Breaking down Georgia State vs. South Carolina State (with Agnew ruling)

Georgia State will host South Carolina State at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Georgia Dome. The game will be televised on CSS.

Three storylines

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.

Tweet-of-the-week

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!

Bill Curry @coachbillcurry

Jeff Schultz predicts

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.

Compete with the AJC’s Jeff Schultz to win great prizes and gridiron bragging rights. Play each week at ajc.com/go/sackschutz2012.

– Doug Roberson, AJC. Please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu

72 comments Add your comment

Tuscon

August 29th, 2012
11:09 am

A field goal? This team sounds transformed this season! It won’t be 41 – 7, but we’re not losing this game.

GSUBB

August 29th, 2012
11:10 am

Nice write up, can’t wait for the game.

The Donald is going to run wild.

John

August 29th, 2012
11:18 am

Great stuff Doug. Excited to see McClane in action and The Donald go for 1000. This defense should be fired up and much improved too. Go State!

Also, first.

John

August 29th, 2012
11:18 am

Tom Yeager

August 29th, 2012
11:19 am

Why wasn’t I invited? We’re still pals, right?

PANTHER

August 29th, 2012
11:19 am

A win is win in my book! Specially against a good team!

Bleed Blue

August 29th, 2012
11:27 am

Have no idea how this will turn out. I hope my Panthers get the big “W”.

GSUdpb

August 29th, 2012
11:28 am

I’m optimistic about the game but being a fan of Atlanta teams for so long I’m wary to make any bold predictions. I’m just incredibly excited football is back. Go Panthers!

Bleed Blue

August 29th, 2012
11:29 am

One more thing.

The AJC web site is jacked up today.
Starting a new web site the day before college football begins play is a bad decision.

GSUGrad06

August 29th, 2012
11:30 am

Good preview Doug. I do think it will be a close game and the key for us will be McLane making good decisions with the ball and not giving SC State easy turnovers.

Panama

August 29th, 2012
11:32 am

Panthers by 13

Sluggo

August 29th, 2012
11:45 am

I got us winning by four. Still haven’t been able to fine a line for this game.

ajg-marietta

August 29th, 2012
11:52 am

The best attribute a QB can have is decision making. If we are smart with the ball and get a decent push in the trenches, the Panthers should have a good game.

Steve Nash's Pick and Roll

August 29th, 2012
11:52 am

Unlike Steve’s hair, this game won’t be pretty. But Panthers still prevail by a TD!

ATLalien

August 29th, 2012
12:10 pm

S.C. STATE wins by 2 TDs.

RidgeRunner

August 29th, 2012
12:20 pm

Love the optimism which I share. Late Thur we will find out if it is justified. Personally, from reports, the Panthers are more of a team this year than last when some random positions working and not working at random which leads to busted plays and games.

Good luck to Coach Curry and hope this year will be full of wonderful memories come the end of the season.

Tom Yeager

August 29th, 2012
12:21 pm

“ATLalien”? Lol, even I know better than that! Hilarious!

Highly Respected Southern Troll

August 29th, 2012
12:24 pm

Will tomorrow night’s game also be streamed on the Internet?

ATLalien

August 29th, 2012
12:35 pm

Remember, you heard it here first.

John

August 29th, 2012
12:38 pm

@ GaSot, the game will be on CSS.

Red Panther

August 29th, 2012
1:26 pm

oh yea baby; Panthers roll

GSUAlumBaseball81

August 29th, 2012
1:34 pm

Fired Up!!! GO GSU GSU GSU GSU GSU GSU PANTHERS! Where are the Bugs lately? lol

A person SMART enough to know.....

August 29th, 2012
1:44 pm

I will be impressed if GaState can put up more than 17 points even more impressed if they can keep SCState to 21 or under on the scoreboard.

Tom Yeager

August 29th, 2012
2:14 pm

Hey, Tech fan, do you think Tech would consider taking Georgia State’s place in the CAA? I’d ask Georgia Southern, but I can’t find their school on a map.

Astonishing Werepanther

August 29th, 2012
2:16 pm

I fully expect us to have a stronger team this year and am hopeful about winning another opener. Also looking forward to seeing The Donald in beast mode. Can’t wait for kickoff!

A person SMART enough to know.....

August 29th, 2012
2:17 pm

Well, Tom Yeager you must be Georgia Government School Educated or a GED holder if you Can’t Find Statesboro on a map.
Win something before you talk smack.

Jackson

August 29th, 2012
2:40 pm

I give the slight edge to the home team. Go GSU!!

gsu4life

August 29th, 2012
2:53 pm

I’m not sure what to expect this year. I want to see how Ben handles being a QB at this level as well as how is #4 used during the game. They always came up with creative ways for him to make plays. I’ve been a season ticket holder every year but SC state is a tough outing. I’d be surprised if we won big.

[...] Breaking down Georgia State vs. South Carolina StateAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Breaking down Georgia State vs. South Carolina State. 10:49 am August 29, 2012, by Doug Roberson. Three storylines section. 1. How will Ben McLane handle the pressure? McLane, a redshirt freshman, will make his first start for Georgia State at …and more » [...]

GSUAlumBaseball81

August 29th, 2012
3:07 pm

SMART go on back to the GNAT BORO! You are a GASO troll so GO AWAY!!! Statesboro has a rag you can post your stupid comments there…………………..

SC BULLDAWGS

August 29th, 2012
3:30 pm

BULLDOGS WILL ROCK THE DOME ON TOMORROW NIGHT

GSUtimes2

August 29th, 2012
3:45 pm

A person SMART enough to know.....

August 29th, 2012
3:49 pm

Name calling? What are you a Dwag fan or a 12 year old?

Seeing “81″ I would think you are 49-51 but you are acting like a child.

A person SMART enough to know.....

August 29th, 2012
3:55 pm

I will bet now that the SC State Bulldog fans will fill the DOME and party in Atlanta more than the GaState Cats.

In 2010 when they played TECH they had a damn good crowd show and party down the holiday weekend. I figure more this time.

The ATL will be rocking. SC State fans, the VOLS, NCSU, Auburn & Clemson fans will burn down Atlanta like Sherman.

Highly Respected Southern Troll

August 29th, 2012
4:13 pm

@SMART – There will almost undoubtedly be more South Carolina State fans than Georgia State fans at the game tomorrow night. The Bulldogs’ fanbase seems to travel relatively well. I know SC State had a good crowd to witness their beatdown in Statesboro during the 2010 playoffs.

@ A person SMART enough to know.....

August 29th, 2012
4:15 pm

I would like to watch Ga Southern first game on TV, but I live in Atlanta. Will the game be shown on TV and if so where?

AtlantaApp

August 29th, 2012
4:21 pm

Hope GaState wins but SC State has been pretty good the last few of years. They will bring a good following of very knowledgable fans to The Dome as they travel well. It should be a great time for all at the Dome on Thursday night and a good measure of how much the Panthers have improved over last year.

spider

August 29th, 2012
4:22 pm

my ankles are taped and im having my pre game meal at 4 pm at the varsity and then on to the dome. GO PANTHERS

Tom Yeager

August 29th, 2012
4:24 pm

Someone blew their cover. That was easy!

A person SMART enough to know.....

August 29th, 2012
4:30 pm

Tom Yeager……….WHO blew their cover?
Did your boyfriend make your Toupe rise again?

STATEment

August 29th, 2012
4:45 pm

This new website looks terribly cheap. I hope there is still work to be done…including moving us from next to the Peachtree Road Race and recruiting. We are going to be FBS next year…

AgentOrange

August 29th, 2012
4:48 pm

SCSU sounds like that school from the “Waterboy”…

A person SMART enough to know.....

August 29th, 2012
4:49 pm

The New AJC did nothing as i can tell.

When the BLOG registration didn’t change to make Multiple Name or Name Stealing impossible then the AJC did NOTHING to get better.

East Lake Panther

August 29th, 2012
5:06 pm

Can’t wait to cruise over to the Georgia State Dome and check out the Panthers put a beatdown on the Bulldogs! I hope McLane and Hill really play well tomorrow and help get this season off to a great start.

GSU is in Atlanta

August 29th, 2012
5:55 pm

Tomorrow cannot come soon enough!

GSUWI94

August 29th, 2012
6:12 pm

A Person dumb enuff to know. YOU LOVE THE PANTHERS ADMIT IT. YOU CHECK ON US EVERYDAY.

A person SMART enough to know.....

August 29th, 2012
6:21 pm

I do love the panthers…The ATL gsu Black Panther Party is always Forrest Gumps 2nd Fav-0-rite team.

I like Mr. Curry very much.

SC State in ATL

August 29th, 2012
6:38 pm

Who let the dogs out? Woof, Woof, Woof, Woof!!!!!

True Blue GSU

August 29th, 2012
7:23 pm

Doug,

Any word on Agnew or Delic, t-minus 24 hours and still no word???

Woofy One

August 29th, 2012
7:35 pm

Chalk a winner up for GSU and Coach Curry. Friday is the early start for UGA.
http://www.georgiadogs.com/widecontent/warrior.html