mostlycloudy
Thursday July 2nd, 2015 1:22AM

Georgia Southern offense faces stiff test vs. ND State

By The Associated Press
FARGO, N.D. -- North Dakota State's Travis Beck didn't hesitate when asked how fellow linebacker Grant Olson could top last week's record-setting, 29-tackle effort in a playoff victory over Wofford.

``He'll probably break it again,'' Beck said.

A crazy notion, perhaps, but Olson should be the center of attention again Friday night in the Football Championship Subdivision semifinal against visiting Georgia Southern, like Wofford a triple-option team that runs the ball almost all the time.

Olson, a 6-foot, 223-pound junior from Plymouth, Minn., cracked a wide smile when asked if he enjoys playing an option team.

``For me, yes. For other guys, not so much,'' Olson said. ``I know the defensive line doesn't exactly enjoy taking on blocks the entire time. For me, you get to play the run and tackle people. It's a lot of fun.''

Olson said he was hoping, for the sake of his defensive linemen, that the defending FCS champion Bison (12-1) would play Old Dominion, a passing team, so the players up front would have a chance to do what they enjoy the most sack the quarterback.

``But unfortunately for them, they don't get to do it,'' he said.

Georgia Southern leads the country with a rushing average of 409 yards per game. The Southern Conference team has not thrown the ball more than 10 times in a single game and went one contest against Wofford without attempting a single pass.

The Eagles (10-3) have a former running back at quarterback in Jerick McKinnon, who leads the team in rushing with 1,736 yards, and ran for 316 yards in one game. They have a running back, Dominique Swope, who has piled up 1,169 yards and 16 touchdowns despite missing three starts with a concussion.

Some believe that the Bison, who rose to prominence in Division II with an option game, dumped that offense because it couldn't work in Division I. Three teams run it in the Southern Conference.

``It works at this level. Georgia Southern has proven that. A number of teams have proven that,'' NDSU defensive coordinator Chris Klieman said. ``It just goes to the old adage, if you can run the football and play defense, you're going to have the chance to win a lot of football games.''

The key to defending the Eagles? Olson said the Bison should have a ``guy on pitch, guy on quarterback, guy on dive.'' Klieman said the Bison linebackers need to get a clean shot at the ball carrier and finish their tackles.

``That QB has made a ton of people miss,'' Klieman said of McKinnon. ``And if you make the first guy miss it's a foot race. Not too many people are catching him right now.''

Like Wofford, Georgia Southern's offense neutralizes NDSU's most explosive defender, two-time All-American cornerback Marcus Williams. Even though most teams throw away from him, Williams has five interceptions, including one he returned 98 yards for a touchdown.

Olson said Williams has a difficult assignment trying to stay sharp for a surprise pass.

``He has to cover his man every single play. And 65 out of 70 snaps they're not even going to pass the ball so he's running downfield doing nothing,'' Olson said. ``But it's those five other snaps when they throw it deep, he has to be perfect.''

The game is a repeat of last year's semifinal in which the Bison defeated the Eagles 35-7 at the Fargodome. Bison head coach Craig Bohl said this year's edition of Georgia Southern is more athletic and explosive, especially at quarterback, than last year.

Conversely, Georgia Southern head coach Jeff Monken, whose team played Alabama last year, said NDSU is the closest thing to the Crimson Tide he's seen in his three years with the Eagles.

``They've got a great defense,'' Monken said of the Bison. ``They don't hold people to 11 points a game because they have one player. They've got a bunch of guys who play good and they are well-coached.''
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Tech beats Southern California in Sun Bowl
Tevin Washington threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to help Georgia Tech beat Southern California 21-7 on Monday in the Sun Bowl.
5:54PM ( 2 years ago )
Top 10 sports stories of the year: 2012 one for the history books
2012 has been all things to all people in the sports world. The last 12 months have run the gamut of emotions and given fans and spectators much to awe, rue and everything in between.
2:33PM ( 2 years ago )
College Football Hall to break ground in Atlanta
Groundbreaking for the new College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta will be Jan. 28 and the museum is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014.
2:15PM ( 2 years ago )
Sports
Tech's 2nd half surge beats Fordham 73-48
Daniel Miller and Robert Carter Jr. each scored 14 points and Georgia Tech scored 17 straight points in the second half en route to a 73-48 victory over Fordham on Saturday night.
10:17PM ( 2 years ago )
Djurisic's career night leads Dogs past Florida A&M
Nemanja Djurisic scored a career-high 21 points and Georgia won its third straight Saturday 82-73 over Florida A&M.
7:26PM ( 2 years ago )
Ga. Southern beats Ga. State, 68-64 in overtime
Eric Ferguson scored 24 points and Georgia Southern overcame a late double-digit deficit to beat Georgia State 68-64 in overtime on Saturday.
7:25PM ( 2 years ago )
College Sports
Wisler, Braves end skid vs. Nats
Rookie Matt Wisler wasn't too worried about walking so many hitters in his third major league start.
By The Associated Press
8:06AM ( 6 hours from now )
AP source: Hawks reach agreement to re-sign Paul Millsap
The Atlanta Hawks have reached an agreement to re-sign Paul Millsap, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
By The Associated Press
11:22PM ( 2 hours ago )
G-Braves finish off sweep of Bisons
The Gwinnett Braves continued their road domination of the Buffalo Bisons with a 6-2 win Wednesday night in the finale of their three-game series at Coca-Cola Field.
By AccessWDUN staff
11:11PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP source: Hawks finalizing deal for Spurs' Splitter
A person with knowledge of the deals says the Atlanta Hawks are finalizing a trade for San Antonio Spurs center Tiago Splitter.
6:03PM ( 7 hours ago )
U.S. women head to WWC final with 2-0 shutout of Germany
Carli Lloyd buried a penalty kick, Hope Solo got another shutout and the United States beat top-ranked Germany 2-0 on Tuesday night to advance to the title match at the Women's World Cup.
By The Associated Press
9:23AM ( 15 hours ago )