Eagles and Mocs to battle after bye weeks

Randall Hampton

A frustrated Georgia Southern University football team will try to get back in the win column when it takes on the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on Saturday.

GSU fumbled away the Southern Conference opener at Wofford College 30-20 two weeks ago.  Turnovers cost the Eagles that game, but injuries could do the team in this week.

“I don’t know if we have a healthy running back, period.  We don’t have one, not one for the game right now,” head coach Jeff Monken said at practice on Monday.

Junior fullback Dominique Swope and senior fullback William Banks are both nursing injuries, but Banks will definitely suit up when UTC steps into Allen E. Paulson Stadium on Saturday.

Banks has been playing injured throughout the season, but his finger injury will not be enough to keep him off the field Saturday, Monken said.

GSU leads the series 22-4, but last season UTC pushed the Eagles to triple-overtime before GSU came out on top 39-31.

Senior quarterback Jerick McKinnon rushed for 141 yards and three touchdowns in the game last season.  He led GSU to three touchdowns on the team’s first four possessions for a 21-7 lead.

The offense put up plenty of points, but UTC sophomore quarterback Jacob Huesman gave the Eagles defense all kinds of problems last season.

He rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns from the quarterback position and added 102 passing yards with a touchdown.  Huesman led a furious third quarter charge as the Mocs scored 17 unanswered points.

His shining moment came at the end of the first overtime when Huesman hit junior tight end Faysal Shafaat in the back of the end zone to tie the game at 31-31.

On the first possession of the third overtime, the Eagles finally broke the Mocs back with a 10 play 25 yard drive to win the game.

GSU got handled up front on defense in its last game, and UTC junior running back Keon Williams is coming off consecutive SoCon Offensive Player of the Week awards.

Williams ran for 106 yards and three touchdowns against Austin Peay University and will be fresh coming off a bye week.

A banged up backfield could force GSU to open up its passing game to move the ball.  Redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Ellison, who got the start at Wofford, has to worry about the 2012 SoCon Defensive Player of the Year Davis Tull wreaking havoc.

Tull had a monster of a game at defensive end last season against GSU with 12 tackles and a sack in a losing effort.  He was shut out in the sack column against APU, but that does not mean he won’t put up numbers on Saturday.