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Shaw, GSU ready to go
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Georgia Southern defensive end Josh Gebhardt (90), a true freshman, celebrates after intercepting South Carolina State quarterback Malcolm Long in the fourth quarter of Saturday's 41-16 victory at Paulson Stadium Saturday. Gebhardt's 34-yard return of a Bulldog fumble in the first quarter put the Eagles up 16-0.

    After Georgia Southern quarterback Jaybo Shaw took a helmet to the chinstrap in the first quarter of Saturday’s 41-16 playoff win against South Carolina State, he didn’t return.
    After the game, there was still doubt about whether or not Shaw would be available for next Saturday’s second-round, 1:30 p.m. matchup against No. 2 seed William and Mary.
    Shaw practiced with the Eagles Monday, and should be good to go.
    “The doctors are very optimistic that he’s healthy and ready to go,” said GSU coach Jeff Monken. “He took a shot that knocked him out of the game, but we fully expect him to be ready to go and healthy - at least as [healthy as] he was last week - going into the game.”
    Equally confident was Shaw, who is 7-2 when starting at GSU and playing more than three full quarters.
    “I got hit up under my chin,” he said. “It was kind of like a boxer hitting you, but I feel fine and I feel like I can play. A hundred percent, I feel like I can play.”
    In Shaw’s absence, backup quarterbacks Jerick McKinnon and Russell DeMasi led touchdown drives, with DeMasi scoring his first-career touchdown,
    “I was very proud of both of them,” said Shaw. “It was great for DeMasi and I was very proud of Jerick, because as a freshman, that’s tough to do. He stepped up and grew up a little bit.”

They’ve seen it all
    Georgia Southern’s defensive line, the heart and soul of a defense that allows only 17.9 points per game, has seen every kind of offensive line an opposing offense can throw at it.
    “App[alachian State] had a quick offensive line and South Carolina State had a huge offensive line,” said sophomore defensive tackle Brent Russell, who leads the Eagles with 15.5 tackles for loss. “Everything helps us prepare and get better as a group overall.”
    To the eagles, the toughest line to play against is still their own.
    “I can’t imagine what it’s like for a defense coming in to have to scheme against our offensive line,” said true freshman Josh Gebhardt, who had an interception and returned a fumble for a touchdown against SCSU. “We’ve seen a lot of offenses, but our offensive line is one of the toughest offenses you have to go up against.”

Just like us
    In Monken’s world, you have your game plan and you stick to it.
    Saturday’s playoff opponent shares that philosophy.
    “They don’t change from week to week. That’s what’s impressive to me,” said Monken. “We’re watching offenses line up against their defense that are shifting tight ends and backs, and there are receivers running across the formation. William and Mary’s kids are just standing there waiting for the ball to be snapped. Nobody moves. They’re going to play their defense. It’s the same on offense."

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