Despite watching Georgia State lose its last four football games by a total of 119 points, athletic director Cheryl Levick said she sees a positive future for the football team under coach Bill Curry.
“We all are so competitive, we want to win right now. Coach Curry is, I am.” she said. “Like coach Curry, I really have to work on the patience of developing this program. We experienced success pretty quickly last year and we are playing harder teams this year. We have to be patient on building what we know and how to do it correctly.”
The Panthers went 6-5 during their inaugural season. However, after defeating Clark Atlanta, a Division II school, to open this season, the Panthers have been blown out by foes of various levels: third-year FCS program Old Dominion, established FCS power Jacksonville State, FBS-level Houston and rebuilding FCS program Murray State, 48-24 on Saturday.
“Do I think about [the direction] a lot? Yes,” Levick said. “Have I given up on it? Absolutely not. Are we going to get it turned around? Absolutely, but it just takes focused concentration every day to get it done.”
In addition to problems on the field, just 10,963 fans attended Saturday’s game. It was the worst attendance of the Panthers’ 10 home games to date. It surpassed the 11,000-plus that attended the loss to ODU in the season’s second week.
Georgia State even moved the kickoff to 2 p.m. and asked fans to wear white T-shirts in an attempt to “whiteout” the game and energize the fanbase.
Levick said they are going to keep the 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. start times for the remainder of the season and will try to come up with more concepts for the fans. The Panthers will play at South Carolina State next week, before hosting South Alabama at 3 p.m. on Oct. 22.
“I’ll go back to the statement that we really are experiencing the growing pains of starting a football program on the field and off the field,” Levick said. “I’m not sure it’s even something that we are necessarily doing wrong that we need to correct right away, or just continuing to do all the good things even more.”
Guard Joseph Gilbert was suspended for Saturday’s game against Murray State for a violation of team rules.
Ulrick John started in Gilbert’s place, the third different position John has played this season.
John started at tackle in the opener against Clark Atlanta, and then at center in the loss to Houston two weeks ago, because Michael Davis sustained a season-ending injury during practice. Davis was starting the game against Jacksonville State because Ben Jacoby suffered an injury in the loss to Old Dominion in Week 2. Jacoby returned to center against the Racers, but left in the second half. Curry said the though Jacoby was OK.
Curry declined to say the team’s troubles running the ball could be pinned on any of the changes. The Panthers rushed for 86 yards.
“Any time you lose a regular in the offensive line, of course it affects you,” he said. “But we’ve had regulars injured, pretty much all year. If you ever use than as an excuse then you’re in trouble.”
Defensive line scheme
During some points of the game, Georgia State sometimes elected to have all three of its defensive linemen stand up instead of using a three-point stance. End Christo Bilukidi said it’s something they’ve been working on for the past two weeks.
The scheme seemed to confuse Murray State during parts of the game, but it clearly didn’t work against the numerous screens and draw plays the Racers like to run.
Murray State rushed for 138 yards and passed for 321. The Panthers did have three sacks but rushed for a 4.5-yard-per-carry average.
“The idea is to be able to move around and be faster to get in the gaps and confuse their running game,” Curry said. “Obviously that wasn’t consistently effective either.”