The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga defenders began their third straight week of preparing for the triple-option offense Tuesday.
The Mocs had two weeks to prepare for last Saturday's Southern Conference game at The Citadel - which resulted in a 28-10 win - and now they've turned their attention to No. 18 Georgia Southern (3-2, 1-1).
"I think it's a nice advantage," Mocs coach Russ Huesman said of playing option teams back to back. "We've gotten a chance to practice for three weeks and we've had a chance to go back and say, 'Ah, that didn't look good,' or 'Ooh, wow, if they'd have done this, we wouldn't have been in great shape.'
"So it gave us an opportunity to go back and reassess ourselves."
The Mocs (3-2, 2-1) allowed 238 yards rushing by The Citadel, slightly below the Bulldogs' average. The UTC defense gave up 268 yards total, including just 98 in the second half.
Georgia Southern and The Citadel both switched to the triple-option last spring, but the Eagles have more team speed and an experienced quarterback who appears to have accelerated their transition.
The Eagles are averaging 267 rushing yards a game and have scored at least 31 points in every game but one, a 13-7 loss at Navy.
Eagles first-year coach Jeff Monken, who spent many years working under option master Paul Johnson, said he's hesitant to call anything GSU has done "accelerated." However, he said Georgia Tech transfer quarterback Jaybo Shaw has made a big difference.
"If we didn't have [Shaw], we'd have a true freshman ... trying to learn it and do it," Monken said. "From that standpoint, I think he just brings a level of confidence to the huddle and to our staff, and he's done a great job for us."
Shaw, a junior, has gained 175 yards on 59 rushing attempts, while completing 31 of 58 passes for 532 yards and three touchdowns. Counting Shaw, the Eagles have eight players with at least 13 rushing attempts, led by Robert Brown (53 carries, 233 yards).
If last week's game against The Citadel was a good tune-up for the Mocs' defense, it also was a useful study tool for Georgia Southern. The Eagles got a chance to see how UTC defended the option, though there's no guarantee that the Mocs will do the same thing again.
"You plan for what you think they're going to do, and then on Saturday you make adjustments as necessary," Monken said. "They obviously did a great job shutting down The Citadel this past week, so they've done a good job against this offense. I think we've got a real challenge on our hands."