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SoCon Weekend Primer

By Southern Pigskin Staff
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Conference action is in full swing, with four SoCon tilts on this week's schedule.

Ahh, Week Five. So nice to see you. Crazy to think we are already a third of the way through the season. It seems like the season just started. That’s not just me, right? Right?

Anyway, let us focus on Week Five. There are five SoCon contests on the slate, four of which are conference games, and one very large matchup down in Statesboro. Hope you guys are ready for a doozy, this is going to be good.


No. 5/6 Wofford (3-0, 1-0 SoCon) at Elon (2-2, 0-1), 1:30 p.m., U-Stream Elon Phoenix

The Wofford Terriers come off their bye week and pay a visit to North Carolina to face off against an Elon squad coming off a surprising performance in their loss at Georgia Southern. When these two teams met a year ago, Wofford ran over, around and through Elon en route to a 48-28 victory.

In what may be the least surprising statistic of the year, Eric Breitenstein leads the SoCon in rushing, averaging 138 yards a game, which is also good for eighth-best in the nation. What is more surprising is that the Terriers currently lead the conference in both scoring offense and defense, and by a considerable margin. They score 55 points per game (20 points more than second place Georgia Southern) and allow just nine points per contest (ahead of Georgia Southern’s 15.3). On top of that, they have the second-best defense in the SoCon – but they have the second-worst pass defense, which is where the Phoenix’s hope for victory lies.

Thomas Wilson and Aaron Mellette will each need to have big days for the Phoenix to have a chance to pull off the upset, and their rush defense, which currently ranks sixth in the conference, will need to play the game of their lives. It’s not impossible – just unlikely. Then again, it was unlikely for The Citadel to beat Georgia Southern and App State in back to back weeks…

Prediction: No. 5/6 Wofford 42, Elon 28


Coastal Carolina at No. 16/17 Appalachian State (2-2, 1-1), 3:30 p.m., GoASU TV

A week removed from their incredible 24-point fourth quarter against Chattanooga, the Mountaineers return to The Rock to face off against Coastal Carolina for just the third time ever (in case you are wondering, App has won both meetings, the most recent a 45-28 victory in 2006).

App’s offense seems to have found its groove, led by who else but Jamal Jackson, who leads the conference in passing yards (248) and total offense (292.8) per game. What has really helped has been the play of Steven Miller, who has given the Mountaineers a rushing attack they have missed the past few seasons.  Miller is averaging just under 100 yards per game and has six total touchdowns, good for third-most in the SoCon. What has to be a little troublesome, though, is ASU’s defense, which is giving up 440.25 yards per game – that ranks them second-worst in the conference and 97th out of 121 teams in the FCS. Linebackers Jeremy Kimbrough and Brandon Grier have both been studs, but they will need some help to try and slow down Coastal’s Aramis Hillary – yes, the brother of former Mountaineer star Coco Hillary. Aramis is having a solid season of his own, ranking ninth in the nation in total offense and having already thrown seven touchdown passes – to put that in perspective, that is more than all of the SoCon quarterbacks except Elon’s Thomas Wilson, who has thrown eight.

But do not fret just yet Mountaineer faithful, the Chanticleers’ defense has been susceptible to big plays this year, and ASU has not lost to a Big South team since 1997 and have won 15 straight contests against Big South foes.

Prediction: No. 16/17 Appalachian State 34, Coastal Carolina 23


Chattanooga (1-3, 0-1) at No. 15/11 The Citadel (3-1 2-0), 6 p.m., Bulldogs Insider

We all saw this coming, right? We all thought The Citadel would be sitting at the top of the SoCon standings, while the Mocs continue to search for their first conference win. Right? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Both teams come into this week off of disappointing losses. The Bulldogs expectedly lost to NC State, but played far from their best ball against the Wolfpack. The Mocs could have had their first conference victory a week ago had it not been for an awful fourth quarter that Chattanooga players and fans alike are still trying to forget.

Chattanooga has really struggled to find their form this year, but do not blame it on their defense. They are still solid, giving up just 305.8 yards per game – third-best in the SoCon and 19th-best in the nation. Where they are hurting is on offense, where they are averaging 331.2 yards per game, which is the worst in the conference. The two quarterback experiment with Jacob Huesman and Terrell Robinson has not gone well at all, and it may soon be time to blow up that plan. The Mocs need an offensive spark and just cannot find one right now.

That is far from the case for The Citadel, which has seen an offensive resurgence in 2012. After struggling for many years, the Bulldogs are now averaging more than 400 yards per game, led by their outstanding rushing attack. What makes said attack so deadly is the number of weapons they have. Ben Dupree and Darien Robinson both rank in the top 10 in the conference in rushing yards per game, while Rickey Anderson’s five touchdowns have him tied for fourth-most in the conference. You may be able to stop one option, but it is near-impossible to stop all of them. 

This game could be closer than most expect, as the Mocs will come out and play some inspired ball in their attempt to save their season. But the Bulldogs are one of the hottest teams in the country right now and it is hard to see them losing at home.

Prediction: No. 15/11 The Citadel 28, Chattanooga 20


Western Carolina at Furman

Furman finally got into the win column last Saturday against FCS opponent Presbyterian with a 31-21 win. The Paladins multiple offense has proven to be dangerous, as quarterback Reese Hannon has taken hs game to the next level. Running back Jerodis Williams continues to impress on the ground. The defense for the Paladins has been anchored by Matt Solomon, who has 39 tackles on the season.

Western Carolina (1-3, 0-2 SoCon) has shown vast improvement from last season, and took No. 25 Samford down to the wire last Saturday, only losing by four points. The up-tempo spread offense for Western Carolina has truly taken a life of its own, as quarterback Eddie Sullivan has over 600 yards and three touchdowns. The 4-2-5 defense of head coach Mark Spier must slow down Furman on offense to win the game. Linebacker Courtland Carson is a ball-hawking physical player and patrols the middle of the field.

Prediction: Western Carolina 23, Furman 24


No. 25 Samford at No. 9 Georgia Southern

The SoCon Game of the Week will yet again take place in Statesboro at the home of the Eagles in Paulson Stadium. Georgia Southern comes into the series with a slim 4-3 lead over Samford, but Pat Sullivan has his Bulldogs on a high at 4-0 on the season.

The Bulldogs are primed to make this a battle, as Fabian Truss, Andy Summerlin, and Kelsey Pope are all having All-Conference type seasons so far. Truss won Offensive Player of the Week against Western Carolina last week and must lead the offense this week for Samford to defeat Georgia Southern. Jacquiski Tartt is third in tackles in the SoCon this season with 39 (1st is Jeremy Kimbrough for App. State with 47). The Bulldogs physical, agressive, swarming defense has a tough test against the option offense of Georgia Southern.

Georgia Southern comes into the contest looking for their second conference win of the season. This game can be a statement game for Georgia Southern to prove they are the team to beat in the SoCon, after their early season loss to The Citadel. Quarterback Ezayi Youyoute is the second leading rusher rusher in the conference with just over 120 rushing yards per game. A solid performance for Youyoute will be key for Georgia Southern. The Eagles come into the game with the 13th-ranked scoring defense in the FCS.

Prediction: No. 25 Samford 17, No. 9 Georgia Southern 27


* The SoCon Weekend Primer is put together by Southern Pigskin writers Russell Varner and David England.