With a 49-35 win over UAB under their belt the 2-0 Georgia Southern Eagles prepare to hit the road for the first time in the 2023 season as they head to Madison Wisconsin for a matchup with the 1-1 Wisconsin Badgers.
The Eagles had an impressive offensive showing Saturday as Sun Belt offensive player of the week quarterback Davis Brin threw for 318 yards and two scores and the Eagles rushed for 132 years and three touchdowns. Head coach Clay Helton was also impressed by the Eagles third down efficiency as they were 10-12 Saturday.
“Doing that helped us to have touchdowns instead of field goals and that was huge,” Helton said. “I was really proud of Davis as he was 38 of 47 passing for 81 percent on the night. He really handled himself as a veteran out there and there is a reason he is a captain.”
One of the Eagles signature wins last season was their 45-42 victory over Nebraska which marked only the second time in school history the Eagles have knocked off a Power-5 conference member. This week the Eagles head out to another storied Big-10 venue as they travel to Camp Randall Stadium where they will see another crowd of around 80,000 people dressed in red.
With many of the same players on the team that went through the roller coaster win at Nebraska, Helton feels the players should be prepared for what they will see and hear Saturday and thinks that should help them in preparation.
“I thought last year we did a great job of having mental toughness and we showed the discipline to not let the outside factors get in the way of them doing their job,” Helton said. “For us to have success we will have to have that same mental toughness to be able to withstand an unbelievable student body and not be a fan, but concentrate on doing your job and doing your assignment one play at a time. Last year’s team did that on a national stage and that is the challenge for this year’s team.”
While there are a lot of players on the team this year who made the trip to Lincoln last year, there are a few newcomers who have yet to experience a big-time college football atmosphere. Eagle linebacker Khadry Jackson has tried to take some of them aside to help them get ready for what they will experience Saturday.
“I try to remind them that it is still just a football game,” Jackson said. “It’s a game we have all been playing since we were little kids. The fans are going to be loud and it will be electric but the main thing is when you get on the field it is still just a game of football. Try not be overwhelmed or nervous, it’s okay to have butterflies before the game. Once you get that first hit under your belt just remember it’s just football.”
Quarterback Davis Brin wasn’t with the Eagles last year but is well aware of what it is like to play in an impressive venue as he passed for over 400 yards as quarterback at Tulsa on the road at Ohio State.
“It gives me confidence to know I have been in a similar place and had success,” Brin said. “I like these games as the atmosphere is great and they are really fun. It is going to be a tough test but I am really looking forward to it.”
The Badgers present problems on both sides of the ball. On offense they actually have a true balanced attack having rushed for 437 yards and five touchdowns and have passed for 466 yards and two scores. Defensively Wisconsin has given up 104 yards per game and have allowed an average of 220 yards per contest through the air.
“In their first game against Buffalo they played a lot of four down on defense, but against Washington State they played a lot of odd fronts,” Helton said. “I think it will be a lot like last week where we have to prepare for both. Offensively I really like what they are doing and they have the weapons to be successful. They have a good quarterback and receivers and they have a couple running backs who can run or catch passes out of the backfield. Another key is special teams and coach Luke Fickell is really involved and has always been tremendous with special teams and that could be one of the keys of the game.”
Georgia Southern and Wisconsin are scheduled for a noon Eastern time start on a game that will air on the Big-10 network.