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Georgia Southern Football
Eagles working out new offensive schemes
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Georgia Southern Offensive Coordinator Bryan Ellis, center, keeps an eye out 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

Eagle Nation is anxiously anticipating what to expect from Clay Helton’s new up tempo, pro-style offense. The job of implementing the offense is in the capable hands of Eagle offensive coordinator Bryan Ellis who proved he knows what he is doing by helping the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers to be ranked the top passing offense in the country, and second in total offense and points per game. 

Ellis has had quite a test in trying to turn around one of the worst passing teams in the country from a year ago which included only five touchdowns through the air and 12 interceptions, as opposed to what Ellis had at WKU where they had 63 passing touchdowns and 12 interceptions. A combination of transfers, new recruits and returning players willing to buy in has Ellis optimistic about the upcoming season. 

“I think we have made a lot of progress on offense,” said Ellis. “Through the first six preseason practices we have turned the ball over too much, but I like the way they kids are working and the effort they are putting out.”

One of the Eagles struggles the past few years has been on the offensive line. The Eagles have had quite a bit of turnover at offensive line coach, but Ellis feels coach Richard Owens group has made the most significant improvement.

“I like what I have seen from that group,” said Ellis. “I think we still have some improving to do as far as not getting beat, but we are doing a lot better job as far as the assignment piece goes. What usually takes the longest to get straight is the assignment piece for the offensive line, and the chemistry piece for the wide outs.”

The Eagles seem to have some talent at receiver between the transfers they have and the players returning. As far as the chemistry piece Ellis says it is continuing to trend in the right way.

“We want to get as many reps with Kyle Vantrease and the first group of receivers,” said Ellis. “We have rotated guys in there and we still don’t know exactly who will be our starters but we feel we kind of know who we will be playing with in game one and those are the ones we want to get him reps with.”

Ellis doesn’t feel there are too many glaring concerns as the Eagles inch toward their season opener with Morgan State, but there are a few areas he’d like to sure up.

“We need to decide who we are going to play with at the tight end position,” said Ellis. “We have to make sure we have enough on the offensive line as far as the tackle bodies and the guard bodies. Getting the wide outs and quarterbacks a little crisper in terms of what we want out of them as far as where we want them to get the ball and the timing.”

While most of the talk from the fans has been about the passing game, coach Clay Helton and Ellis have both stressed the running game will still be a huge part of the offense. Ellis says Jalen White and Gerald Green have separated themselves from the pack in terms of ability, but haven’t been pleased with their ball control.

“We have to be able to hold onto the football,” said Ellis. “The past few days it’s been our best running backs putting the ball on the ground, and we can’t have that. We feel like we need to find a third running back as well. We have a lot of talented young guys in the mix and think we will be able to find someone but as talented as Jalen and Gerald are they know if they continue to put the ball on the ground, we will be unable to play them” 

The Eagles are scheduled for their first preseason scrimmage Saturday starting at 7:00 p.m. at Paulson Stadium.