Georgia State coach Bill Curry said running back Donald Russell didn’t get the ball enough in last week’s 33-6 loss to South Carolina State.
“That’s on us,” Curry said.
Russell carried the ball 12 times for 120 yards, an eye-popping 10-yards-per-carry average. He carried the ball six times in the first half, which ended with the Panthers trailing 14-3.
“He didn’t get the ball enough in either half,” Curry said during today’s CAA teleconference. “We recognized that as soon as the game was over. Several things specific in play-calling that [John] Bond and I got together immediately and realized that we didn’t distribute the ball.”
Russell wasn’t the only playmaker to be neglected.
Wide receiver Albert Wilson, the team’s fastest player, didn’t catch a pass until the third quarter. He finished with three receptions for 44 yards. Wilson also didn’t get a carry on a reverse or option play.
Asked how two of his best players didn’t get enough touches, Curry said that when the team gets into certain situations they tried different things, and when those don’t work out, such as something that puts the team into third and long, plans change.
Russell twice carried the ball 20 times for the Panthers in a game last year, once against South Alabama ( 20 carries, 136 yards) and again the next week against Texas-San Antonio (21 carries, 87 yards). Georgia State went 1-1 in those games.
Many of you have asked (pleaded?!?) for Russell to get more carries.
There are factors to consider.
In many games last year Russell wasn’t 100 percent healthy, which reduced his carries. Georgia State was also trying to come from behind in some of those games. Lastly, teams loaded up to stop the run because Georgia State’s quarterbacks weren’t accurate enough (49.7 percent completion rate) to make the safeties or linebackers worry about the passing game, even when they had a lead.
Ben McLane is sore but should be OK for Saturday’s game at Tennessee, Curry said. McLane got hit hard in the ribs by South Carolina State.
However, Curry wouldn’t say whether McLane or Kelton Hill will start in Knoxville.
Neither quarterback impressed against South Carolina State.
Making his first start, McLane finished 7 of 15 for 54 yards and was sacked five times. Hill finished 7 of 13 for 76 yards with an interception. He also rushed for 9 nine yards and was sacked once. The six sacks were the most allowed by Georgia State in a game.
Curry said neither quarterback played as well as they can, but they weren’t helped by an offensive line that he said didn’t do a good enough job pass-blocking.
Curry said he hasn’t yet talked to the players about what it will be like to play at Neyland Stadium, one of the largest and loudest college football stadiums. It has a seating capacity of 102,455.
Curry coached there many times while at Alabama and Kentucky. He said he planned to talk to the players on Tuesday.
“What I’ve told them so far is let’s suck it up and keep working and keep improving,” he said.
Hostile stadiums aren’t new to the Panthers. Georgia State played at Alabama in 2010.
Kicker Christian Benvenuto has been reinstated and will compete for the field-goal duties this week. He was suspended after being involved in an altercation in a Buckhead bar during the offseason.
Punter Matt Hubbard was named the CAA special teams player of the week after averaging 62.2 yards per punt. One of his five punts went 80 yards.
David Miller won the kicking job, but didn’t play against South Carolina State because of a foot injury. Matt Ehasz handled the duties against South Carolina State, missing two of his four kicks, including a 24-yarder in the second quarter.
Benvenuto hit nine of his 17 attempts last year, with six misses from at least 40 yards.
– Doug Roberson, AJC. Please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu