It was at a loss at all levels.
The new hurry-up offense was undone by an offensive line that couldn’t stop South Carolina State’s rush (six sacks). As a result, neither quarterback Ben McLane nor Kelton Hill had much time to do anything. The offense finished with 229 yards, or 82 yards less than Matt Hubbard had in punts. (An 80-yard punt he boomed, leading to a 62.2-per kick average).
The new 4-2-5 defense gave up 488 yards, starting when Isaiah Howard fell down covering a receiver in the first series that allowed a 72-yard touchdown pass.
The special teams were once again inconsistent. Matt Ehasz missed two of his four field goals, none worse than a 24-yard attempt that would have cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 7-6. But in the “how was the play Ms. Lincoln” department, Matt Hubbard would have set an FBS record for punting average (min. of five punts) with 62.2 yards per punt. That included an 80-yard bomb. The record doesn’t count because the Panthers are reclassifying to FBS.
The Panthers’ defense was on the field for 78 plays.
The Panthers were 2 of 13 on third down.
The Panthers were 2 of 4 in the red zone.
The Bulldogs had 300 yards passing.
The Bulldogs had 188 yards rushing (but just 3.8 yards per attempt).
The Panthers had 130 yards passing.
Running back Donald Russell averaged 10 yards per carry on 12 carries.
The announced attendance was a few folks shy of 19,000.
5 plays that changed the game
Howard falling down, which resulted in the 72-yard touchdown.
Ehasz missing the 24-yard field goal, which would have cut GSU’s deficit to 7-6.
McLane’s fumble just before the half.
S.C. State quarterback Richard Cue finding Tyler McDonald for a 22-yard touchdown pass just before the half, capitalizing on the fumble.
The false start penalty on first and goal on the Panthers’ first drive in the second half, that disrupted the offense. A touchdown would have put Georgia State right back in the game.
Clearly this was a huge disappointment. We will not concede anything. We will go back to work tomorrow morning and keep working until the way we perform the way we can. … We will be a good football team this year.
On how is this year’s team, and this result, different from last year, when the team went 3-8?
I don’t think you can avoid that comparison but we aren’t the same group that we were a year ago at all. Not the same attitude, not the same work ethic. We have drastically improved those things and now we have to improve the performance on the field.
On if starting Hill in the second half was the plan, or the result of the offensive line’s poor play?
Both. We didn’t protect well. Kelton gives us more flexibility but both quarterbacks had a rough time tonight.
How would he described McLane’s performance?
I’m not sure he got a chance to show what he can really do. Balls were dropped, protection wasn’t adequate, running game was good in flashes but not what it should have been.
Did you feel like you had your chances in the first half?
We had really good chances, we had really good chances coming out in the second half running the ball. But when you get in the red zone you’ve got to score. We missed easy passes.
You had a couple of interceptions. What do you say to the defense to improve their play?
We had a couple of interceptions. We also had a couple of balls thrown over our heads in the end zone. That receiver was tall but we could time our leaps better.
Why did you go with Ehasz instead of David Miller for the field goals?
Miller has an injured foot. He’s come back from it but really struggled in the last week or so. I think he’ll be fine after this.
The defense played well in the beginning, but it still gave up 488 yards and 188 rushing yards.
It’s too much.
It’s even more than last year’s. I know you’ve still got to watch film, but will that result in changes to the starters?
I thought some of the starters played well. Terrance Woodard may have had his best game. He was in the backfield all night. Other struggled with blocking combinations and getting to the football. We will have to evaluate it in terms of starters but all those guys will have to play. They have to keep growing. Defensive linemen can’t play every play.
Was South Carolina State rolling the safety or doing anything to keep you from getting the ball to Albert Wilson (the team’s best playmaker didn’t have a catch until until the third quarter. He finished with 44 yards)
There were things that they did that denied Albert the ball but there were things we could have done better. There were plays that were voided because of the pass rush or because of a por throw. He was overthrown or underthrown. You just have to be more accurate.
On why Russell didn’t get more touches in the red zone
It depends upon what they are lined up in….[Curry went on to say there's something that should work when the other team's defense is stacked. He also talked about reads]
With the offense producing 229 yards and the offensive line breaking in four new starters, are you going to stick with the no-huddle in upcoming games?
We are going to stick with what we are doing. We’ve only done it one game.
Is there one thing you can work on this week to improve all the little things?
I think cohesiveness on the offensive side. The defense got us the ball enough times that we could have made this an excellent football game had we taken it into the end zone. We had opportunities. … Just about everything that can happen did.
Offensive coordinator John Bond
How will you improve the offensive line?
The sacks were so uncharacteristic; we probably haven’t given up 15 sacks the last two years, total. In ‘10, they gave up seven sacks in 307 attempts. Last year was about the same. I was really surprised at that. It put us in so many third and unmanageable situations in the first half, it was hard to overcome.
We’ve got to do a much better job protecting the pass and a much better job in the red zone. We had opportunities in the red zone and we’ve got to get better in the red zone and we will. Quite honestly, watching Donald Russell run around and watching Albert Wilson run around, I really feel like we still have a chance to have a darn good football team. We’ve just got to make sure with these guys that we keep them in the fold and keep working.
Tonight was certainly frustrating.
How would you describe McLane’s first performance?
I thought he didn’t have an opportunity to show his best stuff, quite honestly. All spring, all summer, all camp we’ve done a good job of throwing the ball on time. Sacks haven’t been an issue at all around here until tonight.
When he came back in he throw some good balls.
He was OK.
Wilson didn’t have a touch until the third quarter.
I’m very disappointed in that; Ogbuehi didn’t get any touches, either. We were trying, we were trying to get them the ball, it just didn’t work out.
That was one of the most frustrating things of the evening to me. Though we were trying to get Albert his touches for one reason or another we couldn’t. We’ve got to make sure that early in the game No. 2 is getting the ball. We tried tonight, it just didn’t work out. We’ve got to find a way to get him some touches early.
Defensive coordinator Anthony Midget
The defense kept the team in the game in the first half.
Fourteen points, two plays we were in position to make the plays. The first touchdown we had a guy in position to make the play but he just didn’t make it. We told the guys going into the half that in those two plays we gave up 14 points.
I thought we played well in the first half. The second half, I don’t think we played well against the pass [S.C. State had 128 passing yards in the second half]. I didn’t think the running game really hurt us. Because they had success passing the ball they were able to get some yards running the ball. For the ost part, one of the most disappointing things was our pass defense.
How much of that goes back to y’all just couldn’t generate a consistent pass rush, which was an issue last year?
This quarterback, the deal was to contain him and keep him in the pocket. We didn’t blitz him a lot. The guy’s an athletic guy and you have to smart about that. I thought we did a good job for the most part. He did get out sometimes tonight but he was on fire tonight. You have to give him credit. He threw two interceptions but for the most part he threw the ball well.
Does it feel like y’all gave up 488 yards?
For me it does. When you give up a 70-yard bomb, and then we gave up another big pass play, that’s 100 and something yards. The stats sometimes can be misleading. We’ve just got to get better and I think we will.
Linebacker Mark Hogan
Does it seem like y’all gave up 488 yards?
Wow. Like I said, they made the plays. We didn’t. They caught the ball. They ran the ball in key spots. Five or six plays didn’t go our way. All we can do now…it’s over. All we can do now is move on.
What’s the No. 1 thing you can work on?
Stopping the run, stopping the pass, playing overall better team offense, team defense, etc.
Coach Curry has talked for many, many months about y’all rededicated yourself during the offseason to not have results like last year. Yet, the result is the same as last year. What do you say to those who wonder how y’all are better?
It’s frustrating. We’ve seen a lot of progress, we really have on the practice field, playing overall. But the thing is you have spurts but you’ve got to be consistent. Maybe we’re better one day but not the next.
We’ve got to string together things that will make us a better football team day in and day out.
Wide receiver Albert Wilson
You didn’t have a touch until the third quarter. Did they do anything different to limit you in the offseason?
They did exactly what we thought they would do. We just couldn’t get the quarterback enough time to get anybody the ball.
Is the offensive line better than it showed tonight?
They are much better than what we saw tonight. We have two returners from last year. In practice, they are way better than what we saw tonight.
Center Michael Davis
Did they do anything different to disrupt the blocking schemes?
They didn’t do anything different than what we practiced. We went out there and tried to execute our game plan. If you look back on it there’s a lot of things we did well. Donald ran the ball really well. We had a lot of good drives going, we just needed to finish them. If we could have finished those drives it probably would have swayed momentum and had a different outcome.
[Asked a similar question]
A couple of times they had a guy come in that we weren’t necessarily supposed to account for, and he was the free guy. For the most part, we have to come together as a unit and fix those things. It’s not like it’s a huge panic thing. I know there are things we can fix and we’ll get them fixed by next week.
On protecting McLane in his first start
We definitely have a lot of pride. We want to protect whoever is back there so we want to work on that, no mental lapses and our footwork is clean. It’s nothing we can’t correct.
On the six sacks
We definitely don’t want to give up that many sacks. We want to hold it at six for the season. I truly believe we have five good offensive linemen. Once we get on the same page and click as a unit we will be pretty dominant, I believe.
– Doug Roberson, AJC. Please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu