December, 2024 | The Historic Cramton Bowl

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December, 2024


Montgomery, Alabama

Camellia Bowl Notebook

Posted December 24, 2022
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Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022

Both teams went through an afternoon practice on Christmas Eve in preparation for the ninth annual Camellia Bowl, with Georgia Southern practicing at Cramton Bowl and Buffalo practicing at ASU Stadium.

The two teams took morning trips to the Rosa Parks Museum in the morning and were scheduled for a team outing later in the evening, but in between the focus was on football. Temperatures remained at the freezing point for much of the practice, but Buffalo linebacker James Patterson said the frigid temperatures didn’t disrupt practice.

“Preparation has been great up to this point,” Patterson said. “Even from day one, for bowl prep, the focus has been to win, not to dwell on the past or get too overexcited about the future. Stay in the now. Prepare each day like we did today and be ready for Georgia Southern on Tuesday.”

The game is scheduled to kick off at 11 a.m. on Tuesday at Cramton Bowl.

Helton has ties to the area

Much of Clay Helton’s coaching experience has been at Memphis and USC, but the Georgia Southern coach also knows a little about Alabama.

A native of Gainesville, Fla., he was a backup quarterback for Pat Dye in the coach’s final two years at Auburn (1991-92), then transferred to Houston to play for his father Kim in 1993-94. And while his coaching stops have never been in Alabama, both his father and brother Ty were at UAB, with Kim serving as Neil Callaway’s offensive coordinator in 2007-11 and Ty serving as the Blazers’ quarterback during that same period.

“I grew up in the Southeast and my dad is a 50-year NFL and college coach and I enjoy having the opportunity to be back in the great state of Alabama,” Helton said. “I got the opportunity to be with one of the special people in my life, like a second dad to me, in Coach Dye and be with the Auburn family. There were some unbelievable great memories and years there. And UAB has been very special to my family with my dad and brother having coached there.

“This state has been wonderful to us, not only from the fan base but just the people. It’s good to be back in the state.”

Lots and lots of quarterbacks

When Georgia Southern elected to switch from the option style to a spread attack, the first thing new coach Clay Helton did was look for quarterbacks.

Several were on the roster last year, but only one (backup Connor Cigelske) is a holdover. Among the others on this year’s roster are four transfers, including starter Kyle Vantrease (Buffalo) along with Colton FitzGerald (Boise State), Richie Lankford (College of San Mateo) and Kyle Toole (Troy), and freshmen David Dallas, Zac Rozsman and Brooks Pangle.

“When we took the job last year, I knew I was going to go to some similar things that we did at USC,” Helton said. “Also, having the opportunity to sign on Coach Bryan Ellis, who played at USC and was te co-OC last year for my brother at Western Kentucky, I knew we were going to be a passing offense. The challenge of going from an option football team to a passing football team and selling it to kids and say we’re going to be a top five passing team, they had to have belief.

“Kyle (Vantrease) came to us and said I see the system, I see the opportunity and I want to make that transition, but we had to sign others, too. Any time you’re putting a new system in, the first position you’d better have at any level — I don’t care if it’s NFL, college or high school — you’d better go find a passer first.”