CFN Preview 2013 - Georgia State Panthers
Posted Jun 26, 2013 2013 Preview - Georgia State Panthers

Georgia State Panthers

Preview 2013

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By Pete Fiutak

1st year
Head coach: Trent Miles
6th year overall: 20-36
Returning Lettermen: 46
Lettermen Lost: 14
Ten Best GSU Players
1. WR Albert Wilson, Sr.
2. LB Joseph Peterson, Soph.
3. OT Ulrick John, Sr.
4. DE Theo Agnew, Sr.
5. DT Terrance Woodard, Sr.
6. DE Nermin Delic, Jr.
7. C Michael Davis, Sr.
8. P Matt Hubbard, Jr.
9. RB Gerald Howse, Jr.
10. LB Robert Ferguson, Sr.
2013 Schedule
8/29 Samford
9/7 Chattanooga
9/14 at West Virginia
9/21 Jacksonville State
10/5 at Alabama
10/12 Troy
10/19 at Texas State
10/26 at ULM
11/2 WKU
11/16 Louisiana
11/23 at Arkansas State
11/30 South Alabama
It's going to be a process.

Georgia State started from scratch in 2010 and it's still trying to build a program, much less be competitive. Florida Atlantic was able to do it under Howard Schnellenberger, starting a football program in 2004, and now it's kicking off its first season in Conference USA. The rise of GSU could be very fast and very successful, but that only happens if the team isn't completely and totally miserable.

This is an attractive Conference USA-level program moving forward with its Atlanta location and large enrollment, but it's about to be a whole different world. Playing the new Sun Belt slate isn't exactly like trying to get through the SEC West, but playing Troy, ULM, Western Kentucky and Arkansas State is far more difficult than having to deal with Maine, South Carolina State and New Hampshire.

It wasn't just that the Panthers were losing to a slew of FCS teams; it's that they were getting obliterated.

At the FCS level, GSU wasn't even close losing nine of the ten games by double digits. How did it do against FBS teams? It was blasted 51-13 by Tennessee and 38-14 by UTSA, but everyone else except for Rhode Island did whatever they wanted, too.

In comes Trent Miles to take over and start making program something viable. In 2008, Indiana State was the most miserable team in football going 0-12 and closing out the season keeping alive a 26-game losing streak. The Sycamores broke the misery in 2009, but it took seven games to get there on the way to a 1-10 season. And then a funny thing happened under Miles; the team got good. ISU cranked up the offense and came up with two straight 6-5 seasons before going 7-4 last season with a loaded defense that finished fifth in the FCS and third in scoring defense. Miles knows how to build up from the ashes, and now he has more work to do.

For now, give it a little time and enjoy the ride. There's going to be a whole bunch of ugly before the fun comes, but the infrastructure is in place to succeed.


What to watch for on offense: Jeff Jagodzinski is taking over the attack. The veteran NFL assistant and former Boston College head coach knows how to get an offense rolling and he's eventually going to run his own program again. First, he has to make something in the Georgia State offense work. All five starters return to an offensive line that couldn't get a ground game going, and Albert Wilson is a terrific receiver who should help the passing game, but it's up to Coach Jags to work a little bit of magic and come up with one thing the O can do well. Scoring on a regular basis, would be a nice start.

What to watch for on defense: The switch to the 3-4. Nothing worked last season for a defense that allowed 300 yards rushing or receiving in seven of the 11 games, and got roasted in three of the other four games by balanced attacks. Fortunately, experience and depth won't be a problem, and now there's a change with the move to a modified 3-4 with good bulk up front and athleticism in the back eight. Will it translate into some semblance of a pass rush or more stops against the run? Compared to last year, it can't hurt.

The team will be far better if … the defense starts making things happen behind the line. The Panthers didn't get their first sack of the season until the fifth game, and four of the ten sacks came in the blowout loss to Old Dominion. Throw in the inability of the defensive front to get into the backfield with a mere 49 tackles for loss, and there was little to no disruption with just ten picks and five recovered fumbles. The bulk in the front three won't get to the quarterback, but the speed and athleticism at outside line backer has to matter.

The schedule: The Panthers might be full of veterans, but does that mean they're going to be able to come up with more wins after a disastrous 2012? Samford, Chattanooga and Jacksonville State aren't going to be sure-thing wins – it would be a plus to beat two of the three – and then that might be it. There's still a massive talent divide between GSU and the rest of the Sun Belt in its current form. Fortunately, there's only one road game after going to ULM over the final five weeks of the season, but that comes after a run of three road games in four weeks with the fun of going to Alabama along with Sun Belt dates against Texas State and ULM after hosting Troy.

Best offensive player: Senior WR Albert Wilson. The Panthers have a true weapon in Wilson, a big play threat as a receiver and a kick returner. Offensively, he averaged over 19 yards per catch over the course of his career on 104 grabs and serves as a dangerous as a kick and punt returner. He can take the top off a defense and is great when getting the ball in his hands on the move.

Best defensive player: Sophomore LB Joseph Peterson. Linemen Theo Agnew and Terrance Woodard were among the team's leading tacklers, and Kentucky transfer Nermin Delic could quickly become a terror up front, but it's Peterson who's the team's best all-around force. He stepped off the bus and into the starting lineup last season, finishing with a team-leading 65 tackles with nine solo stops against Old Dominion and ten tackles against UTSA. While he's not huge, the 6-0, 220-pounder is a tough inside presence who's always around the ball.

Key player to a successful season: The starting quarterback. The offense needs to start moving and has to start coming up with points. The Panthers have three options who'll try to do that. Ben McLane started for most of last year and wasn't too bad, but he couldn't consistently get the chains moving. Ohio transfer Ronnie Bell got his chances, but he didn't see an interception he didn't like to throw. In comes Clay Chastain, a pure passer who'll get every shot to show what he can do. It might be an ongoing battle, but someone has to produce.

The season will be a success if … the Panthers win three games. There will be lots and lots and lots of ugly blowouts, but there's enough experience and a good enough coaching staff in place to hope for a night-and-day turnaround at several spots. The program might have miles to go before it's competitive, but the schedule isn't a bear. Can GSU beat Samford, Chattanooga and Jacksonville State? After going 1-10 last season, beating those three lower level teams would be a major step forward.

Key game: Nov. 30 vs. South Alabama. Georgia State won't be anywhere near a Sun Belt title, and a winning season would make Trent Miles a Coach of the Year candidate, but it's going to be a rocky start. It's not about the beginning of the season; it's about where the team is at late. If the Panthers can win the finale against a mediocre South Alabama team at home, no matter what happens in the other 11 games, a win over the Jaguars would be seen as a positive sign.

2012 Fun Stats:
- First Half Scoring: Opponents 241 – Georgia State 81
- Penalties: Opponents 79 for 212 yards – Georgia State 51 for 417 yards
- Sacks: Opponents 28 for 276 yards – Georgia State 10 for 49 yards

- 2013 Georgia State Preview | 2013 Georgia State Offense
- 2013 Georgia State Defense | 2013 Georgia State Depth Chart