Thankfully for the Eagles, they’re light years ahead of where they were at this time last year.
Just 12 months after allowing Appalachian State to sneak out of town with a double-overtime victory — the beginning of a five-game season-ending losing skid for GSU — the Eagles danced on the field Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium, celebrating their 38-35 upset of the fifth-ranked Mountaineers and their first win in Boone, N.C., since 2001.
First-year coach Chris Hatcher has injected the Eagles with new life and hope, and a year after finishing a school-worst 3-8, the team is 5-2 overall and 2-2 in the Southern Conference heading into home stretch.
So what’s the biggest difference?
The feeling in the locker room, said safety Chris Covington.
“The coaches have instilled a find-a-way attitude,” said the junior, who came up with a key interception as Appalachian threatened to score late in the third quarter. “It doesn’t matter if you win by one or if you win by 20. You scratch, you fight, you play all four quarters and good things happen to you. I think we’ve really bought into that this year. It doesn’t matter if we are winning or if we are losing, we are just going to fight until the bell rings.”
Foster said another major change is the improvement of the offense, which is doing a better job of helping the defense.
“Last year we’d punt and hope for our defense to get the ball back,” he said. “This year we are trying to put them in a position to win the game, which they did today.”
Foster is a huge reason for the offensive upgrade, and he’s shined in his return to starting quarterback, which he last played as a sophomore in 2005. He is the SoCon’s leading rusher with more than 161 yards a game and 16 touchdowns. As for total offense, Foster ranks third in the league, accounting for nearly 268 yards a week.
“On the defensive side, it’s really scary to see (Foster at the helm),” Covington said. “When the kid gets the ball every play, everybody tightens up a little bit.”