Week 3 Preview – Georgia State v. Jacksonville State
Week three of the Gamecocks’ 2011 campaign will bring the Georgia State Panthers to Alabama for their first ever visit to JSU. In 2010, the Gamecocks defeated the Panthers 31-24 in the Panthers inaugural season of football. Ben Moore of http://www.Panthertalk.com was kind enough to answer some questions about the Panthers and what we should expect from the upcoming matchup.
Q: What do you think was the general reaction of the Georgia State fanbase to last year’s game?
Moore: Last year’s game our fans came in with next to zero expectations because as high as we were for the program’s first ever game, we were that low the following week after a devastating loss to NAIA Lambuth. A big credit to Coach Curry for having the team focused and the team played a Top 10 FCS program to OT. If not for a dropped pass by Strong Safety Brandon Jones, the Panthers even had a chance to pick off Marques Ivory and take the pass to the end zone. It was a great game and was a huge building block as the team went on a 4 game win streak against FCS opponents after the JSU game.
Q: Give us a quick summary of last year’s team?
Moore: After the JSU game, the Panthers survived a road scare at Campbell, rolled inferior competition in Morehead State and Savannah State and then gutted out a win vs. NC Central in OT. The last 4 games of the season took a huge toll (partly because we had played 10 straight weeks with no BYE) and the team gutted out a win at home vs. Lamar. Playing at Alabama was exactly what we expected but we did compete. It was invaluable to come away from that game allowing us to measure our strengths and weaknesses to a Top 10 FBS program and defending BCS Title holder.
Q: How many starters did Georgia State lose on offense/defense?
Offense – 1*
Defense – 2*
Special Teams – 1
We expected to lose only our 3rd Team All American Kicker Iain Vance to exhausted eligibility but due to disciplinary issues, Coach Curry has dismissed starting ILB Olufemi Opanubi and starting FS Fred Barnes. On offense, 2010 starter Drew Little will miss the JSU games as he serves a 4 game suspension.
Q: Who are the star returning players for Georgia State?
Moore: I’ll give you an offense, defense and special teams player. On offense, it will begin and end with dual threat QB Kelton Hill. He was our leading rusher in 2010 in the WildCat package but has really put in good work this offseason improving his accuracy and arm strength. He will also benefit from the promotion of former Georgia Tech All American QB Joe Hamilton who will assist in his development.
On defense, DE Christo Bilukidi is emerging as a dominant force. Christo put up 26 tackles, 7 tackles for loss and 5 sacks in 2010. He made the switch from Weakside DE to Strongside DE this Spring and added quickness and strength. I have high expectations for him and believe that he could be a double digit sack man.
On special teams, it starts with Albert Wilson. For those that watched the Alabama game, he scored the lone touchdown on an 97 yard touchdown return. He has elite speed and also contributes as a slot WR.
Also, not because you asked, but we have added former Under Armour All American and UGA signee LB Dexter Moody, [and JUCO transfers] CB D’Mario Gunn, ILB Qwontez Mallory and Free Safety Demazio Skelton to the projected starting lineup. I expect all four newcomers to contribute imediately on the defensive side of the ball and drop 2010 starters to the level of quality depth. I’m a huge proponent of front 7 size and we increased our front 7 combined weight to 1771 lbs (an [average]increase of 38 total lbs).
Q: We heard you had some suspensions, will any key players be missing for the Jacksonville State game?
Moore: Yes. As of now, we will be without starting QB Drew Little for the JSU game. The others, listed above, are no longer with the program.
Q: How many fans do you anticipate will make the trip over for the game?
Moore: I expect to have a pretty good crowd. We had in the neighborhood of 5000 for the Alabama and I could easily see 2500+ making the trip West on I-20. We are looking forward to a great trip and having lived in Anniston for several years in the 90s, I’m looking forward to seeing the stadium expansion and different look of campus since we’ve been back.
Q: What is your prediction on the score?
Moore: Tough question for me personally but I believe we will not catch the Gamecocks napping as we did at home in Week 3. We have significantly upgraded the defensive side of the ball in the linebacker and secondary. I stil have questions about out offenses ability to sustain drives. I believe JSU is likely 10-14 points better than we are right now and look at a score in the neighborhood of 24-10.