The Georgia Southern football team held their final practice of the spring Thursday at Paulson Stadium. The Eagles will hold their spring game Saturday and head coach Clay Helton feels things are looking the way he hoped they would as they break spring camp.
“One of the keys was to get our quarterbacks in the mix and teach them what we needed to this spring on the field,” said Helton. “To see the way Davis Brin and J.C. French looked in particular in the offense was important. We tried to do as much live football play as we could so they would get used to bullets flying and I think they handled it really well.”
Another of the keys for the spring was the installation of the new defensive scheme put in by the Eagles new defensive coordinator Brandon Bailey.
“I feel like one of the biggest areas of growth has been defensively,” said Helton. “Any time that you hire a new coordinator a week before you start spring you start at a bit of a disadvantage. I feel like we have made great strides, but there needs to be continued growth. We just wrapped up with practice 14, and we have 26 more practices before the first game, but I have seen that group grow immensely.”
Helton said they brought coach Bailey in to help with creating turnovers and third down efficiency, both of which he feels have improved over the spring. The players are also getting used to Bailey’s defense and are excited about the progress they have made as a unit.
“I feel like with our new front we can be much more aggressive,” said linebacker Khadry Jackson. “Coach Bailey has a lot of calls where we just attack the gaps and I think that will help us to get more tackles for loss and we will be able to put much more pressure on the quarterback.”
There are a lot of new faces on the defensive side of the ball, and according to linebacker Marques Watson-Trent they are coming along well and the chemistry has been working out.
“We have a lot of new guys and they can really play,” Watson-Trent said. “Between the transfer portal and freshmen there is a fun group out there. Trying to get use to the new system has been a challenge, but I feel everyone is picking it up nicely. I feel like we brought in a lot of team-oriented player and they are all buying in.”
Coach Helton said there may be some attrition after the spring, and the Eagles have already lost two players to the transfer portal, both on the defensive side of the ball. Anthony Wilson and Tyler Bride were among the leading tacklers and both played safety. Helton feels the defensive back group is still strong and doesn’t count out the Eagles bringing in a few new players in the next few weeks out of the portal themselves.
“I think you see attrition everywhere when spring football concludes,” Helton said. “We will see where our needs still are. So far, we are healthy but you never know what you will need after the spring. I feel like in the secondary T.J. Smith (Kansas State), and Cam Williams (Washington) have done an awesome job back there. Sophomore Justin Myers is another player who has really made an impact recently as well as Tyrell Davis, so we are looking pretty good in the secondary.”
The Eagles will hold their annual Blue/White spring game Saturday at noon at Paulson Stadium. Helton said the format will be the same as last year with the Eagle offense going up against the defense. Points will be given to the defense for a variety of things including sacks and turnovers. Admission to the game is free and autograph signings will take place after the conclusion of the game.