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O-line exposed as defense dominates at Blue-White game

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Posted: April 12, 2008 6:44 p.m.
Updated: April 27, 2008 5:00 a.m.
   The crowd at Saturday’s Blue-White game at Paulson Stadium was a little thinner, a little wetter, and a little bit less enthused than the thousands that showed up for the 2007 edition of the game.
    It could have been due to the fact that for the first time in a while, there was no new coaching staff and no new offense to intrigue everybody. Maybe it was the weather that kept many fans away. Or, perhaps everyone was glued to their televisions in the hopes of seeing Tiger start another miraculous comeback at the Masters.
    Whatever the reason, there were a lot of folks that simply didn’t show up — including the offensive line.
    It’s stupid to base your opinion of a team on half a scrimmage, and spring games aren’t the best gauge for how well a team is going to play in the fall. For example, last year at this time, everybody was sure Travis Clark was the Eagles’ starting quarterback. Also, this time around, they only played a half. But it was still a pretty telling half.
    Those in attendance left with one of two impressions: Either the 2008 GSU offense needs a lot of work, or the Eagles’ defense is the best it’s ever been.
    Enough batted-down passes to shake up even the most seasoned quarterback and eight QB sacks later, and there were some brand new question marks for the Eagle faithful to ponder. And keep in mind — they only played 20 minutes of football.
    It’s not to say that it was a complete disaster offensively, but most of the Blue team’s rushing yardage came on the legs of freshman quarterback Lee Chapple (he finished with -14 total rushing yards, but six sacks are never good for the old stat line — he also gained 17), and most of the yards through the air came in the hands of Steve Cundari (3 catches, 51 yards) — a sophomore wide receiver who made a name for himself in the 2007 scrimmage at Paulson.
    Chapple and the Blue team finished the contest with a whopping eight yards rushing.
    The only scoring drive of the game, however, did look pretty sweet, so it wasn’t all bad. It was capped off by a 31-yard pass from Chapple to Chris Ashkouti.
    The other Blue-team score came giftwrapped from the White team in the red zone. It was a Kyle Collins interception that was taken coast to coast.
    To sum up, interceptions, batted-down passes, sacks and miniscule rushing yards all point in one direction — a young, inexperienced offensive line.
    There are four and a half months before the opening kickoff against the team from the north. If the GSU offense looks like it did on Saturday, well, that is cause for concern.
    If you can’t run the ball, can’t protect the quarterback (whose first game will be in front of a pretty big and notoriously hostile Athens crowd — assuming that Chapple is still the go-to guy… a lot can happen in 18 weeks), can’t pass down the field and can’t stop a four-man pass rush, it’s going to be tough to score.
    Eagle fans, however, are sure of a few things. Chris Hatcher has proven himself as a winner. He’s got a boat-load of young talent and some experience on the defensive side of the ball. You can rest assured that Hatcher will get the most out of what he’s got.
    Will it be enough?
    Well, you can’t rely on 100-yard interception returns to win football games, and offense all starts with those five big guys up front.
    Or, maybe the Eagles’ defense is just that good.
    
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