Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What home field advantage?

Jacksonville State leads the series with Eastern Kentucky three games to one, but there's a quirky trend developing in the series. The road team has the upper hand. Three of the four games --- the last three --- have been won by the visiting team.

The Gamecocks won the first game in the series 49-14 in their first-ever OVC game in 2003 at Paul Snow Stadium, but in the years since JSU won in Richmond in 2004 (30-23), EKU won in Jacksonville in 2005 (31-14) and the Gamecocks won in Richmond last year (2-0).

“It’s usually the team that’s played the best (that’s won), I don’t think the travel had anything to do with it,” EKU coach Danny Hope said.

Part of the Colonels’ history coming to JSU is the game had usually been playing during Race Week at Talladega and the team has had to stay in Atlanta. But Hope discounted that as a factor as well.

“The logistics have been a problem, but I don’t know it’s been a factor in the win column,” he said.

JSU coach Jack Crowe believed the difference in the games has been field position, and that can occur anywhere.

“This game has had a lot of momentum in it,” Crowe said. “I think when players are emotional and trying to make things happen --- both teams will be and always will be for this game --- things happen.”

COMING BACK: As reported in the Star this morning, Shawn Green returned to the traveling 56 Monday and enjoyed his first practice back with the regulars that evening. It didn't take the former Weaver standout long to get acclimated to his new old surroundings.

"It was good to get back in the feel of things," he said. "I've been on the scout team for a while so I had to get used to running the plays and getting my feet right and stuff like that."

He wasn't sure exactly what his role would be Saturday. He was a ball-carrier and kickoff returner last year. "Right now, I'm just looking at running back," he said.

The Gamecocks also welcomed fifth-year senior quarterback Matt Hardin back to practice. Hardin, who lost his starting job to junior Cedric Johnson last week, wasn’t at practice Monday for what coach Jack Crowe said was “to put his house in order.”

Crowe said the Gamecocks need Hardin to win, and predicted the quarterback would have a positive impact in a game at some point this season.

"I don't think the final chapter in Matt Hardin's career is written," Crowe said.

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