I can’t believe we’re only four weeks into the football season and I have to write this column, but based on the phone calls and text messages I got on Saturday night and throughout Sunday from the people I’ve always talked Georgia Southern football with, it seems like it’s about that time.
The Eagles lost to No. 13 Elon on Saturday — for the third time in as many years — and based on what I’m hearing from the people I talk to, folks are up in arms about it.
I said before the season started that GSU would be a heck of a football team by Week 7 or so, and I still think they can be. The rub on how the season would turn out was based on how the young team developed in the first half of the season.
Well, right now it’s 2-2 (1-1 Southern Conference), and it has those two losses because it can’t figure out how to score — that much is obvious.
We learned a lot about this GSU team after that game against the Phoenix, like I figured we would, and what we learned is that the offense can’t execute.
According to the people I talked to, that’s unacceptable.
That’s a bad choice of words, because it only leaves one option for an unreasonable fan — don’t accept it and go find another team to cheer for.
So let’s call it unfortunate. I think that’s a little more fitting.
It’s unfortunate because folks around here are used to seeing a high-powered running game dominate week after week and seeing the opposition struggle to keep up. I know. I’ve been there for the glory of winning it all in Chattanooga and I was there when 7-4 seemed like the absolute worst record that could happen.
That all changed when Mike Sewak and his entire staff was let go in 2005 and the team was forced to completely change how it got first downs, how it scored points and how it won football games. Why did it happen? A lot of reasons, but that’s for another column.
The point is, what you’re seeing right now is not only the product of that decision, but also the only solution for the time being. Everybody’s No. 1 question seems to be, “Why is the offense bad right now?” The answer has been, “Because they’re young.”
The No. 2 question is, “Why are they young?” There are a lot of answers to that one, and whether or not it will change over the next few years remains to be seen.
In Week 5 of the 2009 football season, the “whys” don’t really matter. It is what it is.
Should they be this young three years into the current coaching staff’s tenure? No. Could the players quitting or being kicked off the team have been avoided? Probably. Would having, say, Chris Rogers — a wide receiver who had taken as many snaps at the position as all those freshmen had entering the season — active on the team make a difference in what we’ve seen? I doubt it.
The main point of this whole thing is that the end will always justify the means, and until this football season is over, nobody — not the coaches, not the players, not the administration, not the fans and certainly not the media — knows what that end will be. And yelling about firing coaches, canning administrators and benching players will only help to convince the team that it is going to fail (see 2006).
Fans will be fans, but at least save that stuff until the end of the season. At least then, the fans will know the direction of the team and what exactly they are yelling about.
Besides — Georgia, Penn State, Ole’ Miss, Oklahoma State, Florida State and a host of other schools have already blown their shots at winning a national championship. Here in the Football Championship Subdivision, 16 teams have a shot at the end of the regular season of competing for a national title. Last time I checked, GSU can still be one of those teams.
Nobody knows what is going to happen in the next seven games. Maybe the Eagles will figure out what they’re good at and find a way to score enough points to win enough games to make that happen.
Maybe they won’t.
If they don’t, and there are no signs of a young GSU squad becoming a good football team at that point, maybe it’s time to start reevaluating things.
Until then (or at the very least, until the Eagles are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs), a fan base yelling at the top of its collective lungs to encourage its team to fail just seems silly.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.