Special to SEGAZINE
It has nothing to do with being patriotic, although Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken joked about the red, white and blue jerseys at practice Monday as advance tribute to Military Appreciation Day.
A red mesh shirt on a GSU player signifies no contact. Blue means limited contact. White, full go.
It’s a colorful display with some painful implications for the Eagles’ game against the Chattanooga Mocs on Saturday.
“I don’t know if we have a healthy running back, period. Not one for the game,” Monken said.
Wait, there is one — true freshman Demarcus Godfrey from the scout team.
It’s a dilemma for a team that lives and dies by the run. At fullback, All-America junior Dominique Swope remains slowed by offseason shoulder surgery. Backup James Dean is out for the season with an elbow injury. William Banks and Chris Jordan have been dinged.
Nardo Govan and Irving Huggins were hurt during preseason camp.
At slotback, Johnathan Bryant has a sprained ankle. Torrance Hunt, who has three touchdowns in the first three games, is out because of a suspension. Ezayi Youyoute has missed the first three games because of a separated shoulder.
Matthew Breida suffered a knee injury while going through special teams workouts.
The injuries led Monken to move some players around the last time out against Wofford. He moved starting quarterback Jerick McKinnon to running back and started red-shirt freshman Kevin Ellison at quarterback.
“Having that many injuries, you start looking at the guys you have,” Monken said. “We’ll take the guys we’ve got and plug them in there and play.”
The offense produced 426 yards but fumbled six times and had an interception. Wofford’s defense recorded 10 tackles for losses in the Eagles’ 30-20 loss.
Monken said McKinnon is sick but is expected to practice today.
An off week last week has helped GSU, but the injuries have mounted.
“That’s football. Everyone has guys hurt, so do we,” Monken said.
The Mocs and Eagles have played thrilling games the last two seasons. GSU stopped a two-point conversion in the final minutes to win 28-27 in 2011 and needed triple overtime before topping UTC 39-31 in Chattanooga in 2012.
The Mocs were 6-5 last season, losing two games by three points and another in triple overtime.
They started this season with a 31-21 loss to Tennessee-Martin before rebounding to beat Georgia State (42-14) and Austin Peay (42-10).
Sophomore quarterback Jacob Huesman, the son of Mocs head coach Russ Huesman, leads the team with 452 passing yards and six touchdowns and 214 rushing yards and two scores.
His favorite receiver is 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end Faysal Shafaat, who has nine catches for 129 yards and four touchdowns.
Running back Keon Williams, who is second in the league in rushing, has averaged 7.5 yards a carry while running for 293 yards.
Defensively, lineman Davis Tull was the preseason all-conference co-player of the year. Tull and linebacker Wes Dothard are on the watch list for the Buck Buchannan Award, given to the FCS’s defensive player of the year.