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June 29, 2007

Countdown to Kickoff: Georgia Southern

Countdown To Kickoff: Preview of App State's 2007 Opponents

Game Seven: Georgia Southern
Where: Kidd Brewer Stadium ("The Rock"), Boone, N.C.
Playing Surface: Field Turf
Capacity: 17,150
When: October 20, 2007
Time/TV: 3:30/TBA
Series Record: 11-10-1
Last Meeting: 2006 ASU 27, Georgia Southern 20 (2 OT)

About Georgia Southern
2006 Record: 3-8 (2-5 Southern Conference)
Head Coach: Chris Hatcher begins his first season as Georgia Southern's head coach. Prior to taking the job in Statesboro, Hatcher spent seven seasons as head coach of Division II power Valdosta State. During his time at Valdosta State, Hatcher compiled a record of 76-12. He also spent several years as an assistant on the Division I level with stints at Central Florida and Kentucky.
Returning Starters: N/A
2006 by the numbers: Scoring offense: 21.4 ppg; Pass offense: 176.4 ypg; Rush offense: 183.2 ypg; Total offense: 359.9 ypg; Scoring defense: 23.6 ppg; Pass defense: 187.8 ypg; Rush defense: 152.1 ypg; Total defense: 339.9 ypg.

When Georgia Southern has the ball: Last season, Georgia Southern took a step that most people familiar with the program thought they would never see � an offense that moved away from the option and looked to pass more often than in the past. As a result, GSU featured a quarterback in rising junior Travis Clark that threw for 1,808 yards for the season.

With Hatcher being known for his ability to develop quarterbacks, Clark will likely have an opportunity to air it out even more this season than he did in 2006. However, for Clark to get that opportunity to do that he must beat out redshirt freshman quarterback Kyle Collins this fall to keep his starting job. Collins impressed the coaches during spring ball by throwing for 300 yards in GSU's spring game.

Add to the mix a talented group of wide receivers and the GSU offense has the potential to move even further away from the ground game. GSU returns its leading receiver from a year ago in Jayson Foster (33 receptions, 368 yards), as well as junior receivers Raja Andrews and Irving Campbell. In addition, the Eagles will add talented redshirt freshman Steve Cunardi to the mix. At 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, Cunardi is expected to push for a starting job.

Despite the weapons GSU has at its disposal in the passing game, Hatcher and offensive coordinator Rance Gillespie inherited a program that features two very talented running backs in senior Lamar Lewis, who rushed for 782 yards and seven touchdowns and junior Chris Covington, who gained 824 yards and scored eight times. In addition to these two, the Eagles will be giving a sophomore Ronnie Wiggins a long look at the position due to his very impressive spring performance.

Wiggins may also find more time as there have been reports throughout the spring that Covington, who carried the ball 164 times in '06, will be moved to defensive back.

What will Georgia Southern do offensively?: Though it appears the Eagles will be looking to the air under new head coach Chris Hatcher, it is still uncertain what scheme the Eagles will use. Gillespie, GSU's new OC, comes to Statesboro from the high school ranks, leaving a big question mark to what kind of system they will run. Look for a multiple offensive set that will load the field with GSU's talented wide receiver corps.

Match-up to watch: Appalachian State's defensive backs, Corey Lynch, Titus Howard, Justin Woazeah, Jerome Touchstone and Billy Riddle vs. Georgia Southern's wide receivers, Jayson Foster, Raja Andrews, Irving Campbell and Steve Cunardi.

The big question: Can ASU shutdown GSU's pass first offense?

When Appalachian State has the ball: In last season's double overtime thriller, GSU's defense allowed over 400 yards of total offense. And unfortunately for Eagles fans, their porous defense may be in worse shape this season as they lose four of their top five tacklers. While this is certainly a daunting notion for GSU fans, it can be a little more unsettling when taking into consideration they only had one player to notch over 50 tackles on the season.

On a more positive note for the Eagles, junior defensive back Brandon Jackson, the team's leader in interceptions (5 Ints.), will return to the program alongside the team's top returning tackler Dedrick Bynum (45 TT). The two will lead the way for a talented group in the defensive backfield. Joining Bynum and Jackson will be Carson Hill, a sophomore corner who tallied 32 tackles and three pass breakups as a freshman.

Georgia Southern also returns a handful of defensive linemen that saw a significant amount of playing time in '06. Leading way is junior Branden Daniel, who recorded 40 tackles,9.5 tackles-for-loss and 4.5 sacks. Beside him will be senior T.J. Watkins (34 TT, 4.5 TFL) and junior Jerry Barker (29 TT, 3 TFL).

The Eagles also return a very talented player at linebacker in sophomore Terrione Benefield who managed 38 tackles, 5.5 tackles-for-loss, one sack and three interceptions.

What will Georgia Southern do defensively?: Defensive coordinator Ashley Anders served as Hatcher's DC at Valdosta and was noted for lining up in a traditional 4-3 defensive scheme. Look for Anders to do the same at Georgia Southern.

Match-up to watch: ASU's running game, Kevin Richardson, Armanti Edwards and Devon Moore vs. GSU's inexperienced linebackers, Terrione Benefield, David Morris, E.J. Webb and Justin Callaway.

The big question: Can ASU exploit the young defensive line and inexperienced linebackers with its rushing attack?

Georgia Southern special teams: Daniel Jordan will return as GSU's everyday punter after averaging 41 yards per attempt last season. Patrick Bolen will likely take hold of place kicking duties after a mediocre season in '06. Marquice Maynard and Jayson Foster will handle kickoff return duties, while Foster will also return punts.

2006 Results
9/09/06 � Central Connecticut State (L, 13-17)
9/16/06 � Coastal Carolina (W, 38-21)
9/23/06 � at Chattanooga (L, 26-27)
9/30/06 � at Western Carolina (W, 24-14)
10/7/06 � North Dakota State (L, 14-34)
10/14/06 � Elon (W, 28-21)
10/21/06 � Appalachian State (L, 20-27 � 2 OT)
10/28/06 � at The Citadel (L, 21-24)
11/04/06 � Wofford (L, 10-28)
11/11/06 � at Furman (L, 10-13)
11/18/06 � Central Arkansas (L, 31-34 � OT)

2007 Schedule
9/08/07 � West Georgia
9/15/07 � at Coastal Carolina
9/22/07 � Chattanooga
9/29/07 � Western Carolina
10/06/07 � South Dakota State
10/13/07 � at Elon
10/20/07 � at Appalachian State
10/27/07 � The Citadel
11.03/07 � at Wofford
11/10/07 � Furman
11/17/07 � at Colorado State



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