A few thoughts after watching Georgia State get eviscerated by Georgia Southern 69-31 on Saturday in the first meeting between the two teams:
This was one of the worst defensive performances I’ve seen by any team live.
The Panthers gave up a Sun Belt-record 613 rushing yards and almost 10 yards per carry. Georgia State has played various versions of the option offense this year, so they had experience in reading the plays. I know that they also worked against the offense in practice last week. But all that knowledge seemed to disappear on Saturday.
The Panthers couldn’t get off the blocks and repeatedly took horrible angles to the ball-carrier.
Coach Trent Miles called it unacceptable.
Here are the top-five worst defensive performances I’ve seen live:
- Georgia State vs. Georgia Southern: More than 600 yards rushing given up by the Panthers.
- Georgia Tech vs. Middle Tennessee: The Blue Raiders rolled up more than 500 yards and didn’t do much fancy in flattening the Yellow Jackets in 2012. It reminded me a lot of what St. Francis did to Georgia State in 2011.
- Georgia Tech vs. BYU: The Cougars totaled more than 400 yards, which doesn’t seem like much but the way they outmuscled and outhustled the Yellow Jackets made it memorable in 2012. Al Groh didn’t last much longer as defensive coordinator.
- Georgia vs. Georgia Tech: Roddy Jones had a career in one day against a Bulldogs defense that collapsed in the second half of their 2008 matchup.
- Pebblebrook vs. Sprayberry: I was a junior in high school and our soccer team gave up something like 10 goals.
Georgia State’s front three needs work: I understand that the Panthers are playing with sophomores across the entire line and that’s there next to no depth. But it’s time for those sophomores to start making plays, any play … one play.
The group has combined for 0 sacks and 5/5 tackles for loss this year and they’ve been on the field for almost every defensive snap.
It’s hard to believe they have potential when they haven’t made any plays.
The coaches tried to sign some junior college defensive linemen in the 2014 class, but were unsuccessful.
Georgia State’s wide receivers don’t need work. Donovan Harden has become one of the best weapons in the Sun Belt this year after catching 11 passes for a school-record 186 yards and a school-record four touchdowns on Saturday. In two weeks, he has caught 21 passes for 318 yards.
The group 23 catches for 402 yards on Saturday.
Arbuckle the leader: If these quotes don’t signify that Nick Arbuckle does his best to try to support his team and take on all responsibility, I don’t know what will:
“The false starts (three of them in the first half) are on me. We’re a first-down offense. Our offensive line is waiting to hear my first words and they are going. When I’m trying to make a check and trying to calm down the offensive line, I need to try to make sure my voice is soft, that I’m not saying anything that sounds like I’m saying Go, or else they are going to go. I was talking too loud, I was getting excited because of the crowd, so I kind of startled our offensive line a little bit just enough to get a false start.”
On the offense supporting the defense:
“It is our job to score every time we are on the field. Our defense did a good job of holding them to a punt. There’s a series that Georgia Southern didn’t score a touchdown so we should end up winning by seven.”
No sacks: Arbuckle passed the ball 38 times and wasn’t sacked. Last week, the first in which Taylor Evans started at right tackle, he was sacked five times.
That’s a huge improvement by Georgia State’s line.
Running game woes: What it does say about Georgia State’s running backs that Kyler Neal, who hasn’t played since the Washington game, is still the team’s leading rusher with 209 yards?
Georgia State rushed for 47 yards on Saturday, averaging 2.0 yards per carry.
The group, like most on this team, has been hurt by injuries and suspensions. Since Neal went down, Marcus Caffey has started, Dontavis Crocker has started and Gerald Howse has started. Caffey leads that group with 136 yards on the season.
Let me clear up a question about attendance that seemed to rankle Georgia Southern fans: The announced attendance of around 28,000 is different than the actual attendance, which was around 18,000. Georgia State provides both numbers.
But when I try to estimate the number of supporters for each team, I use the actual attendance because those are the people who are actually there.
In my game story, I said there were at least 10,000 Georgia Southern fans in the Dome because they appeared to be the majority of the 18,000 that were actually there.
So no, Georgia State didn’t outnumber Georgia Southern fans 2 to 1, as some of you are saying in comments (and thanks for the comments, I always enjoy reading them). Georgia Southern fans likely outnumbered Georgia State fans by at least 1 1/2 to 1.
One more attendance-related thought: Georgia State is averaging 15,145 in announced attendance this year.
There is one home game left against Texas State on Thanksgiving weekend. I don’t expect a big crowd. If it’s too small (14,269 or less), the average announced attendance for the season could fall below 15,000.
Why does that matter?
The NCAA requires FBS teams to average at least 15,000 in announced or actual attendance once in a two-year rolling window.
If the Panthers don’t average 15,000 this year, they must do so next year.
The problem is there won’t be an Air Force or Georgia Southern on next year’s home schedule to improve the chances of reaching 15,000.
Charlotte will likely be the biggest draw at the Dome.
What happens if Georgia State doesn’t meet that average?
The NCAA could do any number of things, including taking away bowl eligibility for that year. When I last researched this early in 2013, an NCAA spokesperson wouldn’t say if that rule has ever been enforced.