STATESBORO -- Old Dominion’s high powered offense offered an eye-opening experience for Georgia Southern.
Moments after dispatching the Monarchs 55-48 last Saturday in the second round of the FCS playoffs, the Eagles’ eyes got a little wider.
That was when they learned Maine had beaten Appalachian State in convincing fashion. The Black Bears (9-3) posted a 34-12 win, holding the Mountaineers to 3 yards rushing on 25 attempts.
Mountaineers head coach Jerry Moore was impressed with Jack Cosgrove’s Black Bears and had a word of advice for the Eagles, who face Maine at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Paulson Stadium.
“Their secondary was probably the best we have played against,” Moore said. “They were the best tackling and most aggressive secondary we have played against.
“Their quarterback, that guy is just a winner. He doesn’t do anything flashy. He goes out there and runs a boot, and they get a first down, and the next thing you know he hits a long ball, touchdown.”
One of Georgia Southern’s two losses this season, and their only one to an FCS opponent, was a 24-17 decision at Appalachian State.
“What they did at Appalachian is impressive,” Georgia Southern head coach Jeff Monken said of the Black Bears. “I’ve been to (Appalachian State) four times, three as an assistant, and have won only once.
“It’s a tough place to win. Not many teams go in there and win, especially the way Maine did.”
The Black Bears are led by senior quarterback Warren Smith and have an excellent running back in Pushaun Brown.
Smith transferred to Maine after his freshman year at Iona when that school dropped football. He has started 28 games for the Bears, and this season, he has completed 256-of-396 passes for 2,893 yards and 20 touchdowns. He has been intercepted 11 times.
“He’s a good quarterback,” Monken said. “They’re a really good run-blocking team and run the ball effectively. They’ve got two good running backs and good receivers.
“Their tight end is the best we’ve seen this year. He’s a good blocker. He blocks people and then goes out and catches the ball. We would love to have him as an offensive tackle.”
Brown leads the Bears with 1,055 yards rushing. Their leading receivers are wide receiver Maurice McDonald with 53 receptions, and tight end Justin Perillo, a 6-foot-4, 250 pound sophomore, with 49 catches.
Maine is giving up 145 yards rushing per game, and Monken believes it will offer a good test for the Eagles’ triple-option attack, which ripped ODU for 477 yards.
“Their secondary is very athletic,” Monken said, “and they have two physical linebackers -- Vinson Givans is a very good player.
“They also have a defensive lineman (Raibonne Charles) who is very active and has a great motor. He reminds me a lot of the kids we had at the Naval Academy. I bet he’s fun to coach.”
Maine is not as big as Old Dominion -- Monken compared Maine to Chattanooga and Appalachian State -- but the Bears are physical.
“We hoped to be able to run the football (against Appalachian State), and we found ways to do that.” Cosgrove said. “We felt like we could run our offense as long as our guys played physical.”