Q&A: Jeff Monken, Georgia Southern

Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken talked with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for a short Q&A looking ahead to the coming season:

Q: What is your biggest challenge this year?

A: Getting everybody past the idea that we aren't going to be eligible for the playoffs, regardless of how good a season we may have.

It’s never been our goal to just make it to the playoffs. Our goal has always been to just be the best team we can be and maximize our potential.

It’s not any different than any way we’ve approached any other season.

Q: How have you improved as a coach since taking over at Georgia Southern?

A: When you take on this role, you are forced to look at the big picture and everything that's involved under the umbrella of the football program. As an assistant coach, you are concentrating on the student-athletes that you are charged with leading and teaching and specific areas of the program.

I think I’ve gotten better at letting some things go to the staff that I have. I have a great staff, and they work really hard and are very competent. You just can’t do everything as a head coach. I can’t do it all. I have to rely on my staff.

Q: Who will be missed most off last year’s team?

A: We're certainly going to miss Brent Russell. He was a big difference-maker for us on the defensive line. He was one of the most respected players in (the Southern Conference) the last four years and probably at this level. He's a four-time All-American. He was a really tough, good football player. We will miss his toughness and the leadership he brings because of the way he plays, the intensity; we will miss him.

We will miss those guys in the back end, (J.J.) Wilcox and (Darius) Eubanks. They were really good players for us.

We will miss guys we had on offense. Every year there is change.