Georgia State’s woes go back to something 18 months ago

One of the reasons for the demise of Georgia State’s football team this season – off to an 0-3 start and outscored by 89 points — can be traced back to March 10, 2011.

Some 18 months before this season started, coach Bill Curry announced that quarterback Drew Little, who started every game during the Panthers’ inaugural season, would be suspended for the first four games of the 2011 season for violating a team rule.

From that day to Saturday’s demoralizing 38-14 loss to Texas-San Antonio, Curry has used five different quarterbacks, including Little whose punishment was reduced, because of suspension, injuries or ineffectiveness. The team has lost 11 of those 14 games as it prepares to host Richmond on Saturday. The offense has struggled, which has affected the other units. A portion of the fan base has become discouraged. The Panthers have watched other start-up programs like UTSA’s or Old Dominion’s start to gain traction, while theirs seems stuck in place.

Of course, it’s hard to build a program that will move to football’s highest level next year when the most important piece of the puzzle keeps changing.

“It’s incredibly difficult but if you have to do it, you have to do it,” Curry said. “It would be great to have consistency at that spot but something intrudes every time we think we have found the right guy. There’s an injury or a personal situation. I’ve never seen anything like it. But it’s a fact.”

With Little starting every game in 2010, the Panthers went 6-5 against what most would consider a soft schedule, averaging 27.5 points and 327.5 yards per game. Little completed 60 percent of his passes for more than 2,100 yards with 18 touchdowns. He left the team last year having already lost his starting spot.

Since then, as the quarterback carousel has spun, the offense hasn’t been as productive, averaging 20.1 points and 334.7 yards per game.

Last year, Little, Bo Schlechter and Kelton Hill combined to complete an average of 50 percent of their passes for 2,039 yards with 16 touchdowns.

This year, the offense has gotten worse. Redshirt freshman quarterback Ben McLane, who has taken most of the snaps, is completing 44.3 percent of their passes for 118.7 yards per game with a touchdowns. McLane and backup Ronnie Bell, who passed for 95 yards and a touchdown against the Roadrunners, are playing for the first time in their careers. The offense has scored three touchdowns and has yet to produce more than 307 yards in three games.

“We’re still just a bunch of puppies in a lot of areas, and sometimes when you are puppies in certain areas it’s not so good,” offensive coordinator John Bond said.

Bond has tried to establish McLane as the definitive starter this year, going so far as to agree to move Hill, who started five games last year, to another position. But McLane has struggled. Very accurate in practice, he is completing 44.3 percent of his passes and has fumbled eight times in the previous two games. It’s not all McLane’s fault. He has had several passes dropped and has tried to be a leader by playing through injuries. But the offense isn’t trending up.

“Whether it’s the pros or pop warner, if you don’t have one of those guys show can give consistency at the position, in football in this modern time with all the things you see, it’s hard to be a good football team until you get that position solidified,” Bond said.

To try to gain that necessary traction, Bond said McLane will continue to start.

“In order to get a guy, you’ve got let a guy play,” Bond said.

McLane said he feels he is “extremely close” to being able to apply everything he’s learning into games.

“I like how I’ve progressed,” McLane said. “If I can keep progressing more I can put us in position to win some games.”

The offense’s ineffectiveness is affecting the other units. The defense, which was already trying to learn a new system, is on the field for an average of 34 minutes, 17 seconds and 76 plays per game.

“It affects the confidence of a team that’s trying to grow,” Curry said. “If the team knows the quarterback can take you down the field and score that has big impact on the way that everybody plays. You don’t want to have one unit relying on another unit, but you can’t help but think if we can just get this ball back we know our quarterback can take us down the field and score.”

Linebacker Mark Hogan said the defense doesn’t discuss what’s going on with the offense.

“It doesn’t matter who we trot out there on offense, we have to worry about what we are doing,” he said.

Curry said McLane and Bell have shown that potential, they just need to be able to play consistently to get the necessary experience.

“But that’s life, we will get through it,” Curry said. “We want Georgia State to have a really good football team and we hope that will be this week.”

Other headlines

Sun Belt eyeing Atlanta for hoops tournament and conference home

Georgia State destroyed by UTSA

Bond says McLane will start if healthy

Levick, Benson say patience is needed at GSU

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

40 comments Add your comment

Orlando Panther

September 18th, 2012
11:39 am

I think it went back 12 months ago when we should have fired John Bond and his complete braindead play calling that didn’t utilize Donald Russell. We are still suffering through his utter disregard for making the best decisions for this team.

Panthersville.com

September 18th, 2012
11:39 am

“A portion of the fan base has become discouraged.” Really? Aren’t you understating the case juuuuuuust a bit?

Orlando Panther

September 18th, 2012
11:47 am

99.9% of the fanbase has become discouraged and to say otherwise is a joke.

come on

September 18th, 2012
12:22 pm

you got to big to fast and it is going to bite you in the butt. if you are getting waxed in the CAA the lowly sun belt will eat you alive.

ChickenBone4GSUcoach

September 18th, 2012
12:25 pm

In college and college sports, multiple suspensions and knocking someone up will do it to you. It was his spot to lose. He didn’t put the job first. Let’s hope he puts baby first.

Come on Doug, you are squeezing with the correlation. Give me a break.

Chicken Bone

September 18th, 2012
12:33 pm

I will stand behind this team ALWAYS but please please please change the offensive strategy!!! Whatever is it? Make use of your FBS Transfer beast RB and give him a blocking back. The Donald is a senior and I am certain he would like to have a chance to show what he can do and maybe set some GSU records in the process. You keep saying your QB’s are freshman and inexperienced soooooooooooo then use The Donald!!! He will open up the passing game by default………….. HELLO??

Panther08

September 18th, 2012
12:36 pm

AGAIN…I AGREE WITH CHICKEN BONE!

Panther08

September 18th, 2012
12:38 pm

And can we please stop using -The team performs better in practice than in games- statement. Example: “McLane is accurate in practice” “Offensive Line protects better in practice”………….Time to stop making excuses. Help Wanted: NEW OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR!!!

FanNoMore

September 18th, 2012
12:39 pm

Someone needs to be fired. Someone. You all figure it out, but someone is responsible and does not deserve their job.

ChickenBone4GSUcoach

September 18th, 2012
12:45 pm

Chicken Bone to replace John Bond……….HELLO??

Panama

September 18th, 2012
12:51 pm

Nice write up Doug

Alum

September 18th, 2012
12:58 pm

Said it OVER and OVER and OVER again folks.
I FORMATION
SCREEN PASSES
CROSSING ROUTES
I FORMATION
From the loss to Lambuth I have been talking about this. Just good old fashioned “Old Man” football. Works every time, just ask Mark Richt

hbcuclassics

September 18th, 2012
1:01 pm

Black College Power Poll
Week 3

1. Tennessee State
2. Bethune
3. Alabama State
4. Alabama A&M
5. Winston Salem
6. SC State
7. Norfolk State
8. Howard
9. Miles
10. FAMU

http://www.hbcuclassics.com

Panters

September 18th, 2012
1:02 pm

So sick of the excuses from this coaching staff. Time to move on.

Ga StateGrad

September 18th, 2012
1:07 pm

SHUT IT DOWN PLEASE, this is a waste of $$$

Panama

September 18th, 2012
1:14 pm

@ GaStateGrad…that is exactly what I emailed your boss about your job :P

Panama

September 18th, 2012
1:14 pm

@hbcuclassics…why?

What?

September 18th, 2012
1:30 pm

“This year, the offense has gotten worse. Redshirt freshman quarterback Ben McLane, with spot duty from Kelton Hill and redshirt freshman Ronnie Bell, are completing 45.7 percent of their passes for 175.7 yards per game with two touchdowns”

“Come on Man” Doug, How is it that Kelton Hill and redshirt freshman Ronnie Bell are completing 175.7 yards PER GAME when they have only played 2 quarters each out of 12 quarters. KH had 76 yds/RB had 95 yds from 2 quarters. McClane and the OC has been handling these games!

Doug Roberson

September 18th, 2012
1:34 pm

that’s why I said “spot duty”
Almost all of it is McLane

Steve Nash's Pick and Roll

September 18th, 2012
1:55 pm

RUN THE FREAKING BALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

YOUR BEST PLAYER IS YOUR RUNNING BACK. STOP MAKING EXCUSES BILL!

RidgeRunner

September 18th, 2012
2:19 pm

My observation on passing is that the line is not holding for the QB to get the ball off making him scramble and throwing it away to keep from being sacked. Question is, are the QBs taking too long to start the pass motion or is the line not holding long enough?

"unquote"

September 18th, 2012
2:23 pm

PUPPIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

StateOfSuck

September 18th, 2012
2:23 pm

FIRE LEVICK!!!!!

Bill Curry the Excuse Guy

September 18th, 2012
2:24 pm

Please be patient with us, we are building a program that takes a lot of time, John Bond will be something special by years end, just you wait

[...] Georgia State’s woes go back to something that happened 18 months ago [...]

who cares?

September 18th, 2012
11:49 pm

Hahahaha #dadome….#mediamarket….#stillnoonecares

TheManFromEverywhereGSU

September 19th, 2012
12:49 am

I love Ga State and the football program, but the offense and defense we are running are NOT working. I would love to see the offense go to the Triple Option to utilize are running backs and are speed, just like GA Tech, run the ball and pound the defensive line and throw a few times to catch the D-Backs off guard. For Defense, run a 4-3 and bring different biltz packages to put some pressure on the QB, this 4-2-5 is not working when we are giving up over 500 yards of offense a game.

GSUAlumBaseball81

September 19th, 2012
5:08 am

Everywhere GSU, nothing will change until this staff is gone. It appears that our players cannot grasp the current systems well enough at the moment to change anything else. Amazing! I bet if you would install a blocking back into the current offensive system, instead of having trips to the left and twins to the right, our running game might improve. The I-FORMATION MUST BE TO COMPLICATED for CJB? It is going to be a long rest of the season I’m afraid. Panther faithful can still get our tailgating on though! I have to believe that there is an available head coach out there that sees the potential at GSU. I will remain hopeful of that possibility.

DOSTA DAWGS

September 19th, 2012
7:45 am

Recruit some in-state talent!!!! There are alot of Georgia HS QB’s that would love to play at GSU.

Mary McElroy

September 19th, 2012
9:50 am

Thanks for posting the HBCU standings. GSU has played a few if them, and the info isn’t listed anywhere else on AJC.com to my knowledge. As for my Panthers, run The Donald and make some noise against the CAA.

Blueblooded

September 19th, 2012
10:29 am

What a waste of a full scholly for McLane

GeorgiaStateRideorDie

September 19th, 2012
11:55 am

Ridgerunner I agree that the line is not blocking long enough for the QB to pass the ball. I think the QB needs to try to get the ball out of his hands in 3 seconds or less to make the line more effective. I do think the chemistry will eventually click with all the guys once they start playing together consistently. Go Panthers!!

Go Panthers!!

September 19th, 2012
1:23 pm

Let’s go Panthers. Fire Bond before the end of the season.

zamboni_racer

September 19th, 2012
1:55 pm

The offensive coordinator has made some terrible decision when calling critical plays. Instead of the coaching staff pointing the blame at the inexperienced players, who by the way the coaching staff recruited for a reason, they need to examine their strategy and play calling during the game. I really think Curry and the offensive coordinator should be cut loose if they cannot turn the offense around in the next 2 – 3 games.

Go Panthers!!

September 19th, 2012
2:24 pm

The worst thing that ever happened to us was drawing 30K for the debut game.

It’s been all downhill since then. In. Every. Single. Aspect.

Well, besides the SunBelt invite.

At least we have that.

Blueblooded

September 19th, 2012
2:34 pm

If we ever went to a Triple Option we would get sliim pickins on recruiting after Georgia Tech and Georgia Southern gets the cream of the crop

TheManFromEverywhereGSU

September 20th, 2012
1:01 am

Blueblooded, I agree that we could get the slim pickins on recruiting, but if We got a high profile coach that runs that system we could steal some of those recruits from Ga Tech and Ga Southern. There are so many teams that actually run that offense in Georgia, plus if you recruit guys that know how to run it and a coach that can teach it, it doesn’t matter who you have on the team! I just believe that with the Triple Option we can best utilize are running backs and pound the defensive line.

GSU Panther

September 20th, 2012
8:21 am

Please close the entire program and invest more money into basketball.

Astonishing Werepanther

September 20th, 2012
10:12 am

Hey Doug, maybe you could make a series out of the sources of our many woes this season. The next one could be about our ticket prices (y’know, to mix things up a bit), then you move back to our inability to hand the ball off to one of the biggest playmakers on the team. Maybe lame duck coaching warrants a look too?

At any rate, I’ll stick with this team forever, but man do I want some bright spots (other than Matt Hubbard) to come along.

GSU freshman

September 20th, 2012
1:33 pm

Please invite Lambuth to the dome, may be we can beat them at this time.
Go Panthers!!!