portal with Jones joining the Eagles last year from Tulane, Vantrease coming from Buffalo and Singleton from Houston. 

“With Amare and Jeremy what you see day in and day out is consistency,” said Helton. “You forget how hard it is to get Amare Jones on the ground. As a former quarterback and running back he is great with the ball in his hands. Jeremy has played a lot of football and has a lot of experience. He has high standards and he has lived up to those standards.” 

“You know what you are getting every practice from Kyle,” said Helton. “He brings energy and effort every single day. He isn’t perfect and is still growing as a quarterback but you can just see the experience and players appreciate that. A great quarterback provides hope to the entire team that every time you walk out there you have the opportunity to win and that is what Kyle provides for us.” 

Stepping right into a starting position and a leadership position could be a tricky situation for someone who has just transferred into a program. Vantrease has seemingly made that transition smoothly and feels the team is continuing to made strides in the right direction thanks to the work they have done on and off the field. 

“I think communication has been one of the keys to our improvement,” said Vantrease. “The receivers are all doing a great job of asking questions and then in the quarterback room with coach Bryan Ellis we are doing a good job of explaining what we are seeing. Then on top of that is just all of us hanging out away from the field and just getting to know each other has been huge for our growth as a team.” 

Singleton feels what he learned at Houston, where he had nearly 500 yards receiving and five touchdowns, is also helping him at Georgia Southern.  

“The game has really slowed down for me the past couple years,” said Singleton. “The experience of being through camps before and having started in a passing offense has helped me be confident. The team and the brotherhood was also so welcoming which made the transition here so much easier. I think we are continuing to improve and I see us getting better at the little things which is so important.” 

For Jones after a year of playing quarterback, running back and wide receiver, he is pleased to finally have some consistency. Jones said the team understood the importance of building chemistry quickly and they have been able to do that by working on and off the field. 

“It’s all about repetition,” said Jones. “Any chance we get we are out here throwing and catching. Whether it’s a day off or after practice we are usually together and throwing the ball and working on some kind of timing to all be on the same page.” 

Jones says things have progressed even quicker thanks to the leadership brought to the team with Vantrease at quarterback. 

“I kind of refer to him as a Tom Brady type guy,” said Jones. “He really came in and he took over that leadership role. He was great about vocalizing the things that he needed from us and making that clear from the beginning is so important.” 

The Eagles are scheduled to have their second scrimmage of the preseason Saturday from 10:00 until 11:45 a.m. at Memorial Stadium in Savannah.