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Notebook: What a difference a D makes

Notebook: What a difference a D makes

Notebook: What a difference a D makes

Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs (4) is t...

    In 2009, Georgia Southern gave up an average of 27.5 points per game.
    So far, two games into the season against two vastly different offenses — both in scheme and level of talent — the Eagles are giving up just eight points per contest.
    It’s all started on the defensive line, where the five-man rotation accounted for 24 of the team’s 73 tackles Saturday against Navy. The linebackers accounted for 24 as well, which on paper means the Eagles (1-1) didn’t let the Midshipmen triple-option offense get too far from the line of scrimmage.
    When it did, the cornerbacks were there to lock it down.
    “[Carson Hill] had the one missed tackle on the opening kickoff return,” said GSU coach Jeff Monken about the senior corner. “He had the guy in his arms and he let him break the tackle. I don’t think he did anything else wrong after that the rest of the day.”
    Hill recorded five tackles and knocked down two passes. After Laron Scott, the junior CB on the other side of the field, knocked down three passes in the season opener against Savannah State on Sept. 4, Navy (1-1) didn’t even test him. Scott didn’t get too many opportunities to get on the stat sheet.
    “Yeah, he didn’t look to my side,” Scott said about Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs. “I was getting kind of lonely over there. But it’s alright. As long as the rest of the defense is doing their thing, it will work out alright.”
    Unfortunately for the Eagles, despite holding its offense to only 193 offensive yards, Navy had just a little more fire power and squeaked out a 13-7 win.
    “Our defense played good enough to win, but the bottom line is it’s a team game. If we’re going to score seven, our defense has to find a way to hold them to six. If Navy would have scored 313, we’d have had to get 314,” Monken said. “We need to find a way to score more than them. It’s a team effort — offense, defense and special teams.”

A whole new ballgame
    The Eagles were ready for Navy’s option, having practiced against it since early spring, but as they get set for Saturday’s matchup against Coastal Carolina (0-2), they’ll have to get their mindset back on defending a more common offense.
    “It’s not easy to go from a traditional offense – well, what we now call a traditional – to the option, and back to traditional,” Monken said. “That’s going to be a challenge for those guys.”
    Based on what defensive coordinator Brent Pry saw when the Eagles opened the season against SSU, a game in which the Tigers attempted to establish the pass, the defense will be tested.
    “Absolutely. Absolutely. If we cover they way we did against Savannah State, [Coastal Carolina] will score 50 points,” said Pry. “We’ve got to make a great improvement against these guys.”
    “We’re pretty confident to stop the run, but of course, now we have to go out and do it against a pass team,” added Scott. “We’ve got to show what we can do on the run and the pass. Coastal Carolina will pass the ball a little bit, so it will be a good opportunity to turn around and see what we can do.”

In Annapolis with class
    Before the game with Navy and after the cadets ceremoniously marched onto the field before kickoff, they turned to GSU’s crowd, tipped their hats and said, “Go Eagles.”
    After the game, Georgia Southern joined the Midshipmen for the playing of their alma mater. Navy then joined the Eagles in front of the Southern pride Pep Band for the playing of GSU’s.
    “It’s a great game to play,” Scott said. “You go up there and go against a different opponent, and the teams come together. At the end of the day, it’s nothing but love and respect.”

A fresh start
    Fullback Robert Brown, wide receiver Tray Butler and defensive end Josh Gebhardt aren’t the only true freshmen contributing on the field. Darries Robinson was cleared to play Tuesday before the Navy game, and had his number called on 4th-and-1 in the fourth quarter against the Midshipmen.
    He delivered.
    “I appreciate them giving me the ball on 4th-and-1. I knew I had the team on my back,” Robinson said. “It’s whatever I can do to help the team, so when they gave me the ball, I just had the Eagles in my head.”
    True freshman offensive lineman Zach Lonas has started both games so far. He hasn’t had much time to think about being thrown to the wolves. He’s more concerned with getting the job done to worry about big crowds and pressure.
    “It was weird how different I was expecting it to be, and how much it really wasn’t,” Lonas said about playing in front of a college crowd as opposed to the crowd at Etowah high school. “I wasn’t rattled that much. I was just focusing on the team, the goals and what my job is. That took a lot of the pressure off.”

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

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