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Georgia Southern prepares for Wofford
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BVG SoCon call 11.1.06

Wofford coach Mike Ayers knows there’s nothing easy about playing Georgia Southern in Statesboro.
    “I think as soon as you get off the bus it’s a challenge,” said Ayers, whose Terriers will visit Paulson Stadium for a noon game on Saturday. “That’s a tough place to play. I think that the crowd lends itself to making them a better football team and inspiring their guys to play hard.”
    The Eagles (3-5, 2-3) own an all-time home record of 143-20 (2-3 this year) and a 7-4 edge in the series with the Terriers (4-4, 3-2). Wofford has won three of the last four meetings, which include the Terriers’ 14-7 victory at Paulson in 2002. But playing the Eagles at home is just one of Wofford’s many concerns.
    “Just the athleticism of their football team is definitely a big factor,” Ayers said. “And then coaching-wise, those guys are coaching them well. They are fundamental, and you can see that their kids understand what they’re doing and where they want to go. Their quarterback is a guy that seems like he understands where he wants to go with the ball.”
    Ayers also had high praise for GSU’s offensive front.
    “What a physical crew they are,” he said.
    And don’t forget about the Eagles’ speed.
    “I think the biggest factor for us is — can we overcome that great speed that they have?” Ayers said. “I don’t know. We’ll find out when we get there. It’s going to be one of those games, I’m sure, (where) we are going to be testing the waters. This is the first time we’ve played them with the new staff. We’ve kind of understood how they were going to try to defend us over the years and now it’s a new ballgame.”
     The Terriers have won two in a row and are coming off a 35-7 victory over Western Carolina, which Ayers said was probably the best overall game his team has played this year. Meanwhile, Georgia Southern has dropped two straight, including a 24-21 defeat at The Citadel last weekend and a 27-20 double-overtime loss to defending I-A national champion Appalachian State two weeks ago in Statesboro.
    Georgia Southern is tied with Elon (4-4, 2-3) for fifth place in the league standings while Wofford is knotted with the Bulldogs (3-5, 3-2) for third.
    One of the Eagles’ many challenges this week will be slowing Wofford’s highly productive option attack, which is similar to the one GSU abandoned this offseason. Behind running backs Kevious Johnson (74.4 yards per game) and Michael Hobbs (49.6), the Terriers boast the Southern Conference’s best rushing offense (247.8). GSU’s rush defense ranks fourth in the league, allowing an average of 141.8 yards on the ground a game.
    “The wingbone they run, we haven’t seen that,” Eagle coach Brian VanGorder said. “Of course a lot of our players are familiar with it. They are just very, very well coached. They look like a very high-character team. Their kids play fast, they play hard, they play with confidence (and are) very fundamental. (They are) a difficult team to deal with. They’ll make you earn victory.”
    The game will be televised by CSS.