STATESBORO, Ga. (WTOC) - The Georgia Southern Eagles are well aware what it’s like to face one of the nation’s best receivers.
In fact, they’ve faced three of them already this year. On Saturday, they’ll do it again.
One of the Eagles’ top tasks in the Cure Bowl this weekend is grounding Liberty star wideout Antonio Gandy-Golden. The Dallas, GA native is third in the country with 1333 receiving yards and has nine touchdowns this year for the Flames.
Southern has already faced the top two players leading the country in receiving yards, LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase and Arkansas State’s Omar Bayless. Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman was 12th in the category.
Head coach Chad Lunsford says he doesn’t remember a season like this before, where the Eagles face elite talent at one position throughout the season. Lunsford feels like his team has handled these battles pretty well.
“We’ve had some slip ups. We’ve had some things where maybe we didn’t do our technique quite right. We had a missed assignment here and there and gave up some big plays,” he says. “But our guys come to compete all the time, and I know they’re looking forward to this challenge.”
It’s been a season full of elite tests for the Georgia Southern defensive backfield. Now they’ll close out the year with another one.
“He’s a great receiver," Lunsford states. "Like they used to say about Michael Jordan. Man, it ain’t stopping him. It’s trying to contain him. So we have to go out there and do the best we can to contain him.”
In the earlier matchups with top wideouts, the Eagles have fared differently.
Chase won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver, but managed only two catches for 21 yards and a TD against the Eagles. Of course, the Tiger offense wasn’t slowed in the 55-3 rout that saw Heisman winner Joe Burrow toss five touchdown passes in the first half.
Bayless had a nice day for Arkansas State in the Red Wolves’ win over Southern. The All-American had seven catches for 113 yards and a touchdown against the Eagle defense.
Southern will get their chance to slow down one of the nation’s best pass catchers Saturday afternoon in Orlando.