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QB's in the line of fire

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QB's in the line of fire

Georgia Southern quarterback Jerick McKinnon outraces the defense to the end zone for a touchdown during Saturday's scrimmage at Paulson Stadium.

Jerick McKinnon had a busy morning on Saturday.

The rising sophomore quarterback took all of the snaps in the final third of Georgia Southern’s scrimmage at Paulson Stadium after backups Ezayi Youyoute and Russell DeMasi went down with injuries.

"I wasn’t really expecting that," said McKinnon about taking a majority of the snaps during the scrimmage. "But it was a good learning curve and a good chance to learn from a lot of film."

Starting quarterback Jaybo Shaw is still recovering from offseason surgery on his groin and did not participate, Youyoute was banged up on the first play of the morning after a six-yard run, but stayed on the field for the remainder of the session, and DeMasi was helped to the locker room after getting banged up late in the scrimmage after a 10-yard run that set up a 26-yard field goal by Luke Cherry.

McKinnon put on a red jersey and played each snap after DeMasi left the field.

"Typically we’ve always gone live on the quarterbacks," said GSU coach Jeff Monken about the team’s scrimmages. "We feel like it gets them to play at the speed we want them to. If they’re in a red jersey, they know they’re going to get tagged off and a lot of times they’re not trying to make guys miss in the open field or they’re easing off. It’s unfortunate that we got two of them hurt, and that’s why we put Jerick in red there at the end. Just to make sure he didn’t get hurt, too, so we could finish the scrimmage. We’ll see how they are, and hopefully we’ll get those guys back."

Rising sophomore fullback Robert Brown, who led the Eagles as a true freshman with 1,004 rushing yards in 2010, did not participate in the scrimmage after sitting out of contact during the prior week’s practice sessions.

In his place were rising senior Brent Thomas, redshirt freshman Aaron Fisher and walkon Terrell Jackson.

"Those guys are doing the best they can right now," said Monken. "They’re not the starter. Robert’s obviously the guy that we feel like is the best one at this point, but they’re battling it out to just kind of get a depth chart, who’s going to be two, three and four."

The longest runs from the fullbacks at the scrimmage came from Thomas (28 yards) and Jackson (24).

"In a game situation, anyone can go down so everybody’s got to be ready," said Thomas. "When you’re out there, you’re a starter, no matter what string you’re on."

After four-straight possessions run exclusively under center, which featured 36 running plays and only three passes and resulted in a missed 48-yard field goal attempt by Billy Greer off the left upright after a false start moved it back five yards, and a made 32-yarder by Adrian Mora, the Eagles worked in some plays from the shotgun formation.

The longest run of the day came from the shotgun, when McKinnon ran 44 yards untouched for a score.

"[Slotback] Darreion Robinson pulled a defender out of the way," McKinnon said about the run. "He did a good job helping me with that. The o-line did a good job up front, and that’s what made the play happen."

McKinnon also threw a 70-yard touchdown pass to redshirt-freshman wide receiver Kentrellis Showers.

The shotgun sets were put in by the coaches predominantly to give the defenses looks against some things most teams in the Southern Conference like to use.

"It’s different," said defensive lineman John Douglas about practicing against the shotgun. "We’re used to going against our offense all the time. With them helping us, giving us that look, it’s good. We need those reps because we play those teams like Elon that run the spread. It’s good, and it will help us out a lot next year."

With several defensive linemen out for the spring, including Brent Russell and Dion DuBose, some of the unfamiliar faces have gotten some looks in the trenches.

"Korentheus Bailey [a 6-foot-2, 317-pound tackle who transferred in the offseason from Western Kentucky] is getting a lot of time out there with Brent Russell being down," said Monken. "[Roderick] Tinsley’s ankle was bothering him this morning, and with Javon [Mention] being out, he’s getting a lot more time."

The Eagles will resume spring camp Monday at 3:45 p.m. at Beautiful Eagle Creek.


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

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