Originally created 09/22/04

Assistant charges up Eagles' defense



STATESBORO, Ga. - Tired of laying back on defense and watching opposing teams methodically march down the field, Georgia Southern football coach Mike Sewak hired coordinator Joe Tresey in hopes of throwing a charge into the Eagles' defense.

"Charge!" might have been the battle cry in a 58-14 victory against Wofford on Saturday night.

The Eagles blitzed linebackers, safeties and cornerbacks in a dizzying display of aggressiveness that completely confused a school that boasts an average SAT score of 1247.

"I think we had (Wofford players') heads on a swivel," Sewak said.

At times, Georgia Southern appeared to be playing defense with 13 or 14 players, and the Terriers' backfield became a designated meeting area. The Eagles registered three sacks and 17 tackles for losses. Linebackers Derrick Butler and John Mohring combined for 17 tackles, five tackles for losses and three sacks.

"We had 10 or 11 hats on the ball most of the night and that's what you like to see," Tresey said. "Our kids are playing fast. We want them going full speed."

A year ago, the Eagles surrendered 21.1 points a game, their most since 1998. But more importantly, opponents were falling into a comfort zone, taking what the defense would give them. Both Wofford and The Citadel had advantages in time of possession and both put together late fourth-quarter winning drives.

With basically the same defensive unit, Tresey has changed the defensive beat from a waltz to rock 'n' roll. The Eagles lead the conference in total defense (allowing 258.7 yards a game) and in sacks (nine).

PILING UP THE POINTS: Georgia Southern has a string of scoring 20 times on 22 full possessions. The Eagles scored on their last two full possessions against Georgia, then 12 out of 14 chances against Johnson C. Smith and the first six times they had the ball against Wofford.

Anniversary week: Monday marked the 15th anniversary of the infamous Hugo Bowl. With Hurricane Hugo heading straight for Statesboro, school administrators faced a dilemma - call off a nationally televised game on ESPN or play the game.

Then-athletics director Bucky Wagner waited until the last moment before giving the OK to play and Georgia Southern defeated Middle Tennessee State 26-0 in a driving rainstorm before more than 16,000 partying fans.

Sunday, GSU will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Paulson Stadium.