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What is Georgia Southern Head Coach Tyson Summers Saying about Auburn?

Georgia Southern football Head Coach Tyson Summers (Photo: Georgia Southern Athletics)

Tyson Summers is preparing for his second season as Head Coach of the Georgia Southern Eagles. In his first season, Georgia Southern began the season by winning three straight, before falling to a Western Michigan team that would end their season by playing in the Cotton Bowl. Summers is looking to get Georgia Southern back on track after a season that ended with a 5-7 record. His first test in his second season will be the #12 Auburn Tigers.

Opening Statement:

Much like Malzahn did in his press conference, Summers opened by stating how exciting it was to actually prep for a game instead of play against members of your team, and important this first game is. Summers says that his team will be ready to face Auburn on Saturday.

"We are going on the road to play against a good opponent, good team, good coaching staff. Real excited about the opportunity that we have this week, that’s what we view it as, as an opportunity to be able to go do something great. I certainly believe that everybody on our football team, from our coaching staff-wise, as well as our players, certainly feel the same way about it.”

Finding Common Ground:

Like Auburn, Georgia Southern will have a new starter at the quarterback position. For the Eagles, that guy is Shai Werts. Werts is a redshirt freshman from Clinton, South Carolina that fits the triple option attack. He rushed for 1,308 yards and passed for 1,204 more as a High School senior. His first start as an Eagle will be tough, but Summers has confidence in his man.

“I think that Shai is going to approach this game like he would any other one. It’s his first game, I’m sure at times he will have some nerves about him, he is going to be real excited, I know that. I think that he has done a good job of leading our football team for the last five or six weeks, through the spring, and even back into the summer. I’m really excited about his opportunity to be able to go and play against a really good defense to start with. Shai is going to do a tremendous job. I’m not a bit worried about how he is going to be able to handle or perceive pressure.”

Preparing for the Auburn Defense:

"I’ve known Kevin (Steele) for a long time now, and I think nine of the 13 games they played in, they were able to hold teams to 20 or less points."

Summers has respect for Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, and knows that a challenge is upon the Eagles. Summers was asked if he anticipated the Tiger defense to stack the box, which would force Werts to pass more.

"We have tried to do a good job of going back and studying from all of their staff, and see what they have done in the past. Kevin (Steele) and some of the other guys on their defensive staff as well. We have tried to look at that, and certainly that is what you would anticipate that’s what someone would try to do.”

Auburn Fast:

Summers spent a majority of his press conference taking questions regarding the Auburn offense, primarily about how little time the Tigers take between plays. Georgia Southern will face a handful of teams that have a fast-paced offense including Troy and Arkansas State, so speed has been an emphasis at practice over the last week.

"Whether it’s been a pursuit drill that’s going four or five straight reps in a row, or trying to make sure that they are hustling back within a 13 or 14-second time period, trying to make sure that you can shorten your calls where you’re not signalling six different signals coming in. Those are all things that you can do. Fast paced offenses are not necessarily something that are brand new, we are going to see three or four teams that are going to try to play fast every year at least."

Despite playing in a conference that sees a majority of spread offenses, Summers says that preparation for Auburn goes to another level.

"They play faster than other teams. We will try to be able to do what we have done to create the most cohesiveness in our defensive players as possible, so that they are comfortable in our defensive schemes, and the pace of play.”

Preparing for Stidham, Pettway:

Auburn has many playmakers on offense, starting with quarterback Jarrett Stidham and running back Kamryn Pettway.

The issue with Stidham, is that there is little film on the new signal caller. He started three games while at Baylor, two seasons ago. What helps Summers, is that he is familiar with Coach Gus Malzahn, and how he runs his offense, going all the way back to 2007.

"Coach Malzahn’s first year at Tulsa was my first year at UAB. Herb Hand and he were the co-offensive coordinators that year. We had them for two years there," said Summers on the time that he, Malzahn, and offensive line coach Herb Hand spent as conference rivals. "I really think that Coach Malzahn and Coach (Chip) Lindsey do a tremendous job. I think that you will see those guys really being able to continue to do what they have done on their offense. I do not anticipate Coach Malzahn to be a lot different that what he has been.”

As far as stopping Pettway and the rest of the running game, Summers is solely focused on how well his team plays defense.

"We have to do a good job of focusing on us, and making sure that with a young front seven that we are going out and playing the kind of football that we need to, and playing Georgia Southern defense.”

Playing in Jordan-Hare Stadium:

While Georgia Southern is no stranger to playing in large venues, Auburn will be the largest crowd that Georgia Southern football has faced in the Tyson Summers era. He will be preparing his guys all week long.

"We will get ready for some crowd noise. We will take some different periods of practice throughout the week to work on that, and trying to put ourselves in an environment where they have to over-communicate, and where they have to be able to understand that this certainly the position that we will be in.”

Can Georgia Southern win?:

The Eagles, traditionally, have been a tough bunch to play. Knocking off Florida in 2014, taking Georgia to overtime in 2015, and giving Power Five teams fits for years in between. That confidence has transitioned to Summers.

"It doesn’t matter if I’m brushing my teeth, or playing cards, or coaching a football game. I am going to be as competitive as I can possibly be. Our football team takes the same mindset. We are not going into this game to do anything but win. I think that there are match ups on the board that we feel like are favorable for us, and I certainly believe that we have a game plan that is going to give us the opportunity to expose those things.”

Coach Tyson Summers and the Georgia Southern Eagles will open the season against the #12 Auburn Tigers on Saturday evening at 6:30 P.M. Central.

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