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