With running back Dominique Swope out for the season with a shoulder injury and likely taking a red shirt, the Georgia Southern Eagles needed somebody to fill his shoes.
They got an old school answer in William Banks, a senior who seems to come up big every time he’s thrust into the starting role. Banks rushed for 86 yards on 18 carries on Saturday as GSU (3-1, 1-1 Southern Conference) held off Chattanooga 23-21.
Banks, a former walkon, has no problem inheriting the primary B-back role.
“Knowing that you’re the guy that’s got to step up every single play, it’s a little different from being second in line,” he said.
His old-school take on the position doesn’t have a lot of flash, but that doesn’t matter when Banks is averaging five yards a carry and never gets tackled in the backfield.
“It’s very fundamentally based,” Banks said about playing B-back, GSU’s fullback position. “You have aiming points every play and different marks you need to hit. It’s definitely an old-school position. You don't see very many fullbacks used in the NFL or a lot of colleges, unless they’re running the I-formation. We’re a dying breed, a little hybrid between running back and fullback.”
In the spotlight
When Younghoe Koo took the field before his 32-yard field goal in the second quarter, he couldn’t figure out why the Paulson Stadium crowd was booing. Turns out, they were just saying his name.
“My teammates and I thought everyone was booing, and I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ Then I realized they were saying, ‘Koo.’ I’m so happy to be a part of this program,” he said.
He wasn’t even supposed to be the one attempting the kick, but GSU head coach Jeff Monken couldn’t find kicker Alex Hanks when the time came for the try.
“(During pregame warmups, Koo) shanked a field goal off to the left, and he didn’t look very good,” Monken said. “I was going to kick Hanks, but Hanks wasn’t anywhere in the area code, so I said (to Koo), ‘Get in there.’”
Koo kicked three field goals including a 40-yarder and the eventual game winner, and was named Southern Conference Special Teams Player of the Week.
Offensive linemen Dorian Byrd and Garrett Frye both suffered minor injuries against Chattanooga but are expected to play Saturday when the Eagles face Samford in Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday at 3 p.m. EST.
Slotback Ezayi Youyoute “could have gone in for an emergency situation” on Saturday, Monken said, but was held out and has yet to play a snap this season. Youyoute, who suffered a shoulder injury in the offseason, continues to practice with the team.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.