On a day that was forecasted to be rainy and wet the Panthers opened the doors of their new practice facility to their fans so that they could watch as
Georgia State put on a Spring Scrimmage. The event typically is held in the dome and many Panther fans grumbled about the lack of a true “Spring Game”.
However, the weather was perfect for football and ultimately the Spring Scrimmage was very well put together and a great experience for those involved. The Athletic Department provided bleacher seating, concessions, and a unique opportunity to tour the new facilities to all that attended. Furthermore, Coach Curry himself led the fans through the practice and kept them informed on what was happening throughout the scrimmage.
As for the scrimmage itself, the play on the field was certainly impacted by the loss of 14 players for varying reasons including four that were forced to sit out due to suspension. The four suspended were Dexter Moody, Terrance Woodward, Jarrell Robinson, and Roderick Thompson. The reason for their suspensions was not given and simply labeled as violation of team rules. Most of the remaining unavailable players did not participate due to injury and included Nick Henderson, Cole Moon, Robert Ferguson, John Kelly, Jamal Ransby, C.J. Stephens, and Allen McKay.
But being shorthanded was no excuse for Coach Bill Curry’s team to not perform well in front of 600 of their fans. Overall, Curry seemed pleased with the performance of his team.
“The whole idea of the drill is to not see which side of the ball wins, but to see Georgia State win, and today Georgia State won,” commented Curry. “I just want to get the guys who are injured back out there and the guys who are suspended back out here and get our guys moving and continuing in the right direction. This was a good step today.”
The Scrimmage featured the offense versus the defense and utilized a scoring system that allowed the offense to score points just as it would in a real game, and the defense was able to score by forcing turnovers, recording sacks or tackles for loss, and forcing three-and-outs. The Offense edged out the defense by a score of 15-10.
But ultimately spring practice and the spring scrimmage is not about which side wins the contest, but more importantly who can improve their skills and show they are ready to become playmakers for this team.
The offense already knows who their main weapons are and that was evident on Saturday. Danny Williams and Albert Wilson, the teams two leading receivers, played only the first two drives. Running Back Donald Russell did not play today because the coaches wanted to give the players behind him a chance to compete for their spots.
But the biggest question for the offense is who will be the quarterback. That key factor remains unsolved, but the current leader in the clubhouse would have to be redshirt freshman Ben McLane.
“I would say Ben was the most consistent,” Offensive coordinator John Bond said. “That’s what I’m looking for, a guy that manages the offense and can consistently hit open throws.”
“I would like to name a starter coming out of Spring.”
Ben McLane has certainly struggled and not looked the part at times this Spring, but he has by far been the most improved player at his position. He finished the scrimmage today completed seven of his 11 passes for 82 yards. He also led the first team offense to a scoring drive against the first team defense on the opening drive the game.
“I liked my first drive,” McLane commented after the scrimmage. “I thought I did a decent job of managing the offense and made some good throws. There are things I know I did poorly that I need to fix. “
“My best play of the day was a zone read down the goal line. It’s the little things like that the quarterback has to execute and we scored on that play.”
McLane did miss a wide open Mark Young that he admits would have been a touchdown if he hadn’t overthrown the ball. Another interesting point that Ben brought up is that he only just started getting quality reps with his receivers. A lot of the issues he has had so far this Spring has been timing issues and certainly Panther fans will be anxious to see if he can improve that before August.
On the defensive side of the ball the guy that stood out the most was Qwontez Mallory. He recorded two sacks on the day, however both of those came against the second team offensive line which is considerably less talented than the first team. Lack of depth along the offensive line is certainly an issue for Georgia State and hopefully something that will be remedied with the addition of three very talented signees from the 2012 recruiting class.
Some other bright spots for the GSU defense were David Huey, who is a former offensive lineman that has moved to defensive tackle, and linebacker Kyle Vorster who is a true freshman after grey-shirting last season. Demazio Skelton also dropped an easy pick off Bo Schlecter that could have potentially gone for six points.
It was tough to truly gauge the performance of the defense who were missing six players that were starters on the pre-spring depth chart. Also, the defense will receive a lot of talent in August when they Jah-Mai Davidson and Joe Lockley arrive on campus. The two are both defensive tackles that could both contend for playing time right away. Davidson was seen on the sidelines of the scrimmage as well as center commit Mark Ruskell.
GSU will have four more practices this week before closing Spring camp. Be on the lookout for my Spring wrap up as well as a feature story on two of the best guys two ever suit up for the Panthers.