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GSU's J-Mac attack

GSU's J-Mac attack

GSU's J-Mac attack

Georgia Southern quarterback Jerick M...

    Jerick McKinnon is not the best player to ever play football at Georgia Southern, but he very well may be the most versatile.
    McKinnon will more than likely be lined up at the B-back position when the Eagles (4-2, 2-2) return to action at 3:30 p.m., on Saturday when they face Appalachian State (1-6, 0-4) in Boone, N.C.
    The game will be televised on ESPN3.
    Tracy Ham and Adrian Peterson remain the icons of Georgia Southern — they are the only players to have their number retired — but they were never asked to play other positions like McKinnon has, something he has done willingly.
    McKinnon is better known for his play at quarterback, but he has also played slotback, fullback, and defensive back. He has not only played those positions, but has played them well. And, on occasion he has also returned kicks.
    The Eagles are coming off a bye week, but in their last outing, a 28-21 win over The Citadel, McKinnon played B-back and he ran for 198 yards on 32 attempts.
    It was a move made out of necessity. Georgia Southern has been decimated by injuries at B-back, losing its top four players at the position. William Banks, who started at Samford, was unable to go against Citadel.
    Therefore the best option available was McKinnon teaming with redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Ellison. It proved to be an effective combination. Ellison wound up running for 135 yards, and throwing for another 138. Banks is not expected to play against the Mountaineers, and if he does it will be in a limited role.
    Actually, the switch came at McKinnon’s suggestion, Monken said, explaining that McKinnon approached quarterbacks coach Mitch Ware about taking reps at B-back after Banks suffered a concussion at Samford.
    Last year McKinnon established himself as one of the best option quarterbacks in the country when he ran for 1,847 yards and led the Eagles to the FCS semifinals for the third straight year. His play resulted in his being on the Walter Payton Award Watch list at the beginning of the season.
    McKinnon is still on the list, but his chances of winning have lessened with the Eagles having lost twice, and being ineligible for the playoffs where players have an opportunity to gain exposure on a national level.
    However, that’s the last thing on McKinnon’s mind. His focus is entirely on helping the Eagles win as many games as they can.
    “We need wins,” McKinnon said. “I’ll do whatever it takes and play wherever they want me to if it means helping the team win.”
    McKinnon leads the Southern Conference in rushing with 794 yards, an average of 132.3 per game. No other running back is averaging 100 yards per game.
    The transition to B back has not been as difficult as many may think, McKinnon said, explaining that playing quarterback helped.
    “One thing playing B back is you are attacking down hill quicker,” McKinnon said. “You get to the point (of attack) quicker than at quarterback.
    “Coach Ware does a great job of explaining the assignments,” McKinnon said. “I prep myself from the quarterback mindset. As a quarterback I knew what my assignment was, and knew everyone else’s, too. I have a general idea of the scheme from the B back’s perspective.”
    In the triple option the quarterback position is a physically demanding one, McKinnon said, but not as much as the B-back.
    “The quarterback gets hit hard,” McKinnon said. “But, at B-back it’s more physical play. You get hit on every play, and you have to push hard for yards.”
    “I’m sure moving to running back could help him (get into an NFL camp),” Monken said. “But, that’s not the reason he wanted to move. He wants to help the team win.”
    McKinnon has 551 yards in his last three games, and his 3,643 career rushing yards ranks him fifth on GSU’s all-time list. He needs 193 yards to pass fourth-place Jayson Foster, and 235 to pass third-place Joe Ross.
    With only five games remaining in his career he has no chance to catch all-time leader Adrian Peterson (6,559) or second-place Jermaine Austin (5,411).

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