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The Citadel shows improvement in opener


Things went about as expected for the Southern Conference on the opening weekend of the season.

The teams playing up against the Football Bowl Subdivision lost, Georgia Southern won the only conference game and Furman, perhaps the team with the biggest question marks entering the season, lost a close one against Coastal Carolina.

But then, there's The Citadel.

The Bulldogs (1-0) defeated Jacksonville, which may play in the non-scholarship Pioneer Football League, but won 10 games a year ago compared to The Citadel's three.

The 31-9 score shows that the Bulldogs may just be getting the hang of the triple option, which they installed in 2010.

The option offense isn't lost on first-year Furman coach Bruce Fowler, whose Paladins (0-1) face The Citadel in Charleston, S.C. Saturday at 6 p.m.

"Everybody that covers the Southern Conference is familiar with the stress that offense can put on a defense," said Fowler, who is looking to recover from a 30-23 loss at CCU. "The Citadel does a great job with it. The challenges are you're playing a good team that executes it well and has some confidence coming out of their first game."

The most improvement

They say the most improvement comes between Week 1 and Week 2.

Georgia Southern (1-0, 1-0 SoCon) coach Jeff Monken agrees.

"Where do I start? Blocking, tackling, taking care of the football, catching the ball, assignments, effort - we've got tons of improvement to make," he said of Saturday's 31-17 win at Samford. "We fell short in a lot of areas, and I;m sure there's a lot of coaches after Week 1 who feel like they need to improve. The biggest improvement happens because you actually have a game to watch on tape with your guys and say, 'Here's exactly what went wrong, and here's what we need to do to improve for Week 2.'"

The Eagles look to stay unbeaten as they host Division II Tusculum at 6 p.m. at Paulson Stadium.


BCS blowout

The SoCon teams that played BCS-level teams did not fare well in Week 1.

Appalachian State coach Jerry Moore chalks the 66-13 loss at Virginia Tech up to a lack of execution on the part of the Mountaineers (0-1)

"I think it hurts when you get beaten, particularly like that," said Moore. "Virginia Tech is a classy, good football team and a good football program. You don't just go up there and those guys flop over and play dead. They played with passion, and I think it took some realization on our part after looking at some tapes that we played a good football team and we didn't play up to what we thought we could play against them. If you don;t play good against teams like them, the thing's going to get out of hand like it did."

The Mountaineers play their home opener against N.C. Central Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Jason Swepson, the first-year coach at Elon, was much happier after the Phoenix (0-1) dropped a 45-14 decision to Vanderbilt in which Elon out-gained the Commodores 323-309.

Junior receiver Aaron Melette finished with 180 receiving yards.

"Anyone who watched the game would say that he was the best one on the field that night," said Swepson.

Elon hosts Concord at 7 p.m.

Not getting easier

Chattanooga coach Russ Huesman took some positive things out of the season-opening, 40-7 loss at Nebraska. Unfortunately, it won't get much easier Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against Jacksonville State (1-0), the new home of recent Georgia transfer Washaun Ealey.

The former Emanuel County Institute Bulldog rushed for 41 yards on 13 carries in his JSU debut.

"He looked good on a couple runs there. There were three or four runs where he looked like a big-time SEC back against UT Martin," Huesman said. "You can see why he was the leading rusher at Georgia one year there."


This and that

After Presbyterian scored 21 unanswered points in the second half, resulting in Wofford quarterback Mitch Allen needing a 26-yard touchdown pass with 51 seconds to go to seal a 35-28 win, the Terriers weren't too happy.

It's easy to see why when you consider the 2-9 record the Blue Hose put up in 2010.

"It's not to say that it was anything spectacular," said Wofford coach Mike Ayers, "but it was a win, and we're thankful."

Wofford (1-0) faces Clemson Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Western Carolina (0-1) looks to rebound after Thursday's 66-21 loss to Georgia Tech Saturday when it hosts Mars Hill at 6 p.m.

Samford (0-1) hosts Stillman Saturday at 7 p.m.


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