MONTGOMERY – Eastern Michigan sophomore defensive lineman Turan Rush wants to make a difference.
The sophomore special education major joined some of his EMU teammates at Chisolm Elementary School on Wednesday to spend some time with the various classrooms. Rush spent his time in the special needs class interacting with the students and para-educators.
“It means a lot to me, to have an opportunity to visit and see a smile on their face,” Rush said. “These kids have special abilities and they are special people and I want everyone to see that.
“I walked in this classroom and I could feel the energy off the kids. They have fun. It means a lot.”
Rush feels like the special education field is his calling in life.
“In high school took a class and being around those kids every day, seeing them have fun, I feel like God put me on this earth to make someone’s life special. I want to bless them just like they bless me.”
The Eastern Michigan football team spent Wednesday morning giving back to the local community.
The team split into two groups to engage with two different parts of the Montgomery community. One group of Eagles’ student-athletes spent time at Chisholm Elementary School in Montgomery, Ala., interacting with all ages of students.
The other group of student-athletes went to the headquarters of the Montgomery Area Council on Aging in downtown Montgomery, aiding the group in the packing of meals for the local elderly community that are unable to prepare their own.
One of the deciding factors in Saturday’s Camellia Bowl could be turnovers.
Both Georgia Southern and Eastern Michigan rank in the Top 10 nationally in turnover margin.
“No question, that’s the first part of our plan to win, is the turnover battle,” Georgia Southern head coach Chris Lunsford said. “We have to go make takeaways with our defense and make sure we protect the ball on offense.”
Eastern Michigan ranks second in the MAC (10th NCAA) with +10 turnover margin through 12 games. The Eagles have forced 24 turnovers (2 per game) and committed 14 turnovers (1.2 per game) this year.
EMU head coach Chris Creighton made a point to talk about turnover margin in his introductory press conference this week.
“The number one thing I look at is the turnover margin,” Creighton said. “I am pumping my chest out because we are tied for 10th in the nation with the University of Florida. So, I look up the turnover margin, hoping that will be a chance for us to win the game and Georgia Southern is ranked No. 1 in America in turnover margin.”
Georgia Southern leads the nation with a +22 turnover margin (+1.83 per game this season. The Eagles have forced 27 turnovers (2.3 per game) and committed only five turnovers (0.4 per game).
Lunsford says it not accident that his team has taken care of the football.
“We always do a drill called ‘own the ball’, where we own it,” Lunsford added. “That allows us to protect the football, but always allows us to practice taking the ball away. We really work hard on that all through practice.”
Georgia Southern is the only FBS team not to throw an interception this season. The Eagles have attempted 110 passes in 12 games. The 110 pass attempts are the second-fewest in the nation. Army has the fewest with 85 passes attempts in 2018
Eastern Michigan is tied for fourth nationally with four interceptions. EMU has attempted 361 passes in 12 games. The Eagles have only thrown one interception for every 91 pass attempts this season.
Georgia Southern and Eastern Michigan practiced for the first time in Montgomery on Wednesday afternoon.
Both teams worked for 90 minutes in helmets and shoulder pads. Georgia Southern practiced at Huntingdon College, while Eastern Michigan worked out at Alabama State.
“The physical piece will not be as much as we normally would,” Lunsford said. ”We got all that work done Saturday, Sunday and Monday. We ran a good bit today and fly around, but it’s starting to tale off to the mental side of things.
“This practice is very important. This is the one that will get us locked back in. They have done a really good job up to us leaving Statesboro. We have been a little different than a normal game week, so I think today’s practice will get them locked in.”
MEDIA SCHEDULE (THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13):
9 AM – Georgia Southern visits Rosa Parks Museum
Presented by Troy University
9:50 AM – Eastern Michigan visits Rosa Parks Museum
Presented by Troy University
1:45 PM – Georgia Southern Interviews (Huntingdon College)
2:15 PM – Georgia Southern Practice (Huntingdon College)
The first 20 minutes are open to the media
2:45 PM – Eastern Michigan Practice (Alabama State)
The first 15 minutes are open for video/photos
4:30 PM – Eastern Michigan Post Practice Interviews
DL Maxx Crosby, LB Jaylen Pickett and DC Neal Neathery
5:30-7 PM – Georgia Southern BBQ Dinner (Riverwalk Stadium)
Presented by the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce
5:30-7 PM – Eastern Michigan Bowling & Dinner Event (Bama Lanes)