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Same faces, new places
092212 GSU FOOTBALL 02
Georgia Southern defensive tackle Brent Russell celebrates a sack on Elon quarterback Thomas Wilson late in the fourth quarter of the Eagles' 26-23 victory.



Football coaches like to talk about how they always try to get the best players involved in the game plan.

Georgia Southern sometimes takes that to a whole new level.

Junior Jerick McKinnon played three different positions in Saturday’s 26-23 win against Elon — quarterback, slotback and fullback. In the past, he’s also played wide receiver and cornerback for the Eagles (2-1, 1-1 Southern Conference).

One problem that No. 10 GSU’s coaches saw on Sept. 8, in a 23-21 loss to The Citadel, was that McKinnon didn’t get enough touches.

He started Saturday’s game as a fullback, a position he’d never played until the week leading up to the game.

"He’s a talented kid who we think can be a productive player with the ball in his hands," said GSU coach Jeff Monken. "We didn’t manage to do that very well (against The Citadel), but we’re trying. As it turned out, (Ezayi Youyoute) was playing quarterback and he got to carry the ball quite a bit, and Jerick didn’t as much. He’s a powerful runner, he’s a fast kid, and I think he can play a lot of different places for us. We started him at B-back on Saturday because we thought it would be a good way to get the ball in his hands and see if he could break a big play for us."

McKinnon started the game with three carries up the middle and got 12 yards and a first down. The drive finished with a 38-yard touchdown pass from Youyoute to Kentrellis Showers.

Running up the gut gave McKinnon a new perspective on what fullbacks like Dominique Swope do on a game-to-game basis.

"It’s tough in there," McKinnon said.

Another player getting his fair share of looks is defensive lineman Brent Russell, who has played both defensive tackle positions, saw some snaps from the offensive line during fall camp, and also slides over to the perimeter when defensive end Dion DuBose drops back into coverage and the Eagles offer a three-man front.

With Russell playing on the right side of GSU’s three-man front, the pressure from the pass rush had a big impact on Elon’s final drive, which resulted in a turnover and the eventual GSU win.

DuBose, a former middle linebacker, has a lot of different roles when he backs off the line.

"He can run some twists, he can drop, he can come off the end with me," said Russell. "We can really do a lot of things out of it. We line up with four down linemen all the time. You throw some different things in there, it never hurts."


A message from Lou

During Saturday’s game, former college coach and current ESPN broadcaster Lou Holtz came on the video board and urged students to vote for a $75, per-semester fee if Georgia Southern were to receive and accept an invitation to a Football Bowl Championship Subdivision conference.

Holtz has a few ties to Georgia Southern. Cornerbacks coach Orlando Mitjins played for Holtz at Arkansas.

According to Mitjins, Holtz’s motivation for taping the message, which he did free of charge, was his love of option football and his respect for Monken.

"He’s always loved the option," Mitjins said of Holtz. "He just loves what coach Monken does. That, and me being one of his knucklehead players."


SoCon honors

Georgia Southern kicker Alex Hanks, a true freshman, got his first start on Saturday.

He made both of his extra-point attempts, and was 2 of 3 on field goals, including the one that gave the Eagles the lead late in the fourth quarter.

His 45-yard attempt was blocked, but he was good from 32 and 27.

His efforts earned him Southern Conference Special Teams Player of the Week.


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