Georgia State coach Bill Curry held his weekly press conference on Tuesday. I apologize that I didn’t have anything up on the blog yesterday. Extenuating circumstances prevented that from happening.
Anyway, here’s some of the highlights:
Drew Little will be available to play. Kelton Hill will start. Hill played the entire game last week, the second time that’s happened for a GSU quarterback this year (other than wildcat stuff). Curry liked what Hill did, other than the fumbles. Curry said it’s hard to replicate game conditions in practice, noting that Hill hadn’t been hit since the Alabama game last year.
Christo Bilukidi said one of the reasons the defense is playing better is because they are studying film better than they’ve done in the past. He doesn’t know why he and his teammates weren’t studying like they should have been earlier in the year, but the results are showing. The goal-line stand in the first quarter against South Alabama was partly a result of film study. Curry said film study is one of those things that is passed down from upperclassmen to freshmen when they arrive. Because Georgia State is new, that kind of work ethic and tradition hasn’t yet been established. But it’s starting to happen. I’ll have more on this in Saturday’s paper and ajc.com.
Here’s the rest of what Curry had to say, courtesy of Georgia State’s sports information department:
On UTSA and head coach Larry Coker…
There are obviously several new programs that are doing very well. I know Larry Coker is a terrific coach, a good guy and a friend of mine. I thought he did an incredible job at Miami. He’s moved on and done a great job of having a very young, very well-schooled and disciplined team at Texas-San Antonio.
On UTSA’s offense …
Their quarterback Eric Soza operates a very sophisticated and polished looking offense over long stretches. They do have difficulties sometimes, but for them to be this far along executing that offense is impressive to me. Soza is the guy that pulls the trigger; He runs really well and throws perhaps better than he runs. He’s a threat. They run a lot of different things from a lot of different sets. You can’t zero in on them and their tendencies unless you study really hard. Knowing Larry, he’ll probably change those same formations and tendencies from game-to-game. They have a game breaker in wide receiver Kam Jones. He averages 16.5 yards every time he touches the ball. He makes me think a little bit of our Albert Wilson, but that’s not a pleasant thought unless he’s on your side. He’s a really good player. They have a powerful back, Evans Okotcha who plays fullback and running back and averages seven yards a carry. That’s tremendous running behind a young offensive line.
On UTSA’s defense …
On defense they have who I think will be a dominating player, [defensive end] Marlon Smith. He’s strong and plays with a lot of intensity all the time, he’s a factor. They have two excellent inside linebackers, Brandon Reeves and Steven Kurfehs. They are the leading tacklers, they run and hit very well like all the linebackers we play against. A secondary player who is a hybrid like our Mark Hogan is Nic Johnson; he is a good tackler and coverage guy. They present a challenge for us because their defense is fast and aggressive.
On the most important thing GSU has worked on this week…
We wanted to capture the essence of what it was that we had against South Alabama that gave us the will to find a way to win the game no matter what at the end. The second most important thing was to get our special teams back to performing back the way they should. It was hard to understand how it could be happening, but we simply weren’t getting off blocks and we were running out of our lanes. We made some personnel changes due to injuries, but they were veteran players who should know exactly where they should be and what lanes they should be in.
On the improvements the team made against South Alabama…
One of the toughest issues in getting a quarterback ready to play is you can’t hit him. So Kelton Hill has not been hit [in practice]. Naturally we do strip drills in practice, but that doesn’t simulate being hammered by six tacklers. We didn’t do a good job of hanging on to the football. As the game progressed [Hill] literally got his head and arm around the fact that he has to hold the ball when he turns and runs. He has to secure the ball just like the rest of our runners do, which is extremely well. We’ve done an excellent job of securing the ball. Obviously something changed for us, our defense really played very well. Having Donald Russell and Albert Wilson back at full speed makes a huge difference in our offense. The offensive line and defensive line have improved and Kelton Hill is getting his second start this week so we hope to see him continue to improve as well as our coverage in the kicking game.
On if GSU’s confidence is higher now going into the UTSA game after a win…
I’m not sure anybody can tell you if they are more confident going into any one game. It’s just a factor of performance. If you prepare really well and know exactly what you’re doing, you have a good feeling about your chances of winning. I did have that last week because we prepared well, just like we did week after week only to disappoint ourselves.
On how tackling has improved on defense the last two games…
Better, but not great. It’s most assuredly improved. When we studied South Alabama, we felt that [running backs Demetre] Baker and [Kendall] Houston were in a sense SEC running backs. We think Donald Russell is an SEC running back, that’s a compliment. South Alabama had two SEC running backs on the field and we tackled the daylights out of them most of the time against a very good offensive line that gouged us a year ago. I felt like we tackled better and gave more effort against South Alabama.
On what he likes from the defense the last two games…
Their aggressiveness and [how they are] anxious to play. We kept putting them in bad situations the other night but they took the field like they were excited to run out there. That’s the key to everything when you play defense. Many times you have seen it when a defense gets a goal-line stand, they run off the field jumping around and the offense comes out and fumbles the ball. The defense then comes back on the field and what happens, you lose the ball game. Our defense kept getting thrown back out there, it wasn’t as dramatic as what I just described, but the defense kept getting put into tough spots because of field position and poor kick coverage. They took the field with enthusiasm and played with enthusiasm every time we put them out there.
On if they’ll replicate crowd noise to prepare to play in the Alamodome…
We’ve done that several times. Normally they haven’t been necessary but in this case I think it will be required. It’s a loud place. I’ve been to several games there. [Crowd noise] matters a lot for the offensive line.
Lastly, Georgia State is hosting the CAA cross country championships. Here are some nuggets about this event:
The event is this week at Nash Farm Battlefield in Hampton The men’s 10K race begins at 10 a.m. and the women’s 6K starts at 11.
Both teams claimed victories at their last meet, the Coach “O” Invite in Troy, Ala., on Oct. 15.
The GSU women’s team has won three team titles during the season, including the past two with perfect scores of 15.
Hannah Stefanoff has been named CAA Runner of the Week a school-record five times during the season.
Valentin Poncelet has also earned a CAA Runner of the Week honor and won two individual titles.
– Doug Roberson, AJC. Follow me on twitter @ajcgsu