A bye last week could not have come at a better time for Georgia Southern, according to head coach Chris Hatcher.
The Eagles played six-straight weeks prior to Saturday, including BCS giant Georgia and two teams currently in the FCS top 10, No. 8 Elon and No. 6 Wofford.
Though GSU (3-3, 1-2 Southern Conference) dropped both of those games to open Southern Conference play 0-2, the Eagles recovered with a 52-28 thrashing of Chattanooga in their most recent game on Oct. 4.
“It gave us a chance to go back and work on some fundamentals that we really needed to hone in on,” Hatcher said of last week’s bye. “Plus, it gave us a chance to rest up. We had gone a long time without a break and it gave us a chance to refocus some and re-energize. We had a good practice today and hopefully that will carry on throughout the course of the week.”
Hatcher said that aside from linebacker E.J. Webb, who remains hampered by an ankle injury, the players with minor nagging injuries benefited from the off week and are ready to go.
Now, the Eagles turn toward the No. 2 Appalachian State Mountaineers (4-2, 2-0), whom they host at Paulson Stadium on Saturday. Though App State has won the past three national titles, that hardly makes the Mountaineers unbeatable, as veteran Eagles well know. Last year, Georgia Southern ended Appalachian’s 30-game home winning streak for the Mountaineers with a 38-35 victory in Boone.
“It’s one of our bigger rivals,” Hatcher said. “Them and Furman are the two that you’ve got to hang your hat on. They come in, they’re the three-time champs and No. 2 in the country, so it would be a big feather in our cap if we could knock them off and, more importantly, it would just put us a little closer toward reaching some of our goals.”
Baker questionable for Saturday
Samair Baker practiced with the scout team this week. When asked, Hatcher gave no reason as to why Baker did not practice with the first or second teams. He said he did not know whether Baker would start Saturday and said his playing status is questionable.
The freshman tailback made an immediate impact on the team and is the top ball-carrier behind quarterback Antonio Henton with 166 yards on 25 carries this season. He is likely most remembered for his 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Elon. He has 393 yards on 15 kick returns this year.
Hatcher said that Baker is not injured, but would not give a reason behind Baker’s questionable status.