After a surprisingly great 7-5 start in Shawn Elliot’s first season, Georgia State expectedly took a step back in 2018, although it was probably a little bigger than most forsaw as GSU dropped to 2-10 and a bottom ten rank in the country.
The defense held up ok, at least against the run, but the secondary struggled big time, and as a result the Panthers let up an absurd 7.7 YPP.
A ton is back on both sides of the ball, so this team should at least be more experienced, but the schedule looks tough.
The offense was decent last year and returns a solid bit, but it will lose coordinator Travis Trickett. The replacement is Brad Glenn, former holder of the same title at FCS Western Carolina where he ran with a dual-threat system.
QB Dan Ellington should fit in perfectly with the Glenn system, Ellington not only threw for over 2,000 yards, but he also led the Panthers in rushing yards last year.
The backfield looks loaded with Tra Barnett and Seth Paige both returning after each averaged over five yards per attempt last year. The left side of the line looks solid for them to run behind, but underclassmen will likely have to slide into the other three starting roles which is a little worrying to me.
The receiving corps loses star Penny Hart, who racked up nearly 3,000 yards in his college career. Luckily for the Panthers, five receivers with over 100 yards return including sophomore Cornelius McCoy who could be Hart’s heir after flashing as a freshman (495 yards with 14.1 YPC, which bested Hart’s number of 13.7). Devin Gentry and Tamir Jones both should see their touches increase after each averaged 13+ YPC last year. Sam Pickney should also see his role increase. Pickney was a star recruit that ended up redshirting but racked up 82 yards on his three catches in 2018.
Despite losing Hart, there is a lot to like about this offense, and as crazy as it feels to say, I think they may improve.
Georgia State was efficient against the run last year but really, really bad against the pass. A lot is back though, and hopefully, the defense should mature a little after a lot of young guys saw playing time last year.
ILBs Ed Curney and Trajan Stephens-McQueen are two names to keep an eye on, and while Terry Thomas’ numbers don’t pop (1.5 sacks, 2.5 TFL), he was perhaps the most important player on the D last year when you watch the tape.
Three of four are back in the secondary, as well as junior Cedric Stone who missed the last 3/4ths of last year due to injury.
While this team is more experienced than last year’s group, it still looks like at least four underclassmen will end up starting. I’m really not sure what to make of this defense because there didn’t seem to be a ton of talent last year, but I’ll chalk that up to the young team and say that with nine of the top 11 tacklers back this D should improve, although I would expect them to remain below average.
The run defense will be solid, the offense should at least be fun to watch, but the schedule is tough. A 1-3 record in non-conference play seems quite likely, and three of their four toughest opponents in conference play will come to Atlanta, meaning most of their winnable games are on the road.
Elliot led the Panthers to their only winning record since joining the FBS in 2017, but getting back to a bowl seems like a longshot in 2019. The team is still young though, and outside of Ellington, almost all of the key players will be back for 2020.
|Date||Opponent||OPP. RANK||Proj. Margin|
|14-Sep||at Western Michigan||86||-13.0|
|21-Sep||at Texas State||112||-5.7|
|12-Oct||at Coastal Carolina||128||0.9|
|30-Nov||at Georgia Southern||93||-12.3|
Average Projected Record: 4.1 wins, 7.9 losses (2.6 wins, 5.4 losses)