by Alex Welch:
The West Georgia Wolves will take on the Tusculum Pioneers on Saturday at 3:35 p.m. ET in Carrolton, Ga. Don Russel and Rick Rhoades covering the game in the booth for CSS.
These two teams kicked off 2012 in completely different fashions. The Wolves throttled at first-year program in Point University at home for their season opener, demolishing the Skyhawks 55-3 for their first win of 2012. Tusculum didnt fare quite as well, losing a barn-burner to the Urbana Blue Knights 53-33 on the road.
In their 2011 regular season opener, the Pioneers took down the Wolves 20-10 at home. Last years victory over West Georgia was the first win for Tusculum over a Gulf South Conference opponent.
West Georgia looks to continue implementing a physical ground game this season. In the opener against Point the Wolves rushed for a whopping 316 yards and five touchdowns on 49 carries.
Tusculum will have a different approach heading into Saturday's matchup. Junior quarterback Bo Cordell, who was named to the 2012 Preseason All-South Atlantic Conference First Team, sits at the helm of a deadly aerial assault. In his first game against Urbana, Cordell completed 38 of 58 passes for 399 yards and four touchdowns.
With two contrasting game plans, we'll see if these squads can keep their high-octane offenses in full swing this weekend.
What to watch for
Bo Cordell is the all-time leader in completions at Tusculum, and ranks second in career passing yards and touchdown passes. The Pioneers averaged 311 yards per game through the air in 2011, and after seeing how things progressed in Week 1, it's clear they expect to rely on Cordell's cannon even more going forward.
Tusculum's vertical strategy won't be a secret to West Georgia. In his last 17 games, Cordell has thrown for over 300 years on 16 occassions. His lone performance under 300 yards came against the Wolves last year.
Junior wide receiver Xzanvion Smith caught nine passes from Cordell for 125 yards against Urbana. Nicknamed the "X-man", he can be the team's X-factor in the passing and return game.
The Pioneers defense yielded 618 total yards in their first game. Allowing 313 yards on the ground will not cut it against West Georgia.
West Georgia averaged 178.2 yards per contest on the ground in 2011, while the Pioneers allowed a remarkable average of 307.1 yards rushing. The Wolves racked up 203 yards on 37 carries against Tusculum in the prior matchup, but they failed to find the end zone on offense.
Austin Trainor managed his new offense well, completing 11 of 15 passes for 151 yards and a score, while rushing for another 67 yards and a second touchdown on the ground. The transfer quarterback from Florida A&M looked sharp is his first start at West Georgia, but he'll face a much tougher matchup in Week 2.
Sophomore defensive end Amir Mustafaa finished with 2.5 sacks against Point, adding to the Wolves grand total of seven sacks total. Can West Georgia bring the same kind of pressure when tracking down Cordell?
The Wolves turned the ball over five times against the Pioneers in 2011. Tusculum lost three fumbles in its opening defeat to Urbana. Turnovers will be crucial on Saturday.
Junior wideoutreturn specialist Denarius Appling will not play for West Georgia this week after he was injured in a car accident this past Saturday. Joey Eliezer, a redshirt freshman, needs to step up in the passing game, while Quan Jones fills in to handle the kickoff duties.