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Elon offense has options of its own

Elon offense has options of its own

Elon offense has options of its own

Elon quarterback Scott Riddle has thr...


    The Georgia Southern Eagles showed against Coastal Carolina last week that when a team sells out to stop the triple-option running game, there’s always the play-action pass.
    Elon may have a fallback plan of its own when it heads to Paulson Stadium for the Southern Conference opener for both teams at 6 p.m.
    The No. 10 Phoenix (1-2) like to throw the football, and with four-year starter Scott Riddle at the helm, they can usually accomplish that goal.
    Through three games this season, Riddle has racked up 844 passing yards and seven touchdowns, despite losses to Duke and then-No. 9 Richmond in overtime.
    Riddle is 3-0 against GSU, and has passed for a total of 949 yards and five touchdowns with five interceptions against the Eagles since 2007.
    “He’s going to have his yards and make some throws,” said GSU defensive coordinator Brent Pry about Riddle. “He’s a heck of a football player, heck of a quarterback.”
    If the GSU defense can keep the passing game in check, Elon still has a pair of running backs in Brandon Newsome and A.J. Harris, who have led the Phoenix to a 132-yards-per-game average.
    “They can run the football,” said Pry. “I think they just choose not too.”
    They’ve also got some tricks up their sleeve when the deep ball is taken away, for example sophomore receiver Aaron Mellette, who caught a staggering 18 balls for 195 yards and a pair of scores against the Spiders.
    “Richmond tried to take those deep balls away and stay behind them, keep things in front of them,” said Pry. “Elon just chipped away underneath, and chipped away and chipped away. They moved the ball down the field and finally in the end, tied it up. If you take the deep ball away, they go short and intermediate. If you get up there and challenge them, they’re going to try and throw it over your head.”
    A main theme of focus for the Eagles (2-1) will be turnovers. They got a pair of interceptions in Saturday’s 43-26 win at CCU — the first two turnovers generated by the Eagles this season.
    “We need to make a play here and there — bat a ball that gets tipped, make a dive for an interception,” said Pry. “We need to make some plays.”
    Offensively, the Eagles will be business as usual. Though uncertain who will start at fullback Saturday, establishing the dive up the middle sets the tone for the rest of the offense.
    “You have to if you’re going to run this offense effectively,” said GSU coach Jeff Monken about running between the tackles. “It’s just this offense. We’re going to have to run the fullback, and if you’re going to be a triple-option team, that’s just part of it. We’re going to run our plays.
    “If we can get three or four yards every play, that’s cause to celebrate. I’ll take three- or four-yards every play, all day long.”
    The Phoenix will have the opportunity Saturday to accomplish something no other current SoCon school has ever done — beat GSU four times in a row. Marshall did it when they were in the league.
    Monken won’t dwell on the past when talking to the Eagles, and he won’t dwell on Elon’s Top 10 ranking, either.
    “I talk to them about the fact that this is our opportunity to play a conference game at home, and that this is our new season,” said Monken. “I’m sure every team in our league said the same thing before the first conference game. Elon is telling their team the same thing. Conference games are awfully important if you’re going to have a chance to be around and be fighting for the championship at the end. It doesn’t mean you’ve got to win every one, but when you lose one it sure puts you behind.”

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

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