PREVIEW: Golden Gophers and Eagles to use experienced defense in Saturday’s contest

Kaitlin Sells

Georgia Southern is preparing to travel to Minneapolis to take on Power 5 school Minnesota, and both defenses seem to be a point of strength on the two teams.

Georgia Southern

The GS defensive line has looked impressive so far on the season, especially against Maine where they held the Black Bears to just three points until the fourth quarter. 

Overall, the defensive line has logged 138 total tackles, with redshirt-junior linebacker Rashad Byrd leading with 20 tackles on the season so far. The team has also come up with two sacks, 11 pass breakups, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

Other strong players expected to start against Minnesota are junor defensive end Raymond Johnson III, redshirt-sophomore linebacker Reynard Ellis, redshirt-sophomore safety Kenderick Duncan Jr. and senior cornerback Monquavion Brinson. 

Johnson started in and played all 13 games last season, so he’s no stranger to the gridiron. This season alone the junior has logged nine tackles and one pass breakup on the season. Duncan is another strong returning starter who played in all 13 games last season, starting four. So far this season the redshirt-sophomore has racked up 12 total tackles as well as returning an interception against Maine for 35 yards.

Brinson is another strong returner, and showed a lot of talent against Maine where he led the team with six solo tackles and one assisted tackles as well as notching two pass breakups. 

A player new to the field for the Eagles that is showing up is Ellis. Now eligible per NCAA transfer rules, the redshirt-sophomore had eight tackles at LSU and seven against Maine. He also had a fumble recovery and a pass breakup against Maine.

The only weakness the defense has so far shown is endurance. They start off games strong with all cylinders firing, but slowly burn out, as shown with Maine’s two late-game touchdowns, both scored in the fourth quarter.


The Golden Gophers’ defense will prove to put up a fight against the Eagles, but it won’t be impossible to score looking at how the defensive line gave up 21 points against South Dakota State and 35 points against Fresno State.

As a team, Minnesota has 112 total tackles on the season, with sophomore defensive back Jordan Howden leading with 17 total tackles. Howden also leads the teams in pass breakups with four on the season so far. The team has also notched 11 pass breakups, three interceptions and one fumble recovery.

Senior linebacker Thomas Barber is definitely someone on the defensive line the Eagles will want to keep their eye on. In his junior season he started all 13 games where he logged 81 total tackles, including 1.5 sacks and four tackles for loss. He also recovered two fumbles and had an interception. This season alone Barber has recorded 12 tackles in the two games he’s played, including one for loss of four yards. 

Another linebacker to watch for is senior Carter Coughlin, who led the team in sacks his junior year with 9.5 sacks on the season. Coughlin also led the team in the 2018 season with 15 tackles for loss, leading to four forced fumbles. This season alone the senior has already logged a sack for a loss of nine yards. Overall Coughlin has logged five total tackles this season for the Golden Gophers.

The Eagles are set to face the Golden Gophers Saturday, with kickoff slated for 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

Kaitlin Sells, The George-Anne Managing Sports Editor,