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Elon preview
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Georgia Southern’s starting quarterback Travis Clark should be ready to go against Elon today, but a final decision hasn’t been made, according to Eagle coach Brian VanGorder.
    Clark suffered a low-grade concussion late in last week’s game, but the sophomore took most of the snaps with the first-string offense during practice this week. If Clark doesn’t start, freshman Chris Rogers will take his place.
“We’ll wait right till (this) morning and make sure through Doc that he feels good about it,” VanGorder said. “Everything looks good. We are prepared either way.”
The Eagles (2-3, 1-1) will host a Phoenix (3-2, 1-1) team coming off a 37-19 win over Western Carolina - their first Southern Conference victory since 2004. Georgia Southern is looking to rebound from last week’s 34-14 loss to North Dakota State.  
“Right now is a must-win situation for us,” senior receiver Reggie McCutchen said. “It’s been our motto all week. Every week we have a game-to-game mentality, but right now it’s no secret that it’s a must-win situation. But I feel pretty good about it because I think we can dominate Elon.”
Beating the Phoenix will require the Eagles to play consistently for 60 minutes, a challenge the Eagles have yet to conquer. Georgia Southern is being outscored by opponents 68-35 in the second half and has been shutout twice in the final two quarters.
“That’s the really big thing we’ve been suspect on this year – being consistent,” McCutchen said. “We have a fast start, do a lot of right things, drive the ball past the 50, win the field position battle. We’ve just have to do the same thing in the second half. We’ve just got to go out there and finish. As you can see in the games, in the first half we dominate.”
Why haven’t the Eagles been able to keep their momentum after halftime?
“There are a lot of things that contribute to that,” McCutchen said. “Play calling is the same, the coaches don’t change anything up, but I think the execution is the biggest thing we change as players. I think we’ve got to do a better job this week.”
Fullback Dusty Reddick has been encouraged by the effort he’s seen this week at Beautiful Eagle Creek.
“We had a great practice Tuesday – one of the best Tuesday practices we’ve had all season,” he said.
    But practice hasn’t been Georgia Southern’s concern. Every week VanGorder thought his team prepared well. The challenge is carrying the preparation over to the game.
“It’s midway through the season, so this week we ought to have things straight,” Reddick said. “We’ve got to get ready to play a full game.”
The Eagles want to reestablish their running game, which was held to 65 yards – four in the second half - against North Dakota State. The dismal performance was the first time in 137 games the Eagles were held below 100 yards rushing.
“That was real disappointing,” Reddick said. “We’ve been known all year to run the football well and in the second half against North Dakota we really did horrible. So we are going to get that back on track. We’ve been working real hard just on little things (like) landmarks, footwork, keys. We are going to open some holes for (running backs) Chris (Covington) and Lamar (Lewis).”
Under first-year coach Pete Lembo, Elon boasts the best passing offense in the Southern Conference behind junior quarterback Wes Pope, who leads the league in passing yards per game (229.2) and total offense (234.4). The Phoenix will look to challenge Georgia Southern’s wobbly defensive backs, a test secondary coach Joe Danna said his unit is looking forward to. The Eagles’ pass defense ranks fifth in the SoCon allowing 195.4 yards a game.
“I think our guys are definitely dialed in this week and anxious for the challenge,” Danna said. “They have a quarterback that can definitely throw it around. They have a couple real talented receivers, so we’ve got our work cut out.”
With defending national champion Appalachian State set to visit Statesboro for homecoming next Saturday, the Eagles are working to stay focused on the Phoenix.
“I think in the back of our minds we know that we have to win out,” Reddick said. “But if we start looking ahead at who we’ve got, we might overlook somebody. Right now it’s been nothing but Elon. That’s all we’ve been thinking about all week.”