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GSU offense spreads it around
092411 GSU BROWN 1
Robert Brown, Georgia Southern's leading rusher this season, finds a hole against Western Carolina in this Sept. 24, 2011, file photo. Brown is averaging 7.5 yards per carry during his sophomore campaign.

    If Georgia Southern has a featured running back, it has to be Robert Brown.
    The No. 1-ranked Eagles have allowed only 228 rushing yards defensively through four games this season, and Brown alone has already rushed for 425.
    The problem, for opposing defenses, anyway, is that Georgia Southern (4-0, 3-0 Southern Conference) doesn't have a featured running back.
    Brown and fellow fullback Dominique Swope have combined for 600 yards on the ground, and when you throw the slotbacks into the mix, GSU has rushed 160 times for 1,227 yards with nine different backs.
    "We have a bunch of them, and they just keep rolling in and out," said GSU quarterback Jaybo Shaw. "We're very lucky to have that. You can definitely tell that we just keep getting fresh legs, fresh legs. It helps us out."
    Add the quarterbacks to the mix, and the Eagles have rushed for a nation's-best 1,548 yards.
    In other words, for every yard gained on the ground by the opposition, the Eagles have rushed for 6.8.
    The fact that so many players carry the football is a product of what the opposing defense allows.
    "It's just the way it works out," said head coach Jeff Monken, who brought the triple option offense back to GSU in 2010. "We don't care if one guy has all the yards. They all go into Georgia Southern's column, and that's all we're worried about."
    Everybody gets involved in the running game, and everyone blocks, too.
    Shaw made his read and pitched the football to slotback Darreion Robinson two weeks ago against Western Carolina, and saw a potential tackler eight yards away. He threw a block upfield to spring a first-down run by Robinson.
    "Anything I can do to help spring a run," said Shaw. "If I have to go throw a block I will. Hopefully these guys know I'll do anything to help the team score a touchdown."
    The most versatile player on the offense has been Jerick McKinnon, who has accounted for seven touchdowns this season rushing (5), receiving (1) and passing (1).
    McKinnon missed last Saturday's 41-14 win over Elon after breaking his throwing hand the previous week.
    He's back on the field with his hand in a club, ready to go.
    "He looks great out here right now," said Monken. "He's caught the ball, he's blocked. He's done everything. So far, so good."
    Though McKinnon won't be playing his role as backup quarterback - that goes to redshirt freshman Ezayi Youyoute this week - Shaw is glad to have him back on the field.
    "He'll catch a pitch and put it in his left arm and go. He caught a pass today," said Shaw. "We'll take Jerick whether he's got a club on or not."
    The Eagles take on their first Top 25 opponent of the season Saturday at Paulson Stadium,
    Georgia Southern hosts No. 24 Chattanooga (2-3, 0-2) at 3 p.m.

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