As a general rule, college football coaches - particularly those in the FBS - are creature of habit. They don't like change, or having to prepare for it, especially when you're talking about defending the triple-option.
Last year, Alabama's Nick Saban bemoaned the fact that there simply wasn't enough time to prepare for Georgia Southern, thoughts which were also echoed by South Carolina's Steve Spurrier prior to the Gamecocks' game against The Citadel.
Georgia coach Mark Richt can feel Saban's pain and has some big concerns regarding Saturday's game against the 8-2 Eagles (1:30 p.m., WSB).
"We normally play them about every four years. That's been the routine. Every time they show up I kind of wish we didn't set it up," Richt said. "They average over 400 yards a game rushing. They actually had 529 yards rushing last week, so they're just very good at what they do."
Last year, Georgia Southern rushed for 302 yards in a 45-21 loss to the eventual national champs, while The Citadel galloped for 241 in a 41-20 loss to South Carolina.
So, why is the option so difficult to defend?
"For the SEC teams, with the exception of Georgia which faces Georgia Tech every year, it's just something they don't see every year. It really is a different brand of football," Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken said. "It's a different brand of football in terms of the kinds of things defensive coaches are teaching their guys on a weekly basis for what is standard in college football these days and maybe that is a little advantageous for teams who run the option just because it is so different."
But Monken says to make no mistake, there is often a price to be paid when you try to execute the triple-option against the likes of Georgia and Alabama.
"We had some success against them (Alabama) because we hit some big plays; we had a long play-action pass and hit a long run with the fullback, but they also beat the heck out of us pretty good," Monken said. "They beat us pretty handily."
Likewise, Georgia is projected to beat the Eagles easily.
That may be so, but according to Bulldog linebacker Mike Gilliard, there won't be anything easy about defending what Southern does, especially when dealing with cut blocks.
"Our first practice our scout guys were chipping at our legs and knee," Gilliard said. "It's definitely irritating, but that's what they run so it's up to us to stop it. It's something we have to deal with."
But as Monken points out, it's all legal.
"Everybody talks about the cut block, it's something I hear all the time," he said. "Some people say we chip and chop block, that's not what we teach. We teach to cut block and block below the waist. There are plenty of teams who block below the waist and do it effectively. Teams see it all the time. A lot of teams use cut blocks as a way to get defenders off their feet."
Richt agrees, adding he's noticed that happening plenty of times already this year.
"The thing of it is, down linemen get cut all year long. It's not that different as much as it is for the guys on the perimeter. It is somewhat different, and I'm not going to say that it's not, but there's probably more of it, but they do get cut," Richt said. "There are times when people are trying to run a zone play and one guy is engaged on the nose guard and the other guy is trying to cut him off. Or even sometimes a guard is trying to get up to a linebacker, but the responsibility of the nose guard is not to let him get there, but the center behind that guard has the job to cut the guy off.
"The goal sometimes is to cut the nose guard with the center. A lot of times offenses aren't even trying to have a guy high and a guy low, but it just happens. That happens to those guys more than you think, all throughout the year."
Georgia Southern's roots with the triple-option go back farther than just about any school in the country.
The Eagles ran the offense when Georgia legend Erk Russell took over the program, and was later perfected by former offensive coordinator and later head coach Paul Johnson, currently the top man at Georgia Tech.
Monken coached under Johnson at both Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech and is continuing the tradition in Statesboro.
"The base of our offense, the roots are identical to Tech," Monken said. "We will run the shotgun and do some things from there more than Paul does at Tech, and some of the angles and those things are different, but when you get down to it looks very similar, the fact that we combo block, read key and pitch key and there are different guys who can carry the ball."