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Don't let them run

Eagles aim to make Samford offense one dimensional

Don't let them run

Don't let them run

    Georgia Southern has one defensive philosophy no matter who it’s playing — stop the run and make them one-dimensional.
    For Samford and quarterback Andy Summerlin, stopping the run might not be enough.
    “You’ve got to be careful what you wish for, especially with these guys. They’re very good at throwing the football,” GSU co-defensive coordinator Kevin Corless said.
    Summerlin has already passed for 1,259 yards and 11 touchdowns through five games and has the Bulldogs (3-2, 1-0 Southern Conference) scoring 34 points per game, trailing only Georgia Southern (45) in the league, though GSU has scored 20 and 23 points in conference games this season.
    The Eagles (3-1, 1-1) face Samford Saturday at 3 p.m. (EST).
    Summerlin spreads the ball around with four Samford receivers having recorded double-digit catches led by Kelsey Pope (18-240) and running back Fabian Truss (18-140). Truss keeps the offense balanced with 394 yards on 88 carries so far this season.
    Georgia Southern’s previous opponent, Chattanooga, rus a balanced offense too, only Summerlin relies as much on his arm as UTC quarterback Jacob Huesman counts on his leg.
    “Summerlin’s not as much of a runner as Huesman, but gosh, he’s an accurate passer,” GSU coach Jeff Monken said. “He really does an unbelievable job.”
    Georgia Southern’s offense will continue to rely on its spread-option offense, but will continue to play without fullback Dominique Swope, who is out for the season with injury. William Banks (39-214, 4 touchdowns) is the only experienced fullback on the field, but freshmen Cam Lewis and Irving Huggins and sophomore Nardo Govan are available if necessary.
    “They don't have the game experience that a guy like Will Banks has,” offensive coordinator Brent Davis said. “Yes, we’d love to get them in there and get them experience, but at the same time, when the game’s on the line you want the best players in there.”
    Banks had 18 carries for 86 yards against Chattanooga and was on the field for a majority of the game.
    “That position is going to take a pounding,” Davis said. “We need to have more than one guy out there.”
    The best thing GSU’s offense had going for it was the lack of turnovers against Chattanooga. Though the ball hit the ground in a crucial fourth-quarter drive, GSU retained possession. The Eagles didn't commit a turnover in wins against Savannah State or St. Francis, either. All three turnovers on the season came in a 30-20 loss at Wofford.
    “We need to help our defense out,” Davis said. “I can’t remember a game we’ve lost when we didn’t turn the ball over.”
    Holding on to the football is key, said Davis, if the Eagles are going to escape Birmingham, Ala., with a win.
    “They have their scheme and they’re going to stick to it,
“ Davis said about Samford. “Their kids are going to play hard, they're going to try to knock the ball loose, and we’re going to have to be sound in everything they do.”

    Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.

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