Ben Moore and I of Panther Talk exchanged Q&A's earlier this week, and here is what he had to say about our questions regarding the Georgia State Panthers:
What is the general offensive system for GSU? Exactly what must be done for the offense to score points on a fairly consistent basis?
We run a one back set with either 3 WR or 2 TE for the majority of the game. We rotate 3 RBs and the hot back (as of late has been #21 Travis Evans) and will throw to the RB as check downs. We have one of the top Freshman WR in FCS in #17 Danny Williams. Think a young Ed McCaffrey of the Denver Broncos. He surpassed 50 catches and is our best route runner. We'll run a few plays from the Wildcat with #4 Kelton Hill who can also throw a little but is not very accurate. Our pass protection has actually surpassed my expectation and Drew has done a good job at avoiding sacks by throwing the ball away. In order to score, I believe that we will have to throw the ball. Our offensive line has done a terrible job run blocking and it only gets worse vs. a front 7 that weighs a combined 123lbs heavier than any we've faced this season. A trick play or two may create an opportunity but I do not believe the Panthers offense will create many scoring opportunities vs. the Tide's starting defensive players.
What is the general defensive system for GSU? Is there anything in particular that this defense hangs their hat on as a unit?
We run a 3-4 hybrid defense. Our DC is former Ole Miss, Arkansas, South Carolina and Florida DC John Thompson (he was actually interviewed for Les Miles' DC job before the year). We are very strong at LB and will be boosted by our best #41 ILB Femi Opanubi who returns from a torn meniscus. We start 2 RS Freshman CBs in #26 Jamal Ransby and #9 Brent McClendon and they've played well at times and have been torched in others. We have a very good safety who was missed in the recruiting cycle in #24 Fred Barnes who is our leading tackler. We do not have tremendous size along the D Line and that has contributed to opposing teams having great success running the football this year. The Panther D has done a very good job controlling the long pass. We drop our LBs and teams have only been successful underneath. Our DB philosophy is keep routes in front of us and they are coached by former Virginia Tech & Atlanta Falcon Anthony Midget. His unit is giving up only 178.2 yard per game in the air. Very impressive considering 3 out of the 4 DBs are Freshman or RS Freshman.
Who are some of the players that UA fans should know prior to this game?
It all starts with the QB doesn't it? QB #11 Drew Little was not necessarily a popular choice among Panther fans but in truth, he beat former Tide QB Star Jackson out for the job. He knows the offense inside and out and OC John Bond says he makes the right read 85% of the time. He's a big guy, 6'5, 240lbs, has a big arm and has been very accurate this year (completing 63% of his passes). RB #21 Travis Evans will likely not get the start but will play plenty, he has the ability to shed tacklers and can make plays in the open field. WR #17 Danny Williams has the best hands on the team and is one of Drew's favorite targets catching 53 balls for 640 yards and 5 TDs. I'd also look out for #15 Albert Wilson. He returns kicks, punts and can catch the ball. He may be the fastest guy on our team. He's also used on reverses and jet sweeps which I'd expect to see a few in the game. #35 Jake Muasau has Troy Polamalu type hair and flies around everywhere making plays. He leads the team in TFL and is always around the ball. #53 Christo Bilukidi is our best player in the front 7 DE and leads the team sacks and QB pressures.
How happy are you guys so far with Bill Curry as head coach?
We are thrilled with Coach Curry as a HC and representative of our program. The buzz generated from the ESPN the Magazine article, his appearances on national radio and the name recognition locally has helped with recruiting and fundraising. Our largest donor was a Georgia Tech graduate that Curry befriended while coaching there in the 80s. He absolutely gets this process and we are ecstatic to have him. He’s been able to convince players with FBS offers (Conference USA, Sun Belt and ACC school) to play for Georgia State. He has assembled a tremendous staff and we are expected to return every starter on offense and defense.
What is your legitimate expectation for this game?
I have an idea about the how the game will play out but my legitimate expectation for this game is for the boys in blue and white to never stop competing. I believe this game will benefit the program for years in several facets: off season conditioning, exposure and recruiting. The largest crowd this group has played in this season was our home opener which was just larger than 30,000. I do expect the younger guys to get overwhelmed and to see Alabama rip off some points quickly. We’ve had trouble with fumbles this season and I expect at least one to result in a big play for Alabama. This team will not quit and I actually expect our offense to move the ball late in this game and maybe grab a score or two against the backups on Alabama’s defense. The young players and front 7 will be overwhelmed early but we do have some playmakers on both sides of the play. Many people predicted a 100 point blowout. I just don’t see that because of the game 8 days later for the Tide is far too important.