Georgia State’s football team wrapped up its most successful season under coach Trent Miles.
The Panthers went 6-7, that seventh defeat coming in their first bowl game. The team won its final four regular season games to earn that bowl berth.
I’ll continue to review each position group and preview what that unit may look like when spring practice begins sometime in March.
Starters: Safeties The usual starters were safeties Tarris Batiste and Bobby Baker, cornerbacks Chandon Sullivan and Jerome Smith, who started 10 games including the last eight. Bruce Dukes started four of first five games at cornerback. He missed one of those because of injury.
Returning: Sullivan, an-all-conference performer, Baker, named to the conference all-newcomer team, and Smith will return. Batiste, an all-conference performer, and Dukes exhausted their eligibility. Also returning are safeties Bryan Williams and Cloves Campbell. Also returning are cornerbacks Antreal Allen, Robert Dowling and B.J. Clay, to name a few.
What’d they do
It was a productive group, particularly in the last few games of the season.
Baker finished with 76 tackles, three interceptions and three fumbles recovered. Five of those happened in the season-opening loss to Charlotte.
Sullivan finished with 50 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions and eight passes broken up.
Smith finished with 44 tackles, one sack and one interception. As well as he played, he also showed his inexperience with two personal foul penalties in the win against Georgia Southern.
Batiste will be difficult to replace. He finished with 100 tackles, four interceptions and two forced fumbles.
The Panthers allowed 224.5 passing yards per game.
Seems fairly solid.
Sullivan and Smith were a very good duo. Smith would sometimes fall victim to play-action pass, but had the speed to recover in most cases. After a year of playing, he likely won’t be drawn in to those tactics as many times in the upcoming season.
Sullivan, per the all-conference nod, played well after he was able to settle into a singular role after bouncing between cornerback and safety the previous year.
It will be interesting to see who replaces Batiste. Campbell was billed as a playmaker when he signed as part of the 2015 class, but he didn’t play much last year, finishing with three tackles.
Williams seems the most likely. After committing several noticeable mistakes early in the season, he settled down in the last half of the season.
Ronald Peterkin is a possibility, but still lacks the size to be effective defending the run. Trent Hill is also a possibility. He played in one game last year.