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Jayson Foster letting it fly again
Foster back as Eagles QB
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Coach Gillespie audio for 9.6.07

Coach Rance Gillespie discusses his talented quarterback Jayson Foster.


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    Jayson Foster at quarterback.
    Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
    The senior standout is back at the position he flourished in as a sophomore in 2005 and has a good chance of starting Georgia Southern’s season opener against West Georgia Saturday at Paulson Stadium. Foster said he’s thrilled to return to the helm after being underused last season when he lined up at wide receiver and running back in the team’s new offense.
    “It feels good being able to control the game, the clock and the offense for the most part,” he said. “Last year I was on the sideline a little bit, but this year I’ll hopefully be more involved in the game.”
    Foster’s looking to cap his noteworthy GSU career with a bang after a disappointing junior year that included only three wins. He’s well-respected around the Southern Conference, recognition that began in 2004 when he was named the league’s freshman of the year after lining up all over the field and accounting for a touchdown five different ways.
    Foster took over at quarterback in the team’s triple option offense the following season, leading the Eagles to eight wins and a playoff appearance while compiling 2,323 yards of total offense — more than 41 percent of the team’s entire output. He was the only player in the FCS to rush for a touchdown in all 12 games — a new league record — and he also ran for 21 touchdowns and 1,481 yards, the third-most rushing yards by a quarterback in FCS history.

Making the switch
    Under first-year coach Chris Hatcher, Foster spent the majority of spring practice working with the running backs and receivers. But three days before the spring game, Foster filled in for then third-string QB Jeremiah Enloe, who was suspended to concentrate on academics. Almost immediately, Foster realized he was capable of being more than a substitute.
    “I didn’t really know all the plays from a quarterback standpoint, but I went in, did OK and talked to (Hatcher) a little bit about trying to play quarterback,” Foster said. “I felt I could run the offense, and he gave me a shot at it.”
    Foster began fall camp with the quarterbacks and has steadily worked his way up the depth chart. He’s been practicing with the first-team offense for the last three weeks, but Hatcher, preferring to preserve the element of surprise, hasn’t announced a starter for Saturday.
    “He’s a special player and a guy that kind of ignites us and gets us going,” said offensive coordinator Rance Gillespie. “We are sure glad we’ve got him. He’s a lot of fun to watch.”
    Furman coach Bobby Lamb said he wasn’t the least bit surprised Foster’s under center once again.
     “He’s the scariest guy in our league with the ball in his hands,” Lamb said. “I think Coach Hatcher has evaluated his team, and he’s going to put the ball in the hands of the best player. From a standpoint of running and a standpoint of creating mismatches, I guess Jayson is probably the best there is.”
    Foster creates all sorts of concerns for defenders, Lamb said, and makes opponents think twice about rushing really hard, which would create lanes for him to get loose. Lamb compared Foster to Appalachian State’s athletic QB Armanti Edwards.
    “He’s very elusive, and what you’ve got to be aware of is when Georgia Southern is in a one-back offense and Jayson Foster is the quarterback,” Lamb said. “That becomes a two-back offense because he’s able to run the ball from any formation they get into. You can use misdirection with him, so it really presents some problems with him at quarterback because he does have the ability to throw it downfield, but his No. 1 ability is to run and make you look silly on defense.”

Foster in the Hatch Attack
    Georgia Southern’s new offensive style should be a good fit for Foster, said West Georgia coach Mike Ledford, who coached against Hatcher each of the last five seasons.
    “It’s not an offense that requires the NFL strong-armed quarterback because you don’t have to throw the football a long way,” Ledford said. “They try to get the football out there in space and let wide receivers and running backs run with the ball. (Foster) will be able to do quite well with that offense.”
    Gillespie thinks Foster is a better thrower than he gets credit for and said parts of the offense will be structured around emphasizing Foster’s many talents.
    “He’s a special athlete,” Gillespie said. “He’s a great kid and a lot of fun to be around everyday, always wears a smile on his face and loves playing the game of football.”
    Foster admitted there’s added pressure to playing quarterback but tries to stay positive for the benefit of his teammates.
    “For the most part you’ve got to remain calm,” he said. “The team’s going to follow you. If you’re down, they’re going to be down. So you want to keep upbeat and keep the tempo upbeat, especially with the offense we run now.
    “It’s a fast-paced offense, and hopefully we’ll get a lot of quick scores. Of course there’ll be a lot of short passes and screens. Hopefully we’ll be a lot more exciting than last year.”
    Foster, who has seen a few snaps at running back and receiver this fall, appears to have strengthened his throwing game and said his role as the leader of the triple option is much different from what he’ll be doing this fall.
    “Playing quarterback in the option is more like a running back,” he said. “This style is more like a true quarterback. You have to sit there and take the blitz. Just from spring practice and the summer, I think I’ve picked up a few keys.”
    Hopefully for Georgia Southern, those keys will translate into wins and a bright 2007 season.
    “Last year was a little disappointment, and this year we hope to be back on top and get to another national championship game,” Foster said. “Coming in, I think everyone is excited and ready to get the season underway.”