Kelton Hill said standing in the pocket as a quarterback is much scarier than standing at the goal line as a kick-returner with 11 men running full speed at him with the sole intention of tackling him.
“Standing in the pocket, you have more stuff to think about,” he said. “When you are returning kicks, you are just running, looking for seams.”
Three weeks ago Hill was a back-up quarterback. Two weeks ago he switched to defensive back and kick returner. Last week, he became a wide receiver and returned two kickoffs for 24 yards in the loss to Texas-San Antonio.
He said he’s enjoying his new role. He played a few snaps at receiver against the Roadrunners. Because of an injury to Jordan Giles, Hill has practiced with the first-team offense this week as Georgia State prepares to play Richmond.
“It’s a lot more fun,” he said. “It takes a lot of stress off. It’s just about playing ball now.”
He said his hands are “pretty good.” He knows the routes from learning the playbook as quarterback. Now, he’s just trying to build up his stamina for all of the running and refine his techniques.
Coach Bill Curry thought Hill did well as a returner and receiver against Texas-San Antonio.
Curry said they moved Hill 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. Hill was named a first-team all-state player by the AJC at Lithia Springs High School.
Donald Russell said his fumble against Texas-San Antonio was his first since coughing up the ball against Georgia in 2010 when he was at Kentucky.
That snapped Russell’s string of 155 carries without a fumble.
Russell said he was trying to keep his balance along the sideline in the second half of the game against UTSA when defender came from behind and punched the ball out.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” he said.
Russell suffered a pinched nerve in his shoulder during the game, but he said it’s fine and he’s ready to play against Richmond.
Perhaps lost in the struggles of the offense is the development of the offensive line, which had to replace four starters at the beginning of the season.
After giving up six sacks in the season-opening loss to South Carolina State, the line has allowed just four in the past two games, including just one against UTSA.
Line coach Mike Riddle said it can take a while for the players to develop chemistry.
“That first game was a little bit rough but I thought we came together and are starting to get some things going,” he said.
The unit goes eight deep and is benefiting from being healthy and soaking up game experience. The same group of five have played most of the snaps.
“You have to get game snaps,” Riddle said. “There’s a big difference between what happens out here [practice] and what happens in games. The speed of the game is so much faster.”
Riddle said he also likes what he sees from some of the players who aren’t getting game time: the true freshmen.
He said Mark Ruskell, a center from Duluth, had a great camp and has been productive. Riddle said tackles Treavor Flannigan and Garrett Gorringe have things to work on, but will be productive.
“We have a chance to be really good up front on offense,” Curry said.
– Doug Roberson, AJC. Please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu