Georgia Southern (6-4) at Florida (4-6)
2 p.m., Saturday, ESPN3
Antonio Glover got his first start in college last Saturday against Elon, and by all accounts the Georgia Southern sophomore acquitted himself well.
Glover, starting at strong safety in place of the injured Deion Stanley, had 10 tackles in the Eagles’ 38-20 win over the Phoenix. Stanley was injured the previous week against Western Carolina, and is not expected to play this Saturday when Georgia Southern plays at Florida in a 2 p.m. start.
It will be the final game of the season for Georgia Southern.
“He did a nice job,” GSU coach Jeff Monken said. “That’s a guy that virtually had not played on defense. I was proud of him. He made some good open field tackles. He really wanted to play (this season). He’s worked hard, he knows his assignments. He’s just a guy that’s got rewarded as guys got hurt. He’s stayed the course, stuck it out.”
The injury bug, which has plagued the Eagles this season, is well documented, but one thing it has done is open the door for a lot of young players such as Glover to get an opportunity to get game experience under their belts.
Against Elon, for example, the participation chart showed 19 freshmen and 13 sophomores seeing action for Georgia Southern.
All of the Eagles’ points were scored by freshmen — Irving Huggins ran for three touchdowns, quarterback Kevin Ellison had two and Younghoe Koo kicked five extra points and a field goal.
“It was a great experience to just to be able to have chance to play,” Glover said. “I feel like it was a great experience, a great chance. I just want to step up and do whatever it takes to help my team in a positive way.”
The win assured the Eagles (6-4) a winning season regardless of what happens against the Gators (4-6) who need wins over Georgia Southern and Florida State in their final two games to not only avoid their first losing season since 1979, but also keep alive a bowl streak of 22 straight seasons.
Despite being mired in a five-game losing streak Florida ranks as a heavy favorite over the Eagles who are playing their final game as an FCS team.
Georgia Southern is riding the wave of a modest two-game winning streak, albeit at the expense of two of the weakest teams in the Southern Conference, and while Glover acknowledges it’s a huge task his team faces he’s not willing to concede anything.
“They’re a great team,” Glover said. “We have to go down there and play our game to the best of our ability. Whatever scheme the coaches come up with we have to play it the best we can, and hopefully we can come up with a win. It’s a tremendous challenge. They run the ball very well, and pass the ball very well, too. We are going to have to be prepared to play against a balanced team. We have to be great on offense, defense and special teams.”
Glover, like many of the GSU players, was not highly recruited coming out of high school. Actually, Glover was more highly recruited as a basketball player at Douglas County High School when he scored a career high 38 points.
“Georgia Southern was it in football,” Glover said. “They were the only school to recruit me. I had some offers from Division II schools in basketball. I was a shooting guard, but I wanted to play football.”
Monken certainly did not plan on playing the number of freshmen he has this year, especially at key positions, but he would rather dwell on the positive than the what-could-have-beens.
“I looked out there Saturday and there were a bunch of guys out there who had not played a lot of football,” Monken said. “We’re getting better though, and we’re improving. I hope we get better this week.”