#3 Georgia Southern FCS Football 2013 Preview

George Hammond

Georgia Southern Eagles

Overall Rank: #3
#1 Southern Conference

Georgia Southern Team Page#3 Georgia Southern FCS Football 2013 PreviewBuy Georgia Southern Football Tickets

It will be a year of transition for perennial FCS power Georgia Southern as it prepares to join the Sun Belt Conference in 2014.  The Eagles won’t be eligible for the Southern Conference title or the FCS playoffs this season because it will play with more than the maximum 63 scholarships allowed by FCS standards. Still, the Eagles want to uphold the program’s proud tradition of excellence (six national titles and two consecutive FCS semifinal appearances), and they appear to have the talent to do so. Georgia Southern’s season (10-4, 6-2) ended last year with a heart-breaking 23-20 loss at North Dakota State in the FCS semifinals. The Eagles outgained North Dakota State 430 to 277 in yardage, but the Bison prevailed when Brock Jensen scored on a fourth-and-thee from the Eagles’ five with three minutes left.

2012 Record: 10-4, 6-2
2012 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Jeff Monken (31-12 at Georgia Southern, 31-12 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Brent Davis
Co-Defensive Coordinator: Kevin Corless, Jack Curtis

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jerick McKinnon, QB, 1,817 yards
Passing: Jerick McKinnon, QB, 597 yards
Receiving: Zach Walker, WR, 343 yards
Tackles: Kyle Oehibeck, LB, 51
Sacks: Javon Mention, DL, 6.5
Interceptions: Valdon Cooper, CB, 2; Lavelle Westbrooks, CB, 2

Other Key Returnees: FB Dominique Swope, OL Dorian Byrd, OL Garrett Frye, OL Trevor McBurnett, OL Manrey Saint-Amour, DL Josh Gebhardt, LB Josh Rowe, LB Carlos Cave, LB Antoine Williams, WR Kentrellis Showers, WR Jonathan Bryan.

Key Losses: LB John Stevenson, CB J.J. Wilcox, DL Brent Russell, DL Dion DuBose.

Quarterback Jerick McKinnon returns and that means trouble for the rest of the Southern Conference. In three playoff games last year, McKinnon rushed for 655 yards and scored seven touchdowns. He finished the year with 1,817 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns despite starting only 10 games in the Eagles’ run-first offense. Despite those gaudy numbers, McKinnon didn’t make first or second-team all-Southern Conference in a preseason vote. If that’s not enough, junior fullback Dominique Swope also returns. Swope has put together back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons for the Eagles who led the FCS in rushing last year. The offensive line returns several experienced players, too, as scoring points shouldn’t be a concern for Monken’s crew. Dorian Byrd leads the unit. Perhaps the strongest part of the defense will be the linebacking unit. Senior Josh Rowe returns after being academically ineligible last year, and he teams up with Carlos Cave, Antoine Williams and Kyle Oehlbeck

The Eagles’ defense is far less experienced. Brent Russell and Dion DuBose are gone from the defensive front as Georgia Southern lost its top three tacklers from 2012. Josh Gebhardt is the most experienced lineman. The secondary is a question mark, too. Cornerbacks Lavelle Westbrooks and Valdon Cooper provide stability, but the safety position is up in the air.

The Bottom Line:
Can Georgia Southern keep its focus in this transitional year? That’s the biggest question surrounding this group, which appears to have the tools to be among the top FCS teams. McKinnon was virtually unstoppable in the playoffs, and he should be tough to stop in 2013. The first big test should come on Sept. 14 when the Eagles visit Wofford. Tennessee-Chattanooga visits Statesboro, Ga., on Sept. 28. The Eagles’ season will come to a close Nov. 23 at Florida, which could be an interesting tussle. Look for the Eagles to roll – even if they can’t participate in the playoffs.

Projected Postseason: Ineligible

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 399.36 (1st in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 67.50 (120, 8)
Total Offense: 466.86 (8, 1)
Scoring Offense: 34.50 (12, 1)
Rushing Defense: 135.07 (36, 2)
Pass Defense: 209.00 (53, 7)
Total Defense: 344.07 (38, 4)
Scoring Defense: 22.00 (35, 4)
Turnover Margin: -.21 (76, 7)
Sacks: 2.29 (35, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 0.57 (4, 2)

Madness 2013 FCS Football Recruit Rankings:
#4 Jay Ellison


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