Georgia State coach Bill Curry said they are opening up the quarterback competition between Ben McLane and Ronnie Bell after the team lost its fourth consecutive game on Saturday, 35-14 to Richmond.
Curry said the starter for Saturday’s game at William and Mary will be a game-time decision.
McLane, a redshirt freshman, has started the first four games but the team has struggled. The Panthers are averaging 11.8 points and 297.2 yards per game this season.
McLane is completing 49 percent of his pass attempts — far below the 65 percent Curry said he wanted to see — and 124 yards per game.
“We do well for a while on offense and then we get stopped,” Curry said. He compared the performance of the offense to a tennis player that loses because of mistakes. “We make too many unforced errors.”
Bell, also a redshirt freshman, is completing 57.1 percent of his passes and is averaging 98 yards per game this season. He has played in two games, mostly in the second half in which the opponents have been protecting big leads. However, Bell has displayed a strong arm and confidence.
Like McLane at Brookwood, Bell also won a high school state championship in Georgia. He led Sandy Creek to a 29-1 record and two titles. He passed for more than 4,400 yards his last two years before signing with Ohio. He transferred to Georgia State earlier this year.
McLane beat Kelton Hill for the job in the spring by displaying accuracy and game-management skills. When McLane started the opener, he became the third different quarterback to make his college debut for the Panthers in the past three seasons. Hill was moved to defensive back in week 2 and is now at wide receiver because offensive coordinator John Bond said he wanted to focus on one quarterback and give him time to develop.
Curry has struggled to get production from his quarterbacks. The team had used five different quarterbacks in a 14-game stretch because of injuries, suspension or ineffectiveness.
Quarterback isn’t the only position being scrutinized.
Curry said freshman Bryan Williams saw his first action this year because they are looking for improved production and consistency on defense. Williams played the wolf position. He finished with a tackle.
“We have some talent we aren’t using on this team so we are looking at all positions,” Curry said. “We have got to get consistent and you don’t do that by sitting on pat hands.”
While Georgia State struggles to find a quarterback, an Atlanta native is setting records from under center at one of the Panthers’ rivals.
Old Dominion’s Taylor Heinicke, a Collins Hill grad, passed for 730 yards as part of 791 total yards in Saturday’s 64-61 win over New Hampshire. Both of Heinicke’s marks set Division I records.
Curry said Georgia State did recruit Heinicke. At the time, Curry had Drew Little, Bo Schlechter, Star Jackson and Kelton Hill on the roster.Curry said they weren’t going to recruit another quarterback because the depth chart was full. Only Hill is left and he isn’t playing quarterback.
Midway through the season, Curry’s coaches learned about Heinicke. They began recruiting him but by then Heinicke was talking to ODU. He also wanted to major in engineering, a program not offered at Georgia State.
“Old Dominion did a nice job recruiting him,” Curry said.
– Doug Roberson, AJC. Please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu