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Notebook: Georgia Southern, App struggling in transition year

    When it comes to Georgia Southern and Appalachian State, the story is similar.
    Neither team is having the season they were hoping for during their respective farewell tours in the Southern Conference.
    Both teams are near the bottom of the SoCon standings, and for the Mountaineers (1-4, 1-1 SoCon), whose losses to North Carolina A&T, Charleston Southern and in overtime at The Citadel all came by a three-point margin, it’s been frustrating to say the least.
    First-year coach Scott Satterfield said it’s not a matter of lack of motivation.
    “They’re still hungry. They still want to come out and work and do the things that it takes to win football games,” Satterfield said Tuesday on the SoCon weekly teleconference. “Our guys obviously are distraught a little bit, to have a game like this weekend to lose there in overtime, that’s three games determined by three points.
    “Our guys are playing hard, you can’t deny that.”
    For Georgia Southern (3-2, 1-2), the story has been more about injuries than anything else.
    “We had 20 scholarship players — not including the redshirt guys, just guys that were veterans or would be playing — that were out for the game on Saturday,” GSU coach Jeff Monken said about the Eagles’ 44-34 loss at Samford. “That really depletes your reserves.”
    Appalachian State will try to rebound against those same Samford Bulldogs (4-2, 2-0) on Saturday at 3:30 p.m., in Boone, N.C.
The Eagles will go triple option on triple option when The Citadel (2-4, 2-2) visits Paulson Stadium on Saturday at 1 p.m.

A two-headed     quarterback
    The Citadel is plenty familiar with what Georgia Southern does offensively, but this year the Eagles are doing it with a pair of quarterbacks.
    Jerick McKinnon was 0 for 5 passing with an interception on Saturday against Samford, but rushed for 181 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
    Redshirt freshman Kevin Ellison rushed for only 18 yards, but completed all seven passes for 140 yards and two scores.
    “They’re obviously both outstanding quarterbacks, or they wouldn’t be playing at Georgia Southern,” The Citadel coach Kevin Higgins said. “McKinnon, we’ve had to defend him for a couple years now, and we certainly know what he is all about.”
    The Citadel averages 19 points per game against SoCon competition, and the Eagles are averaging 26. Beating the Eagles, said Higgins, comes down to stopping the quarterbacks.
    “For us to have a chance on Saturday,” Higgins said, “we’re going to have to slow down McKinnon and Ellison.”

A long way to go
    Wofford is tied for the SoCon lead with Samford, but the Terriers (3-2, 2-0) have been all over the map. From double-digit wins over SoCon opponents GSU and The Citadel, to a 3-0 loss to Gardner-Webb, to a 69-3 loss at Baylor, coach Mike Ayers makes no bones about where the Terriers are at this point in the season.
    “We’ve still got miles to go,” he said.
    Wofford hosts Elon (2-4, 1-1) on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
    “Hopefully we can take another step forward and grow into the team that we want to become,” Ayers said.

Around the league
    Chattanooga (3-2, 1-1) is coming off of a 42-21 win over Western Carolina (1-5, 0-3). The Mocs host Furman (2-3, 1-1) on Saturday at 6 p.m.
    Western Carolina’s schedule doesn’t get any easier, as the Catamounts face Auburn (4-1) on the road Saturday at 2 p.m.
    Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.