For a sophomore quarterback, Lee Chapple has seen a lot.
He spent his redshirt season learning Georgia Southern coach Chris Hatcher’s system while Jayson Foster ran wild, spent his freshman campaign trading time with now-departed Ohio State transfer Antonio Henton and has spent the offseason becoming the offensive leader.
In other words, he’s wise beyond his years.
With a wide receiver corps featuring senior Garryon Taylor and a bunch of true- and redshirt-freshman targets, it’s hard to believe Chapple is so happy with the situation.
But he is.
“(Wednesday) in seven-on-sevens, (true freshman) Jamere (Valentine) made a one-handed grab and put one foot in the end zone,” Chapple said. “I haven’t seen that in a while, but he made a heck of a play there. J.J. Wilcox has been making big play after big play and Mitchell Williford is also stepping up — he’s a freshman who’s playing well for us.”
Even with all the fresh faces in blue and white, Chapple couldn’t be more pleased.
When he took over the starting spot in the 2008 season finale, a 17-10 win at Furman, Chapple completed at least one pass to 10 different receivers. He doesn’t expect anything to change with the new group. He envisions a lot of these new guys making plays throughout the season.
“I hope so,” he said, “because that’s what we do. In this offense, you’ve got to hit as many people as you can. With this offense, everybody’s a weapon which makes it exciting to watch and play in front of.”
What is it about this group, which Chapple describes as “special,” that makes him so at ease?
“The first thing that comes to mind is a lot of speed,” he said. “These guys have some real speed. The freshmen we brought in can really, really catch the ball and do something with it.”
Any good passing game needs a running game to take the pressure off. Now that the team finally has a solid stable of running backs, Chapple is optimistic in that regard, too.
“These running backs can tote the load and carry the ball down the field for us, and that’s what we need,” said Chapple. “Setting up the run and setting up the pass — they kind of help each other.”
Feeling the grind
The rigors of a grueling fall-camp schedule have started taking their toll on the Eagles.
While the coaching staff hasn’t noticed a dropoff in intensity since camp started, the players have started to feel it.
“It was more of a business-like work day,” Hatcher said Wednesday. “We dragged around a little bit but we got some good work. Of course, it’s the middle of the week and guys are starting to get a little bit tired, but we’re getting better in all phases of the game. Our execution needs to improve a lot, but we’ve still got a good attitude.”
A few minor injuries have surfaced through eight days of practice, but the team has remained healthy for the most part.
The defensive line has taken its lumps. Linemen Andrerel Coleman, Neil Harrell and Jack Whittle have all suffered concussions, and Roderick Tinsley injured his foot and is expected to miss four weeks.
Tinsley spent Wednesday’s morning practice with a boot on his foot, working out on an exercise bike.
“He’ll be back,” Hatcher said, “and other than that, we’ve just got a lot of guys that are nicked up just because of the grinds and rigors of camp. Knock on wood, we’ve been fortunate and hopefully we’ll continue that trend.”
There have been concerns about depth in the trenches on both sides of the ball.