Carson Hill has seen it all too many times.
The regular season comes to an end and teammates all around him have the dejected look of a group of kids who don’t get to play another week.
Hill, who has been a part of every Georgia Southern team that has missed the playoffs since the program’s last appearance in 2005, still wasn’t thinking about himself when the Eagles gathered at the Bishop Field House Sunday morning to watch the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision selection show and find out if they’d be making the playoffs in this, Hill’s senior year.
"All I was thinking about were the looks on some people’s faces if we didn’t make it," the senior said. "I’d hate to see that, see the sweetness end. I didn’t want to see it on them and I didn’t want to feel it. I was just ready to get it over with."
But when GSU saw its name on the screen next to South Carolina State on the playoff bracket, Hill saw his teammates explode into cheers and applause.
"It’s been a long time coming," he said after it all sunk in.
Now Hill, for the second week in a row, will go into a game unsure whether it will be his last. All he hopes for is one more chance to play in front of a packed Paulson Stadium.
"It’s got to be at least 25,000 strong," he said. "It’s the playoffs. We haven’t been to the playoffs in, what, five years? I’m just ready to walk out of Bishop and see blue and white everywhere."
What to expect
South Carolina State (9-2, 7-1 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference), the second-place team in its league, will visit Paulson Stadium for the first time since 1995.The Eagles (7-4, 5-3 Southern Conference) may have a 6-0 all-time record against the Bulldogs, but this isn’t the same SCSU squad they last faced in 1996.
The Bulldogs lost only twice this season — to MEAC champion Bethune-Cookman and Georgia Tech in the season opener — and are entering their third-straight trip to the playoffs. They lost 20-13 to Appalachian State in the first round a year ago.
"They’re very athletic, and they are fast," said GSU coach Jeff Monken. "They’re a fast defense, they’re fast on offense and they’ve got a big offensive line."
Offensively, SCSU does a little bit of everything. Luckily, the Eagles have seen a little bit of everything on the other side of the ball.
"They ran the gamut this year," said Monken about the variety of offenses the Eagles have faced. "It’s just that we don’t know what parts of all those different things we’ve seen that we’ll see on Saturday. We may see a mix of most of it, and that’s not easy to prepare for. It’s not easy to get ready for the bubble screens, the power-running game, the zone read and all those things. They’re efficient and they’ve won a lot of football games."
Kickoff for Saturday’s game will take place at 2 p.m. The winner will face William and Mary on the road in Williamsburg, Va., the following Saturday