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Samford out for statement
103010 GSU FOOTBALL 05
Samford linebacker Sean Thompson, right, comes up with the ball for an interception after teammate Andy Davis separated the ball from Georgia Southern slotback Darreion Robinson, bottom left, during the fourth quarter in this Oct. 30, 2010 file photo at Paulson Stadium. The interception gave the Bulldogs the ball deep in Eagles territory and they subsequently scored, extending their lead to 20-6.

Samford (4-0, 2-0) at
No. 10 GSU (2-1, 1-1)

Saturday, 6 p.m.
Paulson Stadium
Radio: 103.7 FM

    Samford head coach Pat Sullivan has a record in Paulson Stadium that any Southern Conference coach would envy.
    He’s 2-0.
    While the Bulldogs have shown improvement each year since they joined the SoCon in 2008, the wins haven’t been there. Samford was 21-24 in SoCon play through 2011.
    Now, things may be looking up. The Bulldogs (4-0, 2-0 SoCon) have a chance at knocking off No. 10 Georgia Southern (2-1, 1-1) Saturday at 6 p.m. in Paulson Stadium.
    The preseason SoCon Defensive Player of the Year, GSU defensive tackle Brent Russell, isn’t surprised with Samford’s early success in 2012.
    “All the years I’ve played them, they’ve had just about the best o-line in the Southern Conference. They play hard,” Russell said. “They’re pretty much the only team I’ve seen that matches our intensity. We’re intense guys — we have to be to play d-line — but they match it. They can do some things. So, it’s going to come down to us against their o-line.”
    The Eagles are worried less about avenging past losses — they’re 1-3 against Samford since 2008 — and more about staying in contention for a SoCon title.
    “We’ve got our backs to the wall with a loss in the league, and that’s what makes (Saturday’s game) important,” said GSU head coach Jeff Monken. “Past years, what happened last year, it doesn’t make any difference. We’ve got to play this game.”
    The Bulldogs bring a balanced attack featuring running back Fabian Truss, who averages 6.5 yards per carry and has already scored seven rushing touchdowns, and quarterback Andy Summerlin, who averages 204 passing yards per game.
    The Eagles’ defense is allowing only 107 rushing yards per game, so Georgia Southern defensive coordinator Jack Curtis is most concerned with the few big passing plays allowed by his defense in last Saturday’s 26-23 win over Elon.
    “The thing we’ve got to improve on is that we’re giving up those big plays,” said Curtis. “We’re not going to play a perfect game, but we’re always on that journey to play a perfect football game. You never get there, but it’s what you strive for.”
    The GSU offense is in the same boat, losing five fumbles over the last two games.
    “We certainly haven’t played mistake free in the last two games. One we lost, and one we almost lost,” Monken said. “If we could hang onto the ball and not give the other team a short field, there’s no telling what we could accomplish.”
    Only turnovers have seemed to hamper a GSU offense averaging 445 yards per game. Execution has been what’s slowing down the defense, too.
    “We’re building our defense and getting it in,” said Curtis. “Now, it’s just a matter of running it and doing our things right. We’re at the point now where we’re just trying to get better every week. Our technique isn’t quite what it needs to be.”

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