for this game

Playoff preview: Georgia Southern at William & Mary

Dec 3, 2010 - 8:55 PM Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -


Kickoff: Saturday, Dec. 4, 1:30 p.m. ET

Facts & Figures:Site: Walter J. Zable Stadium at Cary Field (12,259) -- Williamsburg, Virginia. Surface: FieldTurf. Television: None. Home Record: Georgia Southern 4-2; William & Mary 5-0. Away Record: Georgia Southern 4-2; William & Mary 3-3. Series Record: William & Mary (1-0). Only Meeting: September 6, 1997 - William & Mary, 29-28 at Georgia Southern). Series Streak: William & Mary won the only previous meeting. Conference: Georgia Southern - Southern; William & Mary - Colonial Athletic Association. Nicknames: Georgia Southern Eagles; William & Mary Tribe. Sports Network/ Ranking: Georgia Southern (20); William & Mary (4). Head Coaches: Georgia Southern - Jeff Monken (8-4 at Georgia Southern and Overall); William & Mary - Jimmye Laycock (208-144-2 at William & Mary and Overall). All-Time Record: Georgia Southern (326-180-10); William & Mary (535-512-41). Playoff Records: Georgia Southern (39-10); William & Mary (6-8). Previous FCS Playoff Appearances: Georgia Southern 16 (1985-90, 93, 95, 97-99, 2000-02, 04-05); William & Mary 8 (1986, 89-90, 93, 96, 2001, 04, 09).

What to know: Georgia Southern advanced to the second round by soundly defeating South Carolina State last week. The Eagles were their typical selves in the 41-16 victory, rushing for 323 yards while holding South Carolina State to 223 yards of total offense (including 66 yards rushing).

Yes, the Eagles have found success this season under first-year coach Jeff Monken through an adherence to some tried and true football tactics. They run the ball extraordinarily well out of the triple option (255.8 ypg, No, 4 FCS) and they play strong, hard-nosed defense (17.9 ppg allowed, No. 11 FCS). Monken is a disciple of former GSU head coach Paul Johnson (now head coach at Georgia Tech), who won two Football Championship Subdivision (then Division I- AA) championships with the Eagles. Just like his mentor, Monken is utilizing the triple option to much success.

Eagles quarterback Shaw is crucial to the attack, which relies on misdirection. He has run for 357 yards and 13 touchdowns while throwing for 1,071 yards and four scores. Shaw was injured last week against SCSU after taking a hard hit to the chest, but he is expected to play. Robert Brown is the team's leading rusher, averaging 72.7 yards per game and J.J. Wilcox is a threat out of the backfield (342 rushing yards) and as a receiver (490 yards).

The defense is spearheaded by nose tackle Brent Russell, who has 15.5 tackles for loss and six sacks.

The Eagles gained national attention this season when they defeated then-No. 1 Appalachian State, 21-14, in overtime. The defense came up big in the contest as linebacker Darius Eubanks forced a crucial Appalachian State fumble in overtime. The upset sparked a four-game winning streak, which the Eagles will put on the line as they travel to Williamsburg, Va., to face William & Mary.

The Tribe actually resembles GSU in many areas. Both teams pride themselves on controlling the ball, playing strong defense and winning the field position battle.

The Tribe defense, led by middle linebacker Dante Cook (95 TT, four sacks), gives up just 15.3 points per game (No. 5 FCS). The unit has been asked to carry the team as the offense dealt with injuries to its top three quarterbacks.

Mike Callahan, Michael Paulus and Brent Caprio have all missed time this season, but the Tribe have soldiered on. Callahan and Caprio are still banged up entering Saturday's game and Paulus is questionable. Callahan, the original starter, is getting healthy at just the right time. He has thrown for 1,546 yards and 10 touchdowns against just three interceptions in eight games this season.

Also key to the offensive production is running back Jonathan Grimes, who has been a steadying force, running for 787 yards and eight touchdowns. William & Mary's running game isn't as formidable as GSU's, but it is still an element of their balanced attack.

The Tribe are 5-0 at home this season but Saturday's game is far from a lock. Of main concern is GSU's triple option. The Tribe had only a week to prepare for the unorthodox attack, which tends to betray a defender's better instincts.

Prediction: Georgia Southern, 17-13