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Eagles focus on moving on
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    Moving on was the theme at Beautiful Eagle Creek Monday afternoon as Georgia Southern went back to work with a little something to prove.
    “Saturday is over with,” senior right tackle Russell Orr said. “It’s a speed bump, and we’re going to have to learn from that. This is Western Carolina week, not Chattanooga week. That was last week.”
    The Eagles felt they were the better team in last Saturday’s overtime loss to the Mocs in their Southern Conference opener but were doomed by turnovers and penalties. Not letting the disappointing defeat linger is a must, said first-year coach Chris Hatcher, who was pleased with the team’s practice Monday.
    “I expect us to be a little better this week than we were (against Chattanooga),” he said.
    Georgia Southern’s defense knows it needs to improve in order for the Eagles to have a successful season, and senior nose tackle T.J. Watkins said the team has remained positive while working to get better.
    “We know we’re a great team and that there’s something special about this year,” he said. “Good teams always overcome adversity. We lost, but we didn’t get beat. We’re just ready for (Tuesday) to come so we can come out here in pads and get to work.”
    The Eagles (2-1, 0-1) will be up against a Western Carolina team that’s struggled with consistency recently. The Catamounts (1-3, 0-0) were picked preseason to finish last in the league after failing to win a Southern Conference game last year. Western finally had something to celebrate last Saturday when it halted its 12-game losing skid with a home win over Presbyterian. But in no way do the Eagles think this team will be a pushover.
    “They’ve got a very strong defensive front, a great corner and two of the better safeties I’ve seen thus far,” Hatcher said. “Then offensively, they’ve got a great running back, and they are going to try to run the football. That’s something we’ve had trouble stopping, so we’ve really got to step up our game.”

Webb honored by SoCon
    Linebacker E.J. Webb was named the league’s freshman of the week Monday after finishing with a team-high eight tackles and two pass break-ups in GSU’s 45-38 overtime loss to Chattanooga. He also shared in a tackle for loss. Webb, currently the team’s leading tackler with 16 stops, has made a steady climb up Georgia Southern’s depth chart since arriving in January from Fork Union Military Academy.
    “E.J.’s doing pretty good over there,” Hatcher said. “He’s a young guy, and we hope that he gets better. We are playing with some freshman out there and some guys that haven’t had a lot of game experience. So we hope each week that not only him but the whole unit over there continues to improve a little bit.”
    Webb’s SoCon award comes one week after GSU freshman running back Zeke Rozier earned the same honor.

Injury Updates
    Senior running back Lewis didn’t practice Monday or last week due to a sprained ankle, and Hatcher said it’s too soon to tell if the running back will be ready this weekend. Lewis tried to play against Chattanooga despite being about 85 percent healthy but was limited to one carry for a loss of two yards. With Lewis on the sideline, the Eagles weren’t able to establish a strong presence between the tackles.
    “We really miss him being out there,” Hatcher said. “He tried to suck it up for the team, but he just wasn’t quite ready.”
    Lewis said Monday he was doing all right and feeling a little bit better.
    “It’s a day-to-day injury, and I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing to get better,” he said.
    Junior cornerback Henry Chubb will definitely miss this week’s game, and his injury could be season or career-ending, Hatcher said. As with all injuries, the GSU coach didn’t get into specifics.
    Junior middle linebacker Quentin Taylor is still recovering after getting hurt the second week of the season and will “probably” miss the WCU game, Hatcher added.
    Junior left guard Dio Herrera wore a protective boot Monday and didn’t practice. Hatcher’s uncertain if he’ll play Saturday. Backup linebacker Justin Callaway left the UTC game after getting banged up but practiced Monday.
    “We’ll probably have some guys that are out this week,” Hatcher said. “With some of the injuries we’ve got, it just takes a long time for some of those guys to heal. They all want to play, but we’re not going to put them out there until they’re ready to be 100 percent.”

Foster to keep returning punts
    Not only does he play every down on offense, but senior quarterback Jayson Foster also sees time on special teams where he’s returned a team-high six punts for 44 yards. Some coaches are opposed to having star players on special teams because of injury risks, but Hatcher said he’s not concerned with the speedy senior spending extra time on the field.
    “It’s no different than him running between the tackles,” he said. “(Retuning punts) probably the safest thing for him to do because he’s out there in all that open space.”
    Raja Andrews has returned three punts for 65 yards, while Tim Camp has one for 13 yards.

    Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.