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Nathan Deen is a sports writer for Savannah Morning News covering Georgia Southern athletics. His blog, Eagle Extra, will include news and analysis on Georgia Southern athletics.

Posted September 18, 2017 07:28 pm

Georgia Southern players supporting coaches, each other amid media firestorm

STATESBORO – Hurricane Irma isn’t the only storm Georgia Southern has had to weather in the past week or so.

Georgia Southern running back Wesley Fields took a few days to reflect on the Eagles 22-12 loss to FCS New Hampshire on Sept. 9. The Eagles had a bye week last week and were given three days to rest or even go home as Irma worked its way through Georgia. Fields used that time to try to put everything in perspective.

“By that time, I just kind of sat back and relaxed, just took my mind off of everything,” Fields said. “I didn’t want to just be so stressed and frustrated about the game. I mean, it’s 0-2. What can I do now? I just relaxed in my room, just chilling, just thinking about where I want to be.”

On Wednesday, it was time to get back to work, and there was a lot to work on. Georgia Southern (0-2) is averaging just 199 yards of offense per game, which ranks dead last in the FBS.

But Fields and his teammates aren’t paying attention to those type of statistics and the negative publicity swirling within the media. The Eagles were listed eighth in ESPN’s weekly “Bottom 10” rankings after they lost to New Hampshire.

“They obviously punched us in our mouth,” Fields said. “It definitely opened up our eyes, just not to take a team for granted, keep working every day, keep coming back and work hard.”

But Fields said the season is far from over.

“We’re still trying to accomplish our goals this year,” he said. “Be the champion in our conference and get to a bowl game. It’s just another obstacle, but it’s also an opportunity to get better every day and finish the season.”

And right now, Fields and teammates Curtis Rainey and Monquavion Brinson said there can’t be any distractions.

Rainey, the junior starting center, said he won’t tolerate any negativity within the program.

“Personally, I ignore it because anybody that isn’t speaking positive, they’re nonexistent,” he said. “They don’t have anything to do with me. I’m positive. I’m for this team at all times. Anybody that’s not for this team isn’t with me.”

Brinson went as far as to publicly stand behind Summers without even being asked as he spoke to the media Monday.

“We’re behind Coach Summers 100 percent,” he said in response to a question about how the team is ignoring outside distractions. “We’re here and we’re locked in. He’s our head coach and he’s going to stay our head coach. We’re just here to lock in and play football. (The coaches are) not playing, we’re playing.”

The Eagles practiced Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of last week, and Summers said his players looked ready to move on from the loss to New Hampshire.

“I think we had a really good three practices,” he said. “I’m proud of our guys for what they were able to do. We had three good days, three good practices. I thought they worked their tails off, had good energy. Had some new things we were putting in really in all three phases, and I thought they did a really good job of being able to handle that and go out and practice it at the temp and type of execution that we need to.”

More than once on Monday during his press conference, Summers echoed his confidence in his players’ mental toughness and ability to turn the season around.

“I believe in our football team. We’ve got to go work. We’ve got to get better. As long as we continue to work and continue to get better at what we’re doing, then that’s where we’re going. I can control those things. Those external pieces, I don’t know how much I really can.

“Not making any excuses for what we had the other day. I’m as upset, ticked off as I can possibly be about it. Ultimately, that’s me. I’ve got to do a better job of getting our football team ready to play. We’ve got players who I believe in, and I know what they’re capable of.”