Hatch for 8.11.07Eagle head coach Chris Hatcher talks about Friday's practice — the team's first in full pads.
There are more red jerseys than ever at Beautiful Eagle Creek these days, but junior Travis Clark doesn’t seem to mind.
Six quarterbacks — distinguished at practice by bright red shirts — are vying for the starting role in first-year coach Chris Hatcher’s signature Hatch Attack. Hatcher hasn’t named a starter but said Clark, the top signal caller after spring workouts, still has the best command of the offense.
“He’s done well,” Hatcher said. “He’s done what we’ve asked him to do.”
Clark, who completed 147 of 283 attempts for 1,808 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions as the starter a year ago, is currently being challenged by senior Jayson Foster, sophomore Caleb Callahan, redshirt freshmen Kyle Collins and Billy Lowe and true freshman Lee Chapple. Entering his second year with the Eagles after transferring from Southern Mississippi in 2006, Clark said he’s glad for the competition.
“Jayson and I are over there, we’re battling for the job and whoever gets it, gets it,” he said. “It’s just always good to have somebody back there. If I make a mistake, Jayson is going to tell me I should have done this or that, and I do the same thing for him. It’s just always great to have a sidekick.”
Clark thinks fall camp has been smooth so far, particularly because Hatcher and his staff have taken time to teach proper technique and “the little things.”
"The little things make champions,” he said. “That’s what’s helping us out this year.
“We have some good times, and we have some bad times, which is usual for the first couple days. We are going to use a lot of new guys this year, and I think we are coming together as a team. We are a whole lot better than where we were last year. We are way ahead of the game.”
As for this fall, Clark hopes to play a starring role in helping the Eagles’ move past last year’s 3-8 campaign, which ended with five straight losses.
“The way we are starting the season is we are all 0-0,” Clark said. “We forgot about 2006. We don’t even know what happened. We are coming out this year and are going to play every game like it’s the national championship.
“We are all coming together as a team, and it’s totally different this year.”
The Eagles practiced in full pads for the first time Friday, their fifth workout of fall camp and second as an entire team.
“It was a good day,” Hatcher said. “We are getting a little more acclimated to the heat. We are playing at a faster pace, which is what I like to see. Overall, I think we are getting a little bit better. If you’re not optimistic this time of year, you’ll never be optimistic.”
For the first time during camp, Foster moved away from practicing exclusively with the quarterbacks Friday. He took snaps under center but also lined up at slot receiver and running back.
The Eagles will full tackle for the first time Saturday when they’ll hold three practice sessions, 8:15-10:15 a.m., 2:15-4:15 p.m. and 7-8 p.m. Sunday’s workout is scheduled for 2:45-5 p.m., and the team will be off Monday, the first day of classes.
“People are flying around, starting to get used to the heat,” said junior defensive back Chris Covington. “Both sides of the ball are looking good. If you play in the Southern Conference, you better be ready, and we are going to be ready this year.”
Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.