Georgia State football returns to the friendly confines of the Georgia Dome on Saturday (2pm ET on ESPN3.com), looking to create some momentum against Murray State of the Ohio Valley Conference. While the Panthers have never faced the Racers of former Georgia Southern head coach Chris Hatcher, there is something very familiar about their offense.
Murray State runs an offense that has been coined 'The Hatch Attack.' They currently rank No. 4 in FCS in passing yards per game, averaging 340 yards through the air. Chris Hatcher is a former Valdosta State University QB who returned to his alma mater in 2000 and delivered a Division II national championship in just his fourth season. Bigger schools took notice and Hatcher had several interviews with FBS schools, most notably for an offensive coordinator position at Florida State, before agreeing to become the coach of FCS power Georgia Southern. His approach of passing the ball forward instead of backward did not catch on in Statesboro, and he was unceremoniously fired after his third season.
Fast forward to today, where his Racers enter with a record of 2-3 (1-2 in OVC play). Just how is the team's mindset entering the Dome? John Brush, Murray's football sports information director had this to say:
The team is upbeat. They may have had their best three practices of the season. The guys still have their goals in hand. They also understand that they can win out and make the Playoffs. They also understand that it starts one game at a time and that begins Saturday.
The Panthers will receive a huge boost in the personnel department as starting center Ben Jacoby, starting safety Brandon Jones and RB Donald Russell all return healthy and ready for game action. Head coach Bill Curry's staff has seemed to settle their quarterback battle for now, as Drew Little will start his 13th career game and second consecutive. While fans of the program point to this game as one the Panthers expect to win, this is another tough game in what has been a gauntlet of FCS and FBS opponents. Georgia State's last three opponents, Old Dominion, Jacksonville State and Houston, have a combined record of 13-2, with only UH outside of its respective Top 25.
Georgia State is the more physical team and has the more talented skill position players, but will it be enough to slow one of FCS' top passing offenses led by gun slinger Casey Brockman? Will Murray State face another team that will run the ball 50 times in one game after both Tennessee-Martin and Jacksonville State did to beat the Racers in consecutive weeks?
Georgia State fans are being asked to wear white in the first "White Out" at the Georgia Dome. Look for a Panthers home victory in what could be one of the most impressive home victories in the program's first 15 games.