No. 8 GSU (3-1, 2-1) at WCU (1-4, 0-3)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Radio: 103.7 FM
Mark Spier, who started his coaching career at Western Carolina from 1991-96, has had a lot of success since he left.
Now, he’s trying to apply what he’s learned over the years, as the first-year head coach at WCU.
For the last nine years, Speir was a part of an Appalachian State coaching staff that won three-straight Football Championship Subdivision national championships (2005-07) and upset the Michigan Wolverines in 2007.
He’s brought a lot of what ASU does with him to Cullowhee, N.C.
“It’s very similar, and why wouldn’t it be? That’s a blueprint for success,” said Georgia Southern head coach Jeff Monken, whose Eagles face WCU Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Cullowhee. “Jerry (Moore) and his staffs have done such a great job, and Mark was a part of a lot of those staffs.”
While the wins haven’t been there yet, the Catamounts (1-4, 0-3 Southern Conference) have a renewed outlook for a program that has been stuck at the bottom of the SoCon.
“They’re playing with much more enthusiasm than I’ve seen in years,” Monken said.
Western Carolina hasn’t found its Armanti Edwards yet, but the Catamounts, like No. 8 Georgia Southern (3-1, 2-1), have been running their offense with two quarterbacks.
Eddie Sullivan has taken most of the snaps, and has accounted for six touchdowns while passing for 849 yards and rushing for 211.
Quarterback Troy Mitchell has three rushing touchdowns on 28 attempts.
“They like to get the quarterbacks evolved in the run, they like to run some two-back, spread option, and they’re very good at that,” said GSU defensive coordinator Jack Curtis.
The Catamounts like unbalanced sets an stacked wide receivers, something Curtis has spent all week getting the Eagles ready for.
“It takes away from the other stuff you’d like to do,” he said.
Georgia Southern is second in the SoCon in rush defense (96.5 yards per game) and scoring defense (15.5 points per game), but ranks in the middle of the league in pass defense (189.5 yards per game).
“We’re playing pretty well on defense,” Curtis said, “but we’re still giving up that big play here and there. Those hurt us.”
Defensively, the Eagles got a clue about how WCU will defend the option offense, watching film opf the Catamounts’ 49-20 loss against Wofford on Sept. 15.
“At least we know what they’re going to try to do against teams that like up like we do,” Monken said.
The Eagles are 20-2 all time against Western Carolina. The last time they lost was Oct. 8, 1994.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.