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'Chance of a lifetime': Russell says GSU not intimidated by Alabama
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Georgia Southern defensive tackle Brent Russell, right, forces Furman quarterback Chris Forcier to tuck the ball and run during a fourth-quarter play at Paulson Stadium in this Oct. 15, 2011, file photo.

    Georgia Southern All-America nose tackle Brent Russell said he and his teammates are not afraid of Alabama and they are not intimidated by the Crimson Tide’s mystique.
    “You can’t have any fear as a football player. You know that,” Russell said. “You’ve got to take the field like a Superman.”
    GSU (9-1), the Southern Conference champion and No. 3 in the Football Championship Subdivision, will play Alabama (9-1), No. 3 in the Football Bowl Subdivision, at 2 p.m. Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
    “It’s a great chance for us,” Russell said of the Eagles, who are 0-15 against FBS opponents. “The whole team, we’re excited. I don’t know if Alabama is worried about us or anything, but we’re going to prepare like we’re going to go in and fight for 60 minutes.”
    Bryant-Denny Stadium’s capacity is 101,821. There might not be that many people in attendance Saturday, but it no doubt will be loud.
    “Everybody’s excited,” Russell said. “It’s going to be a great atmosphere there and it’s the chance of a lifetime for us.
    “I don’t think (the crowd) will affect anybody much. I don’t think it will affect the defense. It might affect the offense on a few things, but you’ve just got to prepare. They know it’s going to be loud, 100,000 plus (fans). We know it’s going to be loud.
    “The energy. If you can’t get energetic for this game, you shouldn’t play football.”
    GSU must contain Alabama’s Trent Richardson, who has run for 1,205 yards and 18 touchdowns on 204 carries. The Crimson Tide’s Eddie Lacy has run for 580 yards and seven touchdowns on 74 carries.
    “You just play your assignments,” Russell said. “You can’t have guys wanting to be heroes. We’ve been preparing all week. We’ve been preparing for them pretty good. Just focus on your assignments, your gap, that’s your gap, that’s your responsibility, and getting after them.
    “They’ve got six All-Americans on the offense, so it’s going to be a great test for this defense. It’s going to be a great test for this team.”
    Shaw ready for hits
    Don Kausler Jr. wrote for Monday that Alabama wide receiver Marquis Maze was asked about what it will be like for GSU quarterback Jaybo Shaw against Alabama’s defense.
    “I would hate to be that QB in this game, to be honest with you,” Maze said of Shaw. “I know I wouldn’t want to take those hits every play from guys like (Courtney) Upshaw, Dont’a (Hightower). … So I kind of feel bad for him. I hope that he does well after the game.”
    When asked about Maze’s comments, Shaw said he is not intimidated.
    “You just kind of treat it like just another game as an option quarterback,” Shaw said Tuesday night after practice.
    “You know you’re going to get hit. You signed up for it. That’s what the team needs me to do and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m just going to execute our offense to the best of my ability and just try to prepare our offense to do our best.”
    Shaw said he expects the experience to be fun.
    “It’s fun any time you get to go and play in that atmosphere in front of 100,000 fans,” Shaw said.
    “Being able to play against a team like that, just a great defense and a great team overall, it’s going to be a special experience. We’re just honored to go over there and represent Georgia Southern University, just try to have some fun and execute.”
    Shaw said he has never been to Bryant-Denny Stadium, but he said he spoke with his brother, Connor, the University of South Carolina’s quarterback, earlier this week about the experience.
    Connor did not play in the Crimson Tide’s 20-6 victory over Gamecocks in 2009 (Stephen Garcia took the snaps), but he prepped Jaybo on what to expect.
    “Of course, he said it’s loud,” Jaybo said. “Anytime you get 100,000 people in a stadium it’s going to be loud. We talked a little bit about the crowd.”
    GSU’s starters to stay in game
    As SoCon champion, GSU earned an automatic bid into the FCS playoffs. But GSU head coach Jeff Monken said he will not rest any of his players against Alabama.
    “We’re going to play the football game and play the football game just as we would any other football game,” Monken said.
    “I’m not delusional. I know how good they are. And I know how a team like that can absolutely embarrass a team like us if we don’t play the best that we can play.
    “But we’re going to try to go up there and play the best that we can play. I’m not going to worry about all the other stuff. I’m just going to get our team ready to play the best that we can.”
    Game blacked out on ESPN3
    The game between Georgia Southern and Alabama will be shown in Internet-based ESPN3, but it has been blacked out in Georgia and Alabama.   
    ESPN3 is a broadband network for live sports programming.   
    Noell Barnidge can be reached at (912) 489-9408.