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GSU Notebook: McKinnon hopeful to get back on field

GSU Notebook: McKinnon hopeful to get back on field

GSU Notebook: McKinnon hopeful to get back on field

    When Jerick McKinnon left the game in the first quarter last Saturday against Appalachian State with an ankle injury, his reaction was similar to that of the Georgia Southern fans in attendance — “Oh no.”
    Everybody had the same questions, “Is it broken?” “How bad is it?”
    Fortunately for McKinnon the injury, ruled a sprain, isn’t serious. He is hopeful to return to action Saturday, when the Eagles (4-3, 2-3 Southern Conference) face Furman at 1 p.m., at Paulson Stadium.
    McKinnon, GSU’s top rusher in 2013 and the program’s fourth all-time leader in career rushing yardage, took limited snaps at practice on Monday.
    “I did a little bit here, a little bit there,” McKinnon said. “But I’m just looking forward to this weekend, getting out there with my teammates. I’m feeling good right now, so we’ll see how it goes.”
    It was an emotional day for McKinnon on Saturday during the Eagles’ 38-14 loss to the Mountaineers. He left the game to have his ankle x-rayed.
    “I just wanted to be out there with my teammates, be able to contribute with them in any way possible,” said McKinnon, a senior. “It was the last time playing App State. It all hit me. There’s wasn’t really anything I could do. I couldn’t run. The biggest thing that hurt me was not being able to be a part of it.”
    The good news came when McKinnon learned his ankle wasn’t broken.
    “They took me in to get x-rayed and confirmed everything was good,” he said. “They said, ‘It’s negative.’ I was like, ‘OK, get me in there and let’s go.’
    McKinnon returned to the field, but after quarterback Kevin Ellison handed off to him, it was all he could do to limp out of bounds.
“Obviously that didn’t work out,” McKinnon said. “But it was definitely a relief to know it wasn’t broken.”
    Head coach Jeff Monken is approaching the Furman game plan as if the team will be without McKinnon, though he is also hopeful.
    “Whether he’ll be able to go and to what extent, we don’t know,” Monken said. “It’s still sore right now. Hopefully through the course of the week it will be better.”
    The team was just relieved to have McKinnon on the practice field on Monday.
    “It’s always good to have Jerick out here practicing with us,” Ellison said. “He’s a huge benefit to our team. He’s a big motivator and he makes everybody play hard.”

A passing trend
    During two of GSU’s three SoCon losses, the opposing quarterback had a career day. Samford’s Andy Summerlin passed for 495 yards in a 44-34 win over the Eagles on Oct. 5, and Kameron Bryant threw for 381 yards on Saturday.
    “We’ve got to play better pass defense,” Monken said. “We’ve got to get more pressure on them and make them get rid of the ball sooner.”
    Linebacker Edwin Jackson, who led GSU with a career-high 12 tackles against the Mountaineers, is confident the defense will respond against visiting Furman.
    “It’s all about how you respond,” Jackson said. “We came out here with a great attitude for the first day. We went over the film, looked at the game with App State, and tried to correct some of the mistakes that we had. They were really fundamental — missed tackles, missed blocks — and we really have to just key on those.”

This and that
    Fullback William Banks was in sweats and did not practice Monday. Banks has been sidelined since suffering a concussion Oct. 5, at Samford. … Freshman Irving Huggins, who had 17 carries for 70 yards against ASU, is currently the team’s top B-back. … Furman (3-5, 2-2) enters Saturday’s contest on a four-game losing streak against GSU. The last time the Paladins defeated the Eagles was a 30-22 win on Nov. 14, 2009, at Paulson Stadium.

    Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 498-9408.

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