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Eagles to face an unfamiliar foe
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Georgia Southern defensive end Josh Gebhardt (90) celebrates after intercepting South Carolina State quarterback Malcolm Long during Saturday's victory at Paulson Stadium.

Georgia Southern and William and Mary don’t have a whole lot of history.

First-year Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken played the Tribe during his first tour of duty in Statesboro, when he was a GSU assistant in his first year in 1997.

William and Mary won 29-28.

The Tribe (8-3) is still running its balanced offense and the Eagles (8-4) are back to running the option – an offense William and Mary did not see on its way to the 2010 Colonial Athletic Association.

The Tribe may be untested against the spread-option look, which could work as a defensive advantage when the teams face off in the second round of the playoffs Saturday.

"There’s some guesswork involved," Monken said about preparing the GSU offense. "You sort of speculate to what you think you’re going to get, then you make adjustments on Saturday. It’s not as easily done as it is said, but the offense has rules, and hopefully we can apply those rules to whatever front we face."

The opposition has tried nearly everything to stop the GSU running attack, which is fourth in the Football Championship Subdivision with 255.8 yards per game.

"We do line up in multiple fronts each week," Monken said. "This week we hit everything we’ve faced this year not knowing which game plan they think is best. They have good personnel, and that’s the thing that’s most worrisome. Not the front, but the personnel."

Georgia Southern has been near the top of the division stopping the run as well, allowing 120.2 yards per contest.

"You feel like if you can stop the run, there’s a chance to win the football game, but they can beat you either way," defensive coordinator Brent Pry said about the Tribe. "There’s been games where they haven’t run for much and they’ve thrown for a bunch. There’s been games where they’ve run for a bunch. Then of course, the last game they played – Richmond – they had over 600 yards of offense."

The GSU defense has taken its bumps and bruises throughout the season, but Pry feels it will be ready.

"Everybody’s going to gut it out and play, and we’re going to piece it together," he said. "Some guys may play a little bit more than they’re used to, some guys may play less. It’s kind of an effort as a unit out there."

Carson Hill returned from injury earlier in the season and has come on strong at the end of his senior season.

"Carson coming back from that injury and playing like he has," said Pry, "it’s been outstanding. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything like it."

The winner advances to the quarterfinals, where it will play the winner between Wofford and Jacksonville State.

Kickoff of Saturday’s second-round game in Williamsburg, Va. is set for 1:30 p.m.


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