Eagles' Monken: Defeating Florida a huge challenge

Georgia Southern football coach Jeff Monken knows his team, made up of FCS-level talent, will need some big plays to have a chance of pulling off an upset of Florida in The Swamp. (The Associated Press)

Published: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 11:16 p.m.

Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken laughs at the notion of Florida having a bad team.

Although the 4-6 Gators are going through their worst season in decades, he still views facing them Saturday in The Swamp as a tall task for his players.

“I think coach (Will) Muschamp does a great job,” Monken said. “They've got a talented, good football team. They're really good on defense. They run the ball. They're tough. They've had a lot of things not go their way, starting with the injuries.

“The (four) turnovers against Vandy, that hurts you. When you give up 183 yards, you ought to win. They lost just the week before to Georgia by three points. Those things take their toll. They do a lot of things really well and have come up on the short end. They're not getting blown out or their tails whipped.”

UF coaches and players have talked this week about the difficulty of defending Georgia Southern's triple-option attack. The Eagles (6-4) rank first in the Southern Conference in scoring offense, total offense, rushing offense and pass efficiency.

As well as they've performed this season, Monken recognizes that upsetting UF will require an even higher level of play.

“It's a great challenge for our kids who play at the FCS level,” he said. “Since they've been putting pads on as a little kid, this is where they wanted to be — in the biggest stadiums against the best teams.

“When we're sitting here with a football team that's not as big, not as fast, not as athletic as them, you're looking for an advantage. Where can we have success against these guys? ... If we're going to have a chance to win Saturday, we're going to have to play the best football game we've played all year.”

With the status of Tyler Murphy (shoulder) up in the air, the Gators could end up starting redshirt freshman quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg for the second straight week.

Monken doesn't feel like Mornhinweg's inexperience will help his defense have success.

“That's one guy, and he's protected by a bunch of really good players that are playing around him. So it will take more than just us finding what we think is a weak spot because a guy hasn't played very much,” Monken said.

“We don't have a three-star guy here. You could add up our whole defense, and I don't know if we'd get to three stars. We're going to get blocked. They're going to be bigger than us. I hope we can get off some blocks and make some plays. I hope maybe we can get a turnover, get a break ... something to go our way. Those things have to happen when Georgia Southern plays Florida — when a team at our level plays a team of that caliber.”

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