In most seasons, a bye week for Georgia Southern is filled with talk of upcoming conference showdowns and postseason possibilities.
This hasn’t been ‘most seasons’ for the Eagles.
For the first time in 2016, Georgia Southern has a full bye week. A few scheduling quirks involving midweek games have afforded the Eagles more than a week in between games, but the team has a full 13 days between last week’s loss to Georgia State and the Dec. 3 season finale against Troy.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, there will be plenty of rest leading up to a game that doesn’t mean much. With the loss to Georgia State, the Eagles dropped to 4-7 on the season and will not qualify for a bowl game.
As it stands, what Georgia Southern will play for is a step in the right direction and a good note with which to send off its seniors.
"We know the (postseason) situation, and we’d all love to be playing for a bowl game," GS coach Tyson Summers said. "Right now, our main goal is to finish things off right. We want to play our best and we really want to send off those seniors the right way."
That the Eagles’ only full bye week falls on the penultimate weekend of the season is bad for the physical health of the team. Georgia Southern has suffered more than its share of injuries — especially on offense — and hasn’t been near full strength in well over a month.
Every team in the country is dealing with bumps and bruises at this point, but the Eagles’ situation is compounded by a lack of rest earlier. Georgia Southern has been trending downward for quite a while and there hasn’t been much free time to address problems.
"Of course it would have been nice to have a more favorable schedule," Summers said. "Traveling so many weeks in a row and having different schedules makes it tough to get (all of your preparation) in.
"But we knew what we were facing all season. Playing TV games is going to do things to the practice schedule. We need to be prepared for every game we play."
A bye week so late — and with postseason aspirations already over — could hurt any team, but Summers said the team is still plugged in and focused on finishing 2016 with a win. The team has the next few days off before returning to preparations for Troy.
On the trail
The open date has also presented a challenge for recruiting.
"It’s tough," Summers said. "A bye week is usually when you do a lot of recruiting. We had some weeks where we could recruit a little more, but now we have a full week and school is out in most places."
Aside from holidays, many potential recruits are also busy with playoffs. Summers is still confident Georgia Southern will have good signing class.
"Of course everyone knows what your record is," Summers said. "We would like it to be better, but that’s not (the only aspect of recruiting).
"Recruiting is all about relationships. We want guys who are good students, good people and good football players. I feel like we have good relationships with those types of guys and we want to bring them into the program."
Anthony, a sports writer for the Statesboro Herald, may be reached at 912-489-9408.