Georgia Southern key: winning special-teams battles

Georgia Southern needs to win the special-teams battles in their quest for a successful season.

The Eagles won most of those last season, posting better averages than their opponents in kick returns (23.9 yards to 19.4), punt returns (5.8-1.5) and net kick average (56.2-38.3). Luke Cherry returns to boot kickoffs and punts.

One area in which they didn’t do as well was field goals. The Eagles missed 14 of their 22 attempts, including five of eight from between 20-29 yards. Redshirt freshman Connor Tierney is expected to try to improve the team’s performance in that area.

The Eagles also must find a replacement for J.J. Wilcox, who was a dangerous kickoff returner last season, with an average of 25.2 yards per attempt. Speedy Johnathan Bryant is penciled in to handle kickoff returns. He averaged 20.8 yards on six returns last season.

Tray Butler may be asked to return punts. He returned one last season for 20 yards.