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Lembo's attack closer to Hatcher's own

    Georgia Southern fans wanting a glimpse of the future need to pay close attention to Elon and what the Phoenix are doing offensively.
    “Their offense is what made us so successful at Valdosta State,” said first-year Southern Coach Chris Hatcher. “We’ve had to change a few things here, but we’ve seen it in action.”
    The Eagles (4-1, 1-1) and Elon (3-2, 2-1) meet Saturday at 3 p.m. in a Southern Conference game which will all but end the loser’s championship hopes. No team has won a SoCon title with two losses. The game will be televised on SportSouth.
    Georgia Southern has traditionally made its living running the football, and this year is no different. However, that is not Hatcher’s preferred style of play.
    Rather than try to force his system onto the current personnel, Hatcher has wisely adapted to the talent available knowing he will eventually have the players he needs to run the true Hatch Attack.
    The Phoenix, with freshman quarterback Scott Riddle averaging an impressive 30.2 completions per game, leads the league in passing at 342.2 yards. Wide receivers Terrell Hudgins and Michael Mayers are a dangerous duo with Hudgins averaging 10.8 catches per game.
    Riddle earned a starting slot when returning quarterback Wes Pope, who led the SoCon in passing last year, was dismissed from school on an honors code violation last spring.
    “He’s very mature for a young man who just turned 18 a few weeks ago,” said Lembo who has revitalized the Elon program. “He’s very composed and very humble. He has accepted this role he has been thrust into pretty well.
    “He has a very pleasant demeanor. He’s been well-received by players not only on our offense, but our entire football team.
    “We recruited Scott for a long time so we knew the type of person we were getting. But, you never know once you get put out in front of 34,000 fans like he did at South Florida, and against that type of competition. Hopefully he can continue to progress, because the stakes are getting higher.”
    Riddle has passed for more than 300 yards his last four games, and he will be going up against the seventh-ranked pass defense in the conference. The Eagles have given up 661 yards passing their last two games.
    Western Carolina’s Eddie Cohen had 212 yards on eight catches two weeks ago, but he is not in the same league as Hudgins, who has an equally dangerous partner in the speedy Mayers.
    Hudgins is a 6-foot-2, 225 pound sophomore who had 14 catches against No. 5 South Florida and later had 16 for 225 yards at Liberty, both league highs.
    “He’s bigger than most receivers you see out there,” said Lembo. “He has a big body with good hands, but he’s got a long way to go in terms of learning the details of the game.”
    Mayers is a 5-foot-9 167 pound senior who has had his moments this season. He had 14 catches against Appalachian State, and he also burned the Mountaineers for 225 yards on kickoff returns including one for 100 yards.
    Statistically that makes for a wide-open scoring affair. Southern and its opponents are averaging a combined 85 points per game, and this is shaping up to be a similar outing.
    Hatcher believes the outcome of the game will more than likely come down to who makes the most defensive plays at key moments.
    “Usually when two-high powered offenses come together it’s the defense that decides the winner,” said Hatcher. “Our front four has got to get more pressure on the quarterback, and we’ve got to do it without blitzing.
    “We’ve got to control the ball. We’ve got to keep that offense off the field to have a chance.”

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