Conference title and playoff hopes aside, Georgia Southern’s seniors are sick and tired of losing to Wofford.
The league-leading Terriers (7-2, 4-1) have given the Eagles fits recently, besting Georgia Southern (6-2, 3-2) in four of the last five meetings. Last season Wofford handed GSU an 18-point home loss, and the Eagles’ last win in Spartanburg, S.C., dates back to 2001. Georgia Southern will look to change that this Saturday in a 1:30 p.m. game at Gibbs Stadium.
“The only time I remember beating them is my freshman year here at home,” senior running back Dusty Reddick said following practice Monday, referring to the Eagles’ 58-14 trouncing in 2004. “So that’s a lot of pride on the line this game. It’s something that’s in the back of our minds as players, guys who have been here throughout the years.”
Quarterback Jayson Foster said the senior class wants to go out with an even record against the Terriers.
“Then they wouldn’t have bragging rights,” he said. “They’ve given it to us the last two years, so we want to get up there and make up for it.”
Making up for it will include slowing Wofford’s potent triple option attack, which differs greatly from the spread sets GSU has faced in recent weeks. Behind senior quarterback Josh Collier, the Terriers are averaging more than 37 points and 435 total yards a game. They’ll be yet another challenge for a Georgia Southern defense coming off its best performance of the year in last week’s homecoming win over The Citadel.
“Everybody’s got to work as a team and just do their part, not try and play somebody else’s position and fill another gap,” senior defensive end Joey Tuttle said. “As long as you do your job, somebody else is going to be able to do their job.”
The Eagles are treating the home stretch of their regular season as a playoff run and are looking to ride the momentum of back-to-back wins over Appalachian State and The Citadel. With two conference losses, GSU’s postseason chances hinge on the outcome of Saturday’s matchup.
“It’s our biggest game,” Reddick said. “They are top of the conference, so we’ve got to try to knock the No. 1 team off. To be a championship-caliber team you’ve got to do the little things right, and that’s what we are working on doing. Every day we come out here, work on the little things and try to get just a little bit better, inch by inch.”
Eagles jump to 17th in the nation
The Eagles climbed from 22nd to 17th in this week’s Sports Network poll and moved up four spots to No. 18 in the FCS Coaches poll. Other ranked SoCon teams included Appalachian State (9), Wofford (10) and Elon (14).
No new injuries
GSU coach Chris Hatcher was glad to report the Eagles didn’t suffer any new injuries last weekend. Cornerback Carson Hill missed The Citadel game and will also be out this week. Receiver Mike McIntosh saw limited action last Saturday after sitting out the two previous games with an injury.
Hartley honored by SoCon
Placekicker Jesse Hartley was tabbed the SoCon special teams player of the week Monday, marking the second time he’s won the award this season. Against The Citadel the junior hit field goals of 23 and 20 yards, GSU’s only points in the first three quarters. Hartley’s converted 14 of 18 field goal tries and all 36 extra point attempts this year. His 14 field goals are the most in a regular season at GSU since Reed Haley had 15 during the 1993 season, and he needs three more to match Tim Foley’s single-season record.
Hatcher nominated for ‘Coach of the Year’
The Liberty Mutual ‘Coach of the Year’ award is given to a football coach in each NCAA Division and this year Georgia Southern fans have the opportunity to vote for coach Chris Hatcher for this award at www.coachoftheyear.com until November 27th.
The Liberty Mutual ‘Coach of the Year’ award is given to a college football coach who has demonstrated the ability to lead the team through their integrity, responsibility, commitment to excellence and dedication. The award process will take place over the course of the entire college football season, and fan votes will be crucial to the outcome. The winner in each division will be chosen using a combination of fan votes and votes received from members of the 2007 Coach of the Year Selection Committee.
The winners will receive $20,000 towards their school’s Alumni Association and the remaining $50,000 for the charity(s) of their choice. The first-ever Liberty Mutual ‘Coach of the Year’ was awarded last year to Greg Schiano of Rutgers University.
Fans are allowed to vote once a day on the website and post a message about why their coach deserves this accolade. GSU fans are encouraged to spread the word to others to place their votes as well. The award process will take place throughout the remainder of the football season and the total number of fan votes is an important part of the final selection. After the open fan voting session closes, there is a finalist selection process and a finalist vote. On December 29th the winners of the 2007 Liberty Mutual ‘Coach of the Year’ will be announced.
Coming off a 3-8 year, the 17th-ranked Eagles and first-year head coach Hatcher are 6-2 overall and 3-2 in the Southern Conference.
Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.