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Eagles Prepare for Season Opener at Georgia
17th-ranked Georgia Southern faces No. 1 Georgia
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STATESBORO, Ga. - Georgia Southern Football opens the 2008 season on the road against a familiar in-state foe. The 17th-ranked Eagles travel to Athens, squaring off against the Football Bowl Subdivision's top-ranked team Georgia. Kickoff on Saturday (Aug. 30) is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.
This is the fourth meeting between the two programs, and first since Georgia's 48-28 win to start the 2004 season. Georgia Southern head coach Chris Hatcher has never faced the Bulldogs. The Eagles, playing their 17th game against a FBS opponent, have never faced the top-ranked team from the Bowl Subdivision.
The game is being carried in the state of Georgia solely through Comcast. In order to purchase the pay-per-view game, fans must call their local cable company for availability. Outside the state of Georgia the game will be available via ESPN GamePlan.
Inside Georgia Southern Football with Chris Hatcher debuts on a special night, Wednesday night (Aug. 27) starting at 6:30 p.m. Coach Hatcher and Chris Blair will discuss the upcoming Georgia game. The special edition show will be broadcast on Eagle 102.9 FM in Statesboro and on (live and archived). Next week the show will move back to its regular time, Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. live from Locos.
Save for the early years of Georgia Southern Football, coach Hatcher will field one of the youngest Eagle teams ever. In all 22 true- and redshirt-freshmen are listed on the two-deep. The following is a break-down by position.
QUARTERBACK: Redshirt-freshman Lee Chapple and sophomores Antonio Henton (transfer from Ohio State) and Kyle Collins have battled throughout all of fall camp. Coach Hatcher has not named a starter between Chapple and Henton.
RUNNING BACK: True-freshmen Adam Urbano and Samair Baker could see significant playing time this year... Redshirt-freshman Zeke Rozier was off to a promising start last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury in game two. He will sit the first two games of 2008 then return... Jarrell Crawford joined the team prior to fall camp after playing the last two years at Georgia Military College... Darell Norman redshirted during his freshman year at UAB and joined the Eagles in January.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Seniors Michael McIntosh, Tim Camp and Joe Haynie could all start in the Georgia game. Fellow senior Raja Andrews will return to the line-up the following week... Junior Terence Hall is one of the fastest players on the team... Sophomore Steve Cundari originally walked-on and also serves as a holder on kicks... True-freshmen Demarcus Watts and Marcus Russ both had standout camps.
OFFENSIVE LINE: The starting five looks set following the move of summer transfer Trey Dunmon (Georgia Tech) to center and redshirt-freshman William Maxwell to tackle... Junior tackle Cole Fountain and senior guard Dio Herrera have seen some playing time throughout their careers. Herrera missed the final eight games of the 2007 season... Junior Jonathan Loving moved from the defensive line back to the O-Line at right guard. He and redshirt-freshman walk-on Joe Behrmann are battling for the starting job.
 KICKING GAME: Senior Jesse Hartley enters his senior year having made 47 consecutive extra points, and tied a record last year nailing 17 field goals. Arguably the most exciting was a 54-yarder as time expired to defeat South Dakota State... Redshirt-freshman Adrian Mora could challenge for time as well... Freshman transfer Charlie Edwards (UAB) joined the team in January and right now will be looked upon to fill the void at punter left by four-year starter Daniel Jordan. Hartley will back-up on punts... Hartley and senior Patrick Bolen will handle the kickoff duties.
 DEFENSIVE LINE: Seniors Larry Beard, Damon Suggs and Dakota Walker have helped solidify the defensive end position... True-freshman Roderick Tinsley could see time as well... Suggs will sit the first game of the season... Junior Kerry Bonds is close to returning from an injury sustained fall camp and should challenge for playing time as well... True-freshman Brent Russell and JUCO transfer Markeith Wylie are battling for the starting job at defensive tackle.
 LINEBACKERS: Senior Quentin Taylor will help solidify the linebacker corps. The Eagles' middle linebacker made a strong finish to the 2007 season, ranked second in tackles with 59 in 10 games... Sophomore E.J. Webb turned in a solid freshman season, finishing third with 57 stops... Junior Terrione Benefield should see significant playing time after his return in week two. Fellow junior David Lewis has seen action the past two years at middle linebacker... True-freshmen J.B. Shippy (starter at outside linebacker), Dion Dubose and Marc Thomas are all listed on the 2-deep... Freshman Lennie Richardson joined the team during fall camp after redshirting last year at Troy.
SECONDARY: The secondary could arguably be one of the best in the Southern Conference, led by senior All-America Chris Covington. He paced the team with 67 tackles and four interceptions last year... Sophomore Evan Mattingly is listed as Covington's back up and will also see time on special teams... Junior Brandon Echols returned to the team and currently is the starter at free safety but is challenged by another true-freshman Derek Heyden... Junior bandit Chris Rogers is slated to start with true-freshman A.J. McCray seeing significant reps in fall camp... Juniors Carson Hill and Darrel Pasco are slated as starters on the corners with sophomore Dylan Douglas (summer transfer from South Florida) and true-freshman Oliver Davis listed as back-ups. Hill had 33 tackles and three interceptions in just seven games last year before missing the final four contests... Junior Ronnie Wiggins will also challenge for playing time when he returns in week three.
 Beard, Covington, Hill and Hartley were all named preseason First Team All-Southern Conference. Hill was the only non-senior among the Eagles listed. In a close vote, Georgia Southern was picked to finish fourth by the league's head coaches. Teams from second (Elon) through sixth (The Citadel) were separated by just 10 points.
 Georgia begins the 2008 campaign preseason ranked first for the first time in program history. The Bulldogs won their final seven games of last year, including a 41-10 thrashing of Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl. Quarterback Matthew Stafford leads the offense. The junior signal caller threw for 2,523 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. Sophomore Knowshon Moreno made an immediate impact, rushing for 1,334 yards and scoring 14 TDs. Senior flanker Mohamed Massaquoi is the top returning receiver, registering 32 receptions for 491 yards and four touchdowns. Senior linebacker Dannell Ellerbe is a Nagurski Watch List member. He paced the defense with 93 tackles, including 12 for a loss and 4.5 sacks. UGA is 38-7 at home under Coach Mark Richt.

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