I don’t have the second part of the CAA stuff yet. Hopefully before too long. But I wanted to toss some knowledge at you about the team and upcoming game against Old Dominion.
1. Expect some wrinkles. There are wrinkles every week – Drew Little has lined up at wide receiver with Kelton Hill at quarterback, for instance, – but this week could be a little different.
Likewise, Bill Curry figures ODU will have its own set of new stuff.
“How we try and anticipate what it will be, we look at where we’ve been weak, and where we’ve made mistakes, and we try to shore that up,” Curry said. “We know they’re going to attack us at certain points.”
2. Linebacker Evan Bostic will return after sitting out the last two games for what Curry called “minor infractions.” Louie Muasau has started the last three games at one of the inside linebacker spots and will remain the starter.
3. The Panthers brought out a pretty standard practice device this week to prepare for Old Dominion. They had a speaker blasting crowd noise, Old Dominion’s fight song and what video coordinator Chris Ball said was a recording of a jet afterburner. I’ll include this in Saturday’s story.
“I’m really excited” about playing on the road, Little said. “I think all we can do is feed off the energy.”
By the way, Old Dominion’s fight song – or at least the version played at practice – kind of sounds like something you’d hear on a carousel. Advantage, Georgia State.
4. Famous Old Dominion alumni (according to Wikipedia): Ben Bailey (the host of Discovery Channel game show “Cash Cab,” which I have to say is pretty addictive), a lot of men’s and women’s basketball players, four-star general Benjamin Griffin and Tommy Newsom (who used to be band leader Doc Severinsen’s assistant on the Tonight Show). There are other more noteworthy ones. Those are just the ones I found most interesting. (Wikipedia fact: Severinsen is not an actual doctor.)
5. If Georgia State beats Old Dominion, ODU coach Bobby Wilder can take some of the blame. Wilder met Curry at a CAA coaches meeting and Curry asked him how his team went 9-2. Wilder’s advice, according to Curry:
“He said, ‘If I had to point at one thing, it was that I forced my coaches to be simple.’”
Curry gave Wilder a pat on the back for sharing his insights – a lot of coaches won’t divulge anything to competitors – and said he has followed that advice – or at least tried to – by cutting back on game plans.
Said Curry, “I think there have been games where we were overloaded on defense and offense and tried to do too much. That’s when we looked bad.”
6. Coaches give players possession of a sledgehammer for delivering the biggest hit on offense, defense and special teams. Linemen Joe Gilbert and Clyde Yandell won it a couple weeks ago for a double-team block on a Morehead State linebacker. Players are expected to carry around the sledgehammer for the whole week, and Yandell let Gilbert have the honors.
Gilbert said he got some funny looks.
Said Gilbert, “A little bit. You’re a big guy carrying around a sledgehammer. (However), even if people look at you funny, ain’t nobody going to say anything.”
7. Defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi has three years of football experience. I talked to him Tuesday and will hopefully run a Q&A with him soon on the blog. Bilukidi was born in Angola and lived in France and Brazil before he was eight, when his family moved to Canada. (Bilukidi’s father is a diplomat.)
He grew up playing soccer, and then picked up basketball in high school. His senior year, the football coach asked him if he wanted to play, which he did, despite not knowing anything about the game. He played fullback, tight end, defensive end and linebacker.
“I was never off the field and I was on every special team, too,” he said.
He played two years of JUCO before landing at Georgia State.
8. I asked Curry if Kelton Hill was the team’s most consistent runner because his Wildcat package is easier to block or because he’s just that good of a runner. Curry’s answer was both. Hill’s package of option plays are easier to block, he said, because option plays don’t require the line to block every player. (By running an option, at least one defender takes himself out of the play by committing to the option the offense doesn’t take. For example, if Hill puts the ball in the stomach of a running back and a defensive end commits to tackling the running back, Hill can pull the ball back out and run past the end.)
“Having said that, there are times we don’t block anybody and he runs through all of them,” Curry said.
I tend to think there’s a little more to it than that. Option plays also require linemen to be precise and synchronized. It is true that you don’t have to block one player on an option play, but it’s not like that makes it an easy play to block. One other factor is that the quarterback in the Wildcat is often the ballcarrier, so it’s 11 on 11 and not 10 on 11 (which is what you have if the quarterback hands off to a running back and basically takes himself out of the play). Also, I would think Hill’s speed and versatility make defenses have to defend more, which makes it easier to attack.
9. Old Dominion runs an option passing game that defensive coordinator John Thompson said was like what Shorter (and Georgia Tech) run, except it’s passing and not running. It means that this week in particular, players have to stick to their assignments and not try to do any more than that.
“The quarterback’s got the ball in his hands, a lot of times he’s reading (the defense), and if you’re out of position, bam,” said Thompson, who pronounced “bam” as “bah-yam.” (One reason why I enjoy talking with him.)
10. Old Dominion has successfully converted all four of its onside kick attempts. And they’re not the last-second variety, more of the trick-play kind. (The Monarchs have also blocked nine kicks or punts in two seasons.)
Said Curry, “They get extra possessions on everybody.”
I’ll say that I’ve seen Georgia State work on its own package of surprise onside kicks. It’s a pretty good set of plays.
11. In case you missed it, here’s the word from Comcast on the game on TV.
“We are proud to offer the Georgia State vs. Old Dominion game [Saturday at 3:30 PM EST] to all of our Comcast Digital Starter customers at no additional cost. The game will be seen live on Channel 499. If a customer can view Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS) today, they will have access to this game.”