Why doesn’t GSU run Russell more? Here’s some of the answer with other notes

Some of you that have taken the time to email, comment or respond to tweets @ajcgsu have asked variations of the same question: Why doesn’t Georgia State run Donald Russell more? (your questions will be addressed in bold in the rest of the blog)

Russell is averaging 7.1 yards per carry this season, but is averaging 12 carries a game, which isn’t a lot for a running back.

Here’s part of the reason why, according to coach Bill Curry:

First, he and his staff recognize from self-scouting that Russell is being under-utilized. However, there are some reasons from the medical to the strategic.

First, Russell sustained a shoulder injury in the first half of Saturday’s loss against Texas-San Antonio. This isn’t something Curry shared on his radio show on Monday, but he decided to provide that information during his Tuesday press conference. That’s why Russell carried the ball just 10 times in that game, including seven in the first half.

Secondly, Georgia State doesn’t line up with a Russell and a fullback and try to run over teams, which is the wish some of you have expressed, because that’s not what the basic strategy of the offense is designed to do. Curry said he wants an offense that can read what the defense is doing, react to it, and have the ability to hurt an opponent anywhere on the field. He admits they haven’t come close to doing that yet.

He said if the offense lines up and tries to steamroll a defense with 8-9 defenders in the box (kind of like what the Falcons did against the Broncos), the running game won’t be successful.

On a typical play, the offense lines up and the defense lines up. Offensive coordinator John Bond looks at the defense and sends in the play based upon how the defense is lined up and their personnel. I would assume that because Georgia State’s passing game is struggling, defenses are showing run-based strategies first, which causes Bond to go with passing plays. Coaches sometimes call this count: they count the players in the box, which side they are playing, etc.

I followed that by asking Curry what if the defenses are showing something to make Bond call what they want him to call, instead of what he wants to call (also like the Falcons did last night). Curry said that happens a lot in the NFL, but doesn’t happen very often in college football. He said it doesn’t prevent from going ahead and calling the play, but you can’t keep doing that.

Curry said there are some base plays, with counters, for Russell that have been extremely successful. I would assume you will see more of those soon, and might have against the Roadrunners.

Curry said they are working to simplify the offense to help everyone play faster.

I asked how  they marry simplifying the offense with the desire to be able to hurt defenses anywhere on the field. Curry said simplifying the offense doesn’t mean they reduce the variety of the plays. He said Georgia State’s mistakes have limited them more than anything the opponents have done.

2. Would Curry pay to go see this team?

Yes, he said. He said if you are a dissatisfied or concerned fan, he urges you to register that complaint in a way that satisfies you. But to not attend the games means you will miss the camaraderie that comes with rooting for a team, and watching this Georgia State football team grow. He said it will become very, very good, but time is needed. He recognizes that other start-up programs are having success. He said their desire is no greater than his, his coaches or players. It just hasn’t happened yet, but he is confident it will.

3. Curry said to try help the team get off to faster starts and deal with the pace of the game he has changed up some of the practice procedures. As often as they can, they are going best on best at full speed. Some of the scout team positional units will be run by the second-string groups, instead of third-stringers.

4. Wide receiver Jordan Giles will likely be out for the next 3-4 weeks with a shoulder injury. He injured it in the game against Tennessee. Curry called it a big loss, saying Giles make big plays in big situations.

5. The defense,which is giving almost 500 yards a game, will continue to be simplified. Curry said they can’t have an adjustment for every adjustment the offense makes. It’s slowing the players down too much. Robert Ferguson, Allen McKay and Jarrell Robinson will get more snaps at linebacker so that Mark Hogan and Joseph Peterson don’t have to play 70-plus snaps per game.

6. Curry thought Kelton Hill did well as a returner and receiver. As many of you know, Hill moved from quarterback to safety to wide receiver in a two-week span. Curry said they moved him from defensive back to wide receiver because they needed his athleticism on offense, and it was going to take too long for Hill to learn the defense enough to be effective.

Other headlines

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

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

34 comments Add your comment


September 18th, 2012
3:02 pm

Thanks Doug!


September 18th, 2012
3:11 pm

So Coach Curry, If the “Offensive Strategy” we are CURRENTLY using IS NOT WORKING and HAS NOT WORKED for TWO YEARS…………Why do we continue to use it? Why not do something different? (Insert High blood pressure here) I just don’t understand.


September 18th, 2012
3:13 pm

Like I said, I’m a season ticket holder but I will not go until there is change in coaching staff, strategy, or new admins. In the real world, when your work doesn’t produce any results, you get fired or reprimanded, but not GSU, they just ask for more money and patience, then blame students for not showing up.

Jee S. You

September 18th, 2012
3:16 pm

1. When did Russell get the injury? The first series when he didn’t touch the ball, or the second when he touched it once? After that, the game was getting out of hand and they had to start throwing more (according to what he said yesterday).
2. Not a lot of camaraderie happening with 11K spread out over 30K seats.
3. I do like the move of Hill to offense as it gets him on the field (KH4 lives!). Would like to see what he could do with a reverse, or as a slot receiver.

Orlando Panther

September 18th, 2012
3:23 pm

The CEO’s & Upper Management of GSU Football are inept and cannot utilize their workforce, who are more than capable, do not deserve our support.

Donald Russell didn’t have a shoulder injury in the first two games, especially SC State, so the excuse is null and void.


September 18th, 2012
3:24 pm

Great write up Doug. Sorry to hear “The Donald” was hurt. Hope he gets better soon. Still not sure why/how we are not up to par w/ the other startups? Obviously recruiting I suppose but looks a lot like coaching from the side line. Last year we had 2 or 3 blocked punts for TD’s, a missed onside game losing kick, Kelton had a ton of fumbles. These are coaching issues in that the coaches are not recognizing the players skills and/or inabilities properly.

Doug Roberson

September 18th, 2012
3:26 pm

This is my take: the attrition of some players, particularly those that were starters on defense and therefore took snaps away from others, combined with the quarterback situation last year set the program back significantly. It can be overcome, but time is needed.

Doug Roberson

September 18th, 2012
3:27 pm

Orlando, Curry and Bond said after South Carolina State they they should have used Russell more. They did against Tennessee. I assume they were going to against UTSA, but he sustained the shoulder injury.

Orlando Panther

September 18th, 2012
3:41 pm

Doug, do you honestly think we will win a game this year, and if so which one?

Doug Roberson

September 18th, 2012
3:52 pm

No idea. I’m not good at predictions, particularly since i haven’t seen any of the opponents.


September 18th, 2012
4:03 pm

This simply sounds like a program that is pedaling backwards fast. How much simplifying do you have to do! Stop making the videos and get to business. It’s clear that there isn’t depth on this team and if they can’t win there won’t be. Don’t know what coach/staff is out there that can fix this quickly which is needed now.

Go Panthers!!

September 18th, 2012
4:15 pm

“Curry recognizes that other start-up programs are having success. He said their desire is no greater than his, his coaches or players. It just hasn’t happened yet, but he is confident it will.”

Okay coach start firing people on your staff and then it will happen.
No one is scared in the “Brotherhood of the Miserable”.

The coaches know what is wrong. Don’t believe me then sit in the next interview that John Bond has with his new team next year. He will explain in detail what happened at State and why it won’t happen at the next school.


September 18th, 2012
4:21 pm

Doug, you’ve seen ODU right? What would be your prediction of that game?

Orlando Panther

September 18th, 2012
4:28 pm

ODU – 70 GSU – 0

While John Bond sits there and laughs about the program he is trying to humiliate and then leaves GSU football decimated from his craft

Doug Roberson

September 18th, 2012
4:59 pm

Saw them last year. Haven’t seen them this year.

Doug Roberson

September 18th, 2012
5:00 pm

Go Panthers, what good will firing coaches do right now during the season with a head coach who is retiring at the end of the season?


September 18th, 2012
5:09 pm

If you have patience, the coaching staff will be gone in 8 games.


September 18th, 2012
5:09 pm

You have to be able to adapt your strategy to the personnel you have. It’s sad when Russell isn’t getting his carries because we WANT our identity to be something different. He is a game changer, pure and simple. To not be giving him the ball is a tragedy and I feel sorry for him. Right now, he’s THIRD in the CAA in yards per game. Imagine if he actually got the touches he deserves. We have a Walter Payton candidate and we don’t even use him.


September 18th, 2012
5:34 pm

Well said Tuscon! I personally am tired of the excuses. I know when I wasn’t getting the job done back in my playing days my butt was on the bench. Hopefully, these coaches are still in the game and not looking for the next gig. Where’s Joe Hamilton??? Why isn’t he helping the QB’s? My goodness he almost won the Heisman and he should be able to at LEAST provide some advice to the offense’s woes.


September 18th, 2012
5:51 pm

Just bring in somebody with a clue because clearly CBC and staff are about as clueless as they come. Now they want to insult my intelligence with excuses. They are likely going to ride Mclane to an 0-11 finish. I see why players have tuned them out–hard to respect incompetence.

EKY Panther

September 18th, 2012
7:45 pm

Just a thought: is Curry expecting too much from inexperienced players at a new program? Should the offense and defense been simpler from the beginning? After all, Curry has coached at Tech, Alabama and Kentucky and played in the NFL. Not exactly novice stuff.

I have to believe Curry knows more about football than all of us posters summed and squared.


September 18th, 2012
9:38 pm

Thank you for the answers. They explain a number of things people have been moaning and groaning about.

Pantherette Porno

September 18th, 2012
9:51 pm

Will The Donald be getting at least 20 carries if he is better?


September 19th, 2012
4:39 am

On another note, gotta love that defense at Arkansas State! lol………..


September 19th, 2012
7:01 am

I do not care that we are losing, I care that we’re not even competitive.

Orlando Panther

September 19th, 2012
9:54 am

Gus Malzahn better have his offense running at all cylinders to be able to make up for what John Thompson is delivering them as the DC. However, cannot say too much as GSU is getting bent over by the likes of SC State & UTSA

Mary McElroy

September 19th, 2012
10:05 am

Miss me yet?


September 19th, 2012
11:43 am

Offense is a J-O-K-E.


September 19th, 2012
11:58 am

If you wanna win put 4 in. Plain and simple. The stats don’t lie. The last five games he started they averaged 30 points a game. Now we average 8 maybe 11. When KH was playing Donald and Kelton were getting a lot of carries and the offense was moving


September 19th, 2012
2:08 pm

Hey Bill Curry,

Shut up. None of us don’t take you seriously any more. I’m tired of wasting my time, money, and patience on you. This isn’t rocket surgery.


RCB Grad

Go Panthers!!

September 19th, 2012
2:15 pm

2012 is a lame duck season.

It doesn’t really matter what we do this season.

We win out and so what? No playoffs. No shot at the CAA title.

We lose out and so what? The coaching staff is gone anyway.


Passion of the Panther

September 19th, 2012
7:01 pm

Let’s do a mailbag; season-ticket sales and other stuff
7:01 am August 24, 2012, by Doug Roberson

Georgia State’s season-ticket sales in football have increased 22 percent this year to 3,918 from 3,220 in 2011.

What happened?

[...] Why doesn’t GSU run Russell more? [...]

[...] up?” attitude.  I believe this is a tremendous mistake.  Coach Bill Curry was quoted in Atlanta Journal Constitution on Tuesday: “…if you are a dissatisfied or concerned fan, he urges you to register that complaint [...]