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SoCon Notebook:No rest for weary Eagles; ASU, Wofford get break

    Georgia Southern is heading into Saturday’s second round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs a little bit differently than the rest of the Southern Conference’s playoff teams.
    Appalachian State and Wofford both had a week off.
    The same goes for GSU’s second-round opponant — No. 2 seed William and Mary — which earned the first-round bye and home-field advantage by virtue of its seed.
    “I think at this point it would be nice to have a rest,” said GSU coach Jeff Monken at Tuesday’s SoCon teleconference. “We’ve played eight games in a row. We’re really banged up. We’ve got guys in shoulder harnesses and knee braces and ankle braces and tape in 14 different places. You’re going to be beat up at this point in the season. It’s nice to have a rest.
    “William and Mary and the other teams in the top 12, they got a rest, but I don’t know if you’d call it a typical advantage for them to get the week off. They didn’t know who they were going to play.”
    Monken sees in the Tribe (8-3) a lot of similarities with his Eagles (8-4).
    “I value toughness in a football team,” he said, “and we really try to get our guys tough and be a tough football team. But I see that personality in their football team. … They play hard, and along with that they’re talented. They’re not just a tough football team that goes out there, slugs it around and hopes for the best. They’re tough and talented, and that really impresses me about them.”
    Kickoff in Williamsburg, Va. is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

A different kind of leader
    No. 1 seed Appalachian State (9-2) has seen a lot of playoff success over the last four years, making the playoffs each time and adding the final two of three-straight national titles.
    The one constant in the equation has been quarterback Armanti Edwards.
    This season, Edwards was replaced by junior DeAndre Presley, who didn’t miss a beat on his way to earning the Socon’s offensive player of the year award.
    The Mountaineers lost only to Georgia Southern and Florida on the way to the top seed. The biggest difference in the last four years is that Presley hasn’t started a playoff game. Of course, he had a good teacher.
    “The one thing I remember when I was a freshman and sophomore was watching Armanti and how he handled being in the playoffs and how he carried himself in certain situations,” Presley said. “He was never really a vocal leader, he was always leading by example. I believe that’s the one thing I can do as a leader. The one difference between Armanti and I, I’m more vocal than he was.”
    ASU hosts Western Illinois (8-4), which defeated Big South champion and automatic qualifier Coastal Carolina (6-6) 17-10 to advance to the second round.
    “I think they’re a little bit like Chattanooga,” ASU coach Jerry Moore said about WIU. “As the season went along, I thought Chattanooga became one of the best teams in our league, and they remind me a lot of them.”
    Kickoff in Boone, N.C. against the Leathernecks is scheduled for Noon.

Tightening up the D
    Wofford finished 3-8 last year after injury after injury prevented the Terriers from getting anything going.
    This season, Wofford (9-2) was to SoCon’s co-champion, and coach Mike Ayers is thankful he got to break in his young defense during the tough 2009 season.
    “Defensively, basically we kind of went from worst to first,” Ayers said. “It’s a group of guys quite frankly that are still pretty young. Last year, we were decimated by injuries and we started a bunch of freshmen. Through a year of maturing and a year of getting some guys back that were older players, we’ve developed into a really good defense.”
    The Terriers go on the road to Jacksonville State (9-2), which opened the season with a 49-48, overtime win at the Southeastern Conference’s Ole Miss.
    “Any time you can beat an SEC team, you know it’s a quality team,” Ayers said about JSU. “It’s really the first time we’ve met. The last time was when both teams were Division II, and a lot of things have changes since then.”
    Kickoff is scheduled for Noon.

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