All the talk about the Georgia Southern football team concerns its triple-option offense, complete with fakes, handoffs, quarterback keepers and pitches to blazing running backs.

It is an offense that the University of Maine is not familiar with.

The Black Bears will be introduced to it at 2 p.m. today when third-ranked Georgia Southern (10-2) plays host to 13th-ranked Maine (9-3) in an NCAA Division I Football Championships Subdivision quarterfinal, at Paulson Stadium in Statesboro, Ga.

The Eagles average 440 yards per game, 332 on the ground. They ran for 302 yards against Alabama three weeks ago.

“The biggest challenge is that we haven’t seen it all season long,” senior free safety Trevor Coston said. “Being able to recognize the play that is coming is the tricky part.”

Well, that’s one of the challenges. After recognizing the play, you have to stop the play.

That is something Old Dominion could not do last week. The Monarchs lost in a shootout with Georgia Southern, 55-48, as the Eagles amassed 607 yards of offense.

“We just did not tackle well,” Old Dominion coach Bob Wilder said after the game. “We were in position to make tackles, and we didn’t do it.

“We couldn’t stop them. It was a helpless feeling,”

Can Maine do a better job?

The Black Bears are coming off of a dominant performance against an explosive Appalachian State team, holding the Mountaineers to three yards rushing for the game.

“We felt real great going in,” Coston said. “Had a chip on our shoulder, people saying we didn’t have the athletes to match up with them.”

Against Georgia Southern, “you have to be real disciplined,” Coston said. “You have to be where you’re supposed to be.”

During the season, Maine ranked fourth in the Colonia Athletic Association in rushing yards allowed (145), one yard behind Old Dominion, which ranked third.

Georgia Southern’s offense revolves around the decision-making of quarterback Jaybo Shaw and a stable of backs led by freshman Dominique Swope, who rushed for 153 yards against Alabama and 255 against Old Dominion.

Georgia Southern’s defense might be suspect, given that it gave up so much against Old Dominion. But the Eagles defend the run pretty well (143 yards allowed per game), and are so-so against the pass (211 yards).

Maine might want to utilize its ground game to control the clock and keep the ball out of George Southern’s hands.

“You can run the ball (to keep possession), but you got to be successful,” Maine coach Jack Cosgrove said.

To run, Maine has Pushaun Brown and David Hood. Both can break for big yardage, but the key to the Black Bears remains quarterback Warren Smith, who averages 241 passing yards per game. If he can avoid turnovers and keep Maine in possession, the Black Bears have a chance.

“It’s going to have to take a comprehensive approach. It involves your offense, defense and special teams plan,” Cosgrove said. “If you go in and think you’re just going to defend them, it could be a long day.”


Who: Maine (9-3) vs. Georgia Southern (10-2)

Where: Paulson Stadium, Statesboro, Ga.

When: Saturday, 2 p.m.

Radio: WLOB-1310 AM

Television: ESPN GamePlan (pay-per-view) and ESPN3 (internet)

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.