By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
West Virginia University has added Georgia Southern to its 2015 football schedule as a non-conference opponent, but before you dismiss that as another runaway Mountaineer victory, consider that’s what Florida was thinking last year.
The Gators, who had never before lost to an FCS opponent, were defeated by Georgia Southern, 26-20, the lowlight in a season of lowlights for the one-time national power.
However, the Georgia Southern team that comes to Morgantown in 2015 — joining Maryland and Liberty as the Mountaineers’ non-conference games that year, all at Milan Puskar Stadium — will not be the same kind of team.
Coach Jeff Monken was hired away from the Eagles by Army, and he takes with him the triple option offense that set Georgia Southern apart as something different in today’s college football world.
It may have been different, but it worked. The Eagles won six FCS national championships.
In this passing age, Monken had them running the ball. Last year, while going 7-4, they rushed for 3,964 yards while passing for just 1,002.
As a means of comparison, in 2012 WVU and Baylor combined for 1,237 passing yards in a single game.
All of that figures to change this year as Willie Fritz was hired to replace Monken and he comes in with a more wide open offense that he used in winning back-to-back Southland Conference titles at Sam Houston State.
Fritz is a veteran of 21 years as head coach, having also coached at Central Missouri and Blinn College, compiling a career record of 176 wins, 67 losses and a tie.
Georgia Southern joins the Sunbelt Conference this year and will test itself with non-conference games against North Carolina State, Georgia Tech and Navy.
WVU’s non-conference opponents this year are an opening game against Alabama in Atlanta, a trip to Maryland and a home game against Towson.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.