Kelton Hill has been through some well-documented issues during his time at Georgia State.
However, things are starting to get better.
Hill, who grew up in Douglasville and played at Lithia Springs, led the Panthers to a 27-20 victory over South Alabama on Saturday in his first start. He completed 12 of his 15 passes, helping Albert Wilson set a school record for receiving yards (175) in the process.
But it’s going to cost him.
Hill promised his offensive line that if the team had more than 400 yards he’d treat them to a dinner at a local restaurant on Sunday. The team had 429. This, after he bought them five pizzas on Friday as a buttering-up gift.
Hill, who also rushed for 45 yards, isn’t the only Panther who benefited from the first-string line playing together for just the third time this season.
Running back Donald Russell rushed for a school-record 136 yards. It was the first time in Georgia State’s short history that a running back hit triple digits.
He offered to help Hill with the cost of dinner.
Hill is a big reason they may both be poorer.
He hasn’t had many chances to throw this season. Considered more of a running threat, Hill mostly ran option plays in limited snaps last year and this year. He did show a nice touch on deep passes, as evidenced by his touchdown pass to Danny Williams against Murray State two weeks ago.
I’m not sure many thought they would see a performance like Saturday. His second touchdown pass to Wilson was a thing of beauty, a rainbow that Wilson said looked like a punt because he threw it so high. It slipped past the jumping cornerback’s hands and into Wilson’s.
Offensive coordinator John Bond smartly mixed up the passes Hill was asked to throw. Most of the passes were short, such as the screen pass that turned into Wilson’s first touchdown. However, Hill did throw a couple of medium-length passes, including a rollout in the third quarter and a pass to Williams in the fourth on a difficult corner route.
What helped Hill a great deal was the running threat Russell provided. The linebackers and safeties had to cheat up, which opened some areas for Hill.
Georgia State’s defense is playing better against the run in its past two games.
South Carolina State rushed for 155 yards, 40 less than the Panthers were allowing at the time. South Alabama rushed for 178, 10 yards less than the Panthers’ average against.
Part of the reason is Georgia State is running a lot more 4-3 formation than 3-4, which is stuck with throughout the first five games, without much success.
The 4-3 is easier to run on a college level because large nose tackles and blindingly quick outside linebackers, must-haves for successful 3-4s, are hard to come by. The 4-3 still requires athleticism, but the defensive linemen don’t have to be as big and quick as they do in a 3-4. The linebackers must still be fast, but not freakishly fast as is necessary.
Jake Muasau, whose pressure created the game-clinching interception by Mark Hogan, was free most of the game to knife in and cut down running backs because a defensive end was taking on the tackle. Plus, for some reason South Alabama didn’t block Muasau often. He guessed they were trying to his aggressiveness against him.
I hope to have more on the 4-3 during the week. It really may not be that big of a deal. Coaches switch defenses all the time during games. Gregg Easterbrook is fond of pointing out that Patriots, allegedly a 3-4 team, didn’t play a single down of the formation in a game earlier this year.
Many of you probably assumed that Georgia State won the game on linebacker Mark Hogan’s first interception, the one at the end of regulation. I know I did.
South Alabama committed a penalty with less than a minute remaining. Therefore, 10 seconds was supposed to run off the clock. Because there were less than 10 seconds remaining, the game should have been over.
Not so my fast. I forgot, even though I wrote a story about it earlier this year, than the penalty applies only on live-ball fouls, not dead-ball fouls. South Alabama’s false start penalty occurred before the snap, making it a dead-ball foul.
So, they got another chance to tie the game, which they successfully did.
– Doug Roberson, AJC. Follow me on twitter @ajcgsu.