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SoCon Notebook: Unbalanced Furman D faces balanced Mocs

SoCon Notebook: Unbalanced Furman D faces balanced Mocs

SoCon Notebook: Unbalanced Furman D faces balanced Mocs

    The No. 25 Furman Paladins have been a mystery on the defensive side of the ball — on the surface anyway.
    Ranked first in the Southern Conference in passing defense (101.2 yards per game), second in scoring defense (21.5 ppg), dead last in rushing defense (243.2 ypg) and smack dab in the middle at fifth in total defense (344.3 ypg), the Paladins have been difficult to figure out.
    Furman (4-2, 2-1 SoCon) has already played three different teams that run the option — Howard, The Citadel and Wofford — and has the fewest pass attempts against (100) of anybody in the league.
    With everybody trying to run the ball right at them, that probably has something to do with it.
    “The stats are a little bit skewed obviously both ways,” said Furman coach Bobby Lamb. “We’re up there at the top on the pass end of it because we’ve played three option teams, and we’re on the bottom end of it because we’ve played three option teams, South Carolina and Colgate. I think it has something to do with the teams we’ve played.”
    Furman will finally get the chance to figure out where its defense really is Saturday, when it hosts No. 24 Chattanooga (4-2, 3-1) Saturday at 2 p.m.
    The Mocs will test Furman with the most balanced offensive attack in the SoCon. They are sixth in rushing (167.3 ypg) and third in passing (241.3 ypg).
    They’re looking for their fifth-straight win, coming off Saturday’s 35-27 victory over Georgia Southern — a game that could have gone either way, according to second-year UTC coach Russ Huesman.
    “We won the game, but there were a few breaks there that if we don’t get, probably we don’t win the football game,” Huesman said of the win over the Eagles. “We have a big drive there and we get a roughing the holder [penalty], and it’s just a guy on their team trying to make a play. It was a great effort by him to get through. He probably should have blocked the kick and just happened to run into the guy. If we don’t get that, I’m not sure if the momentum ever switches, because they definitely outplayed us in the first half, and we hung in there somehow.”

Staying at the top
    The No. 9 Wofford Terriers (5-1, 3-0) will look to stay unbeaten in league play against Elon (2-4, 1-2) Saturday at home at 1:30 p.m.
    The Phoenix, coming off a week of rest, enter the game without the slightest bit of surprise that Wofford has been able to bounce back from a 3-8 season in 2009.
    The Terriers bounced back after being decimated by injury and illness a year ago.
    “It think it’s a talented group, but just as importantly it’s a veteran group that’s been in their system for a long time,” said Elon coach Pete Lembo about the Terriers. “It reminds me a lot of the teams that they had in ’07 and ’08, and on the flip side, their defense is playing as well as it did back in those two playoff years for them.”

Another trip to Charleston
    Georgia Southern has had a history of struggles in Charleston, S.C. when facing The Citadel.
    Though the only road loss to the Bulldogs in the last decade came in 2006, the hard-fought series culminated in 2008 when GSU defeated The Citadel 44-41 in three overtimes.
    “That was a wild game for sure,” said Bulldogs coach Kevin Higgins. “There were a lot of points and I think both teams had an opportunity to win at the end of the game. The thing that I remember the most is that we missed two or three field goals in that game that would’ve given us a chance to win.”
    Coming off a two-game losing streak, first-year GSU coach Jeff Monken will be the fifth coach to bring the Eagles to Charleston in the last six trips.
    Monken won’t use that as an excuse for the team’s recent struggles.
    “Who cares about transition years? Nobody cares about that,” said Monken. “We want to win. I want to win. Our fans want to win. Our kids want to win. Nobody wants to hear about transition, or we’re young, or we’re just learning. That’s all a bunch of talk. When you play a football game you play to win, and my expectation is the same for this season as it will be for every season, and that’s to try to win every game, and that’s what I expect.”
    The Eagles (3-3, 2-1) kick off against The Citadel (2-5, 0-4) Saturday at 1 p.m.
NOTES: The No. 1-ranked Appalachian State Mountaineers (6-0, 4-0) will look to stay unbeaten against Western Carolina (2-5, 1-3) Saturday in Cullowhee, N.C. … The Samford Bulldogs (3-4, 1-3) will have a bye this week after playing a game each of the first seven weeks of the season.

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

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