All of the general info about Georgia State was covered in the defensive preview post, so lets jump right into their offense.
Georgia State has nine returning starters on offense and they run a pro-style system.
As we approach the sixth week of the college football season the Panthers still have an open competition at quarterback. To the surprise of most observers sophomore Ronnie Ball won the starting job in fall camp over Ben McLane. Unfortunately for GSU, Ball has not fared well so far this season, leading to head coach Trent Miles reopening the competition. Through four games Ball has only managed to complete 46% of his passes, while throwing for 6.14 yards per attempt. He has five touchdown passes to go along with three interceptions. McLane has performed a bit better in reserve duty, albeit in very limited opportunities. On the year he's 10/18 for 185 yards (10.28 YPA), to go along with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. I would expect Ball to start on Saturday, but if he struggles early, as many assume he will, we're likely to see McLane before the day is over.
Going into the season it was expected that Trent Miles' run heavy offense would feature a committee of running backs, and we've seen some semblance of that thus far. Senior Travis Evans has assumed his role as the clear-cut lead back, rushing for 188 yards on 42 attempts (4.5 YPC). Evans is the quicker back, while junior Gerald Howse is more of the power back. Howse, Evans' backup, has struggled so far this year in limited duty (2.1 YPC), and has apparently taken reps at fullback recently. Jonathan Jean-Bart (3.5 YPC) should also get some carries on Saturday.
The Panthers' top wide receiver, and the player to watch most closely on Saturday, is senior Albert Wilson. Wilson will play primarily out wide, at either the X or Z position, and is their lone big play threat. Already this season he has caught 22 balls for 457 yards (20.8 YPC), to go along with four touchdowns. His longest reception so far this year went for 75 yards. They also like to involve him in the running game from time to time, as he has 8 carries on the season. Freshman wide receiver Robert Davis has also performed well this year (17 for 241). Danny Williams, who was slated as the number two receiver coming into the season, should also see some targets this week.
Unfortunately for Georgia State, while their skill position players are decent, their offensive line has been an absolute mess. Coach Miles has attributed the struggles of his quarterback, at least in part, to him having to run for his life frequently, unable to operate out of a clean pocket with any sort of consistency. GSU's line has struggled across the board, but their biggest problem is the line's interior. Look for Alabama to take advantage of this weakness early and often, with their patented linebacker cross blitzes coming into the A and B gaps, mainly on passing downs. Expect GSU to struggle on the ground, and once they're put in obvious passing downs the mistakes will likely start to pile up.
One should never take an opponent lightly, but I suspect Georgia State won't be too much of a challenge for the Tide. Lets hope for an injury free day and quality reps for the second and third stringers, especially at free safety where both Landon Collins and Geno Smith have one game to get comfortable before the SEC schedule resumes the following week.
On that note -- and this is slightly off topic, but in light of today's news I thought it needed to be mentioned -- lets be realistic about our expectations for Landon Collins, should he be the one to fill in for HaHa. All safeties are not the same, and, unlike HaHa, Collins is not a free safety. Coach Saban mentioned this today, and it's an important fact to keep in mind, because anyone expecting a seamless transition is likely setting themselves up for disappointment. Collins is an immensely talented player, but it takes time to learn a new position. Lets keep that in mind if/when Collins fails to make the sort of impact that many of us seem to be expecting.