#3 Georgia Southern FCS Football 2012 Preview

Georgia Southern Eagles

Overall Rank: #3
#1 Southern
Georgia Southern FCS College Football 2012 Team Preview
Georgia Southern Team Page


Georgia Southern got a bit of a scare from Old Dominion during the second round of the playoffs, but they got the job done and beat the Monarchs 55-48. The Eagles then knocked off another CAA opponent, this time Maine, in the quarterfinals. When they ran into North Dakota State in the semifinals, Georgia Southern finally found a defense that was able to stop their dynamic triple option attack. With eight starters returning on both sides of the ball, Coach Jeff Monken has his team poised for another big season, but there are some key players to replace.

2011 Record: (11-3, 7-1)
2011 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Jeff Monken (21-8 at Georgia Southern, 21-8 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Brent Davis
Defensive Coordinator: Jack Curtis

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Dominique Swope, RB, 1,023 yards
Passing: Jerick McKinnon, QB, 37 yards
Receiving: Jonathan Bryant, RB, 355 yards
Tackles: Deion Stanley, S, 86
Sacks: Brent Russell, DT, 6.5
Interceptions: Darius Eubanks, LB, 2; Jerick McKinnon, QB, 2

Other Key Returnees: RB Robert Brown, OT Dorian Byrd, C Blake DeBartola, LB Kyle Oehlbeck, DT Blake Riley, LB Josh Rowe, WR Kentrellis Showers, CB Lavelle Westbrooks

Key Losses: DE John Douglas, S Derek Heyden, G Brandavious Mann, C William Maxwell, OT Brett Moore, S Hudson Presume, CB Laron Scott, QB Jaybo Shaw

Coach Monken’s triple option attack is pretty interchangeable. Nine players rushed for more than 200 yards during the 2011 campaign and, as a team, Georgia Southern averaged an impressive 5.8 yards per carry. Sophomore Dominique Swope led the way with 1,023 rushing yards and the possibilities are pretty much endless for the ground game. A-Back’s Darreion Robinson and Robert Brown should near the 1,000 yard rushing mark as well. Brown tallied 937 yards in 2011, but Robinson had a good offseason and could see more action this year. However, Jerick McKinnon may spend some time at the A-Back spot as well. The quarterback is a dynamic playmaker and will not be left off the field. The question is where does he play? In 2011 he rushed for 537 yards and seven touchdowns, mostly from the A-Back position. McKinnon even picked off a couple passes during the playoffs. But McKinnon’s next job could be replacing two-year starting quarterback Jaybo Shaw. McKinnon and fellow quarterback Ezayi Youyoute are both battling for the starting job. Both only threw six passes last season and replacing Shaw’s production through the air may be a problem. Shaw threw for 1,476 yards and ten touchdowns, which is very good for this offense. More importantly, he only threw three interceptions.

The triple option attack will still be dangerous even if McKinnon or Youyoute prove to not be as efficient through the air. And the offense should be fine even with some turnover on the offensive line. It is the defense that may hold the key to breaking past the playoff semifinals. The unit ranked ninth in the conference in pass defense and sixth in overall defense. They will have to do a little better than that if they want to take that next step. With an extremely experienced line, led by tackle Brent Russell, there is certainly hope. Russell is a nightmare for anybody in the backfield and tallied 6.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles-for-loss last season. While the offense worries about Russell, ends Dion Dubose and Josh Gebhardt can do some serious damage. Linebackers Kyle Oehlbeck, John Stevenson, Darius Eubanks and Josh Rowe will help out with what should be a very good rush defense. However, the problem is still in the secondary. Safety Deion Stanley had a great freshman campaign, leading the Eagles with 86 tackles, and should start to emerge as a leader. However, wide receiver turned slot back turned strong safety, J.J. Wilcox will be asked to learn quickly. Wilcox rushed for 480 yards and seven scores as a junior, but will finish up his career on the other side of the ball. Losing cornerback Laron Scott is a big blow too. He broke up just about every pass that came his way, picked off three passes, blocked a couple kicks and was one heck of a returnman too. Junior Lavelle Westbrook and sophomore Valdon Cooper could have their hands full trying to replace Scott.

The Bottom Line:
As long as the offense can find a new quarterback to lead the attack, Georgia Southern will be among the best rushing teams in the nation yet again. However, Shaw’s leadership and Coach Monken’s confidence in him to run the triple option cannot be understated. Assuming McKinnon or Youyoute are up for the job, the Eagles will just need to play a little better defense to take home a Southern Conference title and make a deeper playoff run.

Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 323.50 (2nd in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 111.50 (118, 7)
Total Offense: 435.00 (13, 2)
Scoring Offense: 35.14 (11, 1)
Rushing Defense: 149.79 (58, 3)
Pass Defense: 206.86 (60, 9)
Total Defense: 356.64 (59, 6)
Scoring Defense: 23.57 (39, 3)
Turnover Margin: .14 (49, 5)
Sacks: 1.79 (80, 6)
Sacks Allowed: .71 (6, 3)

Madness 2012 FCS Football Recruit Rankings:
#4 Irving Huggins
#7 Vegas Harley
#13 Dequan Clark
#16 Tre Griffin
#20 Matt Dobson
#65 Patrick Flowe
#79 Tay Hicklin
#88 Grady Redding
#146 Kevin Ellison
#166 Shun Tribble
#168 Jamal Johnson