Three storylines for Saturday’s game between Georgia State and Old Dominion at the Georgia Dome:
1. Can the offense keep the ball? Offensive Coordinator John Bond said his group needs to stay on the field to keep Old Dominion’s high-powered offense on the sidelines. The Panthers have held the ball longer than their opponents three times this season, but trail in that category by more than five minutes per game this season. The Panthers will need the running backs to hold onto the ball and the wide receivers to catch passes when they hit them in the hands. Both have been issues this year. Running back Travis Evans, taking over for the injured Donald Russell, fumbled away the ball on the first play last week and wide receiver Albert Wilson, normally sure-handed, has dropped passes in each of the past two games.
2. If it can’t, can the defense hold up? The Monarchs average 84.5 plays per game, and lead the FCS in scoring (44.6) and total offense (565.5) and are third in passing (400.3). Georgia State coach Bill Curry said the Monarchs’ offense grinds opposing defenses down. That’s a dangerous description considering the Panthers have had to resort to moving some offensive players to defense in order to overcome injuries and get 11 players on the field. Also bad news, the Panthers are giving up 35.6 points and 446.8 yards per game. The good news is the defense had what coordinator Anthony Midget described as its most complete game in last week’s 28-21 loss at James Madison. Some of those injured players, including end C.J. Stephens, could return this week.
3. Will the fans show up? It’s the final home game for Curry and 12 seniors. There will be a few ceremonies honoring both. In addition, Georgia Tech is on the road. It will be cold outside and the Dome will obviously be warm. Georgia State’s last three home games have been attended by an average of 10,390 fans.
Be its second of the season.
Be its third consecutive over the Panthers.
I’ll be at the dome Saturday for coach Currys last home game and the seniors I salute you…
– Oshay Carter, a Georgia State recruit
OK, here’s a good sign for a 1-8 team (if that’s possible): The Panthers got down 28-7 to James Madison last week and rallied with two fourth-quarter touchdowns to make it close, which at least shows they haven’t quit on the season. Will it make a difference this game? No. ODU doesn’t have a great defense but the offense is averaging 534 yards and 37 points in conference games. Prediction: Georgia State loses.
– Doug Roberson, AJC. Please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu