SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - 59 miles separate Georgia Southern University and Savannah State University. There are some obvious differences between the two, but taking a look at the two football programs, they share a lot more than just a 912 area code.
When Georgia Southern’s football team held an open practice in Savannah, you could see a little Tigers orange on the sidelines.
“I’ll always bleed the blue and white, but now I’ve got a little orange tint in there," said Russell DeMasi.
Manrey Saint-Amour agreed.
“We want to win in Statesboro. We want to win in Savannah.”
When Savannah State Head Coach Shawn Quinn was hired in the spring, he brought a wealth of division one coaching experience, including a stop at Georgia Southern coaching linebackers in 2010 through 2011.
Since then, he’s brought on Nate Baker as co-offensive coordinator and coach of the tackles and tight ends- a former Eagles graduate assistant.
He also hired former Eagles offensive lineman Manrey Saint-Amour to coach the Tigers line, B.J. Johnson, a former Eagles wide receiver to coach that position at SSU and he retained Russell DeMasi, former Eagles QB who coaches quarterbacks and is the co-offensive coordinator with Baker.
“We’re similar in a lot of ways, obviously they have a great program and we’re trying to get this thing off the ground and we’ve got a lot to offer here at Savannah State, but we had some guys that I had a chance to coach and work with there that I think are going to be really good coaches for us here," said Savannah State Head Coach Shawn Quinn.
If you go to a Tigers game this season, you won’t just see familiar faces. You’ll see a familiar offense. The option Georgia Southern runs is heading down I-16 to Savannah.
“We’re going to go out there and punch you in the mouth and keep doing the same thing and that mindset- once those guys figure that out, it’s going to be hard to beat,” Saint-Amour said.
The Tigers are going from a spread offense to the triple-option with just a few plays but several different looks to keep it simple for the players, but difficult to prepare for.
“[We] Go visit Coach [Chad] Lunsford and see what they’re doing with Coach [Bob] DeBesse and just trying to build it and do what’s best for our guys. You know, we’re not going to be Georgia Southern. We’re Savannah State," Baker explained.
It’s not just the style of offense they’re carrying over- it’s a mentality.
“Pretty much everything we learned over the years out there on the practice field at Beautiful Eagle Creek practicing- a lot of the same standards and a lot of the same schemes and stuff like that that we put into our guys," Johnson said.
From Eagles, to Tigers- they’re ready to take Savannah State football into a new era.
"If we can have the kind of success they’ve had up the road, we’d be really excited about it,” Quinn said.
Georgia Southern kicks off their 2019 season August 31 at No. 6 LSU at 7:30 p.m.
Savannah State opens the season at home hosting Florida Tech September 7 at 6:00 p.m.