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, throw-second or throw-first, run-second,” offensive coordinator John Bond said. “Every day and every game and every week is a new experience.”

I tend to think the running game will become more consistent and effective as the year goes on, but right now with the way Drew Little is throwing the ball, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bond starts to lean on him more.

2. If Georgia State were included in NCAA statistical rankings – it’s not because it’s a first-year team – the Panthers would be 11th in pass defense at 137.5 yards per game. It’s noteworthy, although you can take a few things from it.

At the risking of sounding like Debbie Downer, a lot of that is because opponents have been too busy running at Georgia State to pass. They’ve run 196 times and thrown it just 87. The total is skewed by playing run-heavy teams like Shorter and Campbell, but clearly teams see that they can run on Georgia State. Georgia State is among the poorest teams in FCS at stopping the run thus far.

Regardless, when teams try to throw against Georgia State, they’re not having a great deal of success. (Debbie again: You could say that run-heavy teams aren’t as likely to be as effective throwing the ball, and if you saw Campbell’s passing game, I don’t think you’d disagree.) Regardless, the Panthers are giving up 5.7 yards per pass attempt, which is arguably more meaningful than yards per game and is a pretty good number. It puts them roughly in the top third of FCS. Opponents are completing 59.7 percent of their passes, which is a pretty average number for the defense.

But anyway, one thing I take from it is that any improvement defensive coordinator John Thompson can make with the run defense will have something of a multiplying effect because it will force offenses to play against the much more effective half of GSU’s defense.

The same defensive line that has had trouble closing up gaps in the line has done much better pressuring the passer, I think.

Here’s a theory on why the defense is having trouble with the run. Of the front seven, six of them are transfers (the only player recruited to Georgia State out of high school is linebacker Robert Ferguson). Some came in in the spring and some didn’t practice with the team until August.

So, while talented – tackle Christo Bilukidi and linebacker Jake Muasau are two of the best players on the team – they’re still learning the scheme and each other, which means they are likely at times unsure about their assignment, and any hesitation that results from uncertainty about assignment can be pretty damaging. I’m not saying that’s for sure what’s happening, but I’d imagine it’s part of it.

3. Morehead State. The Eagles play in the Pioneer Football League, the same as Campbell, and are 1-1. (As an aside, this is a pretty nutty conference geographically. There’s schools in California, New York, Iowa, North Carolina, Florida and Indiana and Kentucky, which is where Morehead State is.)

They throw it a bunch; their run-pass ratio is about 45/55. Quarterback Zach Lewis completes about 64.8 percent of his passes and is averaging 300 yards per game. Part of this I guess has to do with being behind a lot – Morehead State has been outscored 91-38 in the first half of games this season. Regardless, the Eagles are pretty effective with it.

So, perhaps a good challenge for the GSU pass defense.

Defensively, Morehead State is giving up 399.8 yards per game, which is eighth in its conference. The Eagles’ 6.0 yards-per-play average is last. They’ve also given up 8.6 yards per pass attempt, which is also the highest in the league.

I have no feel on the game. Morehead State is an established team – the head coach has been there 15 years – but on paper, you’d think Georgia State would have an edge. However, I think we all know that what’s on paper hasn’t gotten anyone very far this year.

4. Kudos to McCray for being named the national kickoff returner of the week in FCS by College Football Performance Awards for his 96-yard return for a touchdown on the game’s opening kick against Campbell. It was an impressive return, by McCray and his teammates. He never even got close to being touched.

Punter Bo Schlechter was named an honorable mention punter of the week for his 50-yard average on four kicks, three of which landed inside the 20-yard line.

5. In the polls – Georgia State now has two votes in the Sports Network poll (up from one last week) but lost its three points in the coaches poll. I don’t quibble with that. If you receive votes for barely losing to a top team, then you can lose them for barely beating a weaker team.

Thanks for reading. Follow me on Twitter!

44 comments Add your comment

Panther Prowler!

September 27th, 2010
3:10 pm

GO STATE!!

And first?

GStateBen

September 27th, 2010
3:24 pm

The lightest offensive and defensive line that the Panthers have seen this season. I expect to see 40 rushing attempts minimum and a steady dose of Travis Evans.

Interested to see what CBC says in his coaching show live from STATS coming up in 35 minutes.

Debbie Downer

September 27th, 2010
3:29 pm

Winning two of their first four games is good for any first-year team. But Campbell’s kicker missed two field goals and their offense ran for more than 250 yards, if I recall correctly. If the Panthers play this poorly against Campbell, what’s going to happen when they face teams like South Alabama and Old Dominion? Will Alabama literally even throw the ball against this team? At least Savannah St is on the schedule so our third win is on the way.

Ken Sugiura

September 27th, 2010
3:29 pm

well done, Prowler. Glad you’ve made it back safely from Buies Creek.

STATEment

September 27th, 2010
3:54 pm

I have a feeling we are going to get it back together this weekend for homecoming and come out and play well. Get out and support the Panthers!

Hammer22

September 27th, 2010
4:33 pm

I really think we play up to our opponent’s talent. Sucks, but outside of Shorter it seems that there is some truth there.

GStateBen

September 27th, 2010
5:09 pm

Yep, CBC said as much in the coach’s show. Young teams (without much playing experience even JUCO guys) think they are better than they are when they play well. Jacksonville State was primed for the upset because Crowe couldn’t get them off their mountain top.

I fully expect a rough few days on the practice field and the defensive line and LBs to get plenty of focus. They will have to generate pass rush vs. Morehead State who airs it out.

GStateBen

September 27th, 2010
5:11 pm

Ken,

Checked the FCS stats and Bo would actually be 6th in punting average but doesn’t have enough punts to qualify (13 in 4 games).

Good blog as always.

Ken Sugiura

September 27th, 2010
5:42 pm

good comments, all. debbie, i’d say that you can point to how the team played against jacksonville state for hope. as hammer and ben noted, i think the team has a habit of playing to the level of competition, up or down (to a point; i don’t think they’re going to match alabama). as a fan, i imagine it is disappointing, but, and i hate to fall back on it, it’s the first year.
i imagine you could trace it back to last year, when coaches said that some players slacked off at times because they weren’t pushed for playing time as there was no depth. i think it’s just part of becoming a mature team.

Bobby

September 27th, 2010
7:01 pm

I’m actually enjoying watching the Panthers in the Dome. Originally I figured I might go to one or two games but I very well may end up going to most of them. If the Alabama game was on Saturday instead of Thursday I would go to that, although more to see the Bama stadium than anything else. The Panthers play very well.

Stater

September 27th, 2010
8:11 pm

Go Panthers!

I believe. I believe. I believe in you!

Panther Prowler!

September 27th, 2010
9:01 pm

Thanks, Ken. Thanks again for the nod in the article. That Buies Creek heat is the worst, but the mighty Panthers survived in the Desert!

6- time national champs

September 27th, 2010
10:27 pm

Ken – Thanks for posting the new top 25. GSU is ranked #16 and we should be 7-1 by the time we have our top 10 showdown with our main rival App State in Statesboro. Should easily be 25k in attendance and using Ga State counting that equates to 35k announced.

Itsmeagain

September 27th, 2010
11:53 pm

Does southern have 25000 seats at the stadium? Hey I was trying to look up Georgia southerns stats on espn.com so I typed in gsu, but it only came up with Georgia state university. I figured there was no chance it could go by anything else so I just quit looking. Figured they probably didn’t have a football team.

Big B CH 99

September 28th, 2010
12:15 am

Itsmeagain:

I spent my first 2 college yrs @ GA Southern before transferring to Tech: I may not be an expert on GSU football but probably know more than the average Joe.

If U want to find info about GA Southern, go to ESPN.com, NCAA FB go to teams I-A (FBS) are on the left & I-AA (FCS) are on the right. Look at the right side, and scroll down to the Southern Conference (So Con) & Georgia Southern is listed there.

They play at Allen E. Paulson Stadium (you can look it up on Wikipedia as well as Georgia Southern Eagles football). It seats 18,000, but there is a lot of empty grass that people can sit/stand in so they regularly get over 20 K for really important games.

I know that Statesboro is a very small town that LOVES their football, the entire city dies when GSU is playing at home. Attendance has slipped the last few yrs as they’re struggled on the field, but a few wins will fix that in a hurry (last wk’s home upset over #11 Elon is a good start).

If they end up being 7-1 on Nov 2 when current # 1 App St comes to town i can guarantee U there will be over 20 K at that game. If they really wanted to play games w/ announced attendace they could count all 18 + K students b/c they get in free (fees cover their tickets) even though less than half actually go to the game.

Go Eagles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Itsmeagain

September 28th, 2010
1:17 am

You’d almost think I was on a southern board trolling Georgia southern. Look, honestly I don’t give a care about Georgia southern, I don’t read this board to fond out about Georgia southern, and I’m fairly certain we wont be playing Georgia southern any time soon. The reason I posted the last thing I did was because for some reason, Georgia southern girls have decided that thy want to hijack this thread. So with that being said, either keep writing dumb stuff about Georgia southern on a Georgia state blog and I’ll keep telling you about how limited in knowledge the majority of Georgia is about it (because frankly nobody cares), or stop posting and find your own board to tell other people in statesborough something in the hopes that they might care. Personally I don’t care which you do, though by continuing posting you are legitimizing our program, so that’s probably a good way to go

Observer

September 28th, 2010
2:11 am

memo to all Southern fans: Georgia State is in Atlanta, the hometown paper is the ATLANTA Journal-Constitution. Georgia Southern is in Statesboro, you have your own hometown newspaper. You have a storied football tradition and your program is on the way back up. Your cries for attention from the AJC is amusing. I’m sure you get plenty of attention from the Savannah and Statesboro papers. It seems the people who post on here about Southern are afraid their program may be losing relevance in the Atlanta market. Your scores will always be mentioned and a blurb on your game may appear in the ‘around the state” capsule but this is not your hometown paper.

Tom

September 28th, 2010
5:47 am

More deep balls! Looking forward to Saturday! Maybe attendance will be better since GSU picked up the road win!

GSUtimes2

September 28th, 2010
10:15 am

Everytime I bring someone to the game, they end up coming back. Bringing 4 more this weekend. Can’t wait!

itsmeagain

September 28th, 2010
10:21 am

Were gonna get Morehead!

English

September 28th, 2010
11:26 am

Let’s go State! Football on the weekends helps the week move along just a little bit quicker.

PTC DAWG

September 28th, 2010
12:29 pm

GSU is in Statesboro, and is currently ranked #19 in FCS. GATA!!

GSU_MEX_PANTHER

September 28th, 2010
12:30 pm

I’ll be at the game this weekend cheering on my Panthers! GSouthern fans need to go and support their team on their own boards instead of trolling around our blog.

Go GSU!

GStateBen

September 28th, 2010
1:23 pm

PTC Dawg, we are in the same city man, why are you so confused? The school which you are confusing is ranked, good for them, their own administration and President don’t want the GSU to be used anywhere. It really just makes you look ignorant.

You cheer for Southern and yet have Dawg as your tag? Is it really that bad being you? Seriously, I’d like to know.

GSUtimes2

September 28th, 2010
1:41 pm

GStateBen, it always seems to me that some football schools have an inordinate amount of fans that never attended/graduated from that school (RE: confusion over PTC DAWG’s name and support of GSouthern). UGA and Georgia Southern seem to be like that; Georgia Tech a little, but not as much. That always confused me. But, I guess most of us grew up with the concept that you had to be a GT or UGA fan. Then I grew up and thought, it only makes sense if you went there or have your kid attending. However, I’ve really come to the conclusion that if you live in somewhere that is one of the butt-cracks of the world and all you have to hold onto is an FCS college football program that has no aspirations for anything bigger, then maybe it’s ok. Just a thought when delving into the psyche of a Georgia Southern fan.

Itsmeagain

September 28th, 2010
2:00 pm

I can only assume the southern fans were hoping to find something relative to them on the state newspaper. However their program is so insignificant a start up has overtaken them. Man I’m glad I’m not associated with Georgia southern

Go Panthers!

September 28th, 2010
2:02 pm

Well, in defense of Georgia Southern fans…

Back in 1990 or whenever it was…

When Southern became a university instead of a college (which was a genuine move at the time, as opposed to a few years later when the state of Georgia dubiously named every college a “university”)…

And the two schools met for a basketball game in Statesboro that year…

Apparently, a bunch of State fans drove down to Statesboro and plastered red-and-blue “The REAL GSU” stickers all over campus.

It ticked off a lot of Southern people at the time, and I’m pretty sure it’s a prank that has some root in the debate even today.

How do I know?

I was a Southern student at the time.

Itsmeagain

September 28th, 2010
2:32 pm

Hahahahaha. Did it make you mad?

Go Panthers!

September 28th, 2010
2:52 pm

Yeah, it did. Made a lot of us mad.

But I got over all of that once I transferred to State.

GSUtimes2

September 28th, 2010
3:08 pm

That’s freaking awesome.

itsmeagain

September 28th, 2010
3:38 pm

And now you want to go back and do it yourself dont ya;)

Mike

September 28th, 2010
3:42 pm

I love Southern fans, they’re like the retarded little brother I never had.

itsmeagain

September 28th, 2010
5:07 pm

Lol, my highschool (Houston County) gets more coverage from the AJC than Southern does. Shows how relevant Southern is

6- time national champs

September 28th, 2010
9:07 pm

Ga State fans should be thanking us. If it weren’t for the real GSU, this blog would be as dead as Panther talk which has the same 5 guys arguing about whether Star Jackson will get to play LOL!

6- time national champs

September 28th, 2010
9:10 pm

Go Panthers

Don’t forget Ga Southern dominates the W/L record over Ga State in Basketball and Baseball. If history repeats, you will do the same in football is well LOL!

itsmeagain

September 28th, 2010
9:22 pm

Not as dead as Southerns AJC board…

GSU Panther Pride

September 28th, 2010
10:16 pm

We at GSU also registered the http://www.gsu.edu domain name the same year GS became a university. They pitched a fit about that too trying to claim it for themselves.

itsmeagain

September 28th, 2010
10:29 pm

@mike – retarded little sister i never had seems more appropriate

GSUtimes2

September 28th, 2010
10:33 pm

I went to the GSU v. GSoU basketball game in Atlanta last year around Christmas. We destroyed Southern. You may be able to brag about football based on your past (emphasis on past) achievements, but you flat out suck at basketball. Plus, I want to hear how happy you Southern fans are with your Athletic Director??? Hmmmmmm?

itsmeagain

September 28th, 2010
10:45 pm

And your chemistry degrees… and law degrees…

Panther Prowler!

September 28th, 2010
10:55 pm

Getting chippy in here! I guess it was only a matter of time ;)

See you Panthers fans at Homecoming!!

itsmeagain

September 29th, 2010
12:44 am

meh. i figured southern folk say so much dumb stuff i might as well say some myself. Are we thinking attendance will be up for domecoming?

GSUtimes2

September 29th, 2010
8:13 am

I’m guessing around the same as the JSU game. Respectable for a first year program. As I’ve said though, unless you put at least 30,000 in the dome, it looks sparse.

Ken Sugiura

September 29th, 2010
12:20 pm

new blog up. sorry for the delay.