Georgia State football celebrated countless firsts in 2010 as its program breathed life for the first time on the college football landscape. On Tuesday, the program celebrated yet another first: Media Day at the new Georgia State Football Practice Facility.
Located on 188 MLK Drive, just three blocks from campus, the newest addition to coach Bill Curry's weaponry opened to rave reviews
Coach Bill Curry:
When I first saw this site, my heart sank. Before they began construction, this area was the defining picture of the most urban blight that I have ever seen in my life, and I played in Baltimore for a long time so I know urban blight. I could not have been more shocked as we began to see it develop. Even better was our player's response to what they created because without these young men having the faith in our program to come here, this certainly would not have happened. Our players and coaching staff who came here as an act of faith, a wish, a promise, a vision, a hope and a dream, I'll be eternally grateful to all of them. To see them walk in the locker room yesterday and hear them yelping, jumping up and down and raving that this is the best locker room they had ever seen. That is such a great thrill to me. For us to have this kind of facility, after we've worked with some difficult circumstances the last two years, is terrific.
Senior Linebacker Jake Muasau:
The facility is built right next to our practice fields so we don't have to take any buses to get to the locker room anymore. We are better equipped to do what we need to do on the football field. It's really beautiful, too.
Center Ben Jacoby:
This facility allows us to stay focused and centered during our practices. You don't have to take buses or anything now. It's going to remove all of the clutter and allow us to focus on the task at hand.
Friend of SB Nation Atlanta Saakib Zafrani had a chance to catch up with coach Curry and several players on Media Day to discuss new strength and conditioning coach Ben Pollard expectations for the 2011 campaign and what they expect of the quarterback play this season.
SB Nation Atlanta: What are your expectations for this year?
Senior LB Jake Muasau: As a team, I just want to go out there as a whole team and really play a full Georgia State football game. Last year we had different flashes of playing for a few quarters, but I really just want to go out there and just play our hearts out and leave it on the field. Personally, I want to go out there and continue to make plays and just help my defense any way that I can.
RS Sophomore LB Mark Hogan: I just want to be productive, and be a leader for my team.
SB Nation Atlanta: Do you think the QB situation this offseason put more pressure on the defense to perform?
Hogan: I don't think you look at is as it's put more pressure on us, you know we gotta go out there no matter what the offense is doing. We have faith in our offense too, Bo Schlechter is gonna step in. He's a great athlete, he's going to do a good job, we trust him. As a defense, that's the thing about college football, I mean any football at any level, but especially college, you have that separation between offense and defense. All we can control is what we can control, we're going to go out there and play hard.
SB Nation Atlanta: How has the offseason and conditioning program been for you?
Senior Tight End Arthur Williams: The offseason was nonstop for me. I was always in school. I was in school both semesters, so I was always going to workouts after class and stuff. We got a new strength and conditioning coach. Ben Pollard. He works every muscle in the body. During the workouts, we'll do the harder stuff at the end. It's learning how to build 4th quarter stamina, he says. That's going to be exciting to see how that pays off this year.
Senior Strong Safety Brandon Jones: A lot of the guys love the way that [Ben Pollard] actually been able to bond with the team, and been able to adjust with his, or what he runs his program, his strength and conditioning program. Basically, a lot of guys have been able to actually build a relationship with him. Just looking at a coach's [relationship with the players]. He's been a key addition this whole summer. A lot of guys have gotten a lot stronger, faster, and the vertical jumps have been sky high this summer. Also, coming into camp, a lot of guys have been very very well prepared this time. We've been doing a lot of offseason workouts as running and learning plays as a team, together. A lot of guys, a lot of the seniors [are] helping the younger guys and young guys [are] actually listening this summer, so a lot of guys should come in really well prepared this summer for camp this time.
SB Nation Atlanta: How has the film study with the players been?
Jones: As a secondary, we go in and have our own film study this summer. Just basically talking from being a senior, talking to all the younger guys. Having them come in [and] explaining to them what 'this' play is and what we're trying to do and 'this' play, and what you're assignment is for, and just basically helping the younger guys. I guess with the experience of being a senior now, I can at least help show them some things that maybe coach will show them later on this fall, and give them a heads up before coach even tries to tell them that.
SB Nation Atlanta: So you're expecting to finish strong in the fourth quarter of games, none of that Lebron James stuff?
Williams: PLEASE don't pull that Lebron James!
SB Nation Atlanta: Is it safe right now to say that Bo is going to the starter [at quarterback]?
Williams: Definitely, it kind of helps that we know now before camp starts, than to find out two-to-three days, a week before the first game. So he'll definitely be ready to go.
SB Nation Atlanta: How do you feel about the change of pace at the QB position from Drew Little?
Williams: It's kind of different, but we're definitely adjusting. Bo's a good quarterback. He can throw, and he'll surprise a few people with his feet and his speed, he's really kind of fast. If he takes off running, some jaws are gonna drop.
SB Nation Atlanta: How about [true freshman Ben] McClane?
Williams: We do our own 7-on-7 on Mondays and Wednesdays, and he attends every one. He's learning the players' speed and their tendencies, so he's definitely getting accustomed to everybody.
SB Nation Atlanta: What message do you and the other seniors have for the incoming freshman?
Senior Center Ben Jacoby: Don't worry, it's going to be okay. You love to play football, that's why you're out here. So being out here, loving that you play football, you know it's going to get tough, and you know you're going to get tired, but it's a mental thing. Just know that you can do this. It's not that hard when you know what you're going to do on the field. Basically you're going to be studying the plays, if you know what you're assignment is, you'll play a lot faster. Hopefully when they start this camp, they can show the coaches the same things that we've been trying to teach them.
SB Nation Atlanta: What needs to change to get this program even better?
Jacoby: What can I say? We want to keep winning. Keep winning more games, become a premier program, become one of the program that a lot of the younger high school players what to attend and play for. Basically, I would say we want to win a championship, starting now. The quicker we can, the better off for the program. I think that's probably the best thing.
SB Nation Atlanta: How does the uncertainty and shuffling at QB affect you as a center?
Jacoby: As a center, it really doesn't affect me as much as you would think. Our expectations are for the position, so I can't really bring that to light, and whoever's back there will do a heck of a job.
SB Nation Atlanta: How does coach Curry having been a center, how does his influence and history help you?
Jacoby: That's a huge influence, even when we're doing team, if I make a mistake, or if he knows something that will help me make a call better, he'll get on his megaphone and let me know which is always pretty funny.
SB Nation Atlanta: What are your expectations for the season?
Jacoby: I really expect us to continue where we left off. It's not going to be something like "okay, camp's here, let's start over." I expect us to continue where we left off last season.
SB Nation Atlanta: What are your personal goals for the season?
Jacoby: Well my personal goals for the season ... it is my last one. There's no next season, there's no preparing for the next season, so I'm gonna give absolutely everything I have, every play of every game, because it's the last one for me, it's the last time I'll ever be a college football player.