Going into last Saturday’s 38-17 win over Furman, Georgia Southern senior defensive tackle Brent Russell needed a half sack to match the all-time school record for sacks in a career.
Edward Thomas recorded 24 sacks from 1993 through 1996, and Russell almost passed the number in the first quarter, hitting Furman quarterback Reese Hannon and forcing what looked to be a fumble.
It was ruled to be an incomplete pass.
“I didn’t know if he flicked it, or if it came out when I hit him,” Russell said. “It was pretty bang-bang, and they called it an incomplete pass, but I just like getting a hit on the quarterback.”
The possibility of setting the GSU record only recently came to Russell’s radar.
“I didn’t know about it until I was a sack away from it,” Russell said. “What do I think about it? It would be great to have it one day to kind of look back on it, but I’m not thinking about it this year. I’m just trying to be productive for the team.”
Bumps and bruises
There’s a chance Russell won’t be able to pass the sack record on Saturday, when the No. 2 Eagles (6-1, 5-1 Southern Conference) face Chattanooga (4-3, 3-1) on the road at 6 p.m.
Russell spent Monday’s practice on crutches with a boot on his right foot. He aggravated an injury against Furman, but played through it. He said the boot and crutches were precautionary.
“I expect to be 100 percent,” Russell said. “I played the whole game and didn’t feel it until (Sunday). I’ll be 100 percent for Saturday.”
Head coach Jeff Monken said he is not sure about Russell’s status for Saturday, but wasn’t surprised about Russell expecting to play.
“Of course he does. And he could be (playing),” Monken said. “That’s the mental toughness of that kid. He was hurt going into the (Furman) game. He was hurt so bad during warmups he pulled himself out on Saturday. Hopefully we can get him ready to go, but health is the number one concern for every one of these kids, because they could get injured worse.”
Also banged up but likely to play are fullbacks Dominique Swope and William Banks, offensive lineman Logan Daves and holder/backup quarterback Russell DeMasi.
Safety/kick returner J.J. Wilcox was bruised on a kickoff return but returned to the field against Furman.
No flag doesn’t mean not guilty
Just because offensive linemen don’t get called for a penalty doesn’t mean they aren’t guilty.
It also doesn’t mean they won’t be punished.
On Mondays following games, after offensive coordinator Brent Davis has had a chance to grade the tapes, he makes sure that the linemen remember not to do something that may penalize the team.
“Even when those guys don’t get called for holding, coach (Davis) calls them for holding and he punishes them for it out here on Monday — any block in the back, any holding, anything that might cost us,” Monken said.
The punishment? Moving an oversized tire across the practice field – on all fours.
“That’s tough business over there,” Monken added, “pushing a tire with your head.”
The Robinson connection
Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson isn’t just excited to be on the only undefeated team left in the NFL. He’s also excited about his brother, Georgia Southern slotback Darreion Robinson, and the GSU Eagles.
“He calls me after every game or shoots me a text message just to see what the stats were like, make sure we won,” said Darreion Robinson, who also follows the Falcons through his brother. “He’s just excited. He’s pumped. They’re just trying to get to the Super Bowl, and that’s something everybody in Atlanta’s been waiting on. I’m kind of waiting on it, too.”
The Falcons (6-0) face former quarterback Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday at 1 p.m. on the road.