STATESBORO -- Coming off its fourth straight double-digit win, Georgia Southern will open a critical three-game homestand Saturday when it takes on Chattanooga.
The top-ranked Eagles (4-0, 3-0 Southern Conference) meet the Mocs at 3 p.m. at Paulson Stadium. The game will be the Southern Conference’s game of the week on its television package which is carried by PBS stations in Georgia and South Carolina.
After playing No. 23 Chattanooga (2-3, 0-2), the Eagles meet Furman and Presbyterian before playing three of their final four games on the road.
Those three road games will be difficult: Oct. 29 at Appalachian State, Nov. 12 at Wofford and Nov. 19 at Alabama. The lone home game in that stretch is Nov. 5 against The Citadel.
The Mocs entered the season with hopes of contending for the conference title, those goals likely have changed after they lost to Appalachian State and The Citadel.
Georgia Southern head coach Jeff Monken discounts any possibilities of the Mocs being flat.
“I’m afraid they’ll come in like a bunch of rattlesnakes,” Monken said. “They’re an outstanding team. They lead the league in total defense.”
The Mocs are giving up only 274 yards per game, but the Eagles are averaging 498 yards, including 387 on the ground. Georgia Southern is also averaging a 48.7 points per game.
Fullback Robert Brown will be at full strength after being hampered last week by a bruised knee, Monken said. Starting slotback and backup quarterback Jerick McKinnon has a chance of being ready to play Saturday after missing last week’s game at Elon with a cracked bone in his right hand.
McKinnon’s injury, Monken said, was not football related.
“He punched a wall out of frustration,” Monken said. “The wall wins every time when you do that. I’m not happy about it.”
McKinnon is wearing a splint this week. He sustained the break to the fifth metacarpal bone, which is the bone connecting the little finger to the wrist.
Brown did not start against Elon, but he was the game’s leading rusher with 116 yards on only 11 carries. He had a 23-yard scoring run on the second play of the fourth quarter. Freshman Dominique Swope started in Brown’s place and had 74 yards on 15 carries.
“Dominique had gotten most of the reps all week, and he we felt he was better prepared to start,” Monken said. “Robert had a lot of swelling and didn’t practice until Thursday. By then a lot of the swelling had gone down, and the doctors gave him clearance to play. He’ll be ready for Chattanooga.”
Brown, the third leading rusher in the conference, has 425 yards rushing on 55 carries, an average of 7.5 yards per attempt.
The Eagles’ defense also held up its end of the bargain, too, as it picked off three passes and had a fumble recovery. Elon had only 5 yards in the second quarter and 13 in the fourth. The 256 yards allowed marked a season low for Georgia Southern.