Georgia State football has experienced the proverbial sophomore slump. Entering Saturday's contest with NAIA St. Francis, the Panthers are 2-6 on the season. The team has dealt with injuries (each game has experienced at least one new starter), discipline issues (both QB Drew Little and QB Kelton Hill missed games due to violation of team rules) and a brutal schedule (only two of 11 opponents have a losing record).
Coach Bill Curry is not one for excuses:
The only thing that is obvious is that we are inconsistent, not in effort, but in execution. We miss a block at just the wrong time or miss a check. When we got to overtime the other day, we did some incredible things. It seems like as the game wears on we get more and more tense rather than relax and play well. We work hard not to do those things. But it's a fact and there's no denying it and there is no simple explanation. We just have to keep plugging until we can execute our offense and do what we're supposed to.
St. Francis (IL) enters the Georgia Dome with an impressive 7-2 record and equally impressive 6.2 yards per rush. The Saints want to run the ball and have had great success on the NAIA level, but will face a relatively large front seven on Saturday. The difference between NAIA level speed and FCS level speed should be the difference between a 485 yard per game average to nearly half that.
Georgia State's defense has been better the last three weeks, giving up nearly 120 yards per game fewer than they did in the first five games. The offense has not improved and has been extremely inconsistent as they cannot maintain a passing threat. Led by Hill, the Panthers have essentially seen great individual efforts by Albert Wilson inflate the Panthers passing attack. Look for the Panthers to unleash Donald Russell Saturday, as he's been averaging 5.1 yard per touch in his last four games.
Expect the Panthers to stick to the game plan of the last three weeks and hit 40 rushing attempts while throwing short and utilizing the speed against an overmatched opponent in what could be a blowout win.