After Georgia Southern starting quarterback Kevin Ellison was ruled academically ineligible for the Eagles first two games, including their season opener against West Virginia on September 5, second-string signal caller Favian Upshaw will get a turn at running the show for the defending Sun Belt Champions.
Georgia Southern finished off the 2014-15 season with a (9-3) record, going (8-0) in conference play. While the Eagles don’t come across as an immediate threat right off the bat, the Mountaineers are about to face 15 returning starters, five on the offense and eight on the defense, led by Upshaw, a sophomore who got admirable playing time as GSU’s backup QB last year.
According to Georgia Southern quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Doug Ruse, Upshaw is well prepared for his debut as starting quarterback against the West Virginia Mountaineers.
“Looking back, it’s great that Favian (Upshaw) got as much experience as he did last season. We really weren’t playing him last year with that in mind to get him ready, we were playing him because he’s a heck of a player and deserved to be on the field. He’s shown he can run the offense and lead the team. We’re very confident in him running the offense and in what he can do,” Ruse said, per gseagles.com.
While Upshaw isn’t quite up to par with Ellison’s abilities quite yet – Ellison was the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the year, twice – Upshaw’s versatile feet will pose the greatest threat to the Mountaineers veteran defense.
In 2014-15, Upshaw saw action in 11 games at the backup QB position. He ran the ball 40 times for 385 yards and two touchdowns, while throwing 19 of 27 for 285 yards and two touchdowns.
At yesterday’s media press conference, West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson spoke about the Mountaineer defense and what they expect to see from Georgia Southern on both sides of the ball.
“It’s hard because what we do every day against our offense is with the mentality of attacking the ball and being aggressive. This style of offense slows us down a bit,” said Gibson. I’m sure they’re going to try to use what we do best against us, with our speed and run counters. They will get us to flow one way, but go the other way. It’s assignment football.”
Dana Holgersen also spoke to media members yesterday, stating that the team will head straight into preparing for Georgia Southern this week.
“In reality, when we meet with our players this afternoon at 2:30p.m., we will start talking about Georgia Southern. That way, we will have two weeks of prep time. I think that is appropriate based on the challenges that they pose,” he said.
Kickoff for West Virginia’s season opener vs. Georgia Southern is set for 7pm on September 5, just a mere 10 days away.
Georgia Southern statistics and coach’s quotes in this article originated from gseagles.com.
Other quotes courtesy of WVUsports Press Release.