TEAMS WRAP UP BUSY WEEK

TEAMS WRAP UP BUSY WEEK

Friday, Dec. 14, 2018 

MONTGOMERY – The eve of the 2018 Raycom Media Camellia Bowl brings a little more structure for the Georgia Southern and Eastern Michigan football teams.

Eastern Michigan (7-5, 5-3 Mid-American Conference) and Georgia Southern (9-3, 6-2 Sun Belt) meet in the fifth annual Raycom Media Camellia Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 15 at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala. The game will kick off at 4:35 p.m. (CT) and will be televised by ESPN. The broadcast team will be Mike Corey (play-by-play), Rene Ingoglia (analyst) and Lauren Sisler (sideline reporter).

Both teams attended the Alabama Football Legend Luncheon on Friday, where former Sidney Lanier and Alabama fullback Johnny Davis was the 2018 recipient of the Alabama Football Legend award, presented by Regions Bank.

Georgia Southern held a walkthrough on Friday morning at Huntingdon College and then visited the historic Cramton Bowl in the afternoon.

Georgia Southern head coach Chad Lunsford is glad that game day is almost here.

“I am ready to get to that 24-hour period,” Lunsford said. “Tonight, we are able to lock back in the routine that we would normally have on a road game.  I would not take any of these experiences away from the guys but obviously anytime you get back to the normalcy of things, it helps.”

Eastern Michigan’s trip to Cramton Bowl was interrupted by heavy rain that came through Montgomery in the middle of the afternoon.

EMU head coach Chris Creighton said his team has had a good week, but is ready to play the game.

“It has been a great week,” Creighton said. “The hospitality has been phenomenal. We have really enjoyed the city. I feel like we have practiced well. I know our guys are motivated. Getting to eight wins and hoisting a trophy is something that this group has not experienced, nor has any group at Eastern Michigan since 1987.  We will go through our normal routine tonight and try and get our first victory ever in the state of Alabama.”

 

DEFENDING THE TRIPLE OPTION:

The Eastern Michigan defense will be challenged on Saturday, trying to defend Georgia Southern’s “triple option” offense.

Eastern Michigan might have a little advantage in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl as the Eagles squared off with Army on Oct. 27 at Rynerson Stadium in Ypsilanti.

The Black Knights piled up 415 yards offense, including 289 rushing yards in a 37-22 win. Army ran the ball 73 times and average four yards per rush. The Knights completed 7-of-8 passes in the win.

EMU head coach Chris Creighton sees similarities on both teams, but also points out some major differences when he watches tape of Georgia Southern.

“When we were out recruiting after season every high school we stopped they would ask are they still running the triple option,” Creighton said. “The answer right now is yes they are. The difference when you ask about Army is that Army doesn’t get out of it. What makes Georgia Southern so difficult is they run triple option but they can also run some conventional split zone and what not. The challenge for us is defending both the triple option and a little more conventional style offense. It’s that dichotomy which is the real challenge.

“It’s interesting because this is the first bowl game day. There are some advantages and disadvantages to that. So when we found out we were going to a bowl, we celebrated at the same time we found out it was Georgia Southern. Our guys might not have much of a clue, but as coaches we knew. We are playing the triple option again. It’s not just take your playbook against Army and slap it down this week. It has been real difficult to prepare for.”

Georgia Southern leads the Sun Belt Conference and ranks ninth nationally with 260.8 rushing yards per game. The Eagles are the only team in the nation without an interception. Georgia Southern has attempted 110 passes this season. Only Army (84) had fewer pass attempts nationally.

“That is the key, the matchup with our defense against the offense. Again, it’s them getting in and out of their triple option.  Now for their defense against our offense, they have faced offenses similar to us and we’ve faced defenses similar to theirs. That piece is not as exotic if you will. They are just really good. We have to make sure we are sharp.”

 

CRETIN-DERHAM HALL LEGACY:

Eastern Michigan senior Brett Banham attended the same high school as a baseball Hall of Famer, American League MVP and Heisman Trophy winner. Banham honed his skills at Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul, Minnesota. The powerhouse program has won 26 state championships, including 11 football state titles.

The list of alumni includes Paul Molitor, Joe Mauer and Chris Weinke.

“It was an awesome experience,” Banham said. “There was so much talent that came out of there. There were former NFL players on the coaching staff. It was great learning from them. To have guys like that teach me at young age. They had similar experiences and to learn from them and see what it takes to get to the next level. It was great to be at school like that with so much success and such strong alumni base.”

Banham has been a versatile player for the Eagles this season. He leads the team in receiving, punt returns and kick returns this season.

Banham has 54 catches for 714 yards and five touchdowns this season. He also leads the team with 195 punt return yards and 89 kickoff return yards. He ranks second in the MAC with a 9.2 yard punt return average. He ranks eighth in the MAC with 84.2 all-purpose yards per game.

 

2018 RAYCOM MEDIA CAMELLIA BOWL:

Eastern Michigan (7-5, 5-3 Mid-American Conference) and Georgia Southern (9-3, 6-2 Sun Belt) meet in the fifth annual Raycom Media Camellia Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 15 at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala. The game will kick off at 4:35 p.m. (CT) and will be televised by ESPN. The broadcast team will be Mike Corey (play-by-play), Rene Ingoglia (analyst) and Lauren Sisler (sideline reporter).

Tickets to the fifth annual Raycom Media Camellia Bowl are on sale at www.espnevents.com/camellia-bowl/tickets. Tickets are $30 for reserved seats and $20 for general admission seating.

The Guardian Credit Union Fan Fest gets underway at Paterson Field at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Michigan will conduct a pep rally at 1 p.m., followed by Georgia Southern at 2 p.m.

As a reminder, Madison Avenue will be pedestrian traffic only beginning Saturday at 9 a.m.