Three storylines in this weekend’s game between Georgia State and West Alabama
Will the fourth-quarter blues stop? The Panthers have scored 13 points in the fourth quarter this season — not in a game, for the whole year. The futility has cost the team a chance at earning least three victories. Coach Bill Curry said it’s not an issue of conditioning or want-to, but it’s one he has to solve. Running back Donald Russell (ankle) will be a game-time decision.
Can the defense bounce back? After seemingly having its early season issues ironed out, the Panthers were gouged by NAIA level St. Francis for 475 yards last week. The total was more than a hundred more than they gave up in each of the previous three weeks. Coach Bill Curry said his players had trouble getting off blocks and making tackles. The team will be without linebacker Mike Hall (undisclosed injury). Linebacker Jake Muasau will play.
Will the special teams ever get better? The hope has become a broken refrain each week and each week something else breaks down, culminating in the out-of-bounds kickoff followed by an onside kick St. Francis recovered last week. The team will be without Christian Benvenuto, who will miss the game with an injury.
A Georgia State win would …
Be its third this season.
Be its first on the road this season.
Snap a two-game losing streak.
A West Alabama win would …
Be its eighth this season.
Be its first over a FCS-level opponent this season.
Keep an eye on …
For Georgia State: The offensive line. Georgia State rushed for 158 yards last week, a respectable total but less than expected against a front seven smaller than the Panthers’ offensive line. After rushing for 200 yards in back-to-back games, the team hasn’t cracked that mark in its past two games.
For West Alabama: Matt Willis. He is 89 yards away from tying the school’s single-season rushing record (1,325). He has scored 13 touchdowns this season and is averaging 123.7 rushing yards per game.
The numbers game
Georgia State has played in back-to-back-to-back overtime games.
The Panthers have lost the past two, missing long field goals in each extra session.
The history book
This is the teams’ first meeting.
The bottom line
Can the Panthers control the game this week by dominating the line? They weren’t able to in last week’s loss, despite having a significant advantage in size. This week, the Panthers’ offensive line outweighs West Alabama’s defensive line by an average of 34 pounds. The Panthers’ defensive line is outweighed by West Alabama’s offensive line by an average of 24 pounds. Just like last week, this is a game the Panthers should win. Just like last week, they can’t overlook the Tigers.
– Doug Roberson, AJC. Please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu