Panthers Open Preseason Practice

Ben McLane - Image from GSU Sports Communications

As the Panthers prepared to begin preseason practice, Head Coach Bill Curry met with representatives of the media last week, including Panthersville.com, to discuss last year's disappointments, the offseason, and the year ahead.

Curry started his comments by stating that "this year has been a year of deep reflection for all of us". He went on to explain that the reason for this reflection were both external and internal to Georgia State. Referring to the coach's whistle he was wearing around his neck, Curry said that "more than ever those of us who have been in this for a while…have found it to be made more and more abundantly clear what an amazing and remarkable responsibility we have when [we] put this whistle on."

Regarding the reflection related to the GSU football program, Curry stated that "[a]t the conclusion of last season I questioned everything, searched myself, questioned myself and determined to step up and improve every aspect of our program." The first step Curry took was to implement the Attitude Technique that he first learned from Dr. Homer Rice and that he detailed in the most recent issue of the J. Mack Robinson College of Business State of Business.

The next step was to address coaching issues, saying that they now "work hard, longer – because that is what's required". Regarding the offseason coaching personnel changes, Curry said that he interviewed 16 candidates before promoting Midget who he thinks "will be a very special football coach" to defensive coordinator. He then went on to highly praise Ricky Thomas who was hired to fill the void created by Midget's promotion.

Finally, Curry went into great detail talking about the offseason activities directed at improving player discipline and focus. "I met with every single player one at a time and challenged each man to recommit himself to the things we believe in and to look me in the eye and tell me what he was prepared to do" Curry said. "I'm happy to report that most of the guys responded in the affirmative and have worked hard to keep their word. Some chose to go the other way and are no longer with us."

Regarding the upcoming season, Curry said that the theme for the season is to, 'Man Up and Finish.' "Football is the ultimate team game, but it comes down to if I'm going to knock you off the ball in the fourth quarter" Curry said. "The fourth quarter is where you make your living in our business, and you either get embarrassed or you excel. Our first year we did reasonably well and last year we did not. We are going to finish every play this season or you won't play."

As many trace last year's woes to the instability at the Quarterback position, Curry addressed that position as being crucial to the Panther's success. "You have to be able to throw the ball with accuracy," said Curry. "The strongest unit on our team is our wide receivers. We have eight wide receivers that can play and three in particular that are outstanding in Danny Williams, Albert Wilson and Jordan Giles. So our quarterback has to get them the ball with accuracy.

Regarding who will be the starting QB at the season opener, Curry said that Ben McLane, who was named the starter coming out of spring practice, would have to win the job again. To do so, McLane will have to prove himself against increased competition at the position from true freshmen Nathan Schuster and Mark Weidenaar and MAC transfer Ronnie Bell, not to mention Kelton Hill, who Curry said "has as much talent as any quarterback I've ever coached." However, Curry thinks McLane has what it takes to win the job. "Because Ben has won a state championship, in the Georgia Dome, at the highest level of high school football in the state of Georgia and because he came out in the spring and threw the ball well, we think he has a chance," continued Curry. "But now he has to come to training camp, get into two-a-days, get tired, go through some rough stuff and show us that he can do that and win the job again. Then he has to go into the game and do it again. We believe he can do it, but he has to show it."

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