Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

November 28, 2012

VSU preparing for option attack again

VALDOSTA — The Valdosta State Blazers have seen the option a lot this season.

West Alabama, Edward Waters, North Alabama, Delta State and Shorter all ran a form of the option this year against the Blazers.

Edward Waters and Shorter ran the more traditional veer-style option, which the Blazers will once again see this weekend when they host the Carson-Newman Eagles (9-2) in the NCAA Division II quarterfinals in Valdosta.

“Seeing it this year, I don’t think it is going to be as much of a surprise as it was,” linebacker Ryan Smith said. “But this is a much better team than the first two we faced, so we have to stay humble and follow the game plan and not get too cocky knowing we stopped the first two teams.”

While the Blazers may have seen the option the majority of the season, they may not have faced a team that runs it as well as the Eagles’, who are averaging 380.1 yards rushing per game.

“You are never comfortable seeing the option,” head coach David Dean said. “There are so many things they can do. You don’t see it as much and it is hard to simulate it in practice. Whenever you see it, you always go in with a little bit more nerves.”

The majority of Carson-Newman’s attack comes from running back Brandon Baker, who is the team’s leading rusher with 1,313 yards with 12 touchdowns, and quarterback Brandon Haywood, who has rushed for 945 yards with a team-high 15 touchdowns. Tryon Douglas has also scored 10 touchdowns.

“Those guys are three yards from the line of scrimmage and when the ball is snapped, whoever the dive guy is, he is just shooting straight ahead,” Dean said. “So everything happens so fast, it is very tough on your linebackers.”

To help prepare for the Eagles, the Blazers are using graduate assistant Doug Belk, a former Carson-Newman quarterback and receiver, to run the scout team this week in practice.

“(Doug) was in that system for a long time and he understands the basics of what they try to do,” Dean said. “It has been a big help.”

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