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Option vs. Option
100910 GSU RUSSELL 1
Brent Russell, left, battles at the line of scrimmage during the 2010 regular season meeting between Georgia Southern and Wofford at Paulson Stadium. The Eagles lost the game, but returned the favor in a playoff win over the Terriers in Spartanburg later that season.

When the No. 5 Wofford Terriers come to No. 7 Georgia Southern on Saturday for a 6 p.m. matchup at Paulson Stadium, the option offenses will look very similar.

The trick is to avoid getting too, well, tricky.

"We certainly don’t feel like we can get away from what we think we do best," GSU coach Jeff Monken said. "As much as there is temptation to say, ‘Well, this would be a good play,’ or, ‘Maybe we could try this,’ if you haven’t done it or you haven’t practiced it week-in and week-out, there are a lot of little things that could happen."

The Terriers (5-0, 3-0 Southern Conference) are in the top two the nation in scoring (46.8 points per game) and rushing offense (448.8 yards per game).

"They’ve been beating people all year and beating them handily," Monken said, "and that’s impressive — just to be able to get a football team ready to go, playing good football week in and week out. They’ve been able to do that all year long."

The Eagles (4-1, 3-1) aren’t all that far behind statistically, rushing for 437 yards per game and averaging 37 points, so this game won’t be decided by which team has the better scheme.

"It just comes down to making plays, blocking, tackling, making assignments, holding on to the football and hoping we can slug it out until the end," Monken said.

The Terriers are coming off their closest game of the year, a 20-17 win at home against Furman.


Back in the mix

Three weeks ago, Samford cracked the Top 25 in the coaches poll.

It only lasted a week, until a 35-16 loss at Georgia Southern on Sept. 29, sent them out of the polls.

After a 38-7 last week over The Citadel, the Bulldogs (5-1, 3-1) are back at the No. 25 spot.

"I’m not going to lie about it. It’s a big deal for our kids," Samford coach Pat Sullivan said. "From where we started our program a few years ago, to get to this level of competition in the Southern Conference and to get ranked, it’s a goal our team has had."

Sullivan will once again get the chance to see how his team will respond when the Bulldogs host No. 13 Appalachian State (4-2, 2-1) on Saturday at 2 p.m.

"We were ranked going into Georgia Southern, and we didn’t do very well down there," Sullivan said. "Now that we’ve gotten back, we’ll just have to see if we’re good enough to stay up there. We’ll find out."

The Mountaineers, according to Sullivan, haven’t changed much from the team that won three-straight national titles in 2005-07.

"Just a change in the names," said the Samford coach about ASU. "They do what they do. When you have as much success as they have, you don’t go changing a lot of stuff. You do what you do, and the kids believe in it."


A rocky road

Things haven’t been easy on Elon (2-4, 0-3).

After starting the 2012 campaign with a 2-1 start, the Phoenix dropped three-straight Southern Conference games to ranked opponents — Georgia Southern, Wofford and Appalachian State.

They finally get a bye week to catch their breath.

"We had a tough three-game stretch there in conference, and we’re just looking forward to coming up for some air and getting healthy," said Elon coach Jason Swepson.

Swepson, who came to Elon in 2011 after serving as running backs coach at N.C. State, was welcomed to ASU for the first time with a 35-23 loss to the Mountaineers last Saturday.

At least it wasn’t all bad.

"I’ll tell you, that was my first time up there in Boone on game day, and that was a great atmosphere, and great experience," Swepson said.

NOTES: Furman (2-4, 1-2) plays host to Chattanooga (2-3, 1-1) on Saturday at 1 p.m. on ESPN 3. … Western Carolina (1-5, 0-4) heads to Charleston, S.C,. to take on The Citadel (3-3, 2-2) on Saturday at 2 p.m.


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