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Offense still working out kinks

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            Despite marked improvement in Saturday’s scrimmage at Paulson Stadium, Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken still doesn’t feel like the team is where it needs to be with two weeks to go until opening kickoff.

            “We’re not where we want to be, we’re not where we used to be, but we’re better than we were,” Monken said. “That’s the good news.”

            True freshman Robert Brown shined in his first appearance as the listed No. 1 fullback, ripping off runs that included a 74-yard touchdown scamper off an option pitch and a 40-yard run up the gut that ended when cornerback Laron Scott caught him at the 2-yard line.

            “I wasn’t expecting to get caught, but my calves kind of tightened up,” Brown said about Scott’s tackle. “You know how that goes.”

            Slotback Nico Hickey was banged up early in the scrimmage from a Josh Rowe hit in the backfield after taking a pitch, but returned to catch a 6-yard touchdown pass from Jaybo Shaw at the goal line later in the scrimmage.

            Shaw attributes the passing game’s success with the slots to good fundamentals coming off the ball.

            “When we execute, it’s hard for those defensive backs to tell whether we’re trying to arch block them or if they’re running a seam down the middle of the field,” said Shaw, a junior transfer from Georgia Tech. “Nico made a great catch right there on the goal line, and that’s just him making a great play.”

            Brown, who took over the starting role for injured running back Zeke Rozier, adds more versatility to the backfield with his speed around the corner, as demonstrated by his long touchdown run.

            “I feel like the o-line did what they had to do to get the blocks,” Brown said. “They made a seamE for me, and I feel like we’re going to need that in the long run.”

            “Zeke is trying to help Robert out as much as he can. Robert’s a great player and we’re glad that he’s with us,” added Shaw. “He can do some special things as long as we help him out in the pocket. He’s got great hands and he can do a lot of great things, and that helps us because we don’t have to rely on the A-backs to take the pitch every time.”

            The most methodical drive of the morning came from the twos, as quarterback Jerick McKinnon got it done through the air and on the ground.

            A long pass down the sidelines to fellow freshman Kentrellis Showers got the offense set up a first-and-goal situation.

            McKinnon got it to the 2-yard line on successive carries, and his third-straight keeper was good for a two-yard score.

            As for the rest of the drives, the defense continued to dictate the pace – especially when the ones were on the field.

            “Having coached in this offense for as long as I have, I don’t feel like we should be having as many problems with three-and-outs,” Monken said. “Regardless if it’s the Green Bay Packers over there, we ought to be able to execute our offense. A lot of it has to do with the defense, but a lot of it has to do with lack of execution.”

            Rowe, a middle linebacker, and defensive lineman Brent Russell and Roderick Tinsley showed the speed and quickness Monken feels is essential, especially this early in the fall.

            “They’re playing pretty good,” said Monken about the defense, “and we’re going to need them to until things get better on offense.”


            Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.

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