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Southern Conference notebook - Lembo, Monken not on the same page about GSU

Southern Conference notebook - Lembo, Monken not on the same page about GSU

Southern Conference notebook - Lembo, Monken not on the same page about GSU

Elon coach Pete Lembo has been impressed with what first-year Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken has done with his triple-option offense through three games this season.

            The Eagles (2-1) struggled against Navy in the 13-7 loss on September 11, but have averaged 45.5 points in wins over Savannah State and Coastal Carolina.

            “I’ve got to tell you this,” said Lembo. “Anybody who thought it was going to take Georgia Southern some time to get into the flow of this and start cranking on all cylinders – forget two or three years – it only took them two or three games.”

            The rest of the Football Championship Subdivision coaches apparently agree, as the Eagles, though unranked in the Sports Network Top 25, came in at No. 24 in the coaches poll this week.

            Lembo and the other coaches may be the only ones who think GSU has gotten all that much better.

            “He thinks we’re pretty good,” Monken said about Lembo’s comments. “I’d argue with him. I don’t think we’re very good right now. We’re inexperienced, we’re not playing with the kind of effort and toughness I’d like for us to play with, and we were fortunate to get a win [at CCU].”

            Lembo’s No. 10 Elon Phoenix (1-2) have suffered losses to Duke and then-No. 9 Richmond, but may have found the replacement for All American wide receiver Terrell Hudgins in Saturday’s 27-21 overtime loss to the Spiders. Sophomore Aaron Mellette caught 18 Scott Riddle passes for 195 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

            “Aaron’s a little bit longer, not quite as thick as Terrell, but I do think he’s faster,” said Lembo. “Terrell had such incredible hands and body control, and he used his size to his advantage. But Aaron’s got a chance to be a pretty good player.”

            The Phoenix travel to Statesboro to face Monken’s Eagles Saturday at 6 p.m. in the Southern Conference opener for both teams.

            In another world, Monken may have been on the opposite sideline. He interviewed for the Elon job in 2005 before Lembo was hired in December of the same year.

            “I wasn’t fortunate enough to interview for lots and lots of jobs all the time,” Monken said. “There were a couple and I learned something from every one of them, certainly the interview at Elon. The thing about Georgia Southern was that I knew about Georgia Southern. I’m a former Eagle having been a coach here for five years, and I consider myself an Eagle as much as anybody. I knew this place, I knew the lay of the land and a lot of the same people were here, so that was fortunate for me.”


Another QB goes down

No. 23 (FCS) Furman lost to No. 13 (FBS) South Carolina 38-19 Saturday, but it wasn’t the biggest loss of the afternoon.

Paladins quarterback Chris Forcier suffered a season-ending broken shoulder. He had been splitting time with senior quarterback Cody Worley.

            “The jury’s still out whether they’re going to do surgery or not, but we’ve got to move on,” said FU coach Bobby Lamb. “Fortunately for us, Cody Worley has gotten some snaps. He actually started the South Carolina game. He played well in both games. He’s a fifth-year senior who’s waited his turn, but basically he knows this offense inside and out.”

            Furman (1-1) hosts The Citadel Saturday at 2 p.m.

            The Bulldogs (2-1) feel like their first-year triple option offense is starting to come together.

            “Obviously with our offense, the goal is to be able to run the football each and every game. Against this [Furman] unit, that’s going to be tough,” said The Citadel coach Kevin Higgins. “Our offensive line is understanding assignments better, I think our quarterback is executing better and Saturday night was the first time we really got our fullback going, which of course it the key.”


Something had to give

            The Chattanooga Mocs faced Eastern Kentucky Saturday in a battle of winless teams. After suffering losses to No. 2 Appalachian State and No. 4 Jacksonville State and blowing fourth-quarter leads in each of the first two games, the Mocs (1-2, 0-1 SoCon) finally came out on top, knocking off the Colonels 42-24.

            “It was one that we had to have, and it was a tough one because Eastern Kentucky was 0-2 coming in and they had a chip on their shoulder,” said UTC coach Russ Huesman. “They needed one too.”

            Chattanooga travels to Western Carolina (1-2) – which defeated Gardner-Webb 28-14 for its first win of the season last weekend – Saturday at 6 p.m.

NOTES: Wofford has a week off before opening SoCon play on October 2 against Furman. … No. 2 Appalachian State (3-0, 1-0) travels to Samford Saturday for a 3 p.m. kickoff. It is the SoCon opener for Samford (2-1).


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

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