What to make of Georgia State’s football team after its spring game on Saturday?
Were any of the questions the team had heading into spring — starters on both lines, who will play linebacker and safety — answered in the Blue and White game?
Two things spring to mind: the team didn’t run the ball very well, which either means the defense played much better or the offensive line didn’t block well. I’m guessing the line didn’t block well based upon what I have seen in previous practices. Running the ball has been a point of emphasis for coach Trent Miles since he arrived but it has yet to improve.
Secondly, the defensive line grouping that started almost all of the games last year had just one sack, and it was facing a mix of first- and second-teamers on the offensive line. The presumed second-team defensive line and linebackers generated a lot of pressure, coming up with seven of Saturday’s eight sacks. They were also facing a mix of first- and second-teamers on the offensive line because the groups were mixed up by the coaches.
The good news is nose tackle Julien Laurent, one of the new faces, had two sacks. He’s a behemoth of a man, capable of clogging up the middle and forcing offenses to pick a side to attack.
The good news is the defense might have enough depth to rotate players in and out, keeping them fresh longer which will help as the season grinds away into December.
A quick story: When I was covering Georgia Tech, the year after Derrick Morgan left everyone wondered who would fill his shoes and create a pass rush. During the spring, there was a player who created all sorts of havoc. It was assumed that he would be equally effective once the real games started.
Turns out, that player wasn’t as good as Morgan because the offensive line was also not as good as it was a year ago. It was hard to tell that at the time, but it became quickly evident when the level of competition improved.
So, is that what is happening at Georgia State? Did the backups look good because they were playing against guys who need to improve? It’s an important question because these are the players who will start and play once the 2015 season kicks off. There won’t be any starters or likely reserves coming from the small freshman class. This is it.
I think the offensive line will be much better in the fall than it appeared on Saturday. The group was missing two starters from last year, Michael Ivory and Alex Stoehr, who haven’t participated this spring because of injuries.
They should be good to go by August and the coaching staff can then begin to work on settling the starters. I think that group will be Ivory, Stoehr at guard, Kelipe Folau at center, Taylor Evans at guard and Dom Roldan at the other tackle.
Settled starters should lead to an improved run game, which will take pressure off the defense.
Switching back to that group, I wrote before the spring that I wouldn’t be surprised to see the line feature at least two new starters at nose tackle and defensive end by the end of sessions.
Laurent may have moved his way into a starting spot after his performance on Saturday. Mackendy Cheridor, who had the one sack among the starters, will presumably remain at the other end. The third spot will likely be up for competition among several players, including Shawayne Lawrence, Tevin Jones and DeQueszman Kelley.
The starters at linebacker seem likely to be Alonzo McGee, Joseph Peterson, Michael Shaw and Kaleb Ringer.
Starters in the secondary seem likely to be Tarris Batiste, Bryan Williams, Bruce Dukes and Chandon Sullivan, but it’s very fluid with injuries to Bobby Baker, and the returns of Bryan Williams, Marcus Caffey and others.