FCS Football News
FCS quarterfinals: Maine's versatility threatens GSU
The Sports Network
By Sean Shapiro, FCS Assistant
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 10th, 2 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Allen E. Paulson Stadium (18,000) -- Statesboro, Georgia. Surface: Natural Grass. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Maine 4-1; Georgia Southern 7-0. Away Record: Maine 5-2; Georgia Southern 3-2. Series Record: Georgia Southern (2-0). Last Meeting: December 7, 2002 (Georgia Southern def. Maine, 31-7 at Georgia Southern). Series Streak: Georgia Southern has won both meetings. Conference: Maine - Colonial Athletic Association; Georgia Southern - Southern. Nicknames: Maine Black Bears; Georgia Southern Eagles. Sports Network/Fathead.com Ranking: Maine (13); Georgia Southern (3). NCAA Playoff Seedings: Maine (NS); Georgia Southern (3). Head Coaches: Maine - Jack Cosgrove (19th Season, 105-110 at Maine and Overall); Georgia Southern - Jeff Monken (2nd season, 20-7 at Georgia Southern and Overall). All-Time Record: Maine (494-468-38); Georgia Southern (276-106-1). FCS Playoff Records: Maine (3-5); Georgia Southern (6 National Championships - 1985-86, 89-90, 99-2000 - 42-11). Previous FCS Playoff Appearances: Maine 5 (1987, 1989, 2001-02, 2008); Georgia Southern 17 (1985-90, 1993, 1995, 1997-2002, 2004-05, 2010).
GAME NOTES: Maine derailed a potential Appalachian State-Georgia Southern rematch last week, defeating the Mountaineers, 34-12, in a blowout. The 22- point victory was the largest margin of victory by a visiting team in Boone, N.C., since before Appalachian State's three consecutive FCS championships. Last week, Georgia Southern outlasted Old Dominion in a 55-48 shootout.
While Georgia Southern defeated Old Dominion, the Eagles were exposed on defense, as the Monarchs compiled 560 yards of total offense, the most of any of their FCS opponents this season. While Maine's Warren Smith (241.1 ypg), may not have the numbers of Old Dominion's Taylor Heinicke, the Black Bears quarterback conducts a smash-mouth, wait-for-the-quick-strike offense that can score from anywhere.
Providing support to Smith is running back Pushaun Brown (95.9 ypg), a player who when healthy has put up big numbers, rushing for 100-plus yards in six games, including 111 last week against Appalachian State.
However, Brown's running abilities are only a sideshow to Georgia Southern's triple-option attack, which Old Dominion had no answer for last week. Dominique Swope, who rushed for 255 yards last week, has been marquee runner as of late, but Robert Brown, Nico Hickey and quarterback Jaybo Shaw are threats to score.
Maine hasn't played against the triple option since 2002, a 31-7 loss to - guess who - Georgia Southern. While Maine's defense put on a strong display against Appalachian State, the triple option forces Maine to change its entire defensive scheme. Defensive backs have to pinch in for run support - something All-CAA safety Jerron McMillian has done well - but not get caught ignoring the pass because Shaw has burned teams deep this season.
For Maine, its victim last week, Appalachian State, may have supplied the blueprint to beating Georgia Southern - get turnovers and take the lead early. While the option may churn up yards and clock, the Black Bears hope to take an early lead and force the Eagles to throw the ball, then the opportunistic defense could gamble and make a game-changing turnover.
Both teams have dangerous returners, Maine's Trevor Costen led the CAA in punt returns (9.7 per attempt), while Georgia Southern's Laron Scott (32 yards per attempt) is one of the most dangerous kick returners in the FCS.
In another interesting match-up, Eagles kicker Adrian Mora, the FCS record- holder for extra points, has missed two consecutive attempts and Maine has blocked nine total kicks this season, including two extra point tries that have been run back for two points.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Maine 34, Georgia Southern 31
12/07 11:08:46 ET