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Everything clicking for Georgia Southern

                As Georgia Southern prepared to transition back to its triple-option roots, many questions were raised as to how players would adjust to new roles and positions. One of the main areas of concern was the B-back position, and while there may not have been a clear answer as to who could deliver just a few months ago, Saturday’s performance begs the question of just which weapon the Eagles want to utilize.

                Although Robert Brown – who remains at the top of the depth chart at B-back – was forced to the sidelines, both Lee Banks (25 carries for 121 yards) and Tobi Akinniranye (9-34) stepped up big and ground out the tough yards inside as GSU finally put an end to Elon’s three-game winning streak over the Eagles.

                In addition to the yards that the B-backs put on the board, it was just as important that both could be depended on to serve their role on the plays on which they didn’t carry the ball. Every running back and receiver on the field is expected to block just as much as the offensive line in order to create running lanes, and when Banks and Akinniranye weren’t searching for running room, they were seeking out Phoenix defenders to put a hat on.

                In the triple-option, one thing is certain – everyone is going to take some hits.

                No matter how good any player is, it is just as important that the next two guys in line be ready to step up at a moment’s notice.  For a team whose offense is just four games old – at least for the current set of Eagles – the ability to have a pair of backups give an A-plus effort against a top-10 team has got to be encouraging.

 

A-backs shine as well

                Of course, Banks and Akinniranye were far from the only Eagles getting in on the offensive action Saturday night.

                Four different A-backs rushed for 20 yards or more as the GSU offense continued to show its progress in creating big plays as the season continues.

                As enticing as the quick reads and late pitches featured in the triple-option can be, the Eagles found the most success in a play that is much simpler by comparison.

                Time after time, a GSU A-back went into motion, received a toss sweep from quarterback Jaybo Shaw, and raced to the corner to find a convoy of blockers guiding the way to big chunks of yardage. After utilizing the play to much success in their opening drives, the Eagles were only too happy to continue to dial up the toss sweep as Elon was unable to create penetration or force runners inside.

                At times, it almost seemed like one of those infuriating glitches in a video game – a play that is just too quick to stop. Elon tried blitzing, shifting and filling up the box, but the Eagles beat them to the punch every time.

Defense slams the door

                Once the offense got rolling, the Georgia Southern defense found a mean streak and helped to put the game away.

                After a first half that saw Scott Riddle and the Elon offense mostly dink and dunk their way down the field, the Eagles turned up the heat with a heavy second half pass rush and watched Riddle wilt under the pressure.

                As the secondary took away all of the quick reads, Brent Russell, Roderick Tinsley and the rest of the defensive line spent much of the night in the Elon backfield and didn’t allow the Phoenix passing game to get in rhythm after halftime.

 

                Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.

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