Here is a transcript of Georgia State coach Bill Curry’s press conference today, courtesy of the sports information department. The Panthers will host Old Dominion at noon on Saturday at the Georgia Dome:
On Emmanuel Ogbuehi and Brandon Jones
Emmanuel was so mature when we first got him, I thought he was a senior then and every year I think he’s a senior. I could say the same thing about Brandon and as I say so often it’s a lot more interesting to speak to these two young men than it is to talk to me because they’ve had first-hand experience of what we’ve been through. It’s been a wonderful trip. I’m sure someone is going to write a book about it, several I hope, because everything we do is the first time.
On Old Dominion
This week, for the first time we play a repeat opponent who beat us physically, forced errors and forced fumbles last year. We obliged by fumbling on our own and committed some of the dumbest penalties since we’ve been here. I’m not sure why that was, but it’s a great lesson and it will not be repeated. Neither will the four fumbles be repeated. When you commit foolish penalties, can’t score touchdowns inside the red zone and turn the ball over four times, you’re going to be beat every single time. Yet at the end we were still coming back at Old Dominion because our guys realized what we were doing to ourselves and realized we were playing a really well-coached football team. If we can start where we finished last year and start by playing our very best, it will be a tremendous football game. It’s a very good time for us to be playing a repeat opponent.
On ODU’s defensive line
Their defensive line dominated the game last Saturday. It’s a direct challenge to our offensive line to see that it does not happen in this game. Indeed, ODU has a tremendous defensive line. They are the same guys we saw last year, just bigger, faster and better.
On ODU’s DL #96 Ronnie Cameron
No. 96, Ronnie Cameron is the real deal. We would’ve been fine with him to just go ahead to the NFL, it would’ve suited us just fine. He didn’t do that, so now we’re going to have to block him, but we look forward to it being a terrific challenge. He’s one of those rare defensive linemen that led the team in tackles last week and moves around really well. It’ll be a challenge to block him.
On ODU’s WR #5 Antonio Vaughan
No. 5 Antonio Vaughan is their go-to guy on offense. He had 191 all-purpose yards last week. He has great speed. First play of the game he caught a little tunnel screen and outran everybody down the sideline for about 70 yards against a Campbell team that is greatly improved. This guy is a game changer, and we did not see him a year ago. He’s the ODU version of our Albert Wilson.
On ODU’s QB #17 Thomas Demarco
He’s been a terrific player ever since we saw him, one of the better quarterbacks we’ve faced. He executes the offense with very few mistakes. We had a lot of trouble tackling him last year. That has to change.
On ODU’s special teams
They have a tremendous special teams package. Their punter Jonathan Plisco averaged 47.2 yards per punt last Saturday night with a net of 42.2. That’s always going to put you among the national leaders. That’s similar what we were doing a year ago with Bo Schlechter before he was injured.
On GSU’s potential
Our team has a lot of promise, but we haven’t even approached what it’s going to take to beat someone like ODU. So on the practice field this week we have great intensity, great intent and attention to detail to do the things you have to do to beat these kinds of teams.
On last year’s GSU-ODU game, specifically ODU’s offense and special teams
Last year Old Dominion set a tempo with their offense that wilted us and caused us to falter. Even though we fought back in the fourth quarter, we didn’t lay down, we will be ready and more prepared to take on that kind of offense this time. We will be much better prepared to take on their great special teams package.
On what GSU must improve to beat ODU
We have to improve our tackling, and we should be better although last Friday night we had trouble with a mobile quarterback. What we have to generate is a real steady ground game that can drive the ball down the field, milk the clock, score points and throw the ball little if any.
On state of GSU quarterbacks
The quarterback will be Bo Schlechter again. The difference between this week and last week is we have all disciplinary matters dealt with so it will be all hands on deck. The next guy in would be Drew Little and following him would be Kelton Hill, and they are all eligible to play.
On the play of Schlechter
For the second year in a row we had a quarterback who has never played quarterback in a college game go and execute beautifully a complex offense with no turnovers. Bo was 13 out of 18, could very easily have been 16-for-18 had it not been for three dropped balls. That was remarkable and it needs to continue. He will be the starter backed up by Drew who did it a year ago, very similar experience against a similar opponent with an identical score.
On key GSU defensive players
We have to continue to get real production up front on defense from Christo Bilukidi who is also becoming a dominating player. Michael Hall, who is our middle linebacker, is a productive player with excellent athletic ability. He has stepped up and played and he has to continue to improve and play better. We need AJ Portee to continue to provide heat on the passer and the intensity on his play. Our secondary led by Brandon has already improved and needs to improve even more against this opponent.
On improving the team in one week of practice
At this stage in our program with this many veterans playing, we ought to be able to take quantum leaps forward based on the opponent from week to week. This schedule will certainly demand it.
On GSU’s field goal kicking
We really tested both Christian Benvenuto and Matt Ehasz every day under pressure, sometimes with the clock winding. They made a vast majority of their field goals out here and at the dome in practice. You hope and pray that it carries over into the game. What we didn’t know is what Christian would do when he got a bad snap with a true freshman holder in Nate Minor, another guy who deserves enormous credit and will be a great receiver. Nate got the ball down, Christian was not able to kick the 44 and 45-yard field goals as well as he would. But he got them through. It was thrilling to see him pull that off. You couldn’t blame a true freshman if he misses it after the ball was snapped a little bit off and he has a true freshman holder. Christian is a warrior and I think Matt Ehasz is also going to be an outstanding kicker.
On if GSU’s kickers affect the offensive play calling
When you know you can make reasonably long field goals that is a difference maker. It helped us a lot last year once we realized our kicker was reliable. You just don’t know what they will do when they have a chance to win the game. You see NFL kickers who are 28-of-29 and they have a 35-yard field goal to win the game and they can’t do it. By the way, an NFL locker room after one of those misses is not a nice place.
On if he considers the ODU game a rivalry
Sure it’s a rivalry. Those guys started just a year before us and you can’t put their film on and not admire their coaching staff. They coach really well. They play hard all the time. All of their concepts are well thought out. If we give a strange punt formation, it causes people a lot of problems in their punt returns and rushes. Nobody blinks at Old Dominion. They know exactly where they’re going. We’d like to even the score this year and see what happens down the road.
On using the run to keep ODU’s offense off the field
When you’re playing an offense like theirs, three-and-outs just kill you and plays right into their game. You watch the top teams in America right now and virtually all of them are winning with tempo. What they do is grind people into the dirt. If you can match them and get their defense on the run, fine. But if you can’t, and you have a couple of three-and-outs, then your defense is going to be on the field maybe for 35 plays when you’ve been out there for eight plays on offense. It’s just a tremendous strategy. The thing that’s surprising to me is why someone didn’t think of it years ago. I haven’t seen anything like it in my years as a player and a coach until just the last few years. It’s brilliant.
On if he uses Saturday’s ODU game as a measuring stick on how GSU stacks against CAA teams
I don’t think we can because ODU hasn’t been in the conference yet. They played William & Mary very well last year, lost 21-19. But after this year, we can look back and see that they beat this team and that team and lost to that one. How they do in the league will be a measuring stick because we’ll have two results against them. I guess you could say that they played that well against William & Mary that they’re a reasonable CAA team now.
On if something stood out on film of the Clark Atlanta game
Our defense played a little better than I thought. We made some mistakes, allowing a deep pass on a scramble and got lucky because the quarterback ran past the line of scrimmage. I was angry after the game was over because of those things that shouldn’t happen. But watching the effort, intensity and the defense, specifically our secondary, flying to the ball, I think we have the potential to be a really fast, really good defense. We go two-deep in the secondary. Brandon wouldn’t tell you this, but he’s out there playing hurt, dealing with pain and playing really hard. We have a couple guys doing that. I had a better feeling about our defensive speed and potential after watching the film.
On if GSU’s defense is better and faster than last year
Much better and much faster. Some of that are personnel and some of it is transfers, but some of it is the same guys. They’ve worked so hard for so long that they have improved.
– Doug Roberson, AJC. Follow me on twitter @ajcgsu