2014 Ga State Preview: What You Need To Know

Posted Jul 18, 2014

Preview 2014 - What You Need To Know About Georgia State

2014 Georgia State Preview

What You Need To Know...

- 2014 Georgia State Preview  
What You Need To Know About The Offense: Former Boston College head coach and hot head coaching prospect Jeff Jagodzinski landed at Georgia State, where his offense sputtered last season when WR Albert Wilson wasn’t making huge plays. Wilson is gone, but No. 2 target Robert Davis is back, and there’s the potential for more downfield passing with JUCO transfer Nick Arbuckle coming in to challenge incumbent quarterback Ronnie Bell. The running game needs to be stronger after coming up with just 1,227 yards and nine scores, and there have to be more points early on after getting outscored 231-88 in the first half, but with just four starters back, and with concerns up front, it’s going to take more work.

What You Need To Know About The Defense: The Panther defense showed promise at times, and showed better potential than the stats might indicate. But defensive coordinator Jesse Minter has to do a ton of tweaking for a defensive front that only came up with 11 sacks. The secondary, hurt by the lack of pressure up front, and the defensive back seven only generated six picks. There isn’t a ton of size up front in the 3-4 alignment, but there’s enough to be stronger against the run, and then the hope is for the promising linebacking corps to be more disruptive. Joseph Peterson should be one of the Sun Belt’s top interior linebackers, while JUCO transfer Marcus Caffey should help the secondary.

Players You Need To Know
1. LB Joseph Peterson, Jr.
While he’s only 6-0 and 220 pounds, he’s a big presence on the inside and the team’s top tackler over the last few seasons, following up a 65-stop true freshman season with a team-leading 103 tackles, two sacks and six tackles for loss despite missing one game. Dominant at times as the season went on, he came up with 16 tackles against Troy early in the year, but finished up with four straight double-digit tackling games with 46 in November. Extremely steady and with great range and open field tackling ability, he should be an all-star as one of the Sun Belt’s most consistent defenders.

2. WR Robert Davis, Soph.
All the tools are there to be among the Sun Belt’s best receivers, finishing second on the team with 44 catches for 711 yards and four touchdowns. At 6-3 and 198 pounds, he has excellent size and knows how to use his frame and body against the smaller defensive backs. With nice speed, he can get deep and be used as a deep threat – he should thrive if and when JUCO transfer Nick Arbuckle is the starting quarterback. He’s always working and always looking to get better, and now he has to be used to being keyed on by opposing defenses. He’s Georgia State’s biggest and most talented weapon, and he’ll have to play like it.

3. CB Marcus Caffey, Jr.
The JUCO transfer is expected to come in and be one of the team’s stars right away. A top running back prospect, he first went to Kentucky, - he was supposed to be a great get for the program – but he never played and left for Iowa Western CC, where he became more of a cornerback after making the switch early on at UK. At 6-0 and 195 pounds with tremendous quickness, he has the ability and tools to step in and be Georgia State’s No. 1 corner right away on one side.

4. TE Keith Rucker, Soph.
In the building process, the Panthers need young players like Rucker to do more and more as his career goes on. Thrown into the fire as a true freshman, the 6-3, 235-pounder showed off terrific upside averaging 16.6 yards per catch, making 14 grabs for 242 yards and a 42-yard score against Louisiana-Lafayette. He has the size, and he has the athleticism, built like a big wide receiver, and he can block.

5. S Tarris Batiste, Jr.
A linebacker last year, the 6-1, 210-pounder is built more like a safety and will likely take over the strong safety job. The Indiana State transfer stepped in right away for the Panthers and led the way with 9.5 tackles for loss while finishing second on the team in tackles with 77 stops with a pick and two broken up passes. He got more comfortable, and better, as the season went on, coming up with 22 tackles over the final two games after doing a good job all year on the outside. He’ll still be among the team’s leading tacklers, but now he’ll be doing it in the secondary.

6. QB Nick Arbuckle, Jr.
Is it his offense to run? The Panthers need the quarterback situation to be settled after using three last year, and Ronnie Bell is still there in the mix, but the 6-1, 230-pound Arbuckle was brought in to take over the reins. The JUCO transfer from Pierce College in California, he was a terrific bomber who stretched the field throwing for 2,852 yards and 26 scores last year after chucking for 3,774 yards and 40 scores in 2012. He’s not going to run, but he’s a smart, tough passer who’ll spread the ball around and will push the ball down the field more than Bell.

7. LB Makendy Cheridor, Soph.
The defensive front has to be more active and needs to be much stronger, and that means the 6-5, 250-pound Cheridor, sort of a hybrid on the outside, has to come in after a good first year as a true freshman. With the right size and the right look, he has the frame of a pass rusher and has the upside to start getting into the backfield even more after making 34 tackles with a sack with 7.5 tackles for loss – it he can come up with around five sacks, it’ll be a great year.

8. OG A.J. Kaplan, Sr.
One of the team’s most versatile linemen, he started just about everyone at times up front last season. He didn’t see any time at center, and he was okay at tackle, but he settled in at left guard where the Las Vegas native proved to be one of the steadiest blockers. The former JUCO transfer from Palomar College isn’t a mauler, but at 6-4 and 270 pounds he can move a little bit.

9. QB Ronnie Bell, Jr.
Bell got his feet wet as a true freshman and had his moments, completing 51% of his passes for 522 yards and three scores, but he struggled with interceptions. He had problems with picks again last year, throwing 11, but he was a bit more of a playmaker completing half his throws for 2,573 yards and 15 touchdowns. At 5-11 and 180 pounds, he’s not all that big, but he can run a bit, taking off for 113 yards and three scores, and he can spread the ball around a bit. However, the Ohio transfer and former Georgia high school star will have to fight to get the starting gig. He might be used from time to time if he doesn’t, but at the very least, he’s a veteran who can step in and see time.

10. PK Will Lutz, Jr.
Can Lutz be a difference-maker with a clutch field goal or two? The former walk-on started off his career as a kickoff specialist, and he showed good promise on field goals hitting 4-of-7. Last year he was far stronger and was better than his stats. He might have only hit 8-of-12 field goals, but like 2012 most of his misses came from deep. He nailed a 53-yarder against Alabama, and two of his misses came from 50 yards out. He has a good deep leg, but he has to nail everything from 40 yards and in.

- 2014 Georgia State Preview