When it comes to the differences between 2016 and 2017 for the Georgia Southern Eagles, head coach Tyson Summers says Sun Belt Media Day is a perfect example.
"I remember coming here last year not having any idea what the Superdome looked like, what the layout would be, how many people were here," Summers says. "I think that anytime you’re in a transition you feel more comfortable your second time through things."
After a disappointing 5-7 campaign in his first season in Statesboro, Summers and the Eagles are hoping for a turnaround this fall.
Most of the changes fans will see will come on the offensive side of the ball, but Summers also believes this team is different than 2016's squad in ways that have nothing to do with X's and O's.
Summers says he's spent this offseason working to build his relationship with individual players, and he hopes this year's edition of the Eagles will be a much more trusting one.
"I think that's what you'll see in the difference between last year and this year. How we're building trust within our players, what we've been able to do with our offseason, and having a young group trying to play with a chip on their shoulder," he says.
More than anything, the biggest change the Eagles want to see in 2017 is a few more tallies in the win column.
Georgia Southern was picked to finish 7th in the Sun Belt Conference this season, without one Eagle on the Preseason 1st or 2nd teams.
While many around the conference have low expectations for the Eagles this season, the folks in the Georgia Southern locker room say nothing has changed in that regard.
"There's not a player, or a recruit, or a staff member that comes to Georgia Southern without knowing what the expectations of winning are," Summers says. "That's something that we all try to embrace."
New offensive coordinator Bryan Cook is the man now running the Eagles' attack, and that means a return to the option-based offense that has become synonymous with this program.
"I would say we're just trying to get back to running the football how it it supposed to be," says junior running back Wesley Fields. "We're going to try to hit the defense in the mouth, run the football, and control the game."
"I think you’re going to see an offensive line that is playing downhill and attacking similar to most option teams," Summers says. "I think you’re also going to see your explosive plays."
The Eagles kick off preseason practice Tuesday morning in Statesboro, The 2017 season begins September 2 at Auburn.