Breaking down GSU defense

Greetings, all-

Defensive coordinator John Thompson called me on his way home Monday evening after a long day of game planning for South Alabama to take my questions about the team’s defense Saturday. Most of you probably saw it – 381 yards of offense, 229 rushing yards, no turnovers.

“It’s causing some ulcers on the sideline, on the plane ride home and as we game plan,” he said.

Per usual, he was helpful and honest. Some of his observations…

1. Old Dominion’s tempo of its no-huddle offense was tough to deal with. The Monarchs normally play no-huddle, but ratcheted up the pace to try to wear down the Panthers, and it worked. Thompson acknowledged Saturday that it had been a factor, but after watching film and talking to players, he realized it was even more of a factor than he’d originally thought.

2. No turnovers. Old Dominion had 14 possessions and the Panthers couldn’t turn them over on any, a break in pattern after they’d forced four in each of the past three games. Cornerback Jamal Ransby nearly had an interception he would have returned for a touchdown had he caught the ball and linebacker Louie Muasau forced a fumble the defense couldn’t recover. If Ransby had made that play, Georgia State would have been up 13-0. The fumble, at the end of the third quarter, was on a drive that ended in a touchdown. Two pretty big non-plays.

3. Didn’t win at the line of scrimmage. Thompson said the linemen didn’t win enough their matchups, just stalemating. The front seven didn’t get into the ODU backfield, which is why Georgia State only had three tackles for loss out of 81 plays. “We didn’t knock them back like we should have,” Thompson said.

It wasn’t a great day for the line. “Interior of the defense, we didn’t tackle well at all,” he said.

4. Thompson schemed conservatively, which is something he’s done for much of the season, because the cornerbacks are all freshmen. The Panthers have played to prevent big plays, which was successful Saturday. The longest play Old Dominion hit was a 23-yard run. Georgia State had at least five plays longer than that.

Old Dominion had come into the game averaging 278 passing yards per game and had 152 yards Saturday despite throwing it 38 times. (Of course, the Monarchs also far exceeded their rushing average.)

Thompson said that he’s resisted committing eight men to the box because he wants to protect the corners. It serves its purpose, but at the same time it makes it that much harder to stop the run.

Thompson said that in game planning, secondary coach Anthony Midget said that “the training wheels have got to come off the secondary.”

5. The defensive line hasn’t gotten it done enough. Thompson conceded that “we’ve been inconsistent up front.” (Consider this about GSU’s three starting defensive linemen – Kalan Jenkins was a tight end in junior college and at GSU’s spring practice before switching positions. Christo Bilukidi and Khiry Karriem both joined the team in August.

So it’s not exactly a surprise that this has happened.

While the season is now eight games old and it’s hard to hear about the Panthers being a first-year team, I’d think the defensive line could use that as a legitimate explanation as much as any unit, though Thompson has said the defense is playing faster.

I sort of think of it’s like learning to drive. At first, you have to think about looking in the rearview or turning on the turn signal to change lanes. Eventually, it becomes second nature. I get the picture that that’s what it’s kind of like learning a new scheme.

I think, as is often the case, it’s not one thing, but a lot of things. What do you think?

42 comments Add your comment

GSU_MEX_PANTHER

October 25th, 2010
11:06 pm

GSU_MEX_PANTHER

October 25th, 2010
11:09 pm

I hope Thompson listens and takes of the “training wheels” off! We need to commit to stop the RUN in order to disrupt our oppositions game plan and tempo.

GSU

October 25th, 2010
11:19 pm

I like what coach midget said. It really is time to take off the training wheels on our young corners. We have got to commit eight in the box and stop the run. Any time your leading tacklers are members of your secondary, it doesn’t bode well and it shows.

The hurry-up killed us and I’m surprised we didn’t make adjustments.

Sid

October 25th, 2010
11:40 pm

It’s all good…………..

Panama

October 26th, 2010
12:18 am

We are going to play a running team on Nov 18th with two running backs doing Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson impressions respectively. Time to 8 in the box as GSU says and gamble. Maybe not all the time, but enough to keep offenses honest.

lanier

October 26th, 2010
6:27 am

chill it still a 1st year program although the d line is a concern. dont have to be Einstein to play d line so its desire and strength. got to have both

JagMan

October 26th, 2010
7:50 am

I wouldn’t worry about Alabama’s running attack just yet. USA’s Kendall Houston will be good for about a buck-fifty against State all by himself.

Debbie Downer

October 26th, 2010
8:04 am

If Thompson doesn’t put all 11 men in the box against Alabama they may score 500 points against this run defense.

English

October 26th, 2010
8:42 am

Definitely time to slow the bleeding of our poor rushing defense. Let the DB’s go 1-on-1 as they’ve shown great confidence in their ability to get their individual job done and stack the box with the remaining player to help fortify the line.

Go State! Let’s get back on track this week.

GStateBen

October 26th, 2010
8:49 am

While Karriem has played well, I’d split the reps between he (270lbs.) and NG Terrance Woodward (300lbs.). The key to a successful 3-4 is a NG who can occupy two offensive lineman and allow the LBs to make plays. The tough part on Saturday was that even when the D Line absorbed several O Lineman, the LBs missed tackles. The front 7 has played inconsistently which will happen as Ken mentioned when you have guys who have not played together.

I’m very interested to see how this unit bounces back this week. I’m not confident that an OL averaging 279lbs. across will whip our front 7 this Saturday.

Max Sizemore

October 26th, 2010
9:32 am

If you play conservatively to protect the corners, it’s understandable. But if you do it consistently, it’s predictable.

jtaylor27

October 26th, 2010
9:41 am

I’m glad to see that our coaches have a handle on the situation. I realized that they would play conservatively with freshmen, but at some point guys just have to make plays. That is what separates teams. Some teams simply don’t have playmakers; those are bad teams–I don’t think that’s us. Some teams have talented personnel who simply don’t make plays, which makes them an average team (i.e. UGA for FBS, and GSU–yes, I think we have some good talent). Teams that are good are teams that simply make plays. When you need a stop, you get it. When you need a first down, you get it. Good teams impose their will on their opponent. For GSU, the problem is we are young, inexperienced, etc, etc, etc. That excuse is getting old. While the teams we are playing are CLEARLY better than the competition we had earlier, but the consistency of play that should become evident at this point in the season is just not there. However, we’ve got at least 3 games plus another season to put it together, so, overall, I’m not that worried. I will be worried if the same problems continue to this point NEXT year.

JagMan

October 26th, 2010
10:09 am

Hey GSBen, those 279lb linemen are mostly juniors and sophomores. Next year you’ll see what a difference that makes.

GStateBen

October 26th, 2010
10:14 am

@JagMan that may be the case but they haven’t faced the size and speed they will face Saturday. Bilukidi, the Muasau brothers and blitzing corners will force the Jaguars into a position they’ve never been in, facing a team that is equal or better at positions.

UC Davis is an average team, Lamar is below average. It will be very interesting to see an angry Georgia State team arrive in Mobile.

Panther Bandwagoner

October 26th, 2010
10:28 am

The pass is a lower percentage play than the run. Stop the run, let the rest fall in to place.

JagMan

October 26th, 2010
10:53 am

What positions are they better in? QB? OL? RB? WR? DL, LB?, DB? Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope and nope. Maybe your kicking game is really awesome.

RoguePanther

October 26th, 2010
11:02 am

Talking about taking the training wheels off after 8 games, we’ve got issues with the coaches.
The coaches have been looking & evaulating kids, and know them well by now.

You have what you get for the players, and it’s the coaches’ job to know who’ s good, and who can learn, and then throw them in the mix to get the best outcome.

Get your coaching caps straight, you can’t wear them sideway to look cool if you don’t produce win.

Even though it’s the first year, I want you to suceed as much as I do for my kids (not pushing too hard on mine though since I can jump on the GSU football instead.)

Go Panthers!!!! Coaches, make me proud.

GSU Fan

October 26th, 2010
11:57 am

South Alabama..uh oh!!

GSU Alum 98

October 26th, 2010
1:27 pm

I’m assuming most of of on here are season ticket holders and if not SHAME ON YOU. I have been to every game and if you have been keeping up, GSU is AWESOME!!!! Agreed we have had our inconsistancies but when we’re on, baby we’re unstopable. Realistically we should be 8-0 right now but it is what it is(Lambuth we had an inteception where we should have drivin it down and kicked a field goal to win, like Cambell , Jax State we had too really bad calls at the end, and ODU, turnovers were the story there). USA while probably a good team has gone a totally different route then us by building up their opponents “talent wise” gradually. Remember folks we took the #2 FCS team in the country to overtime.in our third game!! Believe it or not if I had to bet, the reason we have over 60 freshmen in the proram has a lot to do with that fact that they’ll be Jr’s once we hit the CAA. Think it through. Oh, and don’t worry I spoke with coach C on the radio show yesterday and the I formation is on it’s way…….. Bet you’ll see a different running game then. Finally, regarding our defense I think we need to simply let our MLB’s guard the run and crossing routes, that’s it, they need to stay at home.
GO PANTHERS!!

Mobileman

October 26th, 2010
1:32 pm

I wouldn’t worry too much about Bama’s running game – Ingram and Richardson will probably only play one series each!

GSU Alum 98

October 26th, 2010
1:35 pm

Oh and JAGMan, don’t want to get in a pissing contest but regarding positions, not sure about all the others however you might want to look up Drew Little’s stats and really compare them. Not that it matters because he’ll probably transfer, but this kid has about twice the numbers your kids have.

JagMan

October 26th, 2010
1:37 pm

USA rotates all three quarterbacks and does it really well. Look at all your QB stats compared to all our QB stats and then get back to me.

GSU Alum 98

October 26th, 2010
1:40 pm

If you have four potential employees and one of them does as much as the rest combined, who would you hire?

JagMan

October 26th, 2010
1:42 pm

I’m sorry, I thought we were talking positions, not individuals.

GStateBen

October 26th, 2010
2:24 pm

In FCS games South Alabama averages 29.6 points per game. Georgia State averages 32.8 points per game. Who has the better offense?

QB Comparison – Little – 1630 yards, 14 TDs while South Alabama QBs have thrown for 1372 yards and 12 TDs. How is that better?

Again, you can count your wins over Pikeville and Missouri S&T but your front 7 is way too light to disrupt our offense.

I cannot wait until Saturday.

itsmeagain

October 26th, 2010
2:29 pm

Gah. I want to be at this game!

xjag8183

October 26th, 2010
2:45 pm

Yeah; bring your 42 fans to Ladd and watch the games begin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ken Sugiura

October 26th, 2010
2:52 pm

interesting comments. as far as taking the training wheels off, you have to remember, the training wheels were and are on for a reason. from where we sit, it’s easy to conclude they’re ready and to put eight men in the box. but let’s say they do that, and then jamal ransby or justin hughes gets torched? then the sentiment is, what’s wrong with the pass defense?
of course, it’s possible that they are ready to play a little more aggressive. only one way to find out.
that said, i’d say 7) and 3) are the bigger concerns.

JagMan

October 26th, 2010
3:16 pm

But the Jag QB’s have thrown for higher completion percentage and less interceptions too. And I’ll bet you’re including those non scholarship teams in that FCS number, right? Those teams are on the same level as NAIA and D2.

GSU Alum 98

October 26th, 2010
3:21 pm

Anyone can play 2 or three possesions and do it well. Try being out there the entire time with a freshman O line….

JagMan

October 26th, 2010
3:28 pm

Exactly. We had the whole new offensive line thing last year. Because we’ve had an extra season to work the problems you guys are experiencing this year is why we’re going to win on Saturday.

GSU Alum 98

October 26th, 2010
3:30 pm

Look at the undergradate requirements for acceptance into USA (2.0 GPA/900SAT) trust me win or lose the game, you’ve already lost in what counts…….

Itsmeagain

October 26th, 2010
3:31 pm

I see a new rivalry forming already… Goodbye Ga Southern, hello South Alabama!

Ken Sugiura

October 26th, 2010
4:00 pm

itsmeagain – ha ha.
new blog up from tuesday press conference.

JagMan

October 26th, 2010
4:00 pm

It seems recall not too many years ago the furor against Ga State when they instituted standards for acceptance. At least USA has had them for a number of years.

itsmeagain

October 26th, 2010
4:09 pm

Yesssssss. Let the hate flow through you…

GSU Alum 98

October 26th, 2010
4:18 pm

“It seems recall not too many years……” Thanks for making my point.

JagMan

October 26th, 2010
5:15 pm

It’s my administrative assistant’s day off. Are you applying?

GSU Alum 98

October 26th, 2010
5:45 pm

Okay man, good luck with the game. I’ll be one of the 20 or so GSU folks.
Later….

dirty harry

October 26th, 2010
7:51 pm

Wait a second.

USA is on here talking trash instead of the many of us from Georgia Southern.

Not cool.

Crimson Flounder

October 29th, 2010
3:14 pm

I have to say this is probably the most unrealistic fan-base I have ever encountered. I really hope most of the posts on this site are hyperbole because they are certainly not based on fact. GSU is exactly where they should be as a first year football team, mediocre. You are not ready for big boy football yet and probably never will be since you plan on stopping at FCS status.

Jag801

October 29th, 2010
11:42 pm

Hey, don’t let one overly fanatical fan represent all of us. I swear we’re not all wackos like JagMan. We’re just as excited about our program as you guys. Of course we think we’re gonna win; otherwise, what would be the point of us playing? I’ll admit I’m worried about the game, but either way, it’ll be a great show for both sides! Besides, we have played easy teams so far. It’ll be nice to see a game that isn’t a complete blow-out.