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Bulldogs a challenge for GSU
101511 GSU TINSLEY 1
Georgia Southern defensive lineman Roderick Tinsley chases down Furman running back Jerodis Williams at Paulson Stadium in this Oct. 15, 2011, file photo.

    Controlled rage.
    That’s what Georgia Southern’s defense wants to play with against The Citadel when the No. 5 Eagles (7-1 overall, 5-1 Southern Conference) face the Bulldogs (4-4, 2-4) at 2 p.m. Saturday at Paulson Stadium for GSU’s homecoming.
    “We, as a defense, we’ve got a bitter taste in our mouth because we went up to App and we didn’t get a win like we were supposed to,” GSU senior tackle Roderick Tinsley said. “We didn’t play our assignments well. We’re coming back this week and we’re going to do whatever we have to do to get a win.”
    GSU is coming off a 24-17 loss to Appalachian State in Boone, N.C. The Eagles were No. 1 in the Football Championship Subdivision for seven weeks until dropping in both The Sports Network/ FCS Top 25 Poll and the FCS Coaches Poll on Monday.
    The Citadel is coming off a 41-14 non-conference victory over Virginia Military Institute (1-7).
    “Some of the teams they gave a good run for the money,” Tinsley said of The Citadel. “They played App real well. Lost by a touchdown, I want to recall. Their main offensive goal is to rush the ball. The
quarterback is pretty fast, and I know they’ve got a lot of good running backs. They’ve got a great O-line, and their O-line plays hard until the whistle.”
    The Bulldogs’ Darien Robinson has 598 yards rushing and seven touchdowns on 85 carries. Quarterback Ben Dupree is 19-of-41 passing for 174 yards without a touchdown. Dupree has run for 541 yards and six touchdowns on 138 carries.
    The Citadel, which uses a triple-option offense, is eighth among the SoCon’s nine teams in total offense, averaging 341.9 yards per game. That ranking is deceptive, GSU head coach Jeff Monken said, pointing to the 42 points the Bulldogs scored in a 49-42 loss to Appalachian State.
    “They’ve had some impressive games where they’ve been scoring points,” Monken said. “They lost very close football games, and won very handily over Jacksonville, and over Western (Carolina) and over Virginia Military (Institute). A great comeback at Chattanooga. A great comeback at home against Appalachian, where they were down, 49-14, and rambled back to lose, 49-42. Another possession and they might have tied the thing up and had a chance to win the game.”
    Defensively, The Citadel allows 160.9 yards rushing per game.
    “That’s an impressive stat,” Monken said. “We, obviously, like they do, have to run the ball in our offense. And that’s what we base our offense around is the option run game. We’re going to have to do a good job and block them, and try to make some yards.
    “We’ve got a real challenge on our hands, coming off a loss that hurt all of us. Our guys are down, and we’re down, and the challenge is to regroup, refocus and get ready for The Citadel.”
    The Citadel has blocked nine punts this season, including three against VMI.
    “That’s maybe the most impressive stat about their whole football team,” Monken said. “That’s an unbelievable job.”
    Tinsley said GSU is eager to play, particularly for the seniors, who will be recognized during a ceremony before kickoff. He said the Eagles will be looking for playmakers to set the tone.
    “The energy just flows from left to right, top to bottom,” Tinsley said. “It comes from every angle. Laron Scott out here makes a big hit? The whole D-line celebrates. The linebackers fill the hole, they might not make the tackle, but they make it easier for the cornerbacks and the safety to come up and make a big hit. And we all get excited.
    “We just band together, a brotherhood out here, and we just feed off each other.”
    Noell Barnidge can be reached at (912) 489-9408