Playing football in the Colonial Athletic Association is something Georgia State coach Bill Curry said he has looked forward to.
He will get his chance when the Panthers host Richmond in the first conference game in school history. Of course, this is also their only season in the CAA. Georgia State is in the first year of a two-year transition to FBS.
“I was and am honored to have a chance to coach in this league,” said Curry, who has coached in the ACC and SEC. “Some of the greatest teams and coaches in college football history have been in the CAA. Some of the guys in the league are doing as good a coaching job as is being done anywhere.”
Four teams from the conference have won national championships, and three others have played for one in the past nine years. The Spiders defeated Montana to win the title in 2008.
“At least we get to play this one year and see if we can’t get our team to compete at the level the CAA demands,” Curry said. “That’s what we are after. We want to be a very competitive CAA team this year, and we want it to happen now.”
Richmond will provide a good test because it does many of the things well that the Panthers struggle with.
The Spiders feature a high-scoring offense (35.7 points per game) led by a big quarterback (John Laub) who can run and is protected by an offensive line that hasn’t given up a sack. The Panthers’ defense has yet to post a sack and has allowed 40.7 points and almost 500 yards per game.
Their defense is tough (19 points per game) and will offer a test for the Panthers’ anemic offense, which has averaged 11 points and 266.3 yards per game.
Richmond is capable of making impact plays in several areas. In last week’s win against VMI, Jovan Smith took the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. Later, safety Cooper Taylor returned an interception for a touchdown.
Georgia State isn’t eligible to win the conference this season, nor is it eligible to compete in the FCS playoffs. So, this being the first and only season in the conference is odd for a few of Georgia State’s players, but they are taking the schedule in stride.
Linebacker Mark Hogan grew up in the Northeast, where a few of the CAA’s football schools are located. He liked the thought of playing in the conference.
“I know it’s a good brand of football,” he said. “But we’ll go out there and play whoever is on our schedule. Next year it will be a different schedule with new rivalries, but this year will be focused on the CAA.”
Center Michael Davis said that when he was being recruited by Georgia State, he didn’t know much about the conference, other than it was one of the better ones in the FCS.
“It’ll be a great experience for us because … it’ll be a great transition,” he said. “Many teams in CAA could double as a [FBS] team.”
– Doug Roberson, AJC. Please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu