Georgia Southern entered the season with high hopes, but now instead of fighting for a conference championship it is battling to earn a bowl berth.
With a 4-4 record going into its game with Ole Miss you would think the Eagles would be frustrated, but that’s not necessarily the case.
“Frustrated?” said Eagle center Andy Kwon. “I don’t know if we’re necessarily frustrated as to disappointed. I would say we’re disappointed more than anything.
“It’s been a very disappointing season, but we still have goals and we can reach those goals. I hate it for the seniors. We’ve accomplished a lot of positive things here.”
Kwon was a second team All Sun Belt Conference pick last year, a pre-season first team selection this year, and was on the watch list for the Rimington Trophy at the beginning of the season which meant he was considered to be one of the best centers in FBS.
The recent down spiral in the Eagles’ season – four losses in their last five games and suddenly a struggling rushing attack – has left any individual honors for Kwon hanging in the air.
The senior, who will be making his 22nd straight start against the also struggling Rebels (3-5), said he could care less about the individual stuff. He is more concerned with how Georgia Southern finishes the season. He does not want the regular season ending game with Troy to be the last one of his career.
Georgia Southern needs two more wins to become bowl eligible, and with the expected loss to Ole Miss that means those two victories will have to come against UL-Lafayette, Georgia State and Troy.
“We want to go to a bowl and we don’t want to have a losing season,” Kwon said. “Those are all things we can control. It’s up to us to get it done.”
The Eagles will be favored in at least two of those three games beginning with next Thursday’s home game with Lafayette.
The focus, however, is on this week’s matchup with the Rebels who will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak. Ole Miss is a four touchdown favorite.
No one at Georgia Southern is into making excuses, either coaches or players, but much of the offensive woes can be traced to a young, inexperienced line that while improving is facing better and stronger competition each week.
“We’re really young,” Kwon said. “I’m a senior, but everyone else is sophomores and freshmen. That’s not an excuse, just a fact.
“I know it’s kind of hard to tell, but we have gotten better each week. These guys are going to be really good next year, but right now we’re dealing with this season.”
When Coach Tyson Summers said this week he was making a change in play calling, turning those duties over to co-offensive coordinator David Dean, he said the Eagles would also be simplifying some of the things they had been doing.
“One of the adjustments we have to make, regardless of who is making the play calls, is we have to do a better job of simplifying to give us a chance to execute better.
“I don’t want to make this sound like an excuse, but we’re young up front. We’re sophomore, sophomore, senior, sophomore, true freshman and true freshman at tight end. I think we’ve got to be able to simplify a lot of the run game.”
Whether Kwon and his linemates can take a simpler game plan and make it work is yet to be seen, but if the Eagles are to have a chance against the Rebels they have to be able to run the football.
Ole Miss has proven to be susceptible to the run. After giving up only 1,652 yards in 13 games last year it has already allowed 1,910 this season.