Georgia State will host South Carolina State at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Georgia Dome. The game will be televised on CSS.
1. How will Ben McLane handle the pressure? McLane, a redshirt freshman, will make his first start for Georgia State at quarterback. Coach Bill Curry says he’s not sure how McLane will react the first time he’s hit, but he predicts he will be fine. It’s been almost two years since McLane was tackled in a game, but that worked out OK because McLane led his team to the state Class AAAAA championship in the Georgia dome. There’s just one returning starter on the offensive line, but the skill position players around McLane are all experienced, which should help.
2. How will the new defense perform? This year’s defense is faster and stronger than either of the previous two years. While the secondary, which features three of the four returning starters and upperclassmen at all four positions, was expected to be the strength, the front seven has performed better than expected in defensive coordinator Anthony Midget’s aggressive 4-2-5 scheme. Can it stop the run and can it hold up in the fourth quarter, two weaknesses last year? It will be helped by the NCAA ruling that end Theo Agnew, who transferred from UMass, is eligible to play this year. Agnew has impressed Curry in practice because he hasn’t missed a snap or given less than maximum effort, even when Agnew wasn’t sure he would be able to play.
3. Can the special teams rebound? The Panthers had issues in every special teams area last year, but re-dedicated themselves to eliminating penalties and missing assignments, two areas that hurt them last year. More first-teamers from offense and defense will play on the coverage and return teams in an attempt to improve those units’ speed and athleticism. David Miller won the field-goal kicking job. He’s never attempted a field goal in a college game.
A win for Georgia State would
Be its third consecutive season-opening victory.
Be the 93rd of Curry’s career. He is retiring after this season.
A win for South Carolina State would
Be coach Buddy Pough’s 84th. All have come with the Bulldogs.
Matchup to watch
Georgia State running back Donald Russell vs. South Carolina State linebacker Joe Thomas. Because of McLane’s inexperience, offensive coordinator John Bond may try to establish Russell early. Watch for Thomas, who had 100 tackles, to try to not let that happen. Russell rushed for more than 650 yards last year as he battled nagging injuries throughout the season. He didn’t run the ball too frequently during August’s practices because the coaches were trying to keep him as fresh as possible for the season.
Our team is enthusiastic and focused.Now, to keep our heads on until K.O is our next test.One thing for sure-we will become a good team!
It’s difficult to know if the Panthers will be much better in Year 3. They won their first two openers by scores of 41-7, but those came over Shorter and Clark Atlanta. South Carolina State: much better. But State should be able to run the ball with Donald Russell, and if freshman QB Ben McLane can avoid turnovers they’ve got a good shot at home. No point spread, but Panthers win by a field goal. – Jeff Schultz.
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