Tusculum coach Frankie DeBusk knows all about the Southern Conference.
A Division II program, the Pioneers (1-0) are 2-0 against SoCon competition under the 11-year head coach, defeating Elon in 2003 and Western Carolina in 2010.
DeBusk also coached at Chattanooga as an assistant for five years and at Furman two years prior.
DeBusk is probably best known by Georgia Southern fans for his accomplishments as a player. He was Furman's quarterback when the Paladins defeated the Eagles in the 1988 national championship game.
DeBusk is 9-4 against Football Championship Subdivision opponents in his Tusculum career, and his quarterback, Bo Cordell, completed 32 passes for 266 yards in TC's 20-10 win Saturday against West Georgia.
He was even more impressive in a 54-30 win over the SoCon's Western Carolina a year ago, racking up 410 yards and four touchdown passes.
"He's got it," said GSU coach Jeff Monken, whose Eagles face Tusculum Saturday in the home opener at 6 p.m. "He's a good player and he's well respected in their division."
Obviously, playing Division I competition won't rattle the Pioneers.
"They believe that they can pass on anybody in the nation," said Eagles defensive tackle Brent Russell. "They may very well can."
Though Russell and the GSU line are widely known as one of the best in the FCS ranks, they may not be as effective in TC's spread passing attack.
"He knows where he's going with the football," said GSU defensive coordinator Jack Curtis about Cordell. "They'll three-step you, and sometimes you can't get to him in time."
"Any time you get in the backfield and just flash the quarterback," added Russell, "taking anything just to get his train of thought on you, it helps a lot."
Offensively, GSU isn't sure what to expect. The Patriots base their defense on a three-man front, but could show three, four or five on the line against the option offense.
"A lot of the adjustments are built in every week, and I think that helps our kids be able to adjust on the run," said offensive coordinator Brent Davis. "That way, if we worked on something particular to that week, we can pull it out of the bag if we need to."
Though the Eagles (1-0) have added a shotgun look to the offense, the approach hasn't changed.
"We still want to establish the same things we always have — establish the fullback, establish the triple option under center," said Davis. "We rally haven't changed anything in terms of the plays we're calling. We're just running them out of different formations."
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.