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Who wants it more in the trenches?

Who wants it more in the trenches?

Who wants it more in the trenches?

    Both teams run the same triple-option offense, so both defenses will have the same goal Saturday when Navy plays host to Georgia Southern.
    And it’s really quite simple.
    “You’ve got to stop the run.” said GSU coach Jeff Monken.
    Of course, that’s not necessarily as easy as it sounds.
    “I’m sure when people play us, they’re thinking, ‘We’ve got to stop them from running the ball,’” Monken said as if he’s spent plenty of time thinking about it already. “If we stop the dive, you’ve got [Navy quarterback] Ricky Dobbs carrying it, or he’s pitching to one of those slots. You stop Ricky Dobbs, you’ve got Vince Murray up the middle. Stop those two guys and they pitch it out to the perimeter. And they’re pretty good cut blockers on the perimeter.”
    So whether Georgia Southern (1-0) or Navy (0-1) line up in a 4-3 look or a three-man front, it’s all about getting tough, executing and playing assignment football.
    “I think philosophically we’re the same,” said Monken. “We want to be tough and stop the run. We’ve got to do what we do, and I’m sure they’re thinking the same thing.”
    So if the philosophy is the same, who gets the edge?
    In most situations where a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) team faces off with a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team, the biggest evidence that one team plays at a higher level happens in the trenches.
    Saturday’s game will be no different, as GSU’s front seven, especially the defensive ends and linebackers, will have the task of sticking to their man.
    The Eagles’ defensive line recorded 15 of the 44 total tackles in Saturday’s season-opening, 48-3 win over Savannah State, including three sacks – two by Brent Russell – and 5.5 tackles for loss.
    Middle linebacker Josh Rowe, despite recording the team’s fourth sack of the SSU game, got back to work with the rest of the team as most of the practice time this week has been correcting mistakes.
    “It’s the first ballgame so of course you’re not going to play as good as you expect,” said Rowe. “We’ll just go out there, play harder, and good things happen.”
    The play of the offensive line will be critical for both squads. Despite losing their season opener 17-14 against Maryland Monday and committing two red-zone turnovers, the Midshipmen rushed for 412 yards and racked up 26 first downs.
    Similarly, the Eagles dominated the line of scrimmage against the Tigers Saturday, averaging 7.1 yards per carry on the way to 431 on the ground and another 109 through the air.
    Despite coaching with Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo for six years in Annapolis, Md. Under then-Navy coach Paul Johnson, Monken doesn’t expect either coach to take it easy on the other.
    Monken compares the matchup to a game of wiffle ball in the back yard with his brother when they were kids.
    “He’s be pitching and I’d be hitting or vice versa, and we love loved each other as much as two brothers could love each other, but man, we wanted to beat the pants off each other in that wiffle ball game,” said Monken. “It’s the same. My relationship with those coaches [at Navy] is a brotherhood. It’s going to be a great healthy rivalry between us.”

    Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.

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