Optimist vs. Pessimist: Georgia State’s passing game

Georgia State Panthers wide receiver Robert Davis (19). (Hyosub Shin / AJC)

Georgia State Panthers wide receiver Robert Davis (19). (Hyosub Shin / AJC)

We will continue the Optimist vs. Pessimist series with the third and final question that will likely dictate the fortune of Georgia State’s football team: can the passing game at least match last year’s totals?

The facts:

  • Georgia State averaged 279 yards per game for a total of 3,348 yards. The average was second-best in the Sun Belt.
  • Georgia State passed for 23 touchdowns, second-best in the Sun Belt.
  • Georgia State also threw 18 interceptions, third-most in the Sun Belt.
  • Donovan Harden led the team with 60 catches for 885 yards and seven touchdowns, all team highs.
  • Harden is out at least the first three games after suffering a broken foot in camp.
  • Eight of the nine leading receivers return.
  • Starting tight end Joel Ruiz is trying to work his way back to starting the season-opening game on Sept. 4 against Charlotte after having surgery on his knee in the offseason.

The optimist says

With so many returners and so much experience, plus the addition of Nyiakki Height and H-back Ari Werts, Georgia State will easily match last year’s totals.

The pessimist says

It would seem likely, but perhaps that was lightning-in-a-bottle. Plus, if Harden and Ruiz can’t go, Robert Davis will see lots of help coverage.

The optimist says

The passing game should be even better if the team can establish a running game, something it wasn’t able to consistently do last year.

The pessimist says

That would seem true. It may result in fewer yards and touchdowns, but I would think that’s a trade off Georgia State’s coaches and fans would happily take.

The optimist says

Not having Harden in the early, softer part of the schedule against Charlotte and New Mexico State will give other players a chance to establish chemistry with quarterback Nick Arbuckle.

The pessimist says

What if they aren’t as good at running routes? Or Arbuckle tries to force the ball to them to artificially develop that chemistry and the interceptions start piling up again.

The optimist says

The offensive line, with three starters returning and more depth, should be able to give Arbuckle more time in the pocket, which will help the passing game.

The pessimist says

We will see. He was sacked 31 times last year and still managed to start every game. It seems improbably that can happen again, even with fewer sacks. Plus, starting left Michael Ivory is back but suffered a season-ending injury last year. What if he isn’t 100 percent? Sebastian Willer, potentially the starting right tackle, will be seeing his first consistent action, as well.

Others in the series

OvP: Georgia State’s run defense

OvP: Georgia State’s running game

 


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