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My Take: McKinnon takes charge, Eagle crowd goes wild

Random observations compiled after watching the Georgia Southern Eagles edge Chattanooga 23-21 on Saturday.
    — For the first time this season, the Eagles looked like Jerick McKinnon’s team. It wasn’t the prettiest offensive game for McKinnon or the Eagles, but it proved, or at least alluded to, the fact that as No. 1 goes, so goes GSU. Sure, McKinnon still shared some snaps with backup quarterback Kevin Ellison, but McKinnon is a difference maker regardless of where he’s lined up.
    — Speaking of Ellison, it’s a good thing he’s getting some experience. With fullback Dominique Swope out for the season with a shoulder injury, it certainly appears that William Banks is the only player at the position the GSU coaches feel comfortable with. When Banks was on the sidelines taking a breather, McKinnon slid over to running back, and Ellison came in to take snaps from the shotgun. That’s not ideal, but when the running back situation is as bleak as it was on Saturday, it’s nice to know Ellison can come in and execute.
    — Nardo Govan got a couple of carries at fullback. He looks the part, that’s for sure. But it’ll take a lot of reps before he’s comfortable with the position.
    — Thinking back to 2010 when Tray Butler was a wide receiver, and looking at him now, it’s amazing how far he’s come as a slotback. Johnathan Bryant isn’t playing at 100 percent and Ezayi Youyoute still hasn’t taken a snap this season, so it’s nice that Butler is a major contributor at the position. Butler and Devin Scott make a perfectly serviceable one-two punch at slotback. If Youyoute and Bryant can get back to full speed, look out.
    — If not, just keep running the reverse to wide receiver Montay Crockett. It averages 10 yards per fourth down.
    — Younghoe Koo on Saturday: 3 for 3 with field goals of 40, 32 and 26 yards. That’s really all there is to say about that.
    — It’s hard to determine if the game ball should go to the GSU marching band, the crowd or the referees. During the third quarter, the band was apparently playing after the Chattanooga offense was set, which led to the referees issuing a vocal warning, which led to the crowd cranking up the noise to levels seldom reached in Paulson Stadium. Kind of a chicken/egg situation when it comes to who gets the credit. After the warning was issued, the Mocs offense was flagged for six penalties on the next two drives.
    — McKinnon passed Tracy Ham on the Georgia Southern career rushing list during the Chattanooga game. He’s now got 3,264 yards to his name. With 46 more yards, McKinnon will pass Greg Hill. Another 17 yards after that, he’ll pass Roderick Russell. Look for that to happen this weekend. McKinnon will likely leave Birmingham, Ala., as the fifth all-time rusher in Georgia Southern history. With seven games left in the season, McKinnon needs 571 rushing yards to pass Jayson Foster, and 612 to pass Joe Ross for third all time. It doesn’t look like he’ll ever touch Jermaine Austin (5,411) or Adrian Peterson (6,559), though.
    — Thing about Peterson is, his total would be over 9,000 yards if playoff stats counted back then. And that’s insane.
    — Appalachian State is 1-3, with losses to North Carolina A&T and Charleston Southern. At home. So there’s that.
    — I’ll be honest, after GSU’s loss at Wofford, I expected the attendance at Saturday’s game against Chattanooga to suffer. Regardless what the announced attendance was, Paulson looked filled to capacity to me. So kudos to you.

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