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GSU simulates crowd noise, gets new shoes
Georgia Southern's Laron Scott, far right, blocks an extra-point attempt by The Citadel in this Nov. 5, 2011, file photo taken at Paulson Stadium.

    Ears and feet could end up determining the outcome of Georgia Southern’s football game against North Dakota State on Saturday.
    GSU is leaving nothing to chance. The Eagles spent portions of practice this week blaring crowd noise over the public-address system into an empty Paulson Stadium to simulate what the noise level might be like, particularly for GSU’s offense, inside the Fargodome in Fargo, N.D.
    Third-ranked and third-seeded GSU (11-2) will play fourth-ranked and second-seeded North Dakota State (12-1) at 2:30 p.m. in a Football Championship Subdivision semifinal. The game will be televised on ESPNU.
    “(GSU) Coach (Jeff) Monken told us it’s going to be loud up there and he wanted to simulate what it’s going to be like,” GSU senior cornerback Laron Scott said Wednesday night after practice. “It really wasn’t for (the defense) but it could turn out for our benefit. It was loud. I think (the offense) adjusted to it better than we did.
    “I’m not good with that loud sound. It kind of gives me a headache. I was just trying to tune it out, just trying to focus on my assignments. I’ve heard they’ve got a good crowd and I expect it to be just like (it was in practice).”
    GSU players also received new shoes for Saturday’s game.
     “They’re Nikes, with a little grip on the bottom, kind of like tennis shoes with a little something on the bottom,” Scott said. “They’re specially made for the turf. We’ve still got our travel shoes, which we usually wear. We’re going to try both of them and see which one we like the best.”
    Scott said he and his teammates have been breaking in their new shoes inside their dorm rooms and apartments.
    “They gave us some different type of shoes I’ve never seen before,” he said. “We’re trying to wear them around and break them in, trying to get used to them.  We’re going to go up there and play football. That’s our main goal. No matter what we wear or where we’re at, we’re going to go up there and play.”
    Many people expect Saturday’s game to be fast-paced since it will be played on turf.
     “I’ve never played on any turf like this or even seen turf like this,” Scott said of the Fargodome’s surface.  “A lot of coaches tell us it’s going to be a fast game, might be a little fast-paced. We’ve just got to try and adjust to it when we go up there and do our walk-through.”
    GSU’s team departed Statesboro just after 3 p.m. Thursday for Fargo, N.D. The Eagles are scheduled to conduct a walk-through inside the Fargodome today, Scott said.
    Monken said GSU learned a valuable lesson in last season’s 27-10 semifinal loss at Delaware, a lesson the Eagles can apply against North Dakota State.
    "We learned that Delaware was a pretty good football team. And we thought that going in,” Monken said. “We fumbled the ball a lot (four times). You can’t make those kinds of mistakes and expect to win a football game, any football game, but certainly not against one of the best teams in the country, which they were.
    “And it’s the same with North Dakota State. They’re one of the best teams in the nation. We’re going to have to take care of the ball and find ways to get the ball back from them, either from taking over on downs or making them punt or creating a turnover, anything to get the ball back.”
    Scott said GSU’s defense expects the Bison to attack via their running game.
     “I definitely think they’re going to come out and try to establish the run,” he said. “They do a real good job of running the ball. They’ve got two real good running backs. I think they’re going to come out there and try to establish some dominance and run the ball. We’ve just got to do a good job and play our assignments, play our gaps and really try to make some plays.”
    GSU senior quarterback Jaybo Shaw the Eagles have been working for this opportunity since losing in the semifinals last season.
    "It's the biggest game. No doubt about it," Shaw said. "It's a semifinal game. It's huge. We've tried to prepare ourselves well.
    "I'm sure it's going to be loud. We've heard it's really loud and hard to communicate. We're expecting that. We're going to do our best."

    Noell Barnidge can be reached at (912) 489-9408.