Three thoughts – perhaps 2 1/2 – from the Thursday scrimmage.
1. Kelton Hill looks a lot like Georgia State’s starting quarterback for the first four games of the season and perhaps beyond. You’ll remember Hill was something of a change-up for the Panthers last fall, taking a handful of series in nearly every game to mostly run a wildcat package. He was not much of a passing threat, throwing just 15 times, five of those passes coming in the Alabama game.
He looked far better throwing the ball Thursday night, completing 19 of 32 passes. A lot of it was quick stuff behind the line of scrimmage, but he had some nice downfield passes mixed in. He’s not the passing equal of Drew Little, who’ll be out those first four games, but he’s got some time to work and he also offers a running element that Little does not.
“I’m not sure you really want to rush the guy a whole lot,” offensive coordinator John Bond said. “When he gets loose out of the pocket, that’s a definite threat.”
I’ve mentioned before, I think, that Hill has put in a lot of time since the end of last season watching video with Bond to try to understand how to run the offense.
“He’s figured out what it takes to be a quarterback at this level,” Bond said. “You can tell he’s put the time in studying.”
Interesting to note: Hill gave himself a B-minus for his play Thursday. “A lot of things I could have done better,” he said.
2. D’Mario Gunn is going to help the defense a lot. The cornerback from Luella High via Georgia Military College looked good covering the likes of Albert Wilson and Danny Williams Thursday.
“He had two scrimmages and was amazing in both of them,” Wilson said. “I can’t wait to see what he’s got in the fall.”
Defensive coordinator John Thompson gave Gunn plenty of opportunities to go one-on-one, something you’ll probably see in the fall. With so much inexperience in the secondary last fall, Thompson called a lot of soft coverages that prevented big pass plays at the expense of allowing a lot of completions underneath.
“We challenged our DB’s all spring, and he stepped up to it, to play a lot more man, to be a lot more aggressive,” Thompson said.
Gunn, who said he turned down a couple low-end FBS scholarship offers to play at Georgia State, looks like someone who can lock receivers down, which should free Thompson to put more players at the line of scrimmage. And, it’s worth noting, two more Georgia Military transfers will come in the summer, safety Demazio Skelton and linebacker Qwontez Mallory. If those two are similarly impactful, the defense will look significantly different than last fall.
3. The running game gets a pass, but will have to be better. Without center Ben Jacoby, tackle Grant King and guards Joseph Gilbert and Harrison Clottey, the line looked little like it will in the fall. It showed, as the offense couldn’t produce a consistent running game.
It was one of the more puzzling elements of the 2010 season that a line that was able to protect Little so well couldn’t open up holes consistently.