Chad Lunsford not distracted as end of Georgia Southern’s coaching search nears

STATESBORO — When Chad Lunsford became Georgia Southern’s interim head football coach Oct. 22, he told his team it was a new season.

 

So far, the Eagles are 0-3 in that new season with three games to play.

Lunsford has visited fraternities and sororities across the Georgia Southern campus the last three weeks, trying to provide a jolt of energy into a fan base experiencing a historically bad season.

He managed to draw a crowd of over 18,000 in a four-point loss to Georgia State, and even though the Eagles had every opportunity to beat the Panthers, a win felt like it was coming soon.

Instead, the Eagles were dominated 27-6 by rival Appalachian State on Thursday, a game that could have been the tipping point in Lunsford’s bid for the permanent job but instead may have sealed his fate.

“Obviously, they were heartbroken Thursday night,” Lunsford said Monday about the loss to App State. “They put a lot into it. Honestly, the last three weeks, they’ve expected to win every game. Hasn’t happened yet.”

Georgia Southern is now three weeks closer to deciding on its new head coach, but Lunsford said that doesn’t distract him from doing his job. He also said trying to become the full-time head coach wasn’t the reason he agreed to be the interim.

“The reason I accepted this position was for this senior class,” he said. “This senior class has now had five different head coaches, counting the interims. If it gave me an opportunity to be the head coach here, great. I would love that opportunity. If that’s not how the cards play, if that’s not what the Lord’s will is, that’s the way it’ll go, but that will not distract me at all.”

Lunsford knows Georgia Southern inside and out, having been an assistant under four different GS coaching administrations, and he could finish his career in Statesboro and be happy.

But he knows if he’s not going to be the next head coach, his job is to create the best possible situation for the man who will, even though the new coach might not retain him as former coaches Willie Fritz and Tyson Summers did.

Lunsford said the best thing he can do is give his players a taste of victory — the seniors who haven’t had it in almost a year and the underclassmen who have yet to learn how to win.

Like any other week this season, the Eagles started Monday by putting another loss behind them, Lunsford said.

“It hurts, but I haven’t seen any quit,” he said. “No quit, all fight. I do not expect anything different from them. I think they’ll go back to work. The goal has been from the start to get the seniors that winning feeling back and for the young guys to learn what that winning feeling is about.”

Another goal to meet by the end of the season is to have an established identity on offense, Lunsford said. Without going into too much detail, he said some changes will be made on offense when the Eagles play their home finale Saturday against South Alabama.

“On offense, I think you’re going to see more of an identity,” he said. “That’s what I want to happen. When someone pulls up our last three games, they’ll say, ‘Oh, this is what they are on offense.’”

 

Quarterback questions

Redshirt freshman quarterback Shai Werts struggled against the Mountaineers. He was 5 of 9 for 40 yards passing and rushed for just 34 yards on 17 carries. Junior transfer quarterback Kado Brown wasn’t seen until the final drive of the game, and he produced the same amount of passing yards as Werts and had one carry for 10 yards.

“I know everyone points at the quarterback and they say this guy is struggling, but when you watch the film, it could be a lot of different things,” Lunsford said. “Should we have gotten Kado in more? Probably. He deserves to play and going into this game, I see no reason why both should not play. When things aren’t going right, you don’t get into a rhythm, sometimes that happens. It’s hard with a two-quarterback system. Kado has worked hard. Kado has earned the opportunity to play, so I expect both will play Saturday.”

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