It’s perhaps fitting that in Bill Curry’s final season of coaching football he has been forced to do something that hasn’t occurred much since his days as a center and linebacker at Georgia Tech: use a two-way player.
Because of injuries, Georgia State was forced to play Drew Pearson at tight end and defensive end in last week’s 28-21 loss at James Madison. There’s a chance, depending upon the injury status of defensive ends of C.J. Stephens and Melvin King, that Pearson will do the double against Old Dominion on Saturday in the Georgia Dome.
Using a two-way player is something that Curry said he’s never before been forced to do. Pearson caught one pass for 10 yards, but didn’t have a tackle. He was in on 64 plays, 18 on defense and 48 on offense.
“It’s nothing really difficult,” Pearson said. “I played offense and defense in high school so I had a pretty good idea what to do.”
Pearson, a redshirt sophomore, remembered the fundamentals of the defensive end position from his time at Pepperell High in Lindale. He said he prefers to play offense because that’s what he has been focusing on for the past four years, but he is enjoying getting to “fly around” on defense.
“It’s definitely a great feeling to be able to play both ways because not many people get to do that, especially nowadays with so much emphasis on one position and being great at that,” he said.
Stephens and King practiced on Tuesday. If they can go, Curry said Pearson will likely move back to offense, but they are going to have him ready to go just in case. Gabe Hampton also played both offense and defense against the Dukes, but he didn’t play defense more than a handful of times.
Curry said he didn’t offer either player any advice on switching back and forth.
“I honestly didn’t access that file,” he said. “Maybe it’s buried too deeply, too painfully.”
Curry then told a story about his days with the Packers, when he said Vince Lombardi told him he would give him a shot at linebacker. That opportunity never happened. But when Curry moved to the Colts, Don Shula gave him a chance to play middle linebacker.
” … I proved I should play center,” he said. “Drew did a whole lot better on his defensive stint than I did.”
Cornerback Isaiah Howard has been dismissed from the football team for a violation of team rules.
Howard sent out a series of what would be considered negative tweets last week after athletic director Cheryl Levick signed a five-year contract extension. The tweets have since been removed. Howard, a redshirt sophomore, had a history of critical tweets.
Howard joins kicker Christian Benvenuto, end Qwontez Mallory, back-up quarterback Bo Schlechter and linebacker Dexter Moody in the list of players dismissed since January for violating team rules.
A week after playing what defensive coordinator Anthony Midget called the most complete game of the year, Georgia State must now prepare for a different type of test against the Monarchs.
Villanova and James Madison were both run-based offenses. While the Wildcats ran over the Panthers, Midget’s charges bounced back to limit the Dukes to 340 total yards and 21 points. Seven more points were scored on a blocked punt.
Midget said assistant coach Jason French told him before the game that the players seemed ready to win after a series of disappointing performances fueled by inconsistency and injuries.
“We felt it from the kids,” Midget said. “It was the same thing we had in the spring with the injuries, (it was a feeling that) we’ve been here before.”
The Monarchs (7-1, 4-1 Colonial Athletic Association) are led by Atlanta native and quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who has passed for 3,159 yards and 24 touchdowns this year in ODU’s quick, spread offense.
Midget said this week the Panthers must get to Heinicke, who has had passing games of 730, 492 and 486 yards this season.
“This week will be a totally different monster than the past two weeks,” Midget said. “It’s going to be speed, speed, speed. We have to get pressure without blitzing a lot.”
Offensive coordinator John Bond said the key for the Panthers against ODU will be to hold on to the ball: both in the running game and in avoiding turnovers.
Evans bounced back to lead the team with 98 yards. Rosevelt Watson added 30.
“We did a good job back there,” Bond said. “I think they had a little something to prove. They were anxious to show what they can do and they did a good job.”
The Monarchs are allowing an average of 28.2 points and 393.1 yards per game.
Should the Panthers fall behind, Bond has no doubt they will keep playing.
“The thing I’ve been most pleased with is no matter what has happened or far we’ve gotten down the kids have battled to the very end,” he said. “Times when we’ve been trying to get the second-team in and the guys are still fighting. They always compete and I’m proud of that. We’re down 28-7 (at JMU) and we are still in it. We go down 28-21 and we are dying to get the ball back.”