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My Take - Time to use that ugly word again

Time to once again dust off every Georgia Southern fan’s least favorite word — rebuilding.
    Okay, so what’s the problem this time?
    There have been plenty of reasons offered throughout the last four football seasons for why the Georgia Southern Eagles have failed to make the playoffs.
    Reasons ranging from rebuilding, to youth, all the way down to just some plain, old-fashioned bad luck (remember 2007?) , but from 2006 though 2009, GSU has fallen short.
    Now here we are in 2010, and the Eagles are once again all but eliminated.
    So what is it now?
    “I wish I could put my finger on something and say, ‘Here’s the problem.’ I don’t have enough fingers for all the problems to plug the holes,” said head coach Jeff Monken after Saturday’s 20-13 loss to Samford.
    On one hand, yeah, the Eagles have problems all over the field, but on the other hand, it boils down to one major deficiency — the offense is simply incomplete.
    Is there talent out there? Yes.
    Do the players know what they’re doing? For the most part, yeah.
    Are there enough playmakers? Sure.
    But not a single one of them is the complete triple-option football player the team needs and, unfortunately, can only gain with experience.
    Quarterback Jaybo Shaw is probably the most complete option player on the team. He makes the right reads and executes them, he gets tough yards and he can throw the football.
    But he is incomplete, because he’s flat-out taken a beating all year long and has had trouble staying healthy.
    True freshman Jerick McKinnon has stayed healthy but, well, is a true freshman.
    At the slotback position, you have Nico Hickey, who is probably the best of the group fundamentally, but he doesn’t have the athleticism of J.J. Wilcox, who doesn’t have the speed of Darries Robinson, who doesn’t have the moves of Darreion Robinson, who isn’t as fundamentally sound as Hickey.
    Wide receiver is similar to slotback, because when you put them all together, you’ve got one heck of a player.
    Mitch Williford has great hands, is tough as nails, and never takes a play off from blocking, but he doesn’t have the speed to get underneath a deep ball that’s slightly overthrown (ever so slightly) down the sidelines. A bulked-up Tyler Sumner is in the same boat as Williford, Patrick Barker is banged up, and the other ones – true freshmen, of course.
    The offensive line was clearly behind the eight ball before the season started, and the fullbacks are in the same boat.
    Robert Brown is a true freshman, and he looks to be — easily — the best running back on the team.
    But at B-back, he’s still got a long way to go.
    Lee Banks and Tobi Akinnranye are both seniors and won’t even have time to settle in to the role, and injuries have plagued the position all season, anyway.
    Another important theme, one that’s familiar to any Eagle fan that has followed the program since 2006 or, for that matter, has read this column up until this point, is, of course, youth. Again.
    I just named 13 offensive players and, with the exception of Banks, Akinniranye and Shaw – each of whom is essentially playing their first season as a contributor at GSU, all of them are underclassmen. And none of the 13 aforementioned players has more than two full years of experience. Not one.
    And that doesn’t include the seven freshmen and sophomores in the rotation on the offensive line.
    The phrase “rebuilding year” has been thrown around Statesboro a lot since 2005, so people — understandably so — are tired of hearing it.
    The difference here is that these kids are actually in a position to improve.
    As for the 2010 season, the No. 1 team in the country is coming to town next weekend, it’s homecoming, and the Georgia Southern Eagles — the ones that were around last year, anyway — haven’t forgotten what Appalachian State did to them in the mountains in 2009.
    So, not only is there a future to build for, but there are plenty of things left to play for in a season that will, hopefully, be the beginning of the end of a disturbing trend that has consumed the Eagles since the middle of the decade.

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

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