Georgia State’s defensive line and linebackers are beat up heading into Saturday’s game at William and Mary.
The line, already thin with the loss of David Huey and the NCAA ruling that Nermin Delic is ineligible to play this year, may be without defensive tackle Joe Lockley, who suffered a groin injury in last week’s loss to Richmond.
The linebackers were without Mark Hogan (shoulder) last week. He didn’t practice Sunday, had an MRI Tuesday and was able to participate in some aspects of practice Wednesday. He is questionable. Jarrell Robinson, who started his first game of the season against the Spiders, was already fighting through injuries. He is probable to face the Tribe.
Defensive coordinator Anthony Midget said a trio of underclassmen, Jon Marshall Sauls, Chris Russo and Marcus Stetzer, will back up Terrance Woodard and Theo Agnew at defensive tackle.
“It’s what we have, we’ve just got to keep rolling and deal with it,” Midget said.
Injuries do present opportunities and Midget said linebacker Allen McKay played his best game against the Spiders.
Another player who stood out was outside linebacker Bryan Williams, a true freshman and younger brother of former Panther Arthur Williams.
Coaches had planned on redshirting Bryan until injuries and ineffectiveness forced their hand. Williams responded with a tackle, but the coaches liked his athleticism and instinct. Midget said Williams will start against William and Mary.
“He will be a very, very good football player,” Midget said.
Williams said he learned on Thursday that he was likely going to play last week, so he continued to study his playbook and watch film, something he said he’s been doing all season in case he was needed. Bryan said he spoke to Arthur, who told him just to play and stay calm.
“It was very exciting,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for my moment and practicing hard on the scout team. Coaches gave me my chance and I executed.”
Offensive coordinator John Bond said it’s likely Ben McLane and Ronnie Bell will see extended playing time on Saturday. Curry said on Monday that they were opening up the competition between the two. The offense has struggled in the first four games in which McLane has started. The team is averaging less than 12 points and 300 yards per game.
Bell, who has appeared in two games, says he’s ready.
“When I’m out there, I just play do what we practice,” he said. “I just work hard during the week so they don’t have to change the playbook.”
Neither Curry nor Bond said McLane is entirely to blame for the offense’s lack of efficiency. The offense hasn’t started the same group of wide receivers since the opener because of injuries. The team was down to its third-string center in last week’s loss, a rarity for most teams but something that’s happened twice to Georgia State in each of the past two seasons.
Both Bell and McLane have also been undone by dropped passes by the receivers or blown routes.
Bond said two weeks ago, after moving to Kelton Hill to wide receiver, that he needed to give McLane time to develop. Now, he said he needs to figure out which quarterback gives the team the best opportunity to score.
“It’s been hard to be as consistent as we need to be because of all the guys that have been in an out of the lineup,” Bond said.
Bond said he doesn’t regret switching Hill, who played quarterback each of the past two seasons, saying McLane and Bell are more accurate passers. McLane is completing 49 percent of his attempts. Bell is completing 57.1 percent, but he has played mostly against defenses protecting leads.
Bond said McLane played his best game of the season, completing 16 of his 26 attempts. He graded out at 85 percent.
“Us looking at what we are doing this week is no reflection of Ben McLane, it’s just a reflection of where we are an offense right now,” Bond said.
Whoever starts should be helped by the return of Danny Williams, who missed the past two games with an ankle injury. Albert Wilson suffered a hip injury in last week’s game, but returned to play. He sat out some of this week’s practice, but Curry said he thinks Wilson will be able to play Saturday.
Long-snapper Scott McQueen will wear No. 67 on Saturday to honor a former high school coach who died last week.
Leon Brockmeier was McQueen’s offensive line coach at Freedom High in Tampa. He was a second-team all-Big Ten tackle at Northwestern, where he wore No. 67. The Wildcats will wear stickers on their helmets to honor him. He died suddenly Saturday morning. Brockmeier was 34 and is survived by his wife and two children.
Brockmeier and McQueen’s dad became friends while coaching at Freedom.
“He would hang out and eat dinner at our house,” McQueen said.
– Doug Roberson, AJC. Please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu