Georgia State’s Donovan Harden is glad to be back

Georgia State Panthers wide receiver Donovan Harden. BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

Georgia State Panthers wide receiver Donovan Harden. BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

Georgia State coach Trent Miles won’t commit to saying if Donovan Harden will play in Saturday’s game against Liberty at the Georgia Dome.

But he hasn’t said that Harden won’t play, either, only saying that it will be a game-time decision.

 Harden, the team’s leading receiver last year, missed the opening three games after suffering a broken bone in his foot during a non-contact drill in August.

Should Harden and Avery Sweeting return, Georgia State will find itself flush with wide receivers, something that neither Miles, Harden nor offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski seemed concerned about.

Miles and Jags said that different personnel packages will be used to try to make sure that each player’s different strengths are utilized. For example, Miles said Harden brings explosiveness and leadership.

The Panthers’ passing game hasn’t slowed down much even without Harden and Sweeting, who has missed the past two games. Led by quarterback Nick Arbuckle, the Panthers are averaging 329.7 passing yards per game. Penny Hart and Robert Davis are the leading receivers. Hart has 21 catches and Davis 16.

Liberty coach Turner Gill said the key to trying to stop what is a deep group is to tackle well to limit yards after the catch and make sure their matchups are correct.

“It’s a tough task,” Gill said. “They have a lot of speed, good size and run good routes.”

Non sequitur: Now that Harden is back, those who attend practice won’t get to see him dancing nearly as much as he has while waiting to be cleared by the medical staff. As soon as the music was cranked up each morning, it wasn’t long until Harden was busting a move.

Here is a Q&A with Harden:

How does it feel to be back?

It feels great. Sitting on the sideline watching my team, run, practicing, lift weigths, it was kind of making me anxious on the sideline. But you know I’m feeling good. I don’t know if I’m 100 percent but I’m ready to compete. It feels good.

How is the speed, is it back?

Speed is back. It never left. I feel pretty good. I don’t think I lost a step. I think it’s just going and getting myself used to it, going through the routes, the plays and stuff. This week in practice is going to be really important for me.

Penny stepped up, some other guys have stepped up, how are yall going to get everybody on the field and get enough reps?

You can’t really focus on one person as many weapons as we have on the outside. Now, it’s finally time to apply it. I haven’t been out there yet in the first three games. Hopefully now it’s an air raid out there, break a couple of records, passing-wise. I’m looking forward to it.

Who is the best dancer on the team?

Probably me.

I think it’s you. Tarris (Batiste) likes to dance, too. He’s got some moves.

Penny can dance too now. He’s got some moves. Joe P (Peterson) can dance. TB has no moves.


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