Questions from the other side: Kaitlin Sells from The George-Anne

The Gophers host Georgia Southern this Saturday in their final nonconference matchup this season.

Quarterback Tanner Morgan looks to throw the ball on Saturday, Nov. 17 at TCF Bank Stadium. The Gophers were defeated by Northwestern with a final score of 24-14.

Jack Rodgers

Quarterback Tanner Morgan looks to throw the ball on Saturday, Nov. 17 at TCF Bank Stadium. The Gophers were defeated by Northwestern with a final score of 24-14.

Nick Jungheim

The Minnesota Daily called up Kaitlin Sells, managing sports editor for the George-Anne, the student newspaper of Georgia Southern, to preview the upcoming Saturday game against the Georgia Southern Eagles at TCF Bank Stadium.

With a loss to LSU and a victory against Maine, what are your takeaways from the Eagles season so far?

I think so far there’s still a lot of work to be done. The team is still getting used to each other, still getting used to playing with each other. Honestly, I think it’s going to be a good season. They’ve shown a lot of promise on the field. Obviously against LSU it was a little more disappointing, considering they didn’t have the ball much on offensive side, but coming out against Maine there were still some weaknesses on the field. But, they have shown obvious growth from one week to the next.

Last year, Georgia Southern improved a lot, going 10-3. What does the team have to do to keep improving and compete for a conference championship?

They can never be satisfied, never think that what they’re doing is good enough. Never get complacent, keep working. Their big motto this year is, ‘From good to great,’ and they’re just continuing to work towards it. Keeping things moving game to game, not letting past games get in the way of the future.

Shai Werts was the starting quarterback going into the season. He got hurt against LSU, and then Justin Tomlin came in and started last week. Has there been any indication as to who will start Saturday, and how do you compare those two?

On Saturday, we can most likely expect to see Tomlin. There’s been a lot of talk about Werts. At the current moment, they’re all just considering his safety. If he’s ready to go, they’ll play him. If he’s not, and he’s hesitant, they won’t. But, I have complete faith in Tomlin if he ends up on the field. I wouldn’t be worried. He shows a lot of promise, and for a redshirt freshman, he really seems to know how to control the offense. A lot of things you don’t really see in younger players is he wasn’t that hesitant on the ball, he wasn’t too hesitant to call plays, to make plays, and that’s something that’s really important, especially in the triple option. That’s saying nothing against Shai Werts’s play. He’s also an amazing quarterback, and he’s also grown into the position of a leader on the team.

Georgia Southern gives a lot of exotic looks running the triple option out of the pistol formation. What problems does that cause for opposing defenses?

With the triple option it’s hard to defend. They’re good at it, and they stick to it. A lot of questions I get are about why we still run the triple option, and it’s because it’s something that works for us. Obviously, as you can see in the past, they’re not really a passing offense. They’re starting to change that a little bit, but for the most part they stick to what they’re best at with the running because they have really strong running backs. The quarterbacks are really fast, really quick on their feet. Defending against the running game is what makes it so difficult.

What do the Eagles need to do to upset Minnesota?

They just have to play their football. They’ve struggled a little bit. The last game was tough to watch because they made it to the red zone a good amount of times but only converted two touchdowns. Watching four field goals have to be kicked because they couldn’t convert in the red zone was tough. Controlling the ball a little bit more, ball safety being a big thing, the boys can’t get inside their heads. They have to keep moving forward. Mentality is a big thing for them.

Best offensive player?

Quarterback Shai Werts

Best defensive player?

Either cornerback Kindle Vildor or linebacker Rashad Byrd

Under-the-radar player?

Safety Kenderick Duncan Jr.

End of season record prediction?

8-4

Score prediction against Minnesota?

35-21, Minnesota