Georgia Southern triple option aimed at Delaware

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STATESBORO, Ga. --- Less than two weeks ago, Georgia Southern unleashed its triple-option attack on a Colonial Athletic Association team that hadn't played against that type of offense all year.


The Eagles ran up 423 yards on the ground and breezed to a 31-15 quarterfinal victory over William & Mary.

Delaware coach K.C. Keeler likes to think his defense is different.

The Blue Hens led the nation in scoring defense and were fifth in total defense, seventh on third-down conversion defense and eighth in rushing defense.

Eight Delaware defenders earned either first, second, or third-team All-CAA honors this season.

But will the Hens handle the triple option and Georgia Southern on Saturday in the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals in Newark, Del.?

"Obviously, (stopping) the offense will be a little bit of a challenge," Keeler said. "It will be a more of a challenge this year because every other year we've known we'd play this offense (against Navy). You could lay down some foundation (in the spring). We're going into this from scratch."

Ten of Delaware's 11 defensive starters this season played against Navy a year ago when the Middies, who run a similar offense to Georgia Southern, rushed for 242 yards in a 35-18 victory.

In 2007, the Blue Hens defeated Navy, but few would call the 59-52 shootout a defensive tussle.

But this is a different Delaware defensive unit that, despite playing without starting middle linebacker Matt Marcorelle (strained calf muscle in warmups), defeated New Hampshire 16-3 in the quarterfinals.

"They're big," Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken said. "When we walk on the field, we won't win the height and weight competition. ... When they stare across the line of scrimmage, they're going to be looking down at us."

Keeler said an extra day of preparation can't hurt his squad, which began studying film the moment Southern held off Wofford, 23-20, late Saturday afternoon. And he said the Hens should be fresher because they had a first-round bye.

Of course, William & Mary had a bye week before meeting the Eagles, but Georgia Southern's offense often seems to be an equalizer. Monken coached with triple option guru Paul Johnson for 13 years. Johnson's teams improved from repetition. Now Monken's Eagles are playing their best football of the season.

"When you're in a system for 13 years, and it's been a successful system, you develop a belief and a loyalty to the system," Monken said.

In his first year, Monken has Georgia Southern fourth in the nation in rushing, averaging 261.5 yards a game. The Eagles are scoring more than 28 points a game -- 10 more than in 2009 when they won only five games.

"They'll try to draw you asleep," Delaware defensive back Anthony Bratton said. "They'll try to run, run, run, then they'll throw the ball deep. You can't let your eyes betray you. Read your keys, play your position the way you're suppose to and everyone (has to) do the same."

But it doesn't always happen.

Ask William & Mary.

And that's a barometer for the Blue Hens, who lost to the Tribe, 17-16, on Oct. 23.

"(The triple option is) a dangerous offense," Bratton said. "(The Eagles) don't do a whole lot, but what they do can hurt you. "

Russell on All-America team

Georgia Southern nose tackle Brent Russell has been named to the Walter Camp Football Foundation All-America team.

Russell, a sophomore from Comer, Ga., leads the 10-4 Eagles with 17.5 tackles for losses and seven sacks.

Twenty-six players made the team, which was selected by Football Championship Subdivision head coaches and sports information directors.

-- Staff reports

Saturday's game

WHAT: Georgia Southern (10-4) vs. Delaware (11-2) in the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals

TIME/TV: Noon/ESPNU

WHERE: Newark, Del.

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