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Georgia Southern poised to stay on top of FCS ranks

STATESBORO — Coach Jeff Monken is still trying to decide on a new starting quarterback at Georgia Southern.

After he does, Monken could have the lineup needed for the Eagles to make another deep run in FCS playoffs.

Georgia Southern advanced to the last two semifinals before losing last year to eventual national champion North Dakota State.

Monken has yet to announce if sophomore Ezayi Youyoute or junior Jerick McKinnon will start at quarterback for a triple-option offense that last year ranked No. 2 nationally in rushing.

B-back Dominique Swope, the Southern Conference freshman of the year, returns for his sophomore season after rushing for a team-high 1,023 yards and seven touchdowns.

The Eagles have eight starters returning on offense and defense.

Defensive tackle Brent Russell anchors Georgia Southern’s 4-3 front. Russell last year was named Southern Conference defensive player of the year after making 16.5 tackles for negative yardage.

In the team’s most recent scrimmage, Youyoute ran 11 times for 81 yards, including a 59-yard touchdown. McKinnon ran 15 times for 34 yards.

“There was some good and bad on both sides,” Monken said. “You hope for a balance. There will be a lot of good tape for us to learn from.”

Georgia Southern’s regular season begins Sept. 1 at home against Jacksonville and ends Nov. 17 at Georgia.

The Eagles are 21-8 in two seasons under Monken. Georgia Southern has won six national titles, but none since 2000.