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Cats come with something new
GSU FOOTBALL  091011 1427
Georgia Southern defensive coordinator Jack Curtis surveys the field against Tusculum in this Sept. 10, 2011 file photo. Curtis faced the pistol offense when he was at Central Missouri in 2010. He is the only coach on the GSU staff who has faced the offense, which Saturday's opponent, Western Carolina, implemented in the offseason.

    It may be one of the new fads in college football, but based on the results, the pistol formation isn't a gimmick.
    The Western Carolina Catamounts implemented the pistol in the offseason, and two games into the schedule, find themselves on top of the Southern Conference offensively.
    Saturday at 6 p.m. in Paulson Stadium, WCU (1-1) will bring its high-powered offense the the field against No. 1 Georgia Southern (2-0, 1-0 SoCon), which has defeated the Catamounts in each of the last 16 seasons.
    "I think they're the number one offense in the league right now," said GSU middle linebacker Josh Rowe. "It's going to be tough, but we get to play at home, and that's a good thing."
    The Catamounts have played two games this season - a lopsided loss to FBS Georgia Tech and a lopsided win over Division II Mars Hill - and there was one constant in both contests. The constant has been the offense, which has the quarterback lined up between four and five yards behind the center and the running back behind him.
    Western leads the SoCon in total offense, averaging 482 yards per game and 5.9 per play.
    As expected, the league's three option teams - The Citadel, Wofford and GSU - are at the top of the league in rushing, but WCU is on their heels with 216 yards per game on the ground.
    Freshman running back Shaun Warren is second in the SoCon individually with 123 yards per game and 7.2 per carry.
    The way the Catamounts line up doesn't hurt the offensive approach, adding a power running game to the spread offense philosophy.
    "It's just a little more of a power run formation and a little more downhill on the zone read stuff," said GSU defensive coordinator Jack Curtis, who faced the pistol last season as DC at Central Missouri.
    He's also not surprised that Western is second in the SoCon in passing, with 6-foot-7 quarterback Brandon Pechloff averaging 251 yards per game through the air.
    "I think they're probably going to be pretty balanced," said Curtis. "The advantage [Pechloff] has is that he's so tall, and he sees so well over the line of scrimmage. The short passing game is a real concern for us, so we'll have to play tight coverage on them and not give them those easy throws."
    The pistol, which was first used by the Nevada Wolfpack in 2004, is new to GSU head coach Jeff Monken.
    "It's the first time in my career I've ever faced a team that runs the pistol," he said. "It'll present some challenges. It's different."

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