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Eagles mixing things up

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Eagles mixing things up

Georgia Southern head coach Jeff Monken patrols the field as the Eagles run through drills during spring practice at Beautiful Eagle Creek.



Georgia Southern tried some new things on offense in 2010.

Along with the standard two-slot formations, the Eagles ran some Power-I, a broken wishbone with J.J. Wilcox in the backfield and Robert Brown as a lead blocker, and even some true wishbone.

That was nothing.

Tuesday during spring camp at Beautiful Eagle Creek, the GSU offense practiced almost exclusively out of the shotgun.

It wasn’t about changing things up on offense. It was more about helping the defense which, along with the offense, won’t split off into scout teams until fall camp.

"Everybody we play seems to be running shotgun," said second-year coach Jeff Monken. "Instead of lining up in our stuff for four-straight weeks during the spring, under center, and then doing the same thing to start fall camp — having two weeks where that’s all our offense sees — it gives them the opportunity to line up in stuff that’s, I guess, more traditional."

With the first-team defense practicing almost exclusively against the GSU offense during the offseason, the added wrinkles give the Eagles a chance to see something different at full speed.

Although practicing against the option-based system last season didn’t hurt.

"It probably brings a mentality to a defense to where they’re going to be tougher. They see smash-mouth football every day. That’s something they’ve got to get used to," said offensive coordinator Brent Davis. "Hopefully they can see [the shotgun] a little bit in practice, and if run with some semblance of speed, it’ll help them get ready."

The goal, said Monken, is for the ones on offense to be able to emulate the offenses the Eagles will see across the Southern Conference schedule.

"We’re going to work it so that we’re good at it, so that we can run it against our defense," Monken said. "We don’t want to be a scout team, or a look squad type of deal. We want to look good doing it."

For rising senior quarterback Jaybo Shaw, it’s something he’s seen before. He ran some shotgun as a high-school quarterback in Flowery Branch in an option-based system, and the plays aren’t that much different from what the Eagles already do.

"It’s a lot of the same things," said Shaw. "I’m reading off the same guy, pitching off the same guy. It’s just tweaking the blocking a little bit."

With all the work being put into practicing out of the shotgun, it will be in the playbook when the Eagles take the field in the fall for the 2011 season.

"If it’s something we can include and it can benefit us, then we’re certainly open to using it," Monken said. "But it’s not something we’ve got planned. We’re not making any wholesale changes at all."

"I mean, anything to help," added Shaw. "On Saturdays, it’s all about winning a ballgame."

J.J. Wilcox played wide receiver in Chris Hatcher’s pass-heavy, shotgun offense in 2009, and after making the switch to slotback a season ago, can move around a lot when GSU lines up in the shotgun.

"It’s about 50-50," Wilcox said about where he’s been playing. "I just try to be versatile. Coach Monken will put me in the best position."

The Eagles resume spring camp Thursday at Beautiful Eagle Creek at 3:45 p.m., and are scheduled for their first scrimmage Saturday morning.


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

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