The more things change, the more they stay the same.
I always thought that was a silly saying, but after this weekend in area football, it’s kind of starting to make sense.
It seemed like Statesboro’s entire football team last year was made up of seniors, but the Devils can still run the football. It seemed like the power was evenly distributed heading into the Region 3-AA season, but those wins are still hard to come by for everyone. It seemed like ECI should’ve been right where it was - in the Top 5 at the beginning of the GHSA Class A season - but Savannah Christian blanked the Bulldogs 34-0.
Then there’s Georgia Southern.
New faces, no quarterback controversy, new spirit, new swagger and a new paint theme on the field.
Imagine that – GSU played at home and went down to the wire with somebody.
I don’t want to take anything away from what the Eagles did right in their 29-26 win over the Albany Great Danes Saturday at Paulson, so don’t get me wrong.
Lee Chapple passed for 259 yards, Adrian Mora was 2-for-3 in the field goal department, missing only a 51-yarder that nobody expected him to make anyway, Jamere Valentine was as good as advertised and Adam Urbano was awesome when he actually got to carry the ball.
To paraphrase Chapple and coach Chris Hatcher after the game, 1-0 is as good as anyone can be right now. And they are.
Oh, and don’t even get me started on the defense. Aside from a few long runs sprung by an Albany guy who probably should have been on the field a heck of a lot more in the first place, the GSU defense kept the Great Danes’ heralded running game in check.
The four third-down conversions by UAlbany on its first touchdown drive were unacceptable, but I expect defensive coordinator Ashley Anders to let these guys man it up more and more as they get comfortable out there. Like everywhere else on the field – these guys are still young’uns.
I guess it’s more of the big picture that I’m talking about. It seems like week after week since 2007, Georgia Southern has raised the bar on the old adage of “playing to the level of the competition.” No, GSU has become the competition.
For example, the same team that lost to Chattanooga in overtime in 2007 also beat the same Appalachian State team that upset Michigan that year. In 2008, the same team that lost to ASU by a point needed overtime and about six miracles to beat Western Carolina.
See what I mean? Barring a little luck, when you play exactly as well as your opponent, well, that seems like a recipe for a 6-5 season.
I know I’m jumping the gun a little bit here and there’s a ton of season to go, with a lot of potential to be reached, so I guess I’m just nervous because South Dakota State does a lot of things very similar to what Albany did on Saturday, and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who thinks SDSU isn’t a better football team than the Great Danes.
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, it’s exciting to have such a young team that is off to a 1-0 start. These kids have plenty of talent, and if they can figure out how to play as well as Georgia Southern rather than playing as well as the team on the other side of the line of scrimmage, I think they’ll be just fine.
Chapple to Valentine won’t be the only connection to make some big plays this season, that’s for sure. And with a defense that played a fantastic game (especially in the first half, when the offense really needed them to) and can only get better from here, it’s exciting to think about how far this group of Eagles can go.
As long as they can just be themselves.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.