Archive for September, 2010

GSU’s Jackson ready to play

Greetings, all-

Hope this finds you well. Got a few things for the blog.

1. I spoke with Star Jackson Tuesday morning about not playing, which leads the notebook in Wednesday’s paper. He was diplomatic, saying he understood why he’s not playing and that he’s just waiting for his opportunity.

“Right now, I feel like I could go in at any time,” he said. “If Coach (Bill) Curry feels that I need to wait until he’s comfortable with that, that’s Coach’s decision. That’s why he’s paid to coach.”

Curry said he’s anxious to put him in, but that he wants to wait for a game in which Georgia State is comfortably ahead, which hasn’t happened since the Shorter game. Curry said he has “enormous empathy” for Jackson and his situation.

“I think it’s very much to Star’s credit that he’s had as good an attitude as he has,” Curry said.

2. Turnovers are high on Curry’s priority list, which should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever spent more than five minutes around any football coach, …

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Pass or run? Georgia State ponders

Greetings, all-

Had a couple things I didn’t get to on Saturday, and I’ll take a brief look at the week ahead.

1. One thing I imagine coaches are discussing Monday is the team’s offensive identity. The Panthers have been more dependable throwing the ball than running it. The offense has been able to spring the occasional explosive play, like Darren McCray’s reverse, but play-to-play consistency has been elusive. Georgia State averages a healthy 5.3 yards per carry, but subtracting the team’s four longest runs – you can argue how fair that is – the average is 3.7.

This is not meant to indict the running game. As offensive line coach Mike Riddle said last week, the running game will take more time for the line to master because there are more plays and nuances to master than there are in the passing game.

The offensive identity is just one of those things that many teams, and certainly a first-year team, has to determine.

“We’re still trying to figure out, are we run-first, …

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Three takes after GSU’s win over Campbell

Greetings, all-

I have two stories to crank out, but three quick takes.

1. Georgia State got a little bit lucky. The Panthers turned the ball over three times, had the ball 10:43 of the first 45 minutes and, most notably, were blessed by two missed field-goal tries by a normally trustworthy kicker.

Players conceded they may have overlooked Campbell a little bit.

“If things had been a little bit different, we’d have been behind by three touchdowns,” coach Bill Curry said. “Very proud on one hand but very bitterly disappointed on the other.”

2. The run defense still needs work. Campbell had 257 yards on 54 carries, which was a big factor in the Camels’ holding the ball for more than 37 minutes. Campbell’s offensive line repeatedly blew Georgia State off the line of  scrimmage. The Panthers are now giving up an average of 203.5 yards per game rushing.

3. The Panthers turned it on when they had to. After running five plays in the third quarter – thanks to two fumbles and a …

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GSU game thread

Buies Creek, N.C. – Welcome to Campbell University, where it’s nothing like Georgia State.

Tiny town, small campus, small stadium. As best I can tell, the town is basically the school, and the school can be crossed in probably 10 minutes. Barker-Lane Stadium is basically a high school set-up with the aluminum bleachers lining both sidelines, maybe 10 rows deep. I was talking to parents of a freshman on the team who surmised their son’s high school stadium sat more fans than the one here.

So, very different. Also, very hot. As sports information staffer Mike Holmes said, it’s like “being on the surface of the sun” down on the fake grass field. It’s 89 degrees, and feels hotter than that. There’s no shade or cloud cover. Regardless of the score, expect coach Bill Curry to dip into the two-deep pretty liberally.

Georgia State has won the toss and elected to defend the south corona.

Georgia State has won the toss and elected to defend the south corona.

Game captains: guard Joseph Gilbert, linebacker Mark Hogan, linebacker Blake Wyatt.

Let’s see what …

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Campbell coach discusses GSU

Greetings, all-

As you may have read in the last blog, I talked to Campbell coach Dale Steele Thursday morning. (One benefit of covering FCS, generally speaking, is accessibility. Steele called me, we talked for a little bit, then I apologized and told him Georgia State was coming off the practice field, and could I call him back. We arranged a time and I called then and finished the interview. Something tells me that wouldn’t fly with, say, Bobby Petrino.) Anyway, a few pearls from Steele and then I’ve got to start packing for Buies Creek.

1. Campbell is 1-2, winning the opener over Virginia-Wise by scoring a touchdown with 8 seconds to go, then losing badly to Old Dominion, then losing to Davidson by giving up 14 fourth-quarter points to lose 28-27. He said he likes that the players have been resilient and feels like the team is still new (starting in 2008). Campbell hasn’t had nearly the number of transfers that Georgia State has had, and almost half of the roster is true …

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How GSU plans to stop the run

Greetings, all

Hope you’re doing well. Five items for you.

1. I talked to linebacker Olufemi Opanubi after practice about the run defense, and he brought up run fits, which is where a lineman or linebacker is supposed to be lined up to defend a run. Theoretically, if each player has his run fit correct, every gap in the line will be plugged up for the running back.

“At the beginning of practice, we’re doing run-fit drills,” he said. “Coach (John) Thompson is on everybody’s butt about run fits. Everybody’s trying to get their assignment right and know what they’ve got to do so we can be more physical at the point of attack.”

Opanubi practicing proper run-fit technique.

Opanubi practicing proper run-fit technique.

A lineman can be beating his guy off the ball, but if he’s not in the right place in the scheme, the running back can go through the space the lineman just vacated. It’s sort of coach-speak, which I loathe, but that sort of explains why  talent isn’t the only factor in a team defending well or poorly – knowing …

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Curry committed to running game for GSU

Greetings, all-

Not a ton to report at the moment, but just a few things to share.

1. Someone had asked about video replay at the FBS level. It came up at the press conference, and it sounds like cost and logistics would make it a non-starter for that level.

You’d want to make it as uniform as possible, which would require a lot of schools that don’t have cameras at their games or the installed technology to get both, not to mention hire people to work everything. Replay challenges are only used for the FCS semifinals and championship. It’d be hard to imagine it changing.

Bill Curry did say, though, that when the staff found out the game would be on TV, a call was made to see if replay could be used, but to no avail.

2. One thing to think about regarding the pass coverage, which was a bit loose against Jacksonville State, something I hadn’t thought of until I was talking to secondary coach Anthony Midget. The starting corners, Brent McClendon and Justin Hughes, are a redshirt …

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Georgia State is ranked (sort of)

Greetings, all-

Don’t know if I’d call it “big” news, but it should be a fun way for Georgia State fans to begin the week.

At the bottom of the FCS Coaches poll’s’ “Others receiving votes” is this listing: “Georgia State (3).

The Panthers also received one vote in the Sports Network poll, which is made up of school PR staffers, broadcasters and writers. The votes came, of course, by virtue of the Panthers nearly upsetting No. 4 Jacksonville State Saturday in the Georgia Dome.

If you’re wondering, GSU is 47th in the coaches poll and tied for 73rd in the other poll.

Congratulations to GSU and its fans.

Perhaps more salient is who’s ahead of Georgia State. There are five CAA teams among the top 10 teams in the Sports Network poll. There’s going to be rough sledding ahead.
On another note, cornerback Brent McClendon will be out a few weeks with an ankle injury. He sustained the injury in the loss to Jacksonville State. He’s backed up by true freshman Demarius Matthews. Should he …

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Georgia State post-post-game observations

Greetings, all-

Hope you guys enjoyed the game. Let me just say first that I was fairly stunned at what happened. I figured it wouldn’t be close. My contention is that Georgia State right now rates as a middle-of-the-road FCS team and, given that the Panthers were playing a very good FCS team, it figured that JSU would put it on them.

For what it’s worth, I talked with Al Muskewitz, the JSU beat writer at the Anniston Star (you can read his stuff here when it gets posted) and I asked him if players or coaches on the JSU side said that they played flat, kind of like Georgia State did last week. He said he didn’t hear that, but it’s just that they play that way all the time, apparently against whomever. They were down 18 against Ole Miss in the fourth quarter and 17 to Tennessee-Chattanooga last week. Perhaps they’re just not a team that can put away other teams.

Regardless, whatever the explanation, Georgia State very nearly beat the No. 4 team in FCS.

“I think we can build off …

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Georgia State game day blog

Greetings, all

I’m about to head out the door for the dome. Let me know if you’re out there. I didn’t do much of a job keeping the blog updated last week, for which I apologize.

As we get to kickoff, give me a prediction.

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