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GSU offense looking for leaders
082412 GSU FOOTBALL 01
Georgia Southern quarterback Ezayi Youyoute finds the end zone for a touchdown during last Friday's Blue White preseason scrimmage at Paulson Stadium. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

 

Before the 2010 season started, the Georgia Southern Eagles lost their leading rusher, receiver and passer to transfer.

Things worked out pretty well, anyway – they went from 5-6 in 2009 to 10-5 and a trip to the semifinals under then-first-year coach Jeff Monken and his staff — but there’s still no substitute for experience.

"Any time a guy makes a play in a game, it helps his confidence, regardless of his position — a kicker making a kick, a snapper snapping a ball, a quarterback, a defensive lineman, you name it — when they play and they’re successful, it helps their confidence," Monken said. "It can go the other way too. If you screw something up, it can be a real mental block."

There are plenty of seasoned, talented slotbacks on the two-deep, but two-year starting quarterback Jaybo Shaw needs to be replaced, and that’s not the only offensive position where GSU is looking for consistency.

 

Quarterback

2011 Leader:

 

 

Class:

 

 

Career Stats

Passing:

 

 

Rushing:

 

 

2012 Leader

 

 

Class:

 

 

Passing:

 

 

Rushing:

 

 

‘I’m not a starter, I’m a backup, and there’s a safety net for me.’ Once they become the starter, and they’re the guy, there’s more pressure to make a play. That level of intensity remains, and that, I think, separates the guys that start form the backups."

 

Fullback

2011 Leader: Robert Brown

Class:

 

 

Career Stats

Rushing:

 

 

2012 Leader:

 

 

Class: Sophomore

Career Stats

Rushing:

 

 

Receiving

2011 Leader:

 

 

Class:

 

 

Career Stats

Receiving:

 

 

2012 Leader:

 

 

Class:

 

 

Career Stats

Receiving:

 

 

43-401, 1 TD

 

J.J. Wilcox played receiver as a freshman and slotback in 2010 and 2011, but was the team’s leading receiver before moving to safety after spring of 2012.

That leaves senior Mitch Williford with the most experienced hands, along with seniors Patrick Barker and Tyler Sumner, a tight end.

The athleticism of Kentrellis Showers, Zach Walker and B.J. Johnson will make it hard to keep them out of the game, but ultimately how they block will determine who will be on the field.

 

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

 

Senior
Mitch Williford
45-898, 4 TDs
Senior
J.J. Wilcox
168-1,023, 7 TDs

 

Yes, Robert Brown is the current GSU leader in carries, yards and touchdowns, but when he battled injury in 2011 and was ultimately moved to slotback, Dominique Swope became the go-to guy at the fullback position.

Swope has battled offseason injuries of his own and seen guys like Seon Jones, Ean Days, James Dean, Nardo Govan and William Banks emerge as capable fullbacks, so he will work extra hard to stay healthy, avoid a sophomore slump and remain the feature back in GSU’s option offense.

Swope has the only game experience of the fullbacks, but feels more comfortable when they improve as a group.

"Like the old saying goes, you’re only as strong as your weakest link," said Swope. "They’re going to take tips when I hand them out, and I’m going to take tips when I get them."

Dominique Swope
349-1941, 12 TDs
Junior
189-1,032, 10 TDs

 

Jerick McKinnon is easily the most experienced quarterback on the team in 2012. He’s been the team’s primary quarterback twice — wins against The Citadel and South Carolina State in 2010 — and has taken plenty of snaps at the position.

He also has starts at slotback and wide receiver. He even has more career starts at defensive back (one) than 2012 starters J.J. Wilcox and Valdon Cooper.

Also competing for the starting role is Ezayi Youyoute, a redshirt sophomore who has completed four passes for 35 yards and rushed for 342 yards and three touchdowns as a backup.

In fact, every time he’s gotten game experience, it’s been as a backup quarterback. No matter the position, playing backup isn’t the same as being the starter.

"When a kid is in a backup role, a lot of times, there’s not as much pressure," Monken said. "He realizes,

 

6-15, 61 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Junior

Career Stats

: Jerick McKinnon
377-934, 30 TDs.

 

146-274, 2,709 yards, 15 TDs, 8 INTs.
Graduated
Jaybo Shaw