#15 App St. (6-3, 4-2) at #2 GSU (7-1, 6-1)
Saturday, 2 p.m.
TV: ESPN 3
Radio: 103.7 FM
Jeff Monken has coached in some of the nation’s biggest college football rivalry games.
Georgia-Georgia Tech? Check.
Saturday, Monken will lead the Georgia Southern Eagles into a rivalry game he’s more than familiar with — the Appalachian State game.
This time, it’s for the Southern Conference title, and a guaranteed bid to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
“When there’s a lot on the line and you’re playing your biggest rival in your home stadium, there’s an excitement for our guys, for our staff,” Monken said. “I’m certain that every school in America has got a rival and they feel that buzz in their belly.”
The No. 2 Eagles (7-1, 6-1 SoCon) were without running backs Dominique Swope and Robert Brown in last Saturday’s 39-31, triple overtime win at Chattanooga, due to undisclosed injuries.
Brent Russell fought an ankle injury and was limited in the game, too.
Those three, and several other players, are questionable heading into the game against the No. 15 Mountaineers.
“We don’t have anybody that’s definitely out,” Monken said. “We’ve got the same guys that haven’t been practicing, they’re questionable. Last week we were kind of in the same boat. We didn’t know if Brent (Russell) was going to be able to go last week, and he played 40 snaps.
“They’re going to get treatments all day Friday and Saturday morning. Sometimes things happen where you can get ready to go.”
Offensively, there is plenty of depth to help out if Swope and Brown aren’t cleared to play.
Jerick McKinnon has taken most of his snaps at the quarterback position, but has also played fullback and slotback this season.
Ezayi Youyoute, who began the season as the starting quarterback and was moved to the backup role during the fourth game of the season against Samford, has taken considerable snaps with the No. 1 offense during the week’s practices.
William Banks and James Dean have gotten work at fullback, and fullback Seon Jones took his first snaps of the season against the Mocs.
Regardless of personnel, Monken said he doesn’t expect to change the Eagles’ offensive approach.
“We can’t change our offense or defense because a guy’s not there,” said the GSU coach. “We have enough faith where if a guy’s not in the game, somebody else is going to come in and take his place.”
Appalachian State (6-3, 4-2) has had injury problems of its own. Quarterback Jamal Jackson was injured in last Saturday’s 38-27 win over Western Carolina. Backup Logan Hallock completed the first 20 passes of his collegiate career in relief and finished the game 20 for 21 with 232 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Jackson’s status has not yet been determined.
“You certainly look at that game,” said GSU defensive coordinator Jack Curtis,” but you look at the other games, and we’ve studied all of them. They’re extremely talented and they know what they’re doing. When you see an offense as potent as they are, I think they’re going to stay with what they do. We’ve really prepared for what we’ve seen them do throughout the season, and not just the Western (Carolina) game.”
Defensive end Dion Dubose, who has been a part of four games against Appalachian State since 2008, certainly took notice of Hallock’s performance against Western, as well as running back Steven Miller’s 245 rushing yards.
“They looked pretty good,” laughed Dubose. “A backup quarterback came in and threw for all those yards and the running back, who we knew from previous games, looked pretty good too. They’ve just got a good team.”
The game kicks off at 2 p.m. at Paulson Stadium.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-4908.