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Eagles look ahead

Eagles look ahead

Eagles look ahead

Georgia Southern quarterback Jerick M...

    One of Georgia Southern’s preseason goals this year, a year without no playoff bid and no Southern Conference title on the line due to the program’s transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision, was to go 11-0.
    Another was to win all eight SoCon games on the schedule.
    With Saturday’s 30-20 loss against Wofford in Spartanburg, S.C., both goals were yanked off the table.
    Jerick McKinnon, a senior who spent time at quarterback and running back against Wofford, said that head coach Jeff Monken pointed out to the team some big losses throughout the program’s history to offer some perspective.
    Only in 1989 did Georgia Southern make it wire to wire without losing at least once.
    During the other five national championship seasons, the Eagles lost to teams like James Madison, East Carolina, Middle Tennessee State, Eastern Kentucky, Appalachian State and Furman.
    The perfect 14-0 Eagles of 1998 lost to UMass in the national title game, and followed with a national championship in 1999.
    “Obviously, the main goal we wanted for ourselves was to go undefeated,” McKinnon said. “Just because you lose one game, it doesn’t make or break your season. Coach keeps emphasizing the great teams, how they lost and how they responded. We just have to try to bring our ‘A’ game every week.”
    Last season, the Eagles dropped the SoCon opener on the road at The Citadel. They responded with six-straight wins and an eventual trip to the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals.
    “We got the short end of the stick, just like last year. We lost against The Citadel then we came out strong. That’s what we plan to do this year,” said GSU defensive lineman Blake Riley, also a senior. “Right now, we all just want to come out strong, finish the season on top of the SoCon. We lost one, but we can get it back. The goal is to get over the hump, keep practicing hard and win the rest of our games.”
    McKinnon doesn’t think this weekend’s bye comes at a good time. He’d rather get back on the field this Saturday, he said.
    Still, there is an upside.
    “I would say it’s a nice break for us to (recuperate) and get back on square one with everybody after a loss,” McKinnon said.
    Monken’s list of things improvements he’d like to see is simple.
    “Try to block them better, try to get off blocks better, try not to put the ball on the ground nine times in one game — I’d like to change those things. Those would probably make a big difference in the game.”
    Monken also addressed the quarterback situation. McKinnon split time with redshirt freshman Kevin Ellison, who started the game at Wofford. Monken said he played McKinnon at running back to get him the ball in different ways, and allow Ellison to use his arm at quarterback.
    “The thing Kevin does is, Kevin throws it pretty good,” Monken said. “That’s not Jerick’s strong suit. You guys have watched us play. He’s not Joe Montana out there, he’s a running quarterback. I think being able to use both of those guys back there will help our team. There’s no controversy, there’s no trying to figure out who our quarterback is, Jerick’s our quarterback. But there’s just some things that Kevin’s going to be able to do better.”
    The Eagles (2-1, 0-1 SoCon) return to action on Saturday, Sept. 28, when they host Chattanooga (2-1, 0-0) at 6 p.m., in Paulson Stadium.

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

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