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GSU getting ready to be an underdog

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GSU getting ready to be an underdog

Georgia Southern quarterback Kevin Ellison carries the ball against the Florida Gators in the Nov. 23, 2013, file photo in Gainesville, Fla. The Eagles won 26-20.

    With 10 days remaining until Georgia Southern kicks off its first season in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the team feels ready — as ready as it can be.
    “There’s always opportunities out there and get better,” quarterback Kevin Ellison said on Tuesday.
    Preseason, second-team All-Sun Belt linebacker Edwin Jackson agrees.
    “You won’t be completely ready until you’re there in the moment,” Jackson said. “Each day, I can tell you we’re getting more confident as a unit, and I feel like we’re getting better.”
    The Eagles (7-4, 4-4 in the Southern Conference) are in a situation unlike anything they’ve experienced in recent memory. Even in a somewhat down year like last season, Georgia Southern was picked in the preseason to win the SoCon. Perennial favorites to win the conference and Football Championship Subdivision titles aren’t used to being an afterthought. This year, the Eagles won’t be favorites in too many games, and the media picked them to finish eighth in the Sun Belt.
    They’ll also be underdogs against the season-opening opponent N.C. State, an ACC school which won only won three games a year ago.
    “I know who Georgia Southern is, and a lot of people are finding out who Georgia Southern is.” Jackson said. “As we continue to get better every day, more people are going to find out. We’re not always going to be that underdog. That’s what we’re aiming for.”
    When asked for one word to sum up what GSU needs this season, Jackson was quick to answer.
    “Tenacity,” he said. “In order to do what we have to do to beat N.C. State, and win every game after that — that’s our goal, to be the best in the Sun Belt — you’ve got to have tenacity. You have to go out there in every movement, play like you want it.”
    The Eagles had a strange season in 2013, stuck between the FCS and FBS and ineligible for both postseasons. Now, all eyes are on the Sun Belt title.
    “We just feel like we need to take advantage of this opportunity,” Jackson said. “The guys who left last year, they didn't have this opportunity.”
    “Last year we played for each other and the fans,” Ellison said, “and this year we’re playing for more.”

    Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-4908.

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