Jaybo Shaw had to execute only one basic move to be proclaimed Georgia Southern’s starting quarterback by first-year coach Jeff Monken.
Shaw only had to enroll in school.
Shaw, a Flowery Branch graudate, followed first-year coach Jeff Monken to Statesboro from Georgia Tech, where Monken was an assistant coach under Paul Johnson and Shaw was a backup to Joshua Nesbitt.
The new coach and transfer quarterback are leading Georgia Southern’s return to the triple-option offense, the attack that worked so well for Johnson when he was the Eagles’ coach.
Monken coached under Johnson at Georgia Southern, Navy and Georgia Tech.
Georgia Southern was 62-10 with two national championships in Monken’s five years as an assistant (1997-2001) with Johnson. Monken is cautioning fans against expecting an immediate return to those glory years.
“We’re undefeated right now so we’re going to enjoy that while it lasts and do the best we can to try to bring some victories here to Statesboro,” Monken said. “I know that’s what our fans are hopeful for.”
He said the return of the option offense does not guarantee an immediate return to the top of the Southern Conference and FCS.
“It is not a magic wand,” Monken said. “It’s not a magic offense that ‘oh we’re running this offense so we’re gonna rush for all these yards and score so many points. You’ve got to execute on offense better than the team we’re playing executes on defense. If we can do that we’ll have a chance.”
Monken wouldn’t try to predict how long the transition will take.
“It probably doesn’t happen in the first year,” he said. “I don’t know that in my travels with coach Johnson that it has happened anywhere in the first year. Some places faster than others, and we’ll just have to see. I think the longer we do it the better we’ll get at it.”
Monken says his reception from fans “has been great.”
“I think they’re most receptive because of the connection I have to Paul Johnson and the success he had here and he’s had since he left here,” Monken said. “There’s a hope that we can bring that success back and I’m No. 1 on that list. I hope that, too.”
Monken replaced Chris Hatcher, who was fired after a 5-6 record last season.
“It surprised a bunch of us,” said sophomore defensive tackle Brent Russell of Hatcher’s firing. “We really weren’t expecting it.”
Russell said Monken “lays it all out on the line for you. He tells you what he expects from you. If you don’t work to his expectation, he’ll tell you up front.”
Added Russell with a laugh: “Not that coach Hatcher didn’t, he just wouldn’t be so blunt about it.”
Hatcher, now the head coach at Murray State, was 18-15 in three seasons at Georgia Southern.
Shaw, a junior, did not participate in spring practice. He was in Statesboro for informal workouts during the summer.
“Just having him here, having him work out, being in the weight room, having him be with the guys helps us,” Monken said. “It was very beneficial to have him here.”
Georgia Southern’s top four quarterbacks from 2009 left the program. The 2009 starter, Lee Chapple, transferred to North Alabama to play for coach Terry Bowden.
Jawaun Luckey, a walk-on transfer from Tuskegee, and A.J. McCray, who moved to quarterback from defensive back, ran the offense in the spring. Neither can match Shaw’s experience in the system.
Shaw passed for 321 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 200 yards and three touchdowns as a freshman in 2008. He returned to a more limited role last season after suffering a broken collarbone in preseason practice.
“We obviously gained a real advantage with getting Jaybo,” Monken said. “He brings the game experience, leadership and the confidence of having run this offense in games, which we don’t have with any of our other quarterbacks. None of our other quarterbacks have played a college game in this offense.”
Junior Zeke Rozier entered preseason practice as the No. 1 fullback. He left Saturday’s scrimmage with a knee injury. The severity of the injury has not been released.
Freshmen Robert Brown of Macon and 5-foot-6 Aaron Fisher of Tulsa, Okla., also are competing for playing time at fullback.
Monken said Fisher “is really fast and powerful.”