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Eagles won't hold back against Tide

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Play the starters a couple of series and then send in the backups? Not going to happen.
    Georgia Southern (9-1) will not be holding anything back when it meets Alabama (9-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium, according to Coach Jeff Monken.  The No. 3 FCS Eagles will be a heavy underdog against the No. 3 Crimson Tide, and with the playoffs looming, Georgia Southern fans are more concerned about playing for a national championship than beating Alabama.
    The last thing Georgia Southern followers want to see is a key player injured in a game which no one figures the Eagles have the proverbial snowball’s chance of winning.
    “We’ve got to prepare and play every game the best we can play,” Monken said earlier this week as gnats swarmed around nearby Beautiful Eagle Creek. “That’s our goal as a staff every week.
    “That means having the best players we have available in the game,” Monken said. “We have to try to execute what we do offensively, defensively and on special teams to give ourselves the best chance on every play. I think we have to play every game like that, including this one.”   
    Alabama and Georgia Southern represent two of the most storied football programs in the country in their respective divisions.
    The Tide has won a recognized 13 national championships since taking up the sport in 1892, and claims 26 conference championships:  22 Southeastern Conference titles, and four in the Southern Conference.
    Georgia Southern counters with six national and nine SoCon championships, the most recent coming last Saturday when it beat Wofford, 31-10.
    The Tide’s only loss this season was its 9-6 epic with LSU. Alabama rebounded last week with a 24-10 win over Mississippi State.
    While the Eagles are guaranteed of a chance to win a national title, Alabama needs all the stars and planets to align if it is to play for a championship.
    Georgia Southern coaches and players have no misplaced illusions about their spot in the football world.
    “This is probably the best football team this program has faced in its 30 years,” Monken said. “We’re going to have to coach our guys to play their very best football just to have a chance to not be embarrassed.
    “Alabama is a great, great football team,” Monken said. “I’m not delusional (about the Eagles chances of winning). It’s exciting for all of us.”
    Bama has stars galore, and Coach Nick Saban has put together a defense which has been called by many the best in the history of college football.
    Alabama has outscored seven of its 10 opponents this season by four touchdowns or more. No one has scored more than 14 points against the Tide.
    The Tide ranks first in scoring defense (7.1 ppg), rushing defense (51.9 ypg), pass defense (129.5 ydg), and total defense (181.4 ypg).
    “With numbers like that how do you beat Alabama,” Monken said. “But, we’re going to snap the ball and play.
    “Everyone wants to measure themselves against the very best,” Monken said. “That’s why there’s a heavyweight champion and contenders.”
    One Eagle who has experienced playing in 101,821 seat Bryant-Denny is defensive end John Douglass who played at Auburn for two years before transferring to Georgia Southern last year.
    “There’s not too much,” Douglas said when asked about the difference between players at the FBS and FCS level. “You got the size and speed, and that’s about it.”
    Douglas is excited he and his teammates will get the opportunity to play in such an atmosphere.
    “They’ve got the best fan base in the nation other than ours,” Douglas said. “We (Auburn) played over there my freshman year and we got beat pretty badly.
    “To play in Bryant-Denny stadium is a pretty big deal,” Douglas said. “The guys have to realize it’s just a football game, and not get caught up in playing in front of 101,000. We need to just enjoy the moment.”
    Monken echoed Douglas’s sentiments, and said he’s not concerned if his players are starry-eyed going into the game.
    “Going in starry-eyed is part of it,” Monken said. “The wow factor is part of the experience. Enjoy it. Then we’re going to snap the ball and play. ... For me it’s more about the way we play.”