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Posted: Saturday, April 5th 2014 at 8:05pm

Georgia Southern gets in good work in first full-pads scrimmage

By staff reports
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STATESBORO -- Working from a few different field positions, the Georgia Southern offense scored five touchdowns Saturday afternoon at its first full-pads scrimmage and the Eagle defense came up with two interceptions, a fumble recovery and several big hits.

B.J. Johnson scored the Eagles’ first touchdown with an acrobatic catch in the right corner of the east end zone. Running backs junior transfer Ken Thomas, redshirt freshman Chaz Thornton, and seniors Kenny Foster and Dennis Pritchard each crossed the goal line with a rushing touchdown on the day. Defensively, Zander Yost, who transferred from Navy last year, picked off a pass and recovered a fumble. Defensive back Clifford Saggus had the other interception.

“We wanted to go on different parts of the field, red zone, then also working middle on the field, and also when you have a long field,” said Georgia Southern Head Coach Willie Fritz. “We’ll do more situation during practice this next week, two-minute, four-minute, overtime, goal line, we’ll try and hit on those, but right now we’re trying to implement our offensive and defensive schemes.”

The Eagles ticked off close to 150 live plays, which included the kicking game, involving everyone on the squad. After watching the tape from today’s session, Coach Fritz and his staff will begin to separate the roster into two groups. Fritz refers to a “working depth chart,” but while the coaches are continuing to evaluate every player at every position, it changes on a day-to-day basis.

Fritz had expectations of what he wanted out of today’s scrimmage and felt those goals were met, including keeping the Eagles as injury free as possible.

“The big thing was coming on and off the field and looking like we know what we are doing,” Fritz said. “We didn’t have too many busts offensively or defensively or in the kicking game. For your first scrimmage, that’s a major accomplishment.”

Even with the change of venue from the practice fields to Paulson, addition of full pads and the first tackle-to-the-ground practice, one thing didn’t change – the coaching staff’s emphasis on the Eagles’ effort. Effort or any lack thereof, will be the first thing Coach Fritz and his staff will evaluate when they watch tape from today’s scrimmage.

“We want to see how hard the guys are playing,” Fritz said. “That’s an art in itself. Some guys have a tough time playing hard play after play after play. They can do it for one play, or two plays, but they can’t do it for five plays in a row which was the rotation that we had today. That’s the first thing we’re looking at.”

REST AND RECOVERY: After the scrimmage, Coach Fritz was adamant that the Eagles rest and recover until they get back into the weight room and to the practice field Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

“We had a hard week last week,” Fritz said. “You have to allow your body some time to recover and rest and get back after it next week. Guys are a lot more mentally focused when they are rested physically, so we want to make sure we take advantage of these two days off so they are raring and ready to go physically on Tuesday.”

DECISIONS, DECISIONS: Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach Doug Ruse on the decision making by the Eagle quarterbacks in scrimmage one: “For the most part, I thought the decision making was pretty good. After film, I’ll see a few things. I’m working with a great group. They are focused players and they want to get better. They come motivated every day and I saw good things out of each of those quarterbacks today.”

CANNED FOOD DRIVE: There’s no admission fee for next Saturday’s Blue-White Spring Game, but to benefit the Statesboro Food Bank, everyone coming to the game is asked to bring two canned goods as a donation. The donation goal is 1,000 cans to help stock the pantry of this local non-profit agency. The Statesboro Food Bank distributes as many as 15,000 cans each month to individuals and families in need in Bulloch County.

PRETTIEST BIG STADIUM: Coach Erk Russell called Paulson Stadium the “Prettiest Little Stadium in America,” but with the new listed capacity of 25,000 for fall 2014, “little” may not fit as part of the reference. During Saturday’s scrimmage, construction crews were working on both the mid-deck, which adds more than 6,000 seats to the configuration, and the state-of-the-art football operations facility at the east end of Paulson facing Lanier Drive.
Associated Categories: Sports News, College Sports

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Gainesville, GA 30501
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